By Scott Waide – EM TV News, Lae
Students at the University of Technology (Unitech) have joined a chorus of voices nationwide calling for the Police Commissioner to reinstate Fraud Squad Director, Matthew Damaru, and for the Prime Minister, Peter O’Neill, to step aside.
Student representatives from all four regions issued statements calling on members of parliament to heed the public outcry that the fraud squad should be allowed to do its work without interference.
This reaction from the second of the two biggest universities in Papua New Guinea was expected, with public pressure mounting in recent weeks.
Unitech’s stance follows on from continuing grievances shared by students at the University of Papua New Guinea (UPNG) in Port Moresby.
As UPNG collects signatures in preparation for the next course of action, Unitech has also spoken out.
The response from both universities has been less aggressive compared to previous years. But the message was simple.
“We want Matthew Damaru and his team reinstated and the Prime Minister to step down,” said one student leader.
The student body has called on the Commissioner to reinstate the fraud squad director and the fraud squad members, who since their suspension have become the subject of internal investigations.
Student representatives from all four regions echoed calls for the Prime Minister to step aside and allow for investigations to proceed.
“I have a country and to fight for my country is an honour,” said Applied Physics student, Livingstone Fontenu.
The calls by the students come amidst a chorus of voices from various sectors including two former prime ministers – Grand Chief Sir Michael Somare and Sir Mekere Morauta, both calling on the PM to take into account the integrity of the Prime Minister’s office and step aside.
There are many issues being debated in public such as the UBS loan, the handling of the economy and public spending.
But what has drawn public anger has been the timing of the suspension of the Fraud Squad Director, Matthew Damaru, by the Police Commissioner.
That issue is now one of the key points driving the protest from the University of Technology.