Former PNG Defence Force Commander, Major General Jerry Singirok, has issued a stark warning that the Exxon-Mobil LNG project could lead to a civil war in PNG bigger than the Bougainville crisis.
“If they are not careful with what is happening in the LNG project area, the situation there can be much larger and far worse than Bougainville,” says the man who masterminded the departure of mercenaries hired by the Government to put down the Bougainville rebellion 13 years ago.
“My greatest fear right now is that we are now setting the stage for another Bougainville crisis in Southern Highlands because all the right conditions are there”.
Singirok says the government has failed to heed lessons about allowing foreign security companies to work in PNG, especially in big resource projects.
“Now with the LNG project in the Southern Highlands, the Government has allowed developers to bring in foreign-owned security companies [like G4S, the world’s largest security company, which has recently established itself in PNG] that have no appreciation of the local customs, cultures and the people.
“These companies are dismantling the police and Defence Force by recruiting their best men to work on the project sites with promises of better pay and conditions,” Gen Singirok said.
“With lousy pay and service conditions, police and Defence Force personnel are living below poverty line. That is why they are taking up offers to work as security personnel for foreign-owned security companies at the LNG project,” Gen Singirok said.
“Has anyone done any due diligence checks on these foreign security companies?” he asked.
Gen Singirok said the foreign-owned security companies came here with one purpose, to use maximum force against landowners or anyone who tried to frustrate work on the project.
“The presence of foreign-owned security companies in PNG poses a great threat to the country.
“I want to know what their rules of engagement are, what types of firepower they have and who authorised them to have high-powered firearms.
“The use of foreign private security companies happens in countries where the state has failed to provide the needed security.
“Conditions are ripe for a major crisis if the Government is not careful.
“Firstly, there is a serious breakdown of law and order in Southern Highlands province right now.
“Secondly is the massive build-up of illegal firearms as a result of lack of control by State law enforcement agencies to contain the influx of these firearms.
“Thirdly is the lack of border control on the PNG-Indonesia border as well as the PNG-Australian border.
“The fourth issue is the obvious lack of Government investment in Defence Force, police and Correctional Services.
“These are the concerns that all add up to what I call a very serious threat to our national security by governments in office,” Gen Singirok said.
Archive for illegal guns
The ugly face of corruption and the power and influence of the Chinese mafia was clearly on display in Port Moresby on Friday as Magistrate Fred Tomo granted bail to two Chinese men accussed of the shooting and attempted murder of businessman Jason Tan on January 2nd this year.
The two Chinese, Chanjiang Gao and Xue Zhufu, were released on bail of just K2,000 each despite the facts of the case which include that neither man can speak English or Tok Pisin, one is unemployed, both were arrested close to the scene of the attempted murder, both were in the vehicle from the crime scene, and they were in possession of guns, one of which was unlicensed, black face masks and gloves and false number plates.
Clearly it is highly likely that both men will now disappear from sight and it is very unlikely that either will ever appear in court again. No wonder the National newspaper reported they were “beaming with happiness and making thumbs up signs” when coming out of court.
Both Magistrate Fred Tomo, who granted the two men bail despite the overwhelming evidence against them, the flight risk and the seriousness of the charges; and the police investigating the case who apparently have done little to advance the prosecution over the last six weeks should be forced to explain themselves.
When Mr Tan was shot at on January 2nd and the two Chinese arrested, we all expected that the Chinese mafia would ensure that justice would NOT be done. Mr Tomo and the police it seems have proved us all correct.
A prominent lawyer in Mount Hagan, Papua New Guinea, has rubbished cliams by ExxonMobil that the death of 11 people in a tribal dispute has nothing to do with the company or its massive $15billion liquified natural gas project.
Papau New Guinea was stuned on Monday when news of the 11 deaths from a gun battle involving high powered rifles and the destruction of up to 270 homes emerged from the remote Southern Highlands region. The deaths reportedly occurred as a result of a tribal dispute over benefit sharing from ExxonMobils gas project.
However, ExxonMobil quickly moved to deny the deaths were in any way related to the company or its LNG project, saying instead that it was “a long standing tribal dispute”.
These denials did not impress a prominent human rights lawyer who works in Papua New Guinea’s Southern Highland region and is well versed in large scale resource developments. “What a load of cr*p” she responded when told of ExxonMobils denials.
“The fact is that none of the killings would have happened if the developer [ExxonMobil] and the government had obtained the prior informed consent of the indigenous local people to the project going ahead”.
“ExxonMobil has failed to identify the resource owners. It has not resourced them to understand the dealings and developments that are proposed. They don’t have their own advisors or experts or even an advisory council.”
