By Rachael Shisei – EM TV News, Madang
When the news of the passing of the Manam Resettlement Authority Bill reached the islanders at the care centres, there was relief and jubilation, as well as confusion, because there were two separate bills brought to the parliament’s attention.
One of the bills was put forward by the member for Bogia, John Hickey, titled the Manam Restoration Authority Bill. The other is the Manam Resettlement Bill.
The bill that was passed by parliament was the Manam Resettlement Bill tabled by the Madang Governor, Jim Kas. With the bill finally passed after a long delay, the Madang Governor is now calling on all Madang MPs to put their differences aside and work together to see the implementation of the bill come to fruition.
“The Manam bill has been passed and I am now appealing to the Madang leaders to come together so we can move to the next stage, which is the appointment of the board and the board to appoint its administrative unit,” Kas said.
Governor Kas said the Provincial Government and its administration is ready to follow the procedures and secure a budget, to make sure all infrastructure is in place before the actual resettlement begins.
“The Prime Minister, Peter O’Neill, made a remark that there isn’t enough money to fund the resettlement, but I’d like to assure Mr O’Neill that we’ve made it become law and it is now the obligation of the national parliament to fork out money from the national coffers for the islanders. This is simply because we have made it expensive today by not tackling the problem when it was two or three years old,” said Kas.
Governor Kas went on to explain that the passing of the bill does not mean that the Manam islanders will be resettled right away, as the bill is just the first step.
But, it is an important one.
“We will not move to Andarum tomorrow, I will not give you that assurance my people, but let us be happy that the way forward has been established, but we are going to Andarum.” He said.
Kas also thanked the Prime Minister O’Neill for personally making sure the bill was passed, and also mentioned that having the bill passed is one of his biggest achievemen’s in politics.
“Though there are a lot of other necessary steps to make sure that the reality of the bill transpires, I feel so complete and satisfied inside, to eventually see a Manam islander walking with his bag to Andarum. I can leave the office tomorrow, but fully satisfied,” Kas said.