PNG’S SOMARE INSULTS NATION WITH ‘LONGLONG’

Editorial

PNG’S SOMARE INSULTS NATION WITH ‘LONGLONG’

The National

PORT MORESBY, Papua New Guinea (May 12, 2010) – In Papua New Guinea (PNG), the people do rightly demand and they do deserve an apology from Prime Minister Sir Michael Thomas Somare.

He must also retract the public outburst he made in Parliament where he described last week’s demonstrators as "longlongs" and to members of the media as "sadang".

He, of all people, should never call any member of the PNG public "longlong" or "sadang".

"Longlong" in Tok Pisin means mentally retarded or depraved while "sadang" means the devil or satan.

In the final analysis, if the people be "longlong" and "sadang", he, as prime minister of the nation, is the chief of them all.

This demonstration, for all it is worth, cannot be said to have been organized or carried out by "longlongs".

It was peaceful.

It was people speaking their mind and assembling peacefully to do so in accordance with the constitutional provision which gives them that inherent right.

It is not language that is fitting for a prime minister to level at his own people.

For two score and four years through nine national general elections, the "longlongs" of East Sepik chose Sir Michael to represent them in Parliament.

That tremendous achievement, for which glory and praise have been lavished upon the man, most assuredly, is the achievement of the people of East Sepik, of the hard working electoral officers and the most loyal and dedicated supporters and workers.

The Pangu Pati and its diehard supporters and stalwarts, and now the National Alliance party, its executives and faithful members in Parliament and outside, have done their level best for their leader who Sir Michael is. Theirs too is part of the story of the four decade milestone reached by Sir Michael.

Many East Sepik people, many supporters and workers of Sir Michael, many Pangu Pati supporters and many National Alliance supporters do not support the move by Esa’ala MP, Moses Maladina to amend parts of the PNG Constitution pertaining to the leadership code and its administrator, the Ombudsman Commission. They too have been branded "longlong" by the prime minister.

This would hardly be thanks for all the hard work and dedication given by these people to the man we call the Grand Chief.

When Australian immigrations asked Sir Michael to take off his sandals at an Australian airport, the ordinary people of PNG felt the insult deepest. They made no secret of it and spoke up in every public forum. They stood for their Chief, one who would now deign to grant them the title of "longlong".

It is time the Chief got to know his people better. Unlike what he has told Radio Australia, people face real hunger and starvation here. There is a second and third generation of landless people growing up in our towns and cities. Without jobs, they face real starvation.

Bougainville copper, Misima gold mine and Kainantu gold mine have been mined out and, now, Ok Tedi and Porgera are nearly mined out with there being nothing to show for their existence.

Australia has spent more than 28 billion [US$10.1 billion] since Independence in this country with there being nothing to show for the Australian taxpayers’ generous contribution to PNG.

Classrooms, health centres, roads, bridges, local government council chambers, public service houses and much more are in tremendous need of maintenance and many more new ones need to be built.

Mothers and children continue to die in great numbers from very easily preventable diseases. Crime persists. There is a gun culture that now appears a norm in our society.

We must begin to wonder whatever has happened to the billions of kina generated by our resource boom in copper, silver, gold, oil, forestry, fisheries and our combined agricultural commodities over the years.

Wisely applied, these billions would surely have lifted the general population up from the pits where they now wallow to be described as "longlongs" by their own prime minister.

If the people remain ignorant and pitiful, if they remain unhealthy and uncouth and ill-mannered, and many other undesirable attributes, then much has to do with their minders – the leaders of this country.

He cannot call his own people "longlong" without it reflecting upon his own leadership.

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