I REFER to a recent published statement by Daniel Aloi, Madang provincial administrator, supporting a plan by the MP for Madang Open to build upon Yabong Park and Sir Donald Cleland park in Madang.
Aloi asks what economic gain there is to the Madang people if the land is “left idle”.
Parks are not idle land.
If properly maintained and managed (something the local Madang authorities fail miserably in doing), they add to the people’s enjoyment of life.
They can be places of beauty and peace, places to sit in the shade on a hot day and relax with friends and family, places to sit by yourself and let the trees, flowers and birds help you to forget your troubles for a while.
Places that a town can ill afford to lose. They are places to play sports and games.
Aloi says that the sports played on Yabong Park were those enjoyed by non-Madangs.
That is simply not true and, even if it were, is PNG not one country, one nation, where all citizens and residents have the right to play sports of their choice?
Aloi says that Sir Donald Cleland park (there is history in that name) and its beautiful lily-studded lagoon is “a haven for youths involved in illicit activities”.
If this is so, it is because it not maintained and managed properly.
Indeed, shamefully, it has been used by the council as a rubbish dump.
Why not employ these youths to help maintain it and give them a sense of ownership of this part of our town?
Aloi supports the building of a shopping mall and high rise hotels on these parks. Why?
The town does not need new hotels, there is an oversupply of hotel rooms here already.
And a shopping mall? We have an oversupply of shops, most selling cheap, tawdry goods imported from Asia. Tourists do not come to Madang to see shopping malls, they have enough of them already in their own countries.
Tourists come to Madang to see what was once called the Pearl of the South Pacific.
The trees and the parks were once part of the Pearl’s beauty, a beauty that over the past thirty or so yearsv has been blighted by the cutting down of trees with no thought of planting.
Do we really want to cut down more of them? Do we want to make this once lovely town like so many others in the region that have been mismanaged by local authorities with limited vision and no thought for the future?
Aloi says that this development will be “a game changer for the people of Bel”.
From documents obtainable on the IPA website, the company that has purportedly been given the leases to the two parks, Dawan Investment, has shareholders from the Baitata area, from where, purely coincidently, of course, the local member comes.
People from that area are not Bel people. The letter applying for the leases from Dawan Investment is on the letterhead of a company owned by someone with a Chinese name.
I do not think that the people who benefit from this proposal will be the people of Bel.
Dr John Mackerell