“If Exxon says its not their fault, that makes me sick”
ExxonMobil’s denial of responsibility was, rather bizarrely, backed up by the PNG police. Highlands police commander Jimmy Onopia could not confirm the number of deaths and said police had not been able to access the remote area, but he was able to state categorically “It is definitely not linked to do with the LNG project.” He was though unable to say how he came to that conclusion.
Corruption is well documented in the PNG police force and teams of officers often act as private security for foreign owned businesses.
By MOHAMMAD BASHIR
Even the heavy presence of police and warders over the weekend did not deter criminals from shooting a Chinese businessman at the Gordon industrial area in daylight on Saturday.
In an apparent attempted hold-up that did not work, the criminals shot Mr Zhang Chunliu, 36, when he had just closed his shop and was trying to drive home. Mr Liu as he is known was shot twice under his chest and the bullets penetrated his body and out the other end by criminals in a black jeep. He was rushed to the Port Moresby General hospital but was pronounced dead on arrival.
According to his relatives, there were three previous attempts to hold-up Mr Liu but all failed. Mr Liu owns Antai Ltd, which operates a wholesale and retail and is reported to have dealt with plenty of cash daily. News of the shooting spread like fire and in no time the accident and emergency ward car park was swamped with people, mainly Chinese nationals. Shocked friends and relatives could not hold back and shed tears openly in disbelief.
Mr Liu is survived by his wife and two young children who were born in Port Moresby. A moved president of the China-PNG Friendship Association (CPNGFA) Stanley Shi expressed disbelief that innocent Chinese were being targeted. “This (PNG) is our second motherland and we have done a lot to help communities in need and foster a good relationship but we do not understand why criminals should target us,” he said.
Deputy head of mission and Counsellor Zheng Kang of the Chinese Embassy condemned the violent killing and said the culprits should be rounded up and prosecuted. “He (Liu) was an honest businessman entitled to be protected by the law,” Mr Kang, who was at the hospital said. He said authorities must take pre-emptive measures to provide a safe environment for both Chinese and PNG citizens to live.
CPNGFA vice president Michael Lin said Chinese and PNG people must live and work together to help upgrade their livelihoods and become self sufficient. “Only when we live and co-operate together, can we learn from each other and impart what either group lacks,” he said.
Eleven Papua New Guineans have been fatally shot amid a dispute over profits from a pipeline carrying liquid natural gas (LNG) from an ExxonMobil site in PNG’s Southern Highlands to Port Moresby, local media reports.
A gang of villagers from Erave district, in the Southern Highlands, attacked their neighbouring clan with high-powered guns in an early morning raid over the weekend.
Women and children fled as homes were torched and property destroyed in the attack, which killed 11 people, PNG’s Post Courier newspaper reports.
The raid is believed to be retaliation for a previous killing that happened in the lead-up to LNG benefit-sharing negotiations last December.
Thousands of landowners from a variety of groups are set to profit from an $16 billion LNG project that from 2014 will pump gas from the Southern Highlands to the capital Port Moresby 600km away, before shipping it to mainly Asian buyers for a predicted 30 years.
The landowners affected by the pipeline spent weeks cutting a deal with the PNG government, but tensions remain as some landowners believe they missed out or were excluded from the talks.
PNG’s Highlands region is notorious for tribal conflicts and payback attacks for a variety of reasons from land disputes to pig distribution.
The conflicts are often tied to ongoing fights dating back decades.
Comment was being sought from ExxonMobil.
A successful PNG Customs operation in the Highlands has netted seven illegal firearms and 400 rounds of ammunition held by several prominent businessmen, according to Customs Commissioner Gary Juffa.
The weapons included an MP5 machine gun that was found in the possession of a ‘top Asian’. The machine gun was a police issue weapon and the businessman was also found to be in possession of a police beret and a police tear gas cannister.
Strangely though, despite the weapons being seized by the Customs team led by the Commissioner, none of the businessmen have been charged by police and the ‘top Asian’ has not even been named.
Customs insiders say these seizures are only the tip of the iceberg where foreign business men involved in people smuggling and other illegal activities are acting in collusion with corrupt police officers who supply them with police issue weapons and protection services.
Police Commissioner, Garry Baki, needs to come out and tell the people of PNG the name of the ‘top Asian’; explain how he came to be in possession of a police issue machine gun; and explain what action is being taken against everyone involved.
We should not forget that the police are PUBLIC servants. It is the PUBLIC they should be protecting and it is the police’s responsibility to be open and honest. Come on Mr Baki, tell us what is going on here – or do you condone the actions of the police in corruptly colluding with foreign businessmen and providing them with police weapons?
The customs operation also uncovered four illegal immigrants of Chinese descent who will now be deported – if proper procedures are followed .