BY KEITH JACKSON
I HAVE WRITTEN previously in these columns of Nancy Sullivan and her excellent blog, Nineteen years and counting in PNG.
Now Nancy has penned a fine piece on a wicked and obnoxious campaign being waged in Papua New Guinea against people who express even the mildest opposition to the Rimbunan Hijau company and its, er, exploits.
Now I’m not saying that RH is responsible for the campaign, there is no evidence of that, just that the company appears to have some psychologically disturbed fellow travellers from whom it really should dissociate itself.
Sleazy and grubby individuals who use false names to intimidate; obscenity to humiliate; and lies to obfuscate. Individuals who are thoroughly contemptible and must spend sleepless nights hoping their true identities will never be discovered nor their faces revealed.
Nancy writes: “It is THIS kind of conflation of righteousness and delusion, of gender roles and transgressions, of colonial fears of miscegenation and pity for the poor and helpless----that is fertile ground for soulless monopoly capital.”
I reproduce here some extracts from Nancy’s recent blog piece, Whatever It Takes, which I do encourage you to read in its entirety on her website.
A couple of years ago I wrote a piece on my blog about this history of the Chinese in PNG---nothing authoritative or even comprehensive. But the Post Courier picked it up and printed it, except that they printed only part of the essay and for some reason the Malaysian owners of The National newspaper ran their own condemnation of me personally, calling for my deportation as a racist American expatriate, etc.
Now and again in the social media I get attacked by National reporters for being anti-development, anti-growth, anti-capital, and of course, anti-Papua New Guinean. Someone a few weeks ago wrote that I should (once again) be deported because I’d done more harm than good in PNG. (I wish that this were the real criteria for deportation, because in that case we would certainly not still be fighting Rimbunan Hijau.)
On my blog, too, I do have to erase the occasional racist and sexist rant from someone who clearly has a lot of personal demons, always a comment along the lines of my liking black dick, being a loser, having no credentials, etc. No more or less than a lot of bloggers get I imagine. This sort of ugliness is almost always effective because people averse to entertaining such dialogue instantly shut down---if only temporarily. This has definitely happened to me in the past.
But the point of this commentary now, is that the pro-RH position has taken a really bad turn for the worse. First, as we all know, the company flew in an award winning social commentator/journalist from The National to have a look at the project and report on the RH arguments against Greenpeace coming into the area.
Dutifully, and as many of us learned on repeated FB [feedback] posts thereafter, we learned that this person has mouths to feed, he is a single parent, and must dance to the tune of his employers, and so forth. Besides, he has also said firmly, RH is the only entity offering ‘development’ to these wretched ‘taim bipo’ villagers.
Today [Saturday] things got a lot uglier. Lydia Kaliap, who, with her husband, runs a music and arts academy for settlement kinds in Port Moresby (an initiative that, not surprisingly, has won admirers from home and abroad, government and media alike---as a true example of what an NGO can do to make positive change)—has been on FB ‘sharing’ and commenting and calling out The National for its bias reporting the Pomio crisis.
As Lydia revealed today, the first day she began to FB her opinions, she received the following email:
And there is more, much more.
Nancy, bravely and with great dignity, has exposed the sordid underside of a ‘whatever it takes’ attitude on the part of … someone. Someone who targets opponents of Rimbunan Hijau. Lydia has maintained a stoic silence.
The internet is well known for its “trolls”, people of little worth and shrivelled egos who adopt slander, intimidation and obscenity as instruments of abuse and coercion.
The least that Rimbunan Hijau and The National can do is to dissociate themselves from such tactics by unambiguously condemning them. I ask PNG Attitude readers to keep an eye on The National to see that, as a newspaper of honour, it will do this.
The PNG government should also be instructing its Police Commissioner to investigate the threats, the obscenity and the slander.
Papua New Guinea does not need such wanton ugliness in its public discourse.