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‘Overwhelmed’: PNG cabinet minister calls for social media regulation

Nixon DubanBERNARD SINAI | Bernardos Bag of Beans

A cabinet minister in the O’Neill / Dion government is calling for the responsible authorities to regulate the use of social media in Papua New Guinea, according to the PNG Post-Courier.

Petroleum and Energy Minister Nixon Duban (pictured) said the National Executive Council made a decision last year for a regulatory policy for social media regulation. However, the policy has not materialised and he is now questioning why it is taking so long.

He said while the country and her citizens enjoy the ideals of democracy, persons with political inclinations and opportunists are abusing these rights.

Mr Duban said there were serious instances on social media where people were opening fake accounts to raise dangerously critical and defamatory allegations against leaders.

He added that it is unfair for leaders to be publicly tried by misfits who feed of the social media world.

Mr Duban said it is incumbent on us to ensure there are regulations in place to combat such cybercrime and predatory schemes like pornography, human smuggling, gambling and intellectual property theft (copyright).

He said unless a serious effort is made by the proper authorities including the national security agencies, a small and developing country like PNG could be overwhelmed by social media.


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Chris Overland

In relation to Paul's reference to Abraham Lincoln, my recollection is that what he said was:

"You can fool some of the people some of the time, but you can't fool all of the people all of the time".

I think that Lincoln was right but, equally, so was Phineas T Barnum (founder of Barnum and Bailey's Circus) who said:
"No one ever went broke under estimating the intelligence of the public", and "There's a sucker born every minute".

I guess that the lesson here is that there is an aphorism for every occasion!

Pedant's Corner: Big Abe's citation in my footnote was correct, Chris - KJ

David Kasei Wapar

With due respect, this same minister has also come out vocally backing the recent so-called proposals for 'constitutional amendments' and the like which are topics creating waves on social media.

For those who are in close observation, this may not come as a surprise at all.

Nevertheless, good call minister as we have so many bills, laws and whatever you wanna name still not fully passed and not yet effective.

Oops...just thinking aloud!

Michael Dom

Several images cross my mind when I recall PNG political leaders - fresh dog turds, the pong of public toilets etcetera.

We don't have to like our leaders, but we should have some respect for them, and the problem is this; they have done very little to earn our respect.

Sympathy for the devil?

It will be a major turning point in PNG when leaders are elected because they able to deliver what it is the people need, rather than all the other stupid reasons people have voted them in for.

If we wonder why our leaders are corrupt, we should take a good look in the mirror.

Bernard Yegiora

Chris, well said. I was thinking of how the public will react to such a policy and the kind of chaos it will create. That is why I said it is complicated. Maybe complex is a better word.

Paul Oates

Good point Chris. Wasn't it Abe Lincoln who said: "You can please all of the people some of the time but only some of the people all of the time."

It often seems to follow in these circumstances that those who whinge the loudest often seem to have the most to be ashamed of. As Shakespeare said in Hamlet: 'Methinks (he/she/the lady) protests too much!'

I'm sure I've have seen it reported elsewhere that when a country's population has a good coverage of mobile phones and can therefore spread information quickly, it makes it very hard for that country to be taken over by a dictator or for there to be a successful revolution.

Of course, being a lapun an' awl, it might be that I've only thought it?

Also Chris, it was Truman who had a sign on his desk that read: 'The buck stops here!'

He was also the bloke who refused to make a profit out of his tenure as an ex President.

Where are his kind today one may well ask?

Paul, I think that must've be Bruce Lincoln. Abe is quoted to have famously said: "You can fool all the people some of the time, and some of the people all the time, but you cannot fool all the people all the time" - KJ

Chris Overland

Sorry Bernard, this is not a complicated issue: it is, in fact, a very simple one.

Whenever and wherever government decides to constrain free speech, especially to quell supposedly dangerous criticisms of the leadership, this is code for the suppression of ideas that do not sit well with the privileged and powerful.

This is why autocratic regimes hate and detest the internet and social media in all its forms. They strive to control, constrain or simply cut off access to it so that "dangerous ideas" cannot be promulgated.

Consequently, despite the proliferation of many genuinely offensive, defamatory or just plain stupid ideas on the internet, the maintenance of individual liberty and freedom requires us to accept the good, the bad and the ugly as a necessary part of our virtual lives.

This includes our leaders who, in fact, are the people most in need of rational, honest and constructive criticism. The trick for them is to recognise and discard the stupid and malicious comments and focus on the rest.

Public office is tough. There are always critics. As President Harry Truman said; "If you can't stand the heat, get out of the kitchen".

Or, in the more modern parlance of my grandchildren, Mr Duban and his colleagues should be told; Toughen up Princess!

Bernard Yegiora

A very complicated issue.

Paul Billy Kone

Freedom of speech is the fundamental right of any individual citizen in any democracy.

This move really undermines this ideology and defeats the purpose of freedom of expression enshrined in the Constitution of the Independent State of Papua New Guinea.

Giorgio Licini

Not wrong in principle. As long as it doesn't compromise but emphasises freedom of expression.

For the rest, of course, what is bad and illegal offline is such online. Cybercrime is a global problem and there is no country that can call itself out of the general effort to combat it.

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