Bougainville Leaders have condemned Prime Minister Peter O’Neill’s insensitive outburst about the Bougainville Autonomy issue in Kavieng last week.
“Anything to do with Bougainville must be said and done on Bougainville alone – and not in any other town or province,“ disappointed Deputy Opposition Leader and member for South Bougainville, Hon. Timothy Masiu said.
During his official visit to Kavieng last week, Prime Minister Peter O’Neill spoke about Bougainville autonomy to an audience that was predominantly non-Bougainvillean.
Mr. O’Neill said any autonomous arrangements for New Ireland, East New Britain or Bougainville for that matter must reflect consistency in the administration process or funding.
With reference to Bougainville, the Prime Minister said any outcome of a referendum will have to be endorsed by the National Parliament.
He said this means that the people of Bougainville will also convince the people of Papua New Guinea as well through their elected leaders that they are capable of managing their lives and future.
Whilst giving his assurance to honour the Bougainville peace agreement, Prime Minister O’Neill stated: “Just because we have to satisfy Bougainville, whatever autonomous arrangement we have to come with it must function for the best interest of our people that is our number one priority and secondly it must be funded well so it can function in provinces.”
Meanwhile the Opposition on the other hand says it is ironic that the Government is starting to realise the importance of funding what they create after all these years.
Funding woes have been the main setback in the case of Bougainville restoration and the peace process.
Deputy Opposition Leader and Shadow Minister for Inter-Government relations Hon. Timothy Masiu said the leaders and the people of Bougainville are utterly disgusted by Prime Minister’s remarks about Bougainville Autonomy outside of Bougainville itself.
“We translate the Prime Minister’s remarks outside of Bougainville – as an act of disrespect and display of the current Government’s ongoing debacle, featuring characteristics of mishandling, failures over the years and insensitivity to the very nature of the Bougainville issue; marred by continuous lack of funding as well as serious commitment.
“Right now, Bougainville is the main issue of importance to Papua New guinea as a whole. Anything to be said about Bougainville must be expressed on Bougainville – in front of Bougainvilleans and its leaders.
“Let me repeat what I said in the past – don’t mistreat Bougainville – extend the accolade and respect it deserves. Make Bougainville a test case because of its historical secessionist sentiments and violent nature,” the Deputy Opposition leader said.
“If we have not all woken up to reality, the world is watching how the PNG Government is treating Bougainville. I know we are all captured by the APEC syndrome, but Bougainville is the real issue that the Government and the people of Papua New Guinea should be focusing on – not APEC.
Hon. Masiu also pointed out that hosting of APEC meeting is so far the biggest and expensive Public Relations exercise by the O’Neill Government costing K3.39 billion on face-lifting infrastructure and all other related facilities in Port Moresby.
On top of that another K200 million will be spent during the APEC summit in PNG. The O’Neill led Government continues to create an impression of flamboyant rich and generous reputation in the region at the cost of suffering millions of ordinary Papua New Guineans.
Generally, majority of Papua New Guineans continuously cry for service delivery, left with neglected airstrips, poor roads and washed out bridges, hospitals without drugs, deteriorating Government facilities in most rural towns and centers – coupled with confused education system that turns out thousands of school leavers and job seekers into overcrowded cities – igniting growing poverty, culture of crime and widespread corruption in all levels of PNG society.
“If the Prime Minister is genuine about the future of Bougainville, I invite him to come to Bougainville and talk to Bougainvilleans,” Masiu said.
HON. TIMOTHY MASIU, MP
Deputy Opposition Leader & Member for South Bougainville
21st March, 2018