Allan says he meant no harm in approach

National, Normal

The National, Tuesday, May 10, 2011

A GOVERNMENT minister caught up in a heated debate at a public forum between members of parliament from Madang and locals on April 29 has clarified his actions against a non-governmental organisation representative.
Environment and Conservation Minister Benny Allan said he did not mean any harm when he stood up during the Pacific Marine Industrial Zone (PMIZ) forum at the Sek Catholic mission station, in Madang, and approached local NGO man, Francis Gem.
“I wanted to tell Gem that he was using inappropriate language and should stop his outbursts against us, individual ministers and public servants, by labelling us ‘con ministers and thieves’ and ‘con public servants’,” Allan said.
“I wanted to tell him to address the ministers properly.”
Present at the forum were Justice Minister and Attorney-General Sir Arnold Amet, Commerce and Industry Minister Gabriel Kapris, Sumkar MP Ken Fairweather and Anglimp-South Waghi MP Jamie Maxtone-Graham.
Allan said he had to return to his seat because the opposing sides of the crowd had began moving towards each other when he stood up on stage.
“I had no intention of either harassing or pushing him or to remove the microphone from him.
“I have never done that in my life and I will never do it.
“The media simply exaggerated and blew everything out of proportion,” he said.
Allan also apologised to the Madang people, landowners and all other visitors including invited guests and officials.
“Public forums are healthy; they allow all stakeholders to express their concerns and ask questions.”
Allan said the PMIZ was an important government project and more awareness had to be carried out for the locals to fully understand the impact of such projects.
He also blamed NGOs and politicians for misleading the people.