PNG ANTI-COMPENSATION LAW NEEDS TEETH

Editorial

PNG Post-Courier

PORT MORESBY, Papua New Guinea (September 24, 2009) – The plan to outlaw compensation demands for major projects can’t come through fast enough!

The reported intention of the Government to push such legislation through Parliament before the end of this year is to be applauded.

Yesterday’s disastrous shooting cum kidnapping and destruction of property in the Highlands is the latest of the many examples of the need for such legislation.

One crime, an attempted robbery at a business property in Mount Hagen, catapulted into a major mess within hours yesterday.

Two men from the neighbouring province of Chimbu, working as guards, were shot apparently in attempting to thwart a robbery gang.

One died and the other is battling to survive. Quickly, relatives of the guards set up a roadblock in the neighbouring province, smashed a bus and kidnapped some of its occupants.

The guards did the honourable thing in defending their employers’ property. Their families are besmirching their memory by acting like hooligans, even in the time-honoured tradition of payback.

This is the kind of thing that kills the work ethic and the motives for many in building up business ventures, both big and small.

It is also the kind of act that sends shivers down the spine of investors.

We appreciate our ancient customs but we have to pick and choose. The good, the honourable customs should be preserved and fostered. But this mindless destruction and killing in the name of payback is not one that we need or should keep. The only question with a law to ban compensation demands, and violent, illegal acts that go with it, is: Can the law be enforced?

Laws are useless if they cannot be backed up by lawful authority. Our capital punishment law is almost a spent force, unless the government officers and politicians devise a means to make it work.

Similarly, a law to forbid compensation demands must be given the process and the teeth to make it work.

As we enter the last lap of moves to bring the almighty LNG project into development, we do need the vaunted Polye law on compensation. If it is seen to be a well devised and effective law, it will do much to bolster the confidence of foreign investors and our own businesspeople who have their buses, stores and other assets on the line every day of their lives.

Present it, show it is good law and pass it, we say!

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