In the past month or two, there have been a wide range of national issues that have challenged the determination of the O’Neill-Dion government.
Changes in ministerial portfolio heads, the boycott and standoff by students at the University of Technology, and the PNG Power saga, have all taken up the public’s time, and tested the government.
In an exclusive interview with EMTV, Prime Minister Peter O’Neill shared his views on the Unitech boycott, the rise in ethnic clashes in major urban centres, and the way forward for law and order.
The Unitech students’ boycott, last Friday, finally saw some sign of relief, with Justice Minister Kerenga Kua, revealing that former Vice Chancellor, Dr. Albert Schram, would be free to return to PNG.
Student leaders, somewhat convinced of action, maintained that until Dr Schramm was physically returned to his position in the university, classes would remain suspended.
Since the start of the boycott three weeks ago, the government has tried to sort out the issue numerous times.
The first was when newly-appointed Higher Education, Science, Research and Technology Minister, Delilah Gore, flew to Lae, with the hope of settling the issue.
The students, who have, since the start, conducted an unusually peaceful boycott, refused to meet with the minister.
It now seems, that Friday’s commitment by the government delegation has given them some confidence of Dr Schramm’s return.
But since the start of the boycott, the public has only heard what government wants it to hear, and not much is known about how the National Executive Council deals with issues such as this.
In explaining NEC’s deliberations on the matter, Mr O’Neill said that the cause of the uprising, was the work of political rivals.
He explained, that as a follow up of what Attorney General, Kerenga Kua had advised the student body last week, there would be an NEC meeting this Wednesday, to oversee the appointing of a new Unitech council, and for Mr Kua to work at removing a court order restraining Dr Schramm from entering the Unitech campus.
With regard to the increase in ethnic clashes in our major urban centres, Prime Minister O’Neill says there are now moves to ensure that settlers are given blocks of land, and included in government basic services.
With regard to growing crime rates in the country, PM O’Neill thinks that what is needed, is a more visible presence by police, and a more committed focus to increasing the numbers of police men and women in the country.
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