Monday, 27 May 2013


There has been a debate on PNG Attitude in recent days on the plan made public for a PNG company to hire Fijian workers to build a road from Madang to the highlands.
There has been much breast beating particularly from the corps of armchair generals from Australia.
The cry has gone up that there are PNG workers who can do the work. Why employ foreign workers? Armchair generals and PNG scribes have missed the point completely.
Employing foreign workers goes back even as far as the Caesars who used Nubian guards to keep the Caesars safe. They were part of a foreign wantok  system who would kill without fear or favour.
Employing foreign labour was a key strategy of the colonial powers. The Americans and British brought slaves from Africa. Japanese came to work on the Hawaiian pineapple and sugar plantations.
The French brought Vietnamese to the New Hebrides now known as Vanuatu. Indian workers came to work on the sugar plantations of Fiji. Pacific Islanders worked on the sugar fields of Queensland.
But we know from past experience that severe trouble can arise in Papua New Guinea when construction of a road crosses several clan boundaries.
There will be new demands at every end of the sector. New workers will be demanded by the new clan. Sabotage will occur.
New claims for compensation will be made in every sector. The prospect of villagers armed with high powered rifles adds a new fearful dimension.
The problem may be reduced with workers from outside the country. Perhaps not. At least they can be sacked and deported. But the villagers are there to stay.
But then there is no complaint when PNG imports Australians in programs like the ECP.

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