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Subject: Lae: Stop the madness

Annoyed to the Bone
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Date Posted: Thu, Oct 05 2006, 01:21:32pm
In reply to: Annoyed to the Bone 's message, "Lae stand-off - Engans and WH..ers at it this time" on Thu, Oct 05 2006, 01:19:31pm

Lae: Stop the madness


VERY few readers could have failed to be moved by The National’s front page picture yesterday.
It was not the amalgam of emotions on the part of the young men marching in Lae that shook us; it was the tiny boy leading these young men.
He was the son of the man allegedly killed for not paying a paltry 50 toea PMV fare.
The expression on that child’s face might well serve as a symbol for the chaos that is Lae today.
There is confusion, the eyes wide with fear, with determination and with sorrow.
They are not the happy eyes of a young boy. They are the sad world-weary eyes of a one who has already experienced too much grief.
How will that small boy grow up?
Will he always be the symbol of an outraged Enga?
He would seem to have little chance now of a normal childhood, teenage or adult years.
His world changed forever in the moment when his father died for not paying his bus fare.
Where the victim comes from is completely immaterial. He could have been a Tolai, or a Gogodala, or a man from Ambunti.
To his small son, he was father, and now he is no more.
The identity of the aggressors is also of no consequence.
They could have come from the ghettoes of Lae, the open plains of the Western province, or a remote island in Milne Bay.
The point is only that they killed, and a small boy with wide confused eyes is now fatherless.
The rights and wrongs of this situation are no more important than sand grains on the beach.
They are simply symbols of a national malaise.
We no longer trust each
We can no longer live side by side in amity.
A generation of youths long ago learned to hate others, not on the basis of their wrongful acts, but simply because of
their province or district of origin.
Against such a background, we cannot construct the unified nation that is a necessity if Papua New Guinea is to survive.
It is not economics that threatens to ultimately defeat PNG, nor unemployment, nor poverty, nor politics.
It is the burgeoning hatred of one tribal group for another, the fast-receding dream of “one people, one nation,” and the growth of an “us and them” mentality of fearful proportions.
Are we prepared to see PNG nailed to a cross made of tribal hatred?
Lae today is a tattered remnant of the Garden City of yesterday. Urban infrastructure verges on the non-existent.
Settlements mushroom daily. Squatters increasingly dictate the pattern of city life.
Assaults, rape, murder, incest – all of these are so familiar to Lae residents that new cases scarcely raise more than a weary acknowledgement.
Life in the squatter settlements is not only a squalid battle for survival; today it is fraught with danger, and orchestrated by cold fear.
Nobody is safe.
Sexual assaults on young children are a matter of regular report.
Murder frequently passes without comment.
Rape and incest no longer stir more than a passing recognition, unless there’s a chance of organising substantial financial “compensation” out of the circumstances.
The courts are rarely seen as a viable option, and more and more serious crimes are hidden from police because they can be “solved” and a substantial profit made if they are handled
quietly behind the scenes.
The victim, if alive, scarcely benefits from these arrangements, being simply the centre piece in an ongoing series of negotiations designed to benefit only the relatives and friends.
The latest ingredient, and perhaps the most ironic, is a large body of university students who have decided to abandon all the precepts of several years of education, and revert to traditional warfare to solve their grievances.
Descending upon Lae like some latter day band of Visigoths, these supposed leaders of tomorrow – God help us – have added immeasurably to the tinder box that is currently Lae.
The time for verbal grandstanding and grandiose promises has long since passed.
Only genuine local leadership can salvage the Lae situation.
Do such focused and committed leaders exist within the provincial government?
For the sake of that small boy, we pray that they do.

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[> [> Subject: Re: Lae: Stop the madness

Annoyed to the Bone
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Date Posted: Thu, Oct 05 2006, 01:23:34pm

Chief slams ethnic wars

PRIME Minister Sir Michael Somare went on air yesterday to tell the country that he was ashamed to see people showing bush knives in public places.
He was referring to the front page photograph in The National yesterday showing a group of people from Enga brandishing bush knives, sticks and pieces of wood marching along the street in Lae on Tuesday. These Engans were on their way to a peace meeting with Western Highlanders after an Engan, who refused to pay his 50 toea bus fare, was killed allegedly by the PMV driver and his crew last Saturday.
Their actions brought Lae city to a standstill on Tuesday as many shops, schools and offices closed their doors. PMV operators also pulled their buses off the roads.
Sir Michael also warned students at the University of Technology, and other universities in PNG, that laws will be enacted to ensure students who bring bush knives and any form of weapons onto the school grounds are terminated.
The Prime Minister’s warning comes after Unitech students went on a rampage last Saturday and destroyed a residential property, leaving four families homeless, and the 140 Club at Tent City to avenge the death of a student from Mul Baiyer in Western Highlands province.
Earlier police reports said the student was shot dead during a brawl some metres from the club after a fundraising dance.
The suspect in the shooting incident, and those involved in the brawl, has surrendered to the authorities.
“We will terminate students who bring weapons such as bush knives into the university; they should go and stay in the bush if they don’t want an education.
“We will introduce tougher penalties to discipline university students,” Sir Michael told NBC radio.
He said the ethnic clashes in Port Moresby and, now, Lae have portrayed a very bad image of PNG.
“We must change, look after our country and show that we are proud of our country,” the Prime Minister said.
“Others around the world would see and read about this problem and think that PNG is still 300 years behind the rest.”
He said there was no need to link one single incident to everyone.
“This mentality of the fifties and sixties must stop.”
He particularly called on Highlanders, especially their political leaders and parliamentarians, to take a good look at the problem and treat it once and for all.
“If the Sepiks do such things, I will discipline them,” Sir Michael said.


Enough of slamming and reactive responses. We need REAL CHANGE to put an end to this madness

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