BY DOUGLAS MARAU
SOLOMON STAR (Honiara)
PAPUA NEW GUINEA HIGH COMMISSIONER to Solomon Islands and Vanuatu Brian Yombon-Copio has refuted issues raised by Australian freelance journalist Susan Merrell in this paper yesterday.
Mr Yombon-Copio said his statement in The Solomon Star last Thursday on the political issues in PNG were done to clarify the adequacy surrounding certain issues raised by the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay.
“This is the work of another foreigner who had damaged the country by criticising my clarification on the issues facing PNG at the moment,” Mr Yombon-Copio said.
“I simply corrected a colleague diplomat who had made remarks which were totally a mixture of facts and exaggerations based on hear-say stories which had a bad impact on my country,” he added.
The high commissioner said every diplomat has a duty to defend his or her country and that was exactly what he did.
Mr Yombon-Copio said he has no intention of defending the current Government of PNG or any particular person in the Government.
“I am a professional diplomat and I have no political affiliations with anyone in PNG,” the PNG envoy said.
He said he has no hidden agenda defending anyone in PNG for that matter as queried by Ms Merrell but simply tried to put the accurate perspective of PNG with its political issues.
Mr Yombon-Copio said diplomats are neutral persons in politics and they are the managers of national interest from abroad.
The high commissioner said unlike in other countries where political issues translate into violence where innocent lives are lost, freedom of speech barred, and pressure groups are barred from expressing issues of concern; PNG’s case is different as the perceived political issues are manageable.
“The concerned parties are capable of resolving their issues and they do not require foreigners to set the agenda for them,” said Mr Yombon-Copio.
He warned Ms Susan Merrell to refrain from issuing statements from a distance and avoid being continuously controversial on PNG issues.
“It is also interesting to know a foreigner whom I have no knowledge of her to discuss misleading information about my personal life too.
“I think Susan Merrell has collaborated with someone in PNG to deliberately assassinate my character but seriously no price will be paid to them for such work,” Mr Yombon-Copio said.
Read Susan Merrell’s article in full here: PNG High Commissioner - 'What's your agenda?'