Masalai i tokaut: Forest Min Tries To Gag Debate
Number Forty Nine: 20 November, 2006
Forest Minister Tries To Gag Debate
Rimbunan Hijau’s little boy, Forest Minister, Patrick Pruaitch, is resorting to ever more desperate measures to try and silence the debate over Papua New Guinea’s notoriously corrupt and destructive logging industry.
After attempts to prevent discussion of key issues spectacularly backfired at last months Forest Law Enforcement Seminar organised by the PNG Forest Authority, the Minister has now demanded that Forestry Officials do not ‘participate, facilitate or engage’ in any ‘seminars, conferences or studies’ that are not personally approved by himself.
By acting like a totalitarian dictator and overriding Constitutional freedoms, the Forest Minister hopes to stop any further critical analysis of the abysmal performance of the logging industry. However, now that his scheme has been exposed, Pruaitch will find that he has only succeeded in reinforcing the international perception that he is desperate to cover up the illegal and unsustainable logging and human rights abuses of Rimbunan Hijau and other logging companies.
On November 10, the Forest Minister, Patrick Pruaitch sent out an impressively titled ‘MINISTERIAL DIRECTIVE’ that demands that the National Forest Board and PNG Forest Authority ‘refrain from participating, facilitating, or being engaged in any Seminars, Conferences or Studies that are not duly sanctioned by the Government of PNG through my Ministry’.
The Directive is addressed to both the Chair of the National Forest Board and the Acting Managing Director of the Forest Authority and it ends with the threat that ‘any breach of this Directive would tantamount (sic) to serious disciplinary action’. Although the Minister is struggling here with his use of the English language, the meaning is clear – don’t ignore me on this one or you’ll be in trouble!