Monday, May 2, 2011

Shocking act Madang MPs hurl abuse at each other in public forum

By Rosalyn Evara, Post Courier
A HEATED racial slur exchange between Attorney-General Sir Arnold Amet and Sumkar MP Ken Fairweather marred a public forum in Madang attended by senior national ministers to discuss the Pacific Marine Industrial Zone project with the local people.
An obviously agitated Sir Arnold held the microphone in his right hand and with his left hand pointed at Mr Fairweather and said: “I’m not a white man’s cargo boy my friend, I don’t need you, you pack up and leave my island.”
“That’s raw politics … now let’s talk politics,” he said. Mr Fairweather is long-time businessman who owns Dylup Plantation on Karkar island where Sir Arnold comes from.
Speaking in Tok Pisin, Sir Arnold told an amused and cheering crowd at Sek Primary school that the NA Government had bought the Dylup Plantation last week to give it back to the local people … “so Fairweather, I’m telling you, you don’t belong here”.
Mr Fairweather did not take it lying down, the smiling and six-foot tall and heavily built Sumkar MP shot back at Sir Arnold saying: “Minister, Minister, I’m telling you, on Karkar, they call you acting white man,” bringing roaring laughter and clapping from the crowd.
However, many people at the gathering expressed disgust at the unbecoming conduct of the two leaders. The exchange between the two has been posted on YouTube.
Ministers who attended the meeting included Gabriel Kapris (Commerce and Industry) and Benny Allan (Environment) who strongly defended the PMIZ project proposal.
During the meeting, local leaders told the three ministers that a lawsuit had been filed to stop the project from getting off the ground. Landowners of impact areas attended the meeting.
They included Rempi, Kananam, Siar, Nobnob, Riwo, Malmal and the Karanget areas.
Francis Gem who made the announcement said the general sentiment among the landowners was that they did not want the project for the reason that it was a “con-project” being carried out by “con-men”.
He said while he was part of the team which had at the invitation of government travelled to the Phillipines to see other PMIZ’s there, he had returned not convinced this would be a good project.
He said soon after returning he had made it his business to tell the people about all that he had seen.
“…mipela bin go long wanpela Yacht Club na solwara long hap em ibin milky yellow. Yupela laikim solwara blong yupela bai olsem. Em wrong!,” he said (… while in the Phillipines we were taken to a Yacht Club situated near a PMIZ and saw the sea there to be milky yellow do you want your sea to be like that.)
He claimed the people did not stand to benefit as there were many issues government had yet to answer to including the underwater lease, Environmental Impact Study and hence he had already registered a case against the PMIZ project.
He said a summons had already been sent abroad to the proposed financiers of the project.
“Mi bai stopim na wanem samting me mekim em blong yumi olgeta (I will stop the project and what I have done stands to benefit everyone),” he told his fellow villagers from Bel.Mr Kapris interjected telling Mr Gem he ought to thank government for the trip adding that, he had heard a different report from the Madang delegation soon after their arrival back in the country.
The minister said the project for real and not a “con-project” as had been stated stating it would bring the country to new heights.
He said its progression posed a threat to many countries which were currently fishing in PNG waters and who had factories abroad including Thailand which would close should the PMIZ come on line.
He said PNG stood to make US$6 billion which was a lot more than it was currently making from the fishing industry.
He said for too long PNG had been crawling in terms of development and it was high time for change.
Mr Kapris said they would be going to China this week to source funding for the project and only then would they have a project and move to looking at benefits for the locals and the other issues the locals were raising.
He added that the project also stood to create up to 30, 000 jobs, 10 percent only of which would be occupied by foreigners.
Mr Allen in explaining the various permits to be issued added there also to be huge benefits for the people including a better water and sewerage system.
He said the department would monitor the project and if there were any adverse impacts the landowners could approach their respective provincial government and/or their MP who could then raise them with the department for them to then address them.
Sir Arnold said all issues including those relating to the environment and benefits were all in working progress.
He said this project was not a the Marengo mine or the LNG project but rather a facility and hence people should refrain from misleading people and instead work towards the common good especially for the people.

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