Is PNG’s national security ok?

WE pose this question because according to Ian Jinga, the Director-General of the Office of Security Coordination and Assessment which comes under the Department of the Prime Minister and National Executive Council, Papua New Guinea’s national security is stable and manageable.

This was Mr Jinga’s conclusion when he delivered an update on PNG’s national security situation to the 10th meeting of the Melanesian Spearhead Group (MSG) Sub-Committee on Security in Port Moresby last Thursday, November 21.

Present at the meeting was the Director General of the MSG Secretariat and Fiji, Solomon Islands and Vanuatu delegates and a representative of the FLNKS or Kanak Liberation Front of New Caledonia.
Mr Jinga told his colleagues about PNG’s political impasse of 2011/2012 and the national election and how the country came out on top of these two critical events.

He said: “… One of our main problems is prudent management of our limited resources to address many of our developmental challenges which range from better infrastructure development (and) delivering basic social services to our seven million people…

“Effective management of our national security, including managing our law and order problems, is also one of our major challenges... In PNG, our land, air and maritime borders are open and vulnerable to external security challenges…”

Director-General Jinga concluded: “Our Constitution, so as the greater institutions of the State, are intact. It is on that note that I wish to inform you (all) that PNG’s national security is stable and manageable.”
This begs the question: what is the Office of Security Coordination and Assessment’s definition of “national security?”

The common understanding of “security” is something that provides safety and freedom from danger or anxiety; “danger” as in the possibility of suffering injury or loss of life; and “anxiety” being fear and uncertainty about the future.

National security begins with the security of the individual – children, mothers and fathers – family, and members of a clan and or tribes and town and city or urban residents. The fact is people don’t feel safe and secure in many villages and especially in cities like Port Moresby, Lae and Mt Hagen.

Secondly, PNG does not have the capabilities, through its Police Force and the Defence Force to control law and order, as well as effectively monitor and control crime and movement of people and illicit items along its extensive land and maritime borders.

Police Minister Nixon Duban admitted this yesterday when he addressed Police Chiefs of MSG countries in Port Moresby. He said: “Our countries face a mammoth challenge in effectively monitoring and providing surveillance for our vast land and sea borders.

“Each of our countries is faced with many similar challenges with regards to monitoring and surveillance and these includes lack of proper legislation; the absence of inter-agency cooperation; lack of infrastructure; conflicting priorities; lack of funding; lack of political will; and lack of collaboration at agency level.”

Is PNG’s national security really stable and manageable as Director-General Jinga says? Many Papua New Guineas would say no!