Not right to blackmail parliament

Letters, Normal

The National, Thursday, May 26th 2011

I REFER to your editorial “Not so fast, Donigi” (The National, May 24).
I totally agree with your views which are reasonable and touch on a very im­portant and sensitive issue.
A learned person like Pe­ter Donigi and the land­owners, whom he represents, have no right to hold parliament to ransom with such demands which border on blackmail.
Donigi may be right in law but the implications of such a change in the country’s laws far outweigh any gains for PNG as a nation.
Any change to the present system will mean greater chaos and bloodshed because the current fight over land ownership will only intensify.
Is Donigi so blinded by an inflated ego to prove a point that he is a better lawyer than Sir Arnold Amet and the government’s legal advisers that he will stop at nothing to achieve his ends?
Why can’t he step back and rationalise the potential consequences of the changes he is pushing and attempting to blackmail parliament?
As The National correctly puts it, the wealth of the nation is rightfully vested in the state so that benefits can be equally distributed among all PNG citizens.
Minerals are not the only commodity that makes this nation what it is.
There are other factors such as human resource which is more im­portant resource than non-renewable natural resources which will one day be gone from the face of PNG.
There are provinces with­in PNG that do not own vast mineral resour­ces but have contributed immensely to the development through human and other resources which cannot be measured in terms of kinas and toeas.
The unity in diversity this nation enjoys, our rich culture and our diverse flora and fauna are also other resources which contri­bute to making PNG a rich and unique nation on the face of this earth.
These riches cannot be replaced by mineral wealth so why be greedy and change laws to vest the mineral wealth of this nation in the hands of a few who will squander it to their own detriment, as many are already doing?
The constitution of PNG enshrines the sharing of our wealth (in all forms) for the mutual benefit of everyone, not only the land or mineral owners.
Let us leave the laws of this land as they are because they were formulated in an environment and at a time when huge mineral wealth was not discovered.
Any push to change laws now can only be motivated by greed and this cannot be good for PNG.
All right thinking Papua New Guineans, whether they are landow­ners or not, should oppose such moves.
On the other hand, there may be some merit for the push to change the laws at this time but they need to be carefully studied and debated and their potential ramifications carefully analysed.
If the argument is that the state is not managing the wealth as it should, then stringent laws need to be introduced to ensure agents of the state are conscientiously managing the resources and the wealth derived from these resources for the benefit of all citizens.
I call on Donigi to use his knowledge to strengthen and make the existing laws work for the benefit of the people of PNG instead of advocating for changes which will be detrimental to PNG and its people in future.
Better still, he should publish his views about the alternative system he is fighting for so that the people of PNG can decide for themselves which is the better system.
As it is, there are too many un­answered questions regarding the vesting of mineral wealth in the hands of a few that the broader PNG community will not support this fight.

Arapesh Batowish