Attempted PNG media censor irks Pruaitch

PORT MORESBY, 18 OCTOBER 2018 (POST COURIER) – Papua New Guinea Opposition Leader Patrick Pruaitch has expressed dismay over attempts to block the live talkback show over the Maserati luxury car deal.

Pruaitch said he is dismayed to learn that the O’Neill government has effectively censored the PNG media and threatened one of the pillars of democracy.

He said two prominent Opposition leaders, East Sepik Governor Allan Bird and Madang MP Bryan Kramer, had been scheduled to discuss the scandal surrounding the import of 40 Maserati cars from Italy on FM100.

Reports coming in from Port Moresby, Lae and various parts of Morobe Province indicate these broadcasts were blocked by the government in an unprecedented action.

“It has long been acknowledged that freedom of the press in PNG is a key pillar of the nation’s democratic institutions, acting as a safety valve on many issues of public interest.

“Freedom of the press and the role of the media have helped PNG retain its reputation ‘as one of the persevering democracies in the developing world’, as one political scientist put it.

“From this perspective this is a sad day today for all Papua New Guineans. It says a lot that no one is surprised by this development because the O’Neill government is the first PNG government on record that has set out to manipulate the mass media in the past few years,” he said.

Pruaitch said he was adding his voice to the call to all Papua New Guineans, in the public and private sector, to stand up and say, enough is enough”, and demand an end to waste and corruption by supporting the nationwide strike on Thursday and Friday initiated by colleagues in the opposition.

This government is the recipient of more revenue than any government in the nation’s history, but it is constantly broke and unable to keep up with budgeted payments for education and health and causing numerous officers to be locked out of their premises for failure to pay rent.

“These are problems that have never been encountered on this scale in the past,” he said, adding: “The O’Neill government has no trouble paying for luxury cars, without going through normal government tender processes.”

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