THE front page of the Post-Courier revealed the paradox. Its main story screamed: “Rape, attack grips Madang”. Then in the far right hand corner was the pointer to a 16-page special inside which said: “Beautiful Madang province comes alive …”
The one negates the other automatically. How can Madang be beautiful, you ask?
The answer, to be sure, is that Madang is both beautiful and it is under sustained attack.
Madang has been and is a beautiful place to be both in terms of its natural beauty and in the peaceful, quiet and respectful mannerisms of its original inhabitants. It was so beautiful that the Germans called the town after the province, both of whose names are drawn from a circular island in Finschhafen Harbour, Morobe, where the German administration had its headquarters before it was moved to Madang.
And of course, the provincial headquarters has been under sustained attack for some time by criminal elements.
The National also reported yesterday on its front page the cruel attack and rape of an elderly expatriate woman in her home in the early hours of Wednesday. Despite its beauty and its past peaceful aura, Madang has joined the other sin towns and cities of PNG as a place that is no longer safe.
Peace, beauty and harmony are fragile creatures of the mind, mere perceptions. Beauty is in the eye of the beholder, don’t they say?
It takes mere noise to break silence, violence to break peace and discord to break harmony.
Noises of a serious sort, repeated violence and discord have visited Madang and so beauty and serenity must necessarily recede to their place in the corner of the room. The Madang provincial executive council met in emergency session yesterday but the options are limited.
Eviction of squatters has been tried before. It did not work.
Requests for more police manpower with logistics support and equipment will be discussed. The letters will go to Konedobu Police HQ with the Madang government’s resolution requesting urgent support. It will join the loaded “pending” tray where urgent requests from most other provinces, including the NCD, are also awaiting funding support from the Government.
Back in the province there will be a huge hue and cry and certain settlements will be demolished and several individuals made an example of. Then it will be back to “the same old same old”.
We have seen this in Port Moresby – with the brutal murder of Sir George Constantinou about this time last year. We have seen it in other centres where crime has reared its ugly head.
The knee-jerk reactions are to be expected. It is only human and it shows our immediate abhorrence of brutal violence and defilement of human dignity and honour. While anger and consternation are expected of the common person, the leadership must not react in similar fashion.
Crime is not new. There will be another rape, another killing, another beating in some part of this fair land tomorrow and the next day and the next.
It is the leader’s job to be make laws and enforce them, to make policies and implement them through workable, affordable and sustainable programmes.
The job of addressing law and order problems must never be dictated by the crime or its severity. The job must be ongoing – in periods when crime appears to be taking a nap as well as when it is wild-eyed, wide awake and thrashing about.
Crime is not a tourist. It is not visiting Madang. It is a permanent resident there. It has homes and addresses and faces. There is no way it will depart voluntarily.
If it must go, it must be forced to go. If it must stay, it must be talked to and convinced about the errors of its ways and be converted. If crime is a permanent resident, measures drawn up to address crime must be long term and ongoing.
Crime feeds on surprise and fear. If the lawful authorities ensure they are never surprised by crime and if they turn the tables and put fear back on crime, it will subside.
Crime thrives in the darkness. The spotlight must be thrown on crime. It is fed by neglect and frustration and hunger. Those issues must be addressed through employment programmes, by school leavers programmes and such like.
We are not saying this is not happening. It is, but in an isolated and uncoordinated fashion. It needs coordination and pooling of resources. That will require a multi-sector and multi-programme approach.
Crime is beatable. It will require a long-term, coordinated and sustained approach.