Blood, Faith & Fire

Political suspicion & economic envy fuel highland anti-Asian prejudice

 

It's only about one year away from Papua New Guinea's next national elections. With the economy booming, investors are positioning themselves to take advantage of major resource developments like the LNG gas project in the Southern Highlands and the Ramu nickel mine, inland from Madang.

It's only about one year away from Papua New Guinea's next national elections. With the economy booming, investors are positioning themselves to take advantage of major resource developments like the LNG gas project in the Southern Highlands and the Ramu nickel mine, inland from Madang.
 
Papua New Guineans from all  walks of life can only pray that the scenario presented by Amy Chua in her 2003 book, World on Fire, is not the blueprint for their country's next 12 months. In it, she argues that free markets and elections are a combustible mix, where change at the ballot box is rarely peaceful.
 
The May 2009 riots in Lae and Port Moresby - where several looters were shot dead - left investors with a bad taste. But in September last year, looting of Asian businesses in Goroka and nearby Kainantu in the Eastern Highlands proved that grassroots grievance against 'foreigners' and an organised national campaign against Asian traders were fused.
 
Telinga Media believes now is the time to start addressing these antagonisms at their source to avert further damage to and discrediting of PNG's institutions. It calls on its readers to come up with practical ideas to help avoid a repeat of the communal attacks in May 2009 and September last year.
 
In September, the reaction from local traders in Goroka's main market suggests politicians have work to do to prevent a more serious meltdown at election time, a season that traders - large and small - always dread.
 
To get people talking, the following report looks back at the September rioting in the Eastern Highlands and urges citizens of Papua New Guinea and all those loyal to her to be part of a solution.
 
 
For the report containing interviews in original Tok Pisin, click here.
 
For the English-only version, click here.
 
To go straight to the discussion forum to record your comments, click here.It's only about one year away from Papua New Guinea's next national elections. With the economy booming, investors are positioning themselves to take advantage of major resource developments like the LNG gas project in the Southern Highlands and the Ramu nickel mine, inland from Madang.

But Papua New Guineans from all  walks of life can only pray that the scenario presented by Amy Chua in her 2003 book, World on Fire, is not the blueprint for their country's next 12 months. In it, she argues that free markets and elections are a combustible mix, where change at the ballot box is rarely peaceful.

The May 2009 riots in Lae and Port Moresby - which started with a fight between local and foreign workers at the Ramu nickel mine and ended with several looters being shot dead - left investors with a bad taste. Then in September last year, looting of Asian businesses in Goroka and nearby Kainantu in the Eastern Highlands proved that grassroots grievance against 'foreigners' and an organised national campaign against Asian traders were fused.

Telinga Media believes now is the time to start addressing these antagonisms at their source to avert further damage to and discrediting of PNG's institutions. It calls on its readers to come up with practical ideas to help avoid a repeat of the communal attacks in May 2009 and September last year. In September, the reaction from local traders in Goroka's main market suggests politicians have work to do to prevent a more serious meltdown at election time, a season that traders - large and small - always dread.

To get people talking, the following report looks back at the September rioting in the Eastern Highlands and urges citizens of Papua New Guinea and all those loyal to her to be part of a solution.

For the report containing interviews in original Tok Pisin -  

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