The National, Tuesday 4th September, 2012
WEST Sepik Governor Amkat Mai has welcomed Australia’s decision to re-open the Manus asylum centre, but with a call for improved surveillance and border monitoring capabilities to protect PNG’s sovereign territory.
Mai stressed that PNG would always remain part and parcel of the Pacific, Southeast Asia and the global community.
“In view of this fact, PNG as a nation must fully support regional and global efforts to help in ways to address trans-border issues including refugees, asylum seekers and human trafficking.
“PNG should not merely sit back, but offer meaningful and practical assistance in facilities and resources wherever possible,” he said.
Mai suggested that in return for PNG’s willingness to allow the Manus Island asylum centre to be re-opened, the Australian government should seriously consider improving the capacity and capability of PNG’s surveillance and border monitoring equipment and manpower.
He was particularly concerned about the security aspect of the yet to come on stream giant Frieda River gold and copper mine in West Sepik.
Mai noted that the mine would bring immense benefits to the people in the project area, West Sepik and the rest of PNG.
“Considering the size of that mine and its locality along the PNG-Indonesian common border, it is imperative that all necessary security concerns as well potential problems associated with trans-border issues are fully addressed prior to the mine coming on stream.
“Australia can assist in this regard by training PNG personnel and providing technical equipment to police the borders PNG shares with Indonesia, Australia and the Pacific Islands.
“We are part of the global community and should be willing to assist one another in addressing issues and concerns affecting our region and the world at large,” Mai said.