Yesterday, members of the Joint Security Task Force (JSTF) mainly comprising of Correctional and Police personnel stormed the parliament house in Waigani and caused damaged to the building.
Their actions were supposedly out of frustration for not being paid their allowances for the APEC Summit. They were even backed by their association leaders who went on air saying that they deserved to be treated on par with their international counterparts.
They have the right to air their frustrations but they went beyond by destroying state property and attacking the symbol of the nation – the iconic parliament house. They also failed to realize that their actions also triggered opportunists to loot shops around the city.
I could hear gunshots from my rental unit at Helai Avenue, Tokarara, coming from the market area and found out later on social media that opportunists had broken into Bismillah Trading storage area and looted their supply containers.
The same thing happened all throughout the city where Asian operated stores were located. Gordon, Erima, Boroko and Gerehu had people trying to do the same. Thankfully, police were on hand to prevent more damage. However, it is clearly and indicator of the huge disparity between the haves and the have not.
The frustration shown by the security personnel is also something shared by the general public.
People are frustrated about the seemingly lack of concern that politicians are showing for the nation. The shortage in foreign exchange has pushed prices of imported good up, the influx of foreign workers coming in to do menial work and the lack of basic medical drugs in health centers is just the tip of the iceberg.
Then you have a small group of people encouraging violence as a means to push their political agendas. Yesterday was a clear example with someone using a fake profile calling for the Maseratis to be destroyed by the grieving parties.
The public’s heightened frustration is also being fueled by social media – the electronic gospel of this generation – and a lot of educated people know this and are using it to control the population.
Now, the main reason why public is easily swayed by social media is because of the lack of transparency the government has shown and the abuse and manipulation of the system by politicians.
A number of serious allegations against politicians have gone unanswered. These include million kina deals that make no sense like the Manumanu acquisition for a naval base. That one has key ministers in the current government implicated.
Unfortunately, there are more uncleared allegations against other politicians that goes back years.
I am going to stop here but you can obviously see that there is a lot that the people are frustrated about and the government has to do something to restore public confidence. If they continue to brush aside these allegations then there could be something more violent than looting next time.