By LIONEL MUNGAE
A series of questions raised by opposition leader, Belden Namah, on the deteriorating state of law and order in the country has attracted a heated argument in parliament on Wednesday.
Mr Namah’s reference on the massacre of 24 people, including pregnant women and children and the surrender of guns by mercenaries in Hela Province this year has put the government on notice on whether authorities are capable to contain the escalating law and order issues in the country.
Among the questions asked to Prime Minister James Marape were how the government intends to take back cities and towns that are over-ridden by warlords and criminals.
He told Mr Marape that if he wanted to “take back PNG”, he must first take back Tari-Pori and Hela.
Mr Namah further stated that police officers should be in the business of arresting perpetrators and not celebrating with criminals and murderers during gun surrender ceremonies.
“Why are we celebrating when we are supposed to be arresting them for being in possession of these guns? What is the biggest message,” Mr Namah said.
“Are we saying that you can kill with those guns then come back, surrender them and we will celebrate?”
In response, Mr Marape said Tari lacked police manpower, with only 60 officers to look after the entire population estimated around 400,000 people.
“The lack of police action in Tari is an indication to us, that the statistics we are faced with is nation- wide. The opposition leader’s view is that we step up and contain the law and order situation. Tari and Hela is home to 400,000 people with only 60 policemen. Statistics show one policeman to 7, 000 people. What has emerged is a symptom of a society that has absolutely little presence of law enforcement or the total government law and justice sector working,” Mr Marape said.
“For a place like Tari, you do not need community police. You need operational police and prosecuting police.
“As prime minister, and because it happened in my electorate, I cannot be greedy by mobilising resources to attend to that one matter as law and order issues are prevalent in the country.”
Mr Marape said the massacre incident is still under investigation.