UNDER Section 3 of the Investment Promotion Regulations 1992, certain businesses are reserved for citizens, ‘fast food take-away, kai bars of all descriptions including mobile delivery food service’.
“Really?” you ask. Yes, really. That is what the regulations say.
But this didn’t prevent Chinese nationals Xing Wu Zhou and Zhongshen Zhang setting up kai bars through their company J & Z Trading Limited.
On 11 March 2007, husband and wife Anita and Andrew Baikisa of Madang purchased fried rice from J & Z, expecting to enjoy their lunch under the shade of a nearby tree. Their enjoyment was short-lived.
Hidden underneath the top layer of rice was a festering pit of mould. It was a free extra they could have done without.
But Anita and Andrew weren’t your everyday consumers. They didn’t throw away the food. They got sick all right, but not before they alerted the authorities.
The couple reported J & Z to Sergeant Toby Kamseboda, who boldly tasted the food. He immediately took the couple to the local health inspector to report the incident.
Later that night Anita and Andrew became violently ill and presented at the General Hospital, where doctors found them suffering severe abdominal pain, diarrhoea, vomiting and dehydration.
When they recovered, the Baikisa’s took legal action. Last week the Papua New Guinea National Court found J & Z Trading Limited guilty of negligence.
With assets of over K10 million, this Chinese business has done well out of the kai bar trade in a sector reserved for Papua New Guineans.
The question must be asked why the Investment Promotion Authority has not enforced the regulations. And why aren’t the health authorities inspecting and fining these companies when their hygiene standards are so obviously low?
According to the former chair of Political Science at the University of PNG, James Chin, the J & Z company is not alone.
Many foreign nationals are entering PNG illegally and flouting the law.
Looking at Chinese mainland migrants, he writes that, once they have bribed their way in, they “immediately start small trading concerns, selling cheap Chinese consumer projects such as electronic goods and clothes.
“Others establish ‘kai bars’ (fast food outlets) and Chinese restaurants. All these businesses are illegal because such commercial activities are reserved for nationals …
“Other illegal operations run by mainland Chinese in PNG include brothels and money laundering.”
This is not about race or ethnicity; no one deserves to be judged on the colour of their skin.
It is about foreign business people coming into PNG with a view to exploiting weaknesses in law enforcement and regulation. Whether it be in forestry, mining or services, why are foreign entities allowed to monopolise our resources, avoid taxes, damage our environment, avoid justice and make our people sick.
Something stinks, and it isn’t just Anita and Andrew’s fried rice.