Totally missing the point, Dr Grynberg

Open Letter from Dr Roman Grynberg’s to PNG Prime Minister and MSG Leaders

Grand Chief Sir Michael Somare

I am writing this public letter to you and the other MSG leaders in the hope that the troubling recent developments in regard to the future PACER Plus Agreement with Australia and New Zealand can be addressed at the up-coming MSG Leaders Summit. 

There can be little doubt that the PACER Plus agreement,  if properly negotiated, will be of enormous benefit to the people of Papua New Guinea as well as all the peoples of Melanesia and the wider Pacific islands region. However, the lead up to these negotiations has shown that the reality is likely to fall far short of the potential because of the excessive haste that has been shown by Australia and New Zealand in pushing the Pacific Island Countries into negotiations when they are simply not ready to do so given that they remain involved in highly complex negotiations with the EU.

The Pacific island nations have not had sufficient time to either consult adequately with national stakeholders or to undertake genuinely neutral and scientific analysis of what type of future trade arrangement would be in their interests. The arrangements for future negotiations that have been reported in the media following the Apia meeting of Forum Trade Ministers are very disