A step too far: Consequences and backlash

By PNG Echo.

Noel Anjo (with his arm around Belden Namah) and other 'corruption fighters', embrace the political anti-hero and member of the political opposition, in a testament of their true colours.
Noel Anjo (with his arm around Belden Namah) and other ‘corruption fighters’, embrace the political anti-hero and member of the political opposition, in a testament of their true colours.

Anti-government forces, the ones disguised as anti-corruption fighters, have gone a step too far to achieve their political goals.

Up until now, they have been tolerated, even supported – their thinly-disguised political ambitions overlooked as some Papua New Guineans hoped they were the genuine article, while suspecting that they may not be.

But the love affair is over.

The people have lately been given a small taste of the consequences of what activists such as Noel Anjo have visited on PNG – as they drive their masters’ political agendas – the faceless men.

Underlying provincial tensions have been driven to the surface by manipulating, competing political interests with murder and mayhem being the dire consequences – all whipped up by these faceless men, through their agents, such as Anjo, using university students as cannon fodder.

Is it a mere coincidence that the main protagonists in the violence are from the Southern Highland’s Province and Enga – as are the Prime Minister and the Leader of the Opposition respectively?

The Backlash

Noel Anjo’s short article on the killing of the student on Lae campus, published on his popular Facebook page ‘The Voice of PNG’ today, was not given the usual wholehearted approval – even though ‘The Voice’ is demographically ‘stacked’ to exclude any known dissenters (such as myself – who was ‘blocked’ some time ago).

Seen on his posting were comments such as:

Noel Anjo you and your fellow colleague keyboard warriors have blood on your hands. Constantly having a go at the students to take action against government, are you and Don Pomb Polye and team happy now? An innocent life has been lost and the first thing you guys do is call on O’Neill to step down? Not even a word of sorry? Happy that your plan worked and is bearing fruit? Students fleeing for safety while you still sit behind the comfort of your keyboards and continue on? Shame on you. Fight your election campaign yourself and stop using students. No wonder you never succeed at elections.

A woman commenter gave a feminine perspective:

So it’s clear from Noel Anjo, the trumpet, that it was Southem Highland’s fault.
An innocent young man’s life has gone from merciless murderers.
Noel it’s a mother’s plea. Please shut up.
You want to dissolve parliament or arrest prime minister please you go and do it yourself.  Stop it, stop it, stop it, please.”

And yet another commenter has summed up what many of us have known for a while:

Noel Anjo, your comment is the worst!! Believe me, if you think like that you don’t have qualities to lead the group that you represent!

Anjo removed the post soon after.

The lauded, anti-corruption fighter's inadequate response to the students casualties - the crying selfie. Where's the 'mea culpa?"
The lauded, anti-corruption fighter’s inadequate response to the students casualties – the crying selfie. Where’s the ‘mea culpa?”

Pandora’s Box has been opened – what do they intend to do about it? – Take a crying selfie?

In a recent press release, just to hand, the Prime Minister has laid the blame squarely at the feet of the political opposition claiming that they have “blood on their hands.”  In this, he’s not wrong.

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Damaru’s charges stayed: What irony, what blatant hypocrisy!

By PNG Echo.

Matthew Damaru
Matthew Damaru

Yesterday, Judge Polume heard an urgent application, ex parte (without the opposing parties) to stay the criminal charges recently levelled against Fraud Squad Officer, Matthew Damaru.

Ostensibly, according to her ruling, this was to enable Damaru to continue with his policing duties.

So what was stopping him, in the first place?

According to the press release of the RPNGC immediately following the arrest:

Mr Andrews [Deputy Police Commissioner] said whilst Mr Damaru is criminally charged for the alleged offences, he remains on active duty as Director NFACD and continues to perform his normal Constitutional Duties.

So what was so urgent?  Why was it held ex parte?  Why did the court entertain such an application?  What could the cause of actions possibly be when Damaru was still in position?

This was not an internal issue, this was an official investigated complaint by one of PNGs most senior judges.

Sir Bernard’s Case

To say that Sir Bernard Sakora “got off on a technicality” on the charges for which he was recently arrested, is to downplay the devious manner in which the arrest was effected.

Sir Bernard Sakora and the Chief Justice share a moment.
Sir Bernard Sakora and the Chief Justice share a moment.

In these circumstances, it is up to the Public Prosecutor to decide whether there is enough evidence to arrest someone.  I suggest that Damaru’s motives for not following the correct procedure may just have been because he was afraid the Public Prosecutor would say no. He was operating on the premise that it was easier to obtain forgiveness than permission.

But what he got was neither – and he should be made to answer for this treachery.

Irony and hypocrisy

Just in case you’ve missed the ironic and hypocritical part – Damaru has decided not to ‘submit’ to the court (as he and others of his ilk want the Prime Minister to do) but has decided to try to use the system to stymie the process.

Peter+O'NeillThat’s his legal right – but it’s also the Prime Minister’s.

However if I’d been screaming the line of “step down and submit to the process” as loud as Damaru has, I would now be very embarrassed at my own actions.

No sense, no feeling?

What’s more, people are constantly quoting how no one is above the law – well public perception is that Damaru now is.

On a popular, anti-government Facebook site one commenter wrote:

Today, as we write or speak, there is one man immune to the law and that is Damaru. Nothing will be done to him.

This was said, not in lament, but in triumph. The courts have a lot to answer for.

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Sexist, ageist, racist rapists.

By PNG Echo.

You shame me.

Historically, the comments on any article of mine that has opposed the popular opinion of the Facebook ‘elites’ has always elicited some pretty nasty responses.

I have suffered through threats of sexual violence, death threats involving sexual violence and …well…much more – always involving sexual violence.

The old, ugly, wrinkled, white lapun
The old, ugly, wrinkled, white lapun

Apparently, I am old, white wrinkled lapun who needs to be gang raped, for which I should be grateful, before I’m ripped apart and killed (and that’s just a bland summary – the details would take your breath away for their sheer depravity)

The insults always are to do with my age, my looks and the colour of my skin.

I am astounded how people who are, arguably, the most discriminated against become those that think nothing of perpetuating that behaviour in themselves.

Actually, this reverse discrimination is much worse because they really think it’s ok.  I cringe, for instance, every time a PNGean talks about “Abos” – and there is nothing I can do or say that will dissuaded them from the practise.  They just don’t care.

Anyway, it’s become all in a day’s work for me and that’s sad – this behaviour should never be normalized.

Yet, I plod on – believing the deviates are indeed a deviation from the normal, Papua New Guinean.

But this last episode, following an article analysing the student protests, has ramped up my shame factor exponentially.

I am deeply, deeply ashamed; not of me, but of you.

You profess to be a spiritual, religious and Christian country – yet so many of you say things that would make the devil blush and have violent sexual fantasies that are more depraved than anything I’ve ever heard.

I have just spent a sleepless night erasing hundreds of comments from my Facebook page that no one should be subjected to – and I am talking of my readers, not me.

And people are furious that I delete – quoting their right to a voice – however totlally inappropriate.  Others think I delete their comments  because they are so clever, that I just can’t stand their brilliance.

Their right to an opinion is balanced by the right of others not to have to listen to it and believe me, if the comments proffered were brilliant, I’d like nothing better than to engage in a meaningful discussion with the writer.  No, they are always petty, childishly argumentative and trite with a personal attack and profanity thrown in for good measure.  If your comments were erased, it would have been always for one of those reasons – so don’t flatter yourselves.

I am ashamed that because people are my ‘friends’ whether Facebook friends, or in reality – they should be exposed to so much vicious invective.

Buka, August 2015

The comments have been so very vicious and depraved that most of them I couldn’t repeat. But I am gobsmacked that anyone – let alone hundreds of people can come up with that many four-letter words and that many depraved and disgusting concepts and put them in a sentence with Susan Merrell.

My greatest sadness is that many of these commenters are women – and they’re among the most vicious.

When a woman lives in constant fear of sexual violence, why would she wish it visited on another woman – and in such graphic detail.

I have recently opened another Facebook page that will be reserved for actual friends and family – do you know why? To protect them from you and your disgusting comments – and you know who you are.

They need protecting.

Girona, Costa Brava, Spain - May 2016
Girona, Costa Brava, Spain – May 2016

I had a running joke that I shared with my cousin who lives in Wales about a naked man at a window – at some stage she privately messaged me asking me what I knew about a certain PNGean who was a Facebook friend of mine.

She said: “I thought I’d just check with you before I tell this deviate just what I think of him because it seems he’s a fairly prominent citizen in PNG – he’s making disgusting suggestions and I don’t know what to do knowing you probably know him. Help me out here.”

Who am I to visit this on my family?

I am at a loss to understand why the writers of these comments aren’t themselves deeply ashamed of what they’ve written. What ideology or doctrine are they following that makes a virtue out of depraved bullying and extreme prejudice?

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Oh the irony! Students breaking the law to insist on the rule of law.

By PNG Echo.

Let’s be blunt: the students – or the militant minority, have got exactly what they want.

Page four of yesterday’s Post Courier foretold it all:

Kenneth Rapa - President of the Students' Representative Council
Kenneth Rapa – President of the Students’ Representative Council

According to reporter Nellie Setapano, an illegal forum had been overseen by Students’ Representative Council President, Kenneth Rapa and attended by less than 300 students where a strategy was formed to deliberately defy and provoke police.

The stated aim of the militant ones was to get themselves arrested in order to gain public attention, sympathy and support.

But even with this pitifully poor turnout, it was reported that a large number of the attendees were less than enthusiastic anyway – but it did not stop their stated “life or death” strategy from going ahead.

Then, after the mêlée, it is thought that agitators had subsequently and knowingly spread false reports of resultant deaths of students killed by police to international media outlets in a bid for overseas support and the attendant condemnation leading to the international embarrassment of the PNG government.

The Minister for Police, Robert Atiyafa, condemned the Australian Broadcasting Corporation who falsely reported that there had been four deaths after buying the maliciously spread propaganda.  He said:

The ABC should get out and report the facts, not just repeat what they read on Facebook [where a plethora of misinformation was transmitted by those who should have known better – and probably did].

Law-breaking students.

Police try to stop students leaving the campus
Police try to stop students leaving the campus

The students were warned not to go outside the campus, yesterday, yet they did.

They provoked the police by throwing stones, they refused to allow the police to carry out their orders and arrest Kenneth Rapa. They were violently provocative.

What did they expect would happen?

And while police, arguably, should have used more restraint and less gun power – they’re not exactly known for restraint – something of which Rapa would have been well-aware when he formulated his callous plan.

Everything they did was illegal and against the rule of law.

Yet their catch cry is for the Prime Minister to step down and submit to the rule of law – what a pity Rapa didn’t do likewise, if he’d submitted to arrest,  perhaps those few who were seriously hurt (and I believe none of them critically) may not have been.

Honestly, has the irony of their stance been completely lost on them?

There has been much talk in the PNG parliament lately of intelligence and who’s got what amount – judging by the poor decisions of this militant minority of students, the combined IQ here would be countable of the fingers of not too many hands – either that or they are dastardly manipulative.

Because surely, the leading protagonists are aware of who’s funding them – and make no mistake, someone is (I mean, what student can afford to hire buses to be on stand-by for transportation – which they reportedly were) and unless they are really as stupid as they are presenting themselves to be then they’d understand the motivations behind their financiers and even have a few motivations of their own.

It is the leaders of the students who are using their fellows as cannon fodder for someone’s base political motives.

Anyway, the gauntlet has been thrown down by the militant students and it has been picked by the authorities who have started an investigation into who is leveraging, influencing and funding them. The investigation will also include looking at the culpability of social media.

I guess these young people are about to get a timely lesson in consequences – a lesson the injured are well on their way to learning already.

It’s political – of course it is.

The protests have been clearly political and someone in opposition is odds-on favourite for being behind this – and it’s despicable.

