PORT MORESBY, Papua New Guinea (The National, Oct. 14) - The Papua New Guinea Opposition has called on Prime Minister Sir Michael Somare to explain the government's role in the hunt for a wartime gold cache allegedly stacked away in the mountains of New Ireland province.

The gold bullion were reportedly left there by the Japanese during World War II nearly 60 years ago, prompting the government to dispatch soldiers and policeman to the province to guard the area where the 'treasure' is allegedly stored.

It was reported that the Cabinet approved a funding of K150,000 (US$46,000) and authorized the deployment of armed soldiers and police personnel for the search.

"The Cabinet could not have been fooled into approving a funding of K150,000 in public money for this treasure hunt. Therefore the public has a right to a clear picture of what is going on there," Acting Opposition leader Mathew Siune said yesterday.

"Did the Cabinet act on information based on hard facts and some form of evidence that some treasure might be there? What are the soldiers and policemen doing there, imposing without lawful authority a no-go zone on traditional land?

"Does the Government realize what all these has created in the minds of people here and abroad?"

Mr Siune warned that the Government would suffer a major embarrassment if it turns out that a hunt for billions funded by public money turns out to be a wild goose chase.

October 14, 2003

The National:


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