BY CRISPIN HULL
PAPUA NEW GUINEA is seen as a Third World hellhole riddled with violent crime and to be avoided at all costs.
So why hasn't violence erupted, nor is it likely to erupt, over the present constitutional crisis?
It is a question of identity. Political violence often goes hand-in-hand with an ethnic, religious, geographic, linguistic or racial divide (or a mix of them) in which one side is disadvantaged.
PNG has 700 languages and myriad different villages and small regions. There are so many that permanent blocs cannot form - just occasional fluid alliances around a ''Big Man''.
Of all the Third World hellholes that became independent between the war and the mid-1970s PNG has had more democratic, peaceful changes of government than any other.
You need at least a 15% identifiable minority to get the seething resentment that arises from discrimination and erupts into violence: Northern Ireland; Lebanon; Sri Lanka; or any number of African nations with two or three tribes forced into colonial borders.
So don't expect political violence in PNG other than some opportunistic criminal acts.
That said, the place is still beset by corruption, AIDS, poverty and under-development and requires Australian help. We are lucky that a stream of boat people has not arrived on our shores from PNG.
Source: The Canberra Times, 17 December