The students voiced their concerns, the Prime Minister answered them – and the silence from the students in response to the PMs statement has been absolute, indicating acceptance.

Therefore, the students have no more issues – and the majority have accepted that.

It is clear that it is not the rule of law that concerns this militant remainder of student protestors as they go about deliberately breaking any and every law they but up against. No, it’s someone else’s political agenda and I could fathom a guess as to whose – you whistle, I’ll point.

Yes, Mr Rapa and his cohorts got exactly what they wanted yesterday, exactly what they asked for, in fact, I’d say they succeeded beyond their wildest dreams – they just need to keep off the moral high ground, it doesn’t belong to them.

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Whistle a happy tune – your future depends on it

By PNG Echo

From the Rodgers and Hammerstein musical The King and I comes a song that goes like this:

Audrey Hepburn and Yul Brynner in The King and I
Audrey Hepburn and Yul Brynner in The King and I

Whenever I feel afraid,
I hold my head erect,
And whistle a happy tune
So no one will suspect
I’m afraid.

The result of this deception is very strange to tell,
For when I fool the people I fear
I fool myself as well.

The latest press release from the Office of the Prime Minister puts me in mind of this song. It’s all about perceptions, confidence and the positive effects that flow from the display of confidence.

Accentuate the positive…

In his recent press release the Prime Minister writes:

Our medium to long term economic future will be secured by a mix of responsible fiscal management …strong investor and business confidence and high standing among international and regional organisations and nations we trade with.

Delegates at the recent ACP Meeting – a proud moment when the band struck up the Papua New Guinean national Anthem. ” O arise all ye sons of this land…”

O’Neill goes on to give an assurance that his government will be working around the clock to maximise the benefits that a strong regional and international standing will secure.

The key ingredient to the success of this strategy is confidence.

It is a strong display of confidence that will cement Papua New Guinea as a global force that other countries will want to trade with, invest in and support, and O’Neill has created many opportunities for PNG through the hosting of International events such as the recent ACP meeting in Port Moresby,

Through such events, Papua New Guinea has had the opportunity to show the world what it wants the world to see – but this is not the time for PNG to hang out the dirty laundry for all to see and I fail to understand why some factions, active in the social media, would want that their Prime Minister so shame them.

eliminate the negative

In reality, the international community is not that interested in PNGs domestic issues – except as a warning not to touch the country with a barge pole – so the displaying of them in a plaintive cry for help is counter productive and indicative of a prevailing colonial mindset. The Prime Minister does not do this – he presents a PNG to the world that every citizen can be proud of, and rightly so.

For, perceptions matter and they almost always come from the source.

The story of the Kokoda farce as illustrated by Britain’s ‘Sun’ newspaper

Consider the episode on the Kokoda Track that saw tourists making false allegations of gang rape and more. While it has clearly been revealed as a publicity stunt the question is why did this publicity-seeking couple choose to stage their farce in Papua New Guinea and not, say, in the Forest of Dean in England?

Patently, it would have been totally unbelievable if they’d claimed it occurred in the latter whereas, staging it in Papua New Guinea gave it a real chance of being believed – that’s the power of perception.

The Prime Minister has been presenting a confident and vibrant nation to the international community – the people whose co-operation, friendship and alliance could determine the future of Papua New Guinea.

This he does as an equal partner, bereft of the colonial mentality of those who go, cap in hand, expecting a foreign government to step in and solve PNGs problems by seriously impinging on its sovereignty (Sam Koim)

O’Neill is not lying, he is whistling a happy tune – about time the rest of you did or you’re doomed to be thought of as gang-raping cannibals – and who wants to do business with those?

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Student protests: the missing Ingredients

By PNG Echo.

Student protestors in PNG with their den=mands
Student protestors in PNG with their demands

They say that those who don’t learn from history are doomed to repeat it. Here are a few historical lessons I’ve dug up for the protesting students of PNG to keep in mind.

What’s the issue?

On initial reflection, it seemed to me that the difference between the protests of the PNG students and other past student protests elsewhere in the world is that the PNG protests have been partisan and blatantly political, right from the word go – targeting one man, not even a government or a party and that’s not usual.

