An entry in the 2015 Rivers Award
for Writing on Peace & Harmony
MADANG is becoming a haven for crime and violence. The once hotspot for tourism in Papua New Guinea is rotting to the core.
The loss of stability and security has left many locals, especially the Madang people, anxious about their once beautiful town.
I have been living in here since I began my studies at Divine Word University back in 2011. In my days, months and years here, I have come to observe the province as an underdog.
There is no backwards or forwards. Madang is there, just there, sitting on the brink, waiting to be swallowed by a big black hole.
The number of killings in the city is increasing. Cases of rape are on the rise. Petty crime is accelerating.
If I could describe the province from my perspective, I would say there are a million ways to die in Madang.
Last month, the Madang Students Association hosted one of its fundraisers at the Niugini Club.
I was invited by my friend and course mate, Saddam Karkar, who asked me along for moral support. I could not miss the chance.
Saddam is from the North Coast and a guy who treats his friends equally. He was generous enough to take me out to enjoy the last days of school life.
It was like a cradle of sin that night and everyone had fun like there was no tomorrow. The dance floor was packed, loud music provided by the house DJ.
I could not care less what had happened on the dance floor because my throat was so parched. The bartender happened to be a lady who gave us free beers after every round we bought ourselves.
By about four in the morning I could not keep my wits about myself.
I was so drunk I could not remember coming out of the club. But after walking for some distance, I found myself heading in the right direction back to the school premises.
On my way towards the traffic police station and the trade store with the SP branding all over it, I was bumped into by the Town Rats punks, who happened to have weapons on them.
Early that morning, there was no one on the streets but them. The police station was empty and the trade store had long since closed.
Luckily for me I had nothing valuable on me but my mobile phone, bought for K15 as a Christmas special back in Mosbi.
So the phone was taken from me when one of the boys pointed a knife at my torso and demanded money. I had none, so they frisked me, took my mobile and ran off into the shadows of the night.
The colloquial “Town Rats” is a name most suited to their nature as five toea criminals.
I don’t mind what happened to me that fateful morning because it was nothing terrible. I knew there was a chance I would be robbed. So I was cool when everything was over.
I cooperated with the hostility of the Town Rats and did not retaliate. I was too far beyond tipsy for that anyway and I could not care.
But what came of the experience was a recognition in me that crime and violence are means of survival for people in Madang, especially youths.
If the governor of Madang is reading this I hope you get anthrax and close your eyes, for good.
The Governor of Madang, Jim Kas, is the King of Spades who controls the politics around here like finessing a snooker ball at a tucker box in New Town.
Jim Kas is not like any other Governor Madang has had. If you haven’t met him yet, let me tell you he is a lavish spender and a generous man. He is Father Christmas.
While the province is burdened by its current crop of social problems, in his role he has to be conscious of issues affecting the whole province not only Madang town.
But the frustrations of the people are thinning out their patience with the Governor. Leader, yah, they say.
Many find it hard to respect him, and he is despised by many who voted for him. Others feel his behaviour is unbecoming.
It’s said he built a house in town made of Kwila timber. He’s left the Governor’s residence in Kalibobo and moved into his new home.
The Governor’s house is occupied by his wantoks. He goes there once in a while to take food and gifts for them.
It’s a sort of “Only in PNG” situation.
The people of Madang gave the Governor his office and their return has been high negative statistics on social issues. It seems no one cares about anyone anymore.
Now the prominent business man and former Madang Governor, Sir Peter Barter, is campaigning to restore the town to its previous glory.
But there is more to be done than talking about a safer and more secure Madang. It is time Jim Kas and his cohorts came to their senses and helped Peter Barter revive the spirit of this beautiful city.
For a start, they must create opportunities for youths. That would be a big step forward to help curb crime and violence in the province. And it will help the youths stop brewing yawa and selling marijuana on the streets.
If everyone worked together to combat law and order issues, Madang will again be the “Pearl of the Pacific” it once was.