Papua New Guinea calls itself a Christian nation but the escalating crime and violence – even in the name of religion – is not very Christian-like.
There is widespread violence in all areas of PNG and in a recent trend, youth are roaming city streets armed with machetes and home-made weapons. The law and order situation has people questioning the leadership of the nation.
PNG proclaimed itself as a Christian country when it gained independence in 1975 but despite this, the country is far from enjoying the core values and principles of being a Christian country.
Christian values like love, joy, peace, happiness and freedom are no longer being seen or shared amongst people and are diminishing every day. The law and order situation is impacting all lives in PNG.
These values has been replaced by people in possession of knives and sharp metals purposely to attack innocent people.
Many members of the public feel that no one is serious about improving the situation in PNG. Last week in parliament, East Sepik Governor, Allen Bird made it clear that PNG was no longer a ‘Christian country’.
“I want to make a statement in direct contrast to the good Governor for Morobe said in his preamble to the question that he raised to the prime minister. He said and I quote “we are a Christian country,” Mr Bird said.
“We are now the second most lawless country on planet earth based on official figures.”
He said the only country with a worse criminal issue in the world is Venezuela in South America.
“We cannot dispute that. For instance, even in my province we are struggling because we have a recent trend where young men produce their own weapons and carry them around heavily just waiting for the trouble so that they can use it on each other,” Mr Bird added.
“We have so far lost five people through the use of these new weapons. We are also losing people through bush knives and our hospital has a record on this with over 60 per cent coming in with such injuries.
“This means that the people get injured on things like wire catapult and bush knives make up 60 per cent of patients at the hospital. And I’m sure if you check some of the other hospitals, they will have similar statistics.”
Mr Bird said it was disturbing that the issue of lack of police officers was well known even in his province but what was more concerning was the lack of support from the government in addressing law and order issues.
“In Sepik, we have 160 police men and women on the active duty serving 4.4 million hectares of land with a population of 600 000 people. This is not enough,” he said.
“I checked our budget figures for this year and I note that our police are going to get AU$162 million in the budget allocation that we passed last year. And out of that, AU$128 million is going to go for wages and emoluments.
“I think this house needs to do something. When the new budget comes in, I personally want to see an increase in police department. We cannot play around with this anymore. Our young people are reckless. They do not respect the authority of our elders in the village anymore.”
In a metropolitan city like Port Moresby, individuals can arm themselves with a bush knife, bow and arrow or even guns and walk around the streets while police can’t do anything about it.
Recently, there was an ethnic clash between two different warring tribes living together in the settlement of Erima in which a young man was killed and several others sustained serious wounds.
The ethnic clash went on for three days and as a result, essential services like public transport were impacted.
In parliament, Prime Minister James Marape was quick to pass the buck and pushed the blame on the Police Commissioner David Manning.
Commissioner Manning while responding to Mr Marape’s call, proposed to beef up special security operations in the crime hotspot areas within the next six weeks and continue into the festive periods.
However, the Commissioner reached out for government support and cooperation from the public on this operation. As talks on reducing law and order issues in the country continue, Papua New Guineans continue to become victims at the hands of their fellow countrymen.