Be young and shut up - the advice of the soixante-huitards (students of 1968) to President de Gaulle
Be young and shut up – the advice of the soixante-huitards (students of 1968) to President de Gaulle

For even though the most famous of student riots – Paris 1968 – eventually adopted the slogan “adieu de Gaulle” (goodbye de Gaulle – the then French President) they had begun by a revolt against what the students considered to be outmoded and repressive rules – specifically that they could not have a member of the opposite sex in their dormitories. They wanted the right to have unbridled sex with each other.

The reasons for the French protests became very diffuse and were badly articulated. They were more an attempt at cultural and social revolution against the backdrop of a conservatively repressive government. They arguably succeeded in their cultural and social goals, but politically, they failed miserably.

When De Gaulle called an election in response, far from it being ‘adieu de Gaulle’ it was ‘bienvenue’ as he was returned with an even larger majority than before.

The lesson PNG students can take from this historical episode is that however noisy and disruptive they become, they should not assume that they are speaking for the majority, nor assume that others will follow their political lead.

…but wait…there is a precedent

Although not usual, there was a situation in 1992, in Brazil, that closely resembles the causes in PNG with the Brazilian students having a similar political demand

"Fora Collor" -Out Collor. The student demand for the impeachment of Brazilian President Fernando Collor de Mello
“Fora Collor” -Out Collor. The student demand for the impeachment of Brazilian President Fernando Collor de Mello in 1992

They called for their President’s impeachment after the President’s brother revealed a corruption scam in which the president was involved.

There followed a Commission of Inquiry the results of which were accepted on the floor of the lower house, that then referred the president to the Chamber of Deputies who progressed the charges to the Senate that then proceeded to hear the charges in an impeachment trial where the President of the Supreme Court was presiding officer.

But while the underlying reasons are similar, that’s where the similarities end.

You see, the whole of Congress was against the President – as was, apparently, the media (yes, a neutral media is indeed a myth – everywhere).

On the other hand, O’Neill has unprecedented political support and although the Prime Minister has been referred to the leadership committee in a situation similar to the President’s referral to the Senate Committee, this has yet to progress.

What’s more, the mainstream media is not campaigning against O’Neill and is generally considered to be sympathetic to him– although there is a very noisy social media backlash – mainly orchestrated by impotent political opponents.

But back to the Brazilian President:

He didn’t resign until the last day of the hearing (it’s a myth that every politician willingly falls on their sword), knowing he was losing the case and hoping to avoid the eight-year suspension penalty.

He didn’t avoid the suspension penalty and was impeached. Success, I hear you say, something to buoy the PNG students. Well…it was extremely limited.

When the, by then, former Brazilian President was later charged criminally, all charges were dropped as the prosecution couldn’t make the case and by 2006, he was back in the Brazilian Senate and in 2015, he’s again facing corruption charges.

The French have a saying: Plus ça change, plus c’est la même chose – the more things change, the more they remain the same. It’s something to think about.

The missing Ingredients

Prime Minister O'Neill - has responded more than adequately to the students' expressed issues.
Prime Minister O’Neill – has responded more than adequately to the students’ expressed issues.

The students have presented their issues to the Prime Minister and he has answered them, more than adequately. Now all they have left is a demand that he step down. Why? I may remind you that the prosecution has yet to establish that any crime has been committed – so he’s an accessory to what? The arrest warrant was always previous, cavalier and political.

Before the students continue with this campaign they’d do well to remember that the Prime Minister still retains the confidence and the backing of those with the power – including a large part of the electorate (that silent majority that the students claim to speak for).

The students no longer have any issues that are not partisan and blatantly political and, if history is any indication, to effect their political goals they are going to need more than a handful of desperate political wannabes and has-beens backing them.

It’s becoming more and more evident that the students’ latest efforts are nothing short of early election campaigning for political interests, at best, or a blatant use of their enthusiasm to effect an agenda that over ambitious vested interests have been unable to do at the polls, at worse

Plus ça change…


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