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PNG government set to disband riots probe after ‘aliens’ media furore

Jamie Maxtone-Graham ... chairman of the controversial parliamentary probe into the anti-Asian riots in May. Photo: PMC

Jamie Maxtone-Graham ... chairman of the controversial parliamentary probe into the anti-Asian riots in May. Photo: PMC

Pacific.Scoop
By Pacific Media Watch

Papua New Guinea’s parliamentary bipartisan committee investigating the anti-Asian rioting in May will be disbanded, a senior government source has revealed.

“It has lost its credibility,” the source, who did not wish to be identified, told The National on Saturday, referring to the controversial bipartisan committee chaired by MP Jamie Maxtone-Graham.

The panel is seeking to establish what triggered the May protests and looting of shops owned and operated by Chinese in the Highlands and Port Moresby.

The decision to disband the panel was arrived at during a parliamentary caucus last week which determined that it had become a “tool to sabotage” the economic bilateral relations between the Philippines and PNG, the source said.

Parliament is expected to take up the scrapping of the panel issue this week – and at the same time create a new one, according to the official.

He said the caucus had deemed Maxtone-Graham was no longer fit to chair the panel.

The new panel will hold its inquiry without the presence of the media.

‘Fabricated report’
“Among the first to be summoned to appear and give evidence at the inquiry would be the reporter who fabricated a report in the Post-Courier on the presence of 16,000 illegal Filipinos in the country,” the source told The National.

Concerns were raised last week after Maxtone-Graham went on a talkback radio programme and commented on matters before the inquiry, which drew a lot of anti-Asian sentiments from callers to the show.

Meanwhile, Radio New Zealand International reports Maxtone-Graham, National Capital District governor Powes Parkop and another MP, Boka Kondra, have joined an international campaign to support West Papuans alleged to be persecuted by Indonesian authorities.

The PNG MPs reignited the controversial issue, the week before the Indonesian government starts repatriating up to 700 West Papuans who live in PNG’s capital Port Moresby or towns along the shared border.

Parkop, says PNG has “turned a blind eye and deaf ear” to the issue.

Maxton-Graham and Boka Kondra also criticised PNG’s inaction over the “plight of their fellow Melanesians”, who are an ethnic minority in Indonesia’s Papua province.

The three joined 50 MPs from other countries in signing a charter calling for the United Nations to restore the “right of the indigenous people of West Papua to self-determination”.

* The National is owned by the Malaysian logging company Rimbunan Hijau.

Source: 6453 Pacific Media Watch
Original urlThe National

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