Malaria-struck MP couldn’t find drugs at district clinic, but wait....
O’Neill firm won $32m contract despite 'serious irregularities'

Catholic Church: 'people suffering & dying for APEC success’

Samarai Catholic Church
Sacred Heart Church, Samarai

MEDIA STATEMENT | Catholic Bishops Conference of PNG & Solomon Islands

PORT MORESBY - The primary task of the Catholic Church in Papua New Guinea is to bring the gospel of Jesus Christ to the people. As such the church adopts no particular position on political or economic issues except to bring gospel values to this part of life.

However, since the Catholic Church is known and expected to speak for those without a voice, and has a reputation for its concern for the rural poor of PNG, many have asked us for our position on APEC.

We have addressed this issue many times in the past and more recently appealed for a return to the division of powers that could ensure that political power and the equitable distribution of wealth are kept separate.

We share the concern of many about the huge amount of our limited resources being expended on this event which seems designed to entertain and impress the rich and powerful.

Given its inevitability, we can only hope for its ‘success’, which can only mean that the welfare of the poorest people of PNG will somehow indirectly be improved. Although we all would like to make a good impression on our visitors, this cannot be at the expense of the truth.

So we must now look to ‘life after APEC’.

This has to be a life where we will see a return to the principles and values of our national constitution and the national goals and directive principles on which our nation was built.

Ponam Island Catholic Chruch  Manus
Catholic Church, Ponam Island, Manus

In our 43 years we have seen a serious decline in implementing of the principle of equity and participation. There is simply not an equitable distribution of the national wealth to all.

Despite all the rhetoric, the rich are getting richer and the poor are getting poorer.

APEC seems to be a manifestation of this gap as the whole of PNG watches billions being spent on appearances in Port Moresby while we experience teaches and health workers without pay and health centres without medicine, while all departments are to expect less than 60% of their official budgeted allocations.

It is a fact that many people in the remote areas of Papua New Guinea, including those in the cities who are still economically ‘remote’, are suffering and dying in order to make APEC a ‘success’.

As we present ourselves to the world as a nation capable of pulling of major international event, we must still ask ourselves to what extent we are truly sovereign and self-reliant.

We are very much aware, and our informal off the record conversation with some of our national leaders confirms, that PNG I now longer in control of its own economic enterprise and production.

Those of us in the forefront of provinces with extensive logging and oil palm know exactly how much we have sold out to foreign interests.

The big show of APEC is not the experience of the majority of Papua New Guineans.

Though they may rightly hope to make a good impression on visitors, they also rightly hope for a return to true normality when it is all over and we are able to count the cost, start repaying our debts, and re-establish our priorities, that is to priories the rural poor and not the urban rich.


Feed You can follow this conversation by subscribing to the comment feed for this post.

Philip Kai Morre

Use of expensive vehicles to drive around APEC VIPs for only a few days costs millions of kina.

The poor majority in rural areas need basic drugs and equipment to save many lives and there have been shortages for some years.

Where is the common sense and where is the government's sense of priorities.

When frustrations build to the extreme and people can no longer control themselves, you can expect more problems.

Verify your Comment

Previewing your Comment

This is only a preview. Your comment has not yet been posted.

Your comment could not be posted. Error type:
Your comment has been saved. Comments are moderated and will not appear until approved by the author. Post another comment

The letters and numbers you entered did not match the image. Please try again.

As a final step before posting your comment, enter the letters and numbers you see in the image below. This prevents automated programs from posting comments.

Having trouble reading this image? View an alternate.


Post a comment

Comments are moderated, and will not appear until the author has approved them.

Your Information

(Name and email address are required. Email address will not be displayed with the comment.)