The Secret Partnership Between John Momis and Adam Smith International For A Propganda Campaign Against the Bougainvillean People
In the first part of this article, we described the sellout of Bougainville Autonomous Government President John Momis to foreign opportunists especially from China. Momis went from being one of PNG’s founding fathers, a young Catholic priest who put every effort to work for the perpetual independence of the people of Papua New Guinea, to his current role welcoming Chinese tradestore owners to make the Bougainville people economically dependent on them. He has declared a Come and Get It day on Bougainville’s resources and hellbent on reopening Panguna Mine. The land and environmental destruction and unequitable sharing of royalty wealth at the Panguna Mine started the Bougainville Crisis during which thousands of lives were lost from 1990-1999. In hoping to reopen the mine, Momis is determined to bring Bougainville back to Square 1 in terms of foreign dominance of its peoples. He ignores that government independence on paper means nothing when the people of that land are enslaved and dependent on outsiders. Momis, having lived away from Bougainville for most of his life, never felt the indescribable freedom and feeling of heaven on earth that comes from being rich in land and resources right in your own hands. The moment that land and resources are transferred into hands of foreigners, this heaven on earth situation ends and it cannot be brought back. Converting land and resources into money always results in loss of wealth for Melanesians, followed by impoverishment. There is no freedom or independence when one is forced into a perpetual state of dependency on foreign carpetbaggers and having them tell you what to do to develop what was once your resources to be used for their personal gain. Yet this is what Momis plans for Bougainville as he seeks to reopen the Panguna mine.
Bougainville people would prefer to resolve things peacefully but we understandably become infuriated when we see we are taken advantage of. John Momis has now done the unforgiveable by hiring an Australian company known as Adam Smith International to trick the people of Bougainville using a propaganda campaign designed to serve Rio Tinto’s interests. The purpose of the Momis campaign is to change the minds of the majority of Bougainvillean, against all they have experienced and witnessed, that opening up Pamgiuma mine is necessary for Bougainville’s independence and well being. After the horrors so many of us went through, most Bougainvilleans do not want the mine, full stop. Momis was not in Bougainville during that time, he did not feel the pain, he is only interested in taking the advice of Adam Smith intl and distort facts and figures in any way necessary to convince Bougainvilleans otherwise. He is serving Rio Tinto first and his own people second, third or maybe last. This is the very thing that fired up Francis Ona so many years ago, this trickery of twisting information to serve the interests of the rich and powerful when you could see with your own eyes that the opposite was true.
Fortunately there are true Bougainvilleans serving in the AGB who care more about the plight of the people than does John Momis. They have leaked a 2004 document that Adam Smith International provided Momis to carry out his campaign of deception. There are 2 very important pieces of advice given in the guide. The first is to not let the government propaganda sound like propaganda, because if people realise that the government is trying to twist their minds, they will not follow. The guide recommends finding only people who support the mine and are good speakers, then making videos that feature only those people and their viewpoints instead of giving both sides. Adam Smith Intl says this is more effective than using narrators. They recommend creating and distributing comic books to influence the semi literate with the government’s propaganda message. Most of all, they say that because the national leader will have the most influence on people and so has to get out and meet with all stakeholders: “Your Prime Minister can get you coverage better than anyone else in your country. Have him or her make speeches and grant interviews ... as often as possible.” This is exactly what Momis started doing a few years back, meeting face to face with people and pushing the mine reopening idea repeatedly.
The guide advises to communicate the propaganda messages instead of ignoring those who oppose what the government wants to do, saying that “there are three communications mistakes particularly worth avoiding. The first assumes that not communicating involves fewer risks ... Your government needs stakeholders to do something, to think or to behave in certain ways, so it is your responsibility to motivate them. So you must take action or behaviour will not change. Communicate or face the consequence.” The AGB has been taking this advice wholeheartedly, saying again and again without sufficient facts to back it up there can be no independence for Bougainville unless the mine is reopened. This is pure propaganda. The AGB does not allow other viewpoints to be expressed, they are drowning out the majority’s views with their own distorted messages to help the rich and powerful destroy Bougainville to get its resources.
At first many Bougainvilleans were pleased that the government began to meet with small groups to ask their views and asking their opinions. We thought the government was becoming serious about getting our input and following our desires. Now that this secret document is out, we realise what they were really up to. They were gathering the information they needed to construct their brainwashing messages. The Adam Smith Intl guide recommends that government uses group meetings and surveys to find out what people who oppose what the government wants to do, is thinking about the issue. This is why the AGB was reaching out to landowners, government workers, NGOs, women, etc. After they learnt the viewpoints, the AGB did not follow those viewpoints but instead started to construct propaganda messages that would address the fears of each group and makes empty promises to appeal to their desires.
Most Bougainvilleans want independence and Momis is tying this in strongly with his propaganda by making people fear that there will be no development, happiness or independence for Bougainville unless the mine reopened. Again almost no evidence is presented to back up any of this and never has the livelihood and happiness of people scattered across many smaller Pacific islands been addressed. Why the world would consider Pacific islands paradises on earth once they visit, yet Momis says we can’t have paradise unless we spoil our environment with mining is a contradiction Momis either does not notice or refuses to address.
The secret guide gives Momis lots of advice on how to handle reporters. “journalists are perhaps the most important audience of all, since they influence almost all other stakeholder groups. You want them to understand [the propaganda messages you are trying to put out] so that they can explain it correctly and so that they are less likely to fall prey to charges levelled by your opponents.” “cultivate good relations with reporters ... Treat them with respect. Return their phone calls promptly and courteously.” The guide also advices to “issue press releases often ... [this] will help kill off the foul rumours spread by your opponents”. “put quotes into your press release, telling reporters why this matter is important ... do not bribe journalists. Educate them, put on seminars and conferences, take them on road trips to privatised industries or buy them lunch”.
In other words, the objective is not to report the truth of the matter with both sides of the story, but to brainwash reporters into only reporting one side. The guide also recommends how to treat any journalist who writes critical stories, saying that the government should go above the reporter and “talk to the editor or publisher. If that does not work, give your best leaks and stories to their chief competitor. And if possible in some cases exclude bad newspapers from your advertising budget”.
The Advice John Momis has been seeking from Adam Smith Intl is not fit for a democratic government but for a dictatorship or a government that is determined to fool the people. Governments should be allowing and encouraging both sides of the story so people can make up their mind. John Momis has destroyed a friendly environment for discussion by taking only the side of the foreign multinational company. He has lost his feel for democracy and what democratic governments are all about.
AGB has gone to war with the people of Boutainville with its propaganda messages. New Dawn radio goes out to communities in certain regions of Bougainville with their pro-Rio Tinto propaganda. AGB holds consultation forums for landowners to brainwash them into supporting reopening the mine and has even tapped into social media to reach influential Bougainvilleans, including those living outside Bougainville so they will start telling their relatives back in Bougainville to support the mine.
There is nothing more treacherous than seeing someone of your own blood take the side of your enemy. The pain is worse when you elect a leader and they start serving the interests of the rich and power, using secret guidebooks on how to use propaganda to change people’s minds. We cry for Bougainville as we write this but bear in mind, John Momis, that the war is not over yet.
Don’t believe the government propaganda. Check out the following websites to learn more: