SHP show maturity amid crisis

The National,Monday July 4th, 2016

LAST Monday we called for a rapid response from Lae police in pursuing and apprehending the suspects in the killing of PNG University of Technology (Unitech) student Graham Romanong.
We were told the suspects, believed to be Unitech students from Enga, would make a dash for their home province after the unprecedented attack in which several buildings, including the mess, were destroyed at the Taraka campus in Lae.
Unfortunately for three of the suspects, police intercepted them outside the city at 9-Mile along the Highlands Highway after receiving a tip-off.
They were among five busloads of students from Enga about to leave Lae when police stopped the convoy and ordered them back to the Lae Central Police Station.
It is understood a witness to the killing identified the three suspects but so far no suspects have been arrested in relation to the destruction of the campus buildings.
Well done to Lae Met Supt Anthony Wagambie and his team for their quick action in arresting the suspects before they were able to slip off into the wilderness.
These culprits will now face the full force of the law as the Romanong family comes to terms with their great loss.
Romanong, a first-year Surveying and Land Studies student from Mendi, Southern Highlands, died after he was attacked in his room by a group of men with machetes.
It was a sad day in Mendi on Saturday when the slain student’s body was flown in from Lae and was received by the grieving family and thousands of people who converged on Momei Oval for the moving funeral service.
Southern Highlands’ leaders, including Works Minister Francis Awesa and Governor William Powi, as well as students from Unitech and the University of Papua New Guinea joined the massive funeral possession from the airport to the oval.
It was a show of unity as the leaders and people of Southern Highlands gathered a week after the killing to express their sorrow and pay their last respects to a young man whose bright future was cut short by cold-blooded killers.
The people of Southern Highlands, particularly Mendi and Imbonggu, should be highly commended for their peaceful and controlled response to this barbaric killing and wanton act of terrorism.
In true Highlands’ tradition, there would have been instant reprisals with payback killings but the intervention of national leaders like Minister Awesa and Governor Powi has prevented further bloodshed.
However, Awesa has blamed the Unitech administration for their “total negligence and incompetence” in not calling police onto the campus to protect lives and property on that fateful week.
“The inaction by the Unitech administration and Lae police have directly resulted in this senseless, barbaric, primitive and cowardly act of taking the life on a young student from my electorate,” the Imbonggu MP told the large gathering when he delivered the casket to the Romanong family and tribe.
Moreover, he has called for the immediate deportation of Unitech vice chancellor Dr Albert Schram and condemned people “who orchestrated, funded and executed” the prolonged student boycott and unrest culminated in the death and destruction at Unitech.
“You all know who you are and you know you have blood on your hands.”
Awesa and other Southern Highlands leaders are frustrated by the lack of response from Engan leaders to the alleged acts of harassment, intimidation and violence by their students towards students from other provinces, especially Southern Highlands and Hela.
We agree that university education should not be held to ransom by a minority group who are pursuing their selfish and parochial interests. They must not be allowed to use our students to do their dirty work.
If they are genuinely concerned about national issues and events affecting this country, they can do so by voting the O’Neill Government out of office next year.
As Awesa rightly said, “If you want to change the Government, use the ballot box and not innocent students as fronts to create chaotic scenes, destruction to taxpayer-funded buildings in public institutions and taking innocent lives.”
Interestingly, national leaders from Enga have yet to condemn the killing of the Southern Highlands’ student and the destruction of state properties allegedly by students from their province. Their silence and inaction is indeed worrisome.