| My Land, My Country
An open letter to prime minister James Marape
Late yesterday the situation in Alotau was reported as stable but police were expecting another major assault on Giligili prison by the Tommy Baker gang to release 11 members facing charges of arson, piracy and armed robbery. Forty police have been deployed from Port Moresby to reinforce local personnel - KJ
LAE - Dear Prime Minister, I am writing this for your consideration so you might provide counsel and guidance to those in your charge.
The situation in Alotau is spiralling out of control. The trend is dangerous.
The people are unhappy with both crime and the manner in which the government and its agencies are responding to it.
There are underlying issues that need to be resolved through dialogue – not by the barrel of the gun.
While I have a voice, your ear and a platform on which to stand, I ask you to urge caution.
Do not let people die on your watch. Do not let your people be abused by the instrumentalities that you ultimately control.
There are questions that need to be answered and we cannot get answers only by sending in troops.
There is a place for it. But we have to handle this situation with tact and diplomacy.
A crime is a crime. No excuses. But we cannot resolve these issues if we don’t know why. We have to go back to our roots.
How did our people do it in the past? We need to talk like Papua New Guineans do.
Colonial powers used guns to kill and suppress our tumbunas. They used guns in the ‘pacification’ of our peoples.
That is not our way for us.
We have to understand why these young men are doing the crime.
We have to understand what their motivations are to attack and disrupt businesses that form an essential part of the provincial and national economy.
Why are they targeting banks, shops, hotels, tourism and essential government services? Why the police? Why are they attacking ‘the system?’
In a conflict, we talk and talk until everyone is heard and issues are resolved.
Our ancestors understood the high price of armed conflict.
We know this too, in this day and age. We learned hard lessons on Bougainville.
I urge you to understand the Milne Bay temperament.
People will be willing to talk but you have to give them an avenue and the time to express their thoughts without fear.
We have a proliferation of small arms. Not just in Milne Bay but everywhere in the country.
Major General Jerry Singirok campaigned for reform. That hasn’t happened.
What he predicted is happening right before our eyes.
We need to act now - with a lot of wisdom and understanding.
On the political front, former chief secretary Robert Igara has called for the resignation of the Milne Bay governor.
Clearly, John Luke Critten has lost control and respect. He should listen to his people and allow them to heal without being an obstacle.
This is not about politics. This is about the well-being of our country.