BRYAN KRAMER MP
MADANG - Last week Charles Abel, deputy prime minister and member for Alotau, was publicly criticised for deciding to attend parliament while his electorate was under siege and locked down following a shoot-out between police and a gang of armed criminals.
Three people were reportedly killed following the incident. The provincial legal officer was gunned down while driving home and a young mother and her four year old son were burned to death after their home was set on fire.
In response Abel said he planned to visit the province on Sunday - four days after the incident. In other words when he felt it was safe for him to do so. He later posted pictures of his visit on the Alotau District Facebook page.
It all went wrong.
First he posted a picture of himself striking a pose at the scene where the young mother and her son were tragically killed. Then he posted a selfie of him standing beside the legal officer's widow.
As expected it triggered a public backlash on social media.
"What's the intent of the pic? Is it appropriate to post [a picture of] a grieving wife at this time? Or a publicity stunt to gain public support," Penua Polon commented.
“Very sad, Charles," said Willie Lolan."
And David Solok remarked, "A selfie to gain media attention just because of your absence right after that attack. How inconsiderate and illogical."
Rather than provide an update of the situation on the ground, police operations or arrangements to assist the family of the deceased, Abel had insensitively posted pictures of himself.
It is beyond doubt that the act of staging a photo shoot at the scene and soliciting a selfie with a grieving widow was grossly insensitive and bordering on despicable.
I mean, seriously, who does that, let alone the deputy prime minister of a country?
Abel has ridiculed members of opposition on the floor of parliament for spending too much time on Facebook.
Funnily enough it's become apparent he could certainly use some help from the opposition members on how not to use it.