By Sasha Pei-Silovo – EM TV Online
Former Papua New Guinea Defence Force Commander, Brigadier General Jerry Singirok (retired), is concerned about the country’s national security and the protection of borders.
He says that PNG is vulnerable to terrorism attacks, and that the PNG-Indonesian borders were easy targets for international terrorists to use as gateways into the country.
In an exclusive interview with Radio Australia’s Tok Pisin service, Singarok brought to light, the great need for Papua New Guinea’s borders to be protected and secured.
His comments follow recent revelations made by the Indonesian government, of goods, marine resources, and prohibited items, among others, that are being smuggled from PNG, into Indonesia.
Intelligence officials from Indonesia’s military, claim that illegal smuggling is rampant along the borders of both nations.
Papua New Guinea and West Papua (Indonesia) share a 760-kilometre border.
In 2014, South Fly MP, Aide Ganasi questioned the role of the Border Development Authority. His remarks, made in parliament, were sparked by reports of illegal activities along the PNG-Indonesia and PNG-Australia borders. He expressed distress over the growing allegations of guns, drugs and human smuggling being highly active along the borders.
“Border surveillance is poor”, said Ganasi.
Governor for Milne Bay,Titus Philemon, was equally concerned over the border infrastructure projects for Milne Bay, New Ireland, the Autonomous Region of Bougainville, Western and West Sepik.
In response to leaders, Philemon and Ganasi, minister responsible and Deputy Prime Minister, Leo Dion said “despite disparities in different border posts, there is effective consultation between the BDA and other provinces.”
“The government has prioritised our borders through coordination and collaboration with agencies such as customs, quarantine, the police, the PNGDF and Foreign Affairs to keep our borders safe.”
Despite the government’s assurance on the prioritisation of borders, Singarok is equally critical of the ‘strength’ of security; this, he says, puts Papua New Guinea at greater risk of being easy-targets of terrorists.
In 2006, Singarok expressed the same concerns on PNG’s vulnerability to terrorism. He had said that “Papua New Guinea was wide open to terrorist attacks from across the Indonesian border on major mining and energy projects.”
“The government and top military brass could not be complacent when Indonesia was home to Jemaah Islamiah whose terrorists could easily cross into PNG to attack vulnerable targets,” he had said, nine years ago.
“PNG needed fit and well-equipped soldiers to police the border where there were many weak points increasingly used by illegal operators.”
Singarok’s statements can be read here.
Unmanned borders and weak security tactics leave PNG wide open for terror attack, and encourage gun and people smuggling, the former PNGDF head said.
Read other stories: