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 Sandline
A feud between Forest Minister Belden Namah and mercenary Tim Spicer could be behind the recent jailbreak from Bomana prison’s top security unit.
Rumors are circulating around the PNG capital, Port Moresby, that the UK mercenary Tim Spicer has returned to PNG, 10 years after being expelled for leading plans to use South African mercenary forces to end the bloody cvil war on Bougainville.
Spicer brought a team of mercenaries into PNG in 1999 under a $36 million contract with the PNG government to quash the rebellion on Bougainville that started when the indigenous population of the island massed in opposition to the copper mine and closed it down.
Belden Namah, now PNGs Forest Minister, was then a Captain in the PNG Defence Force, which was kept in the dark over the governments plans to use mercenary soilders and revolted against the government when it found out what was happening.
Captain Namah, now MP for Vanimo-Green River, played a key part in Operation Rausin Kwik – the secret Defence Force operation that saw Spicer and his mercenaries rounded up and disarmed on the night of Marach 16, 1999. Ten days later Prime Minister Julius Chan was forced to resign.
But now, it is claimed, Spicer is back in PNG – and may be looking for revenge.
Spicers return, it is said, has spooked Forest Minister Belden Namah – who has continued to attract controversy despite being granted a pardon in 2000 for his part in the Sandline crisis.
In July last year the Samoa Observer reported that Namah had purchased three properties in the country for a total of US$1.5 million. Namah initially denied the story, but after the Samoan Central Bank announced it was launching an inquiry into possible money laundering offenses, Namah admitted making the purchases but claimed he was operating on behalf of unnamed business associatees.
Now, it is suggested, Belden Namah has financed the jail break from Bomana prison’s top security unit by some of PNGs most hardened and feared criminals, in an attempt to surround himself with a militia to stand up to Spicer.
It may sound crazy – but in PNG the crazy has a habit of coming true – as the original Sandline affair demonstrated only too clearly.