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Silence of the Sunset: the now ugly politics of Western Province


FOLLOWING the 2012 national elections, I was flown to Tabubil to witness the launching of the MV Fly Hope.

This was a time of great hope and optimism. New development agreements were signed between Ok Tedi Mining, the PNG Sustainable Development Program and the Fly River Provincial Government.

The Fly Hope symbolised a fresh journey to progress as part of a new development partnership under new leadership.

What has transpired since has been a tragedy that has seen a province in disarray.

The province lost Ok Tedi and PNGSDP and, as a consequence, many of its sons lost their jobs and are now struggling to survive in Kiunga.

The once prosperous Kiunga town has seen a severe downturn.

This year staff at Kiunga Hospital have not been paid for months because the government, after taking over Ok Tedi mine, halved the hospital budget from K2 million to K1 million.

Two images of my childhood in Western Province that remind me of its voice are the patepate (our version of the garamut) and the station identification of Radio Western. The music from these two sources can be joyous or sorrowful.

This week’s tragic death of the Member for South Fly, Aide Ganasi MP, brings me much sadness.

It is a sorrow I feel for my people from the Star Mountains, across the Middle Fly swamps and the mangroves of Daru Island.

It is a longing one feels looking across the Ok Tedi River valley under pouring rain.

It is a feeling of cold and hunger while paddling in the rain across the Guavi River.

It is a sadness of listening to evening insects whilst watching the red sunsets of the East Trans Fly savannah.

But there is hope.

After the grassland has been burnt, new shoots sprout and bandicoots build their nests.

Rains fall and as the white cockatoos shriek in the thundering rain. We remember those who are not with us and hope for the future.

As this parliament reaches its twilight, so does Western Province's political representation.

I hope my people get a better deal in 2017.


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Arnold Mundua

All was going well until when the govt decided to extend its interest into the economic veins of Western Province with the support of its MPs. Or is it?

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