PNG governor: No freedom of speech is alarming

PNG's Oro Governor Gary Juffa. Picture: POST COURIER

PORT MORESBY – World leaders like Donald Trump gets criticised and Australian Prime Minister gets criticised on Facebook and they take it,” Oro Governor Garry Juffa said.

Juffa said what is frightening and what is alarming for the people of PNG is this deliberate move towards shutting down their opportunity to have access to information and to also speak freely.

“This criticism that they are complaining about, they are basically complaining about is their feelings of being hurt because of something that has offended them or has demeaned them in some ways, but this comes with the territory.

“When you are a leader you going to get criticised, that’s normal, Donald Trump gets criticised you know, the Australian Prime Minister gets criticised and they take it, they don’t go and refer these matters to the parliamentary privileges committee in their countries, they don’t cry about it and demand apologies.

“We should be feeling hurt about the fact that we don’t have medicines in our aid posts and hospitals, we should be feeling hurt about the fact that our schools are shutting down because they are not getting funds they need, that our teachers are not being paid, we should be getting hurt about the fact that our economy is taking such a nose dive that ordinary Papua New Guineans are losing their homes, they are losing their business, they are not being paid, people are losing their jobs, these are the things that we need to be hurt about and expressing our concerns about.

“But we have taken three days of Parliament over an issue because someone in parliament is being hurt about what someone said about them, it’s quite ridiculous and in fact the world is now looking at Papua New Guinea and thinking what is going on in that country.

“This is not about Facebook. This is about the freedom of our people to have the opportunity to say what they want, I may not agree with what you say but we must always fight to protect your right to say it because that’s the fundamental hallmark of democracy.

“We are supposed to host APEC, I mean APEC nations that are coming here that promotes and subscribe to democracy will be aghast, will be shocked that here is a country that is deliberately moving to snuff out or stop the opportunity for its people to dissent.

“The Opposition walk-out from Parliament was a demonstration of our disgust at the fact that the government is deliberately moving against our people’s rights to express themselves, said Juffa.