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April 18, 2021
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‘Keyboard warriors’ condemned

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In a statement released by the City Hall on Monday, the National Capital District Governor, Powes Parkop had this to say:

As Governor of our Capital City, I would like to commend the students of the University of PNG for expressing their concerns about political and legal issues facing our country. This is a good sign of democracy and the development of strong civil society that such expressions are made allowed and our students feel a sense of responsibility to have a voice in the country.

I also appreciate their commitment to keep their protest or boycott of classes peaceful and orderly and within the confines of the campus last week. It was important for their credibility and for the intent of their protest and also for the higher good of our city and our country. They also ensured that their protest remained peaceful.

Our nation has suffered from bad reputation regionally and globally and it’s everyone’s responsibility to ensure that we change that image with a positive one. The students took this responsibility greatly so I also commend their leadership in staging their protest.

While it is good to protest and to voice their concerns however I invite the students to adhere to the law to reach the outcome that they want. By ignoring the law, they are contradicting the very law they seek to uphold and protect. They should therefore allow the Electoral Commission to conduct a ballot to ascertain the support of the students for the boycott of classes so the rights of those who do not wish to boycott too can be respected. And if they want to do a protest march to the Prime Minister’s office, they must also seek permission from the Peace and Good Order Committee in the City, as this is the body that has legal powers to approve such marches or protest. To date the Committee has not received any such request from the students of the University of PNG.

I also like to appeal to the Students Leadership Committee that they should deliver their petition to the Prime Minister themselves. This is the means by which they agreed to pursue their demands. An opportunity was given to them last week and they turned it down. It was consistent too with their demand that the Prime Minister or “his representative” received their petition. By reneging on their own position, the students have shown lack of sincerity in their cause. I encourage them to allow the petition to be received on behalf of the Prime Minister or be delivered by a Committee of the Students and allow the Prime Minister time to consider and reply.

I would also like to point out for the knowledge of the student community that since independence no Prime Minister has gone to UPNG or elsewhere to receive any petitions especially in the environment of boycotts or protests. All Prime Ministers in the past have maintained a stand to protect the integrity of the Office of The Prime Minister of Papua New Guinea so that a precedent is not set where the incumbent Prime Minister has to succumb to threats and or demands.

At the same time, I condemn other members of society, or keyboard warriors, who took advantage of the situation to create fear and anxiety by distributing in social media and other means, a warning to businesses, schools and the public in the city of an impending civil unrest. Such actions are unacceptable.

Those who seek to pursue a campaign by protest must show leadership and responsibility in their decisions and actions. In particular, they must seek to ensure minimal disturbance, neither fear nor anxiety is created in our country. Inciting fear, threatening violence or looting and destruction is completely irresponsible and it will not be tolerated. It also does not set a positive precedent to our children and our future generation.

We are doing all we can, especially in the city, to prepare for international events, to build a city that is safe and peaceful for all, so I call on the student body at UPNG to support good in the country and to disassociate themselves from these agitators as they are a liability and will bring a bad name to the student body. I encourage the students to partake in actions and activities that will yield positive results and portray themselves as better future leaders in the country.

I appeal to residents of the City to remain calm and go about their business as usual and I appeal to the student body and the so called civil society activist or agitators to respect the rights of people in the City to their normalcy, especially the schools and business houses.”

Source: National Capital District Commision Press Release – City Hall, 9th May, 2016

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