Monday, May 2, 2011

Madang PMIZ debate turns sour

By ROSALYN EVARA, Post Courier
THE people of Madang were given an insight of how issues are debated by national leaders on the floor of parliament during a stakeholders meeting which was held at Alexishafen Primary School outside the town precincts last Friday.
While some found the session to be hilarious and entertaining seeing the national leaders engage themselves in a mudslinging exercise, others were not so impressed it took their shouting to knock some sense back into the leaders as to the real purpose of the meeting.
The meeting was initiated by Minister for Justice and Attorney General Sir Arnold Amet for the purposes of allowing the landowners who would directly and indirectly be affected by the proposed Pacific Marine Industrial Zone (PMIZ) project.
At Sir Arnold’s invitation other ministers and leaders who had attended in person were Ministers Gabriel Kapris (Commerce and Industry), Benny Allen (Environment), Madang Governor James Gau and Sumkar MP Ken Fairweather.
Also present was Anglimp South Wagi MP Jamie Maxstone Graham.
The meeting got off to a late start and to the dissatisfaction of the villagers from Kananam, Rempi, Malmal, Nobnob, Siar, Karanget, Malmal who had converged on Sek Primary School as early as 9am as per the notice which had been given to them.
The meeting kicked off a little after 1pm and with Mr Fairweather no where to be seen promoted Sir Arnold to take a shot at him for his “non-attendance” at this important meet when he had been specifically asked to come to have these frank talks instead of going behind people’s backs and making statements. While still in the process of his introductory remarks he was interrupted by cheering from the crowd signaling the Mr Fairweather’s arrival.
Taking to the podium Mr Fairweather lashed out at the project calling it a “con-job” and one which did not stand to benefit his constituents. He took a sling at Mr Kapris calling him a “stil-man”. Before taking his seat after venting his frustrations and that of his people he took a swipe at the leaders also for their non-attendance at the meeting which had been organised by the villagers a week ago.
He said their explanation particularly Sir Arnold’s that he had not received any invitation to be lame.
“Mi ino bilip em ino kisim dispel toksave long Karkar inogat gutpela communication system tasol mi kisim toksave. Yupela igat ol spy tasol yupela ino kam ating yupela I poret,” he said in tok pisin. ( I don’t believe he (Sir Amet) said he did not get this invitation. In Karkar where there is no good communication system I still got the invite. You guys have spies yet you guys did not attend, I think you guys were scared)
This got the ball rolling with a landowner and community after the ball was set in motion having his piece by branding Ministers Kapris, Allen and Sir Arnold all conmen and the PMIZ to be a con-project.
Mr Kapris who was not impressed by being called a “stil-man” (thief) said he was not one and hurled one at the Sumkar MP branding him “a failed politician”. More mud was hurled on Mr Fairweather with Sir Arnold calling him a “thief, a millionaire, white man and spy”, who was not needed on Karkar. This did not go unchallenged by Mr Fairweather who said “na yu save long Karkar ol save kolim yu (referring to Sir Arnold) ‘Ekting whiteman’”.
While this saw members of the crowd burst into laughter several got angry with one shouting that they were not there to witness this performance but to discuss serious issues of concern. This comment immediately drew an apology from the Minister for Justice who quickly returned to the business of the day.
To add to the drama for the day Mr Allen had tried to wrestle a mike off a landowners who had touched a nerve when trying to raise concerns about his department’s inability to monitor projects.

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