PNG Post-Courier

PORT MORESBY, Papua New Guinea (Mar. 25) - It is great timing for a senior government minister to warn Customs staff against being complacent in the fight against terrorism.

Treasury Minister Bart Philemon told a good governance conference in Madang on Tuesday that we in this region must have a zero tolerance level for complacency and all activities related to terrorism.

In the audience were high level officers of outfits like the Ombudsman Commission, the Defence Force, Royal PNG Constabulary, and highly qualified officers from other countries in our region. Within hours, the slack standards of security at Papua New Guinea's airports were splashed across Australian newspapers and television and flashed off to other parts of the world.

Australia's Deputy Prime Minister John Anderson cautioned that terrorists could take advantage of such slackness at PNG airports to launch attacks against Australia.

Could any traveler on a PNG aircraft and user of our airports argue against that assertion? We know that checking devices at our major airport were allowed to lie idle for months, waiting for government staff to fix them or replace them.

We know that leaders of any sort and quite a few ordinary folk can bluff their way past our airport officers. 

Most often, that bluffing is done to beat the system in the way of getting more carry-on personal luggage through without being charged. Anybody from Moresby who goes to Lae, Goroka, Madang or Rabaul tries to bring the entire market back in their bags.

But such systemised cheating allows a few serious ones to get past, the people who trade in guns and drugs and the like. 

The time for talk and for slapping officials on the wrist is over. With Australia and the rest of the world looking over our shoulder, we must take it seriously and enforce tight security. 

And to make it work, we must punish those who break the security laws.

March 25, 2004

Papua New Guinea Post-Courier: www.postcourier.com.pg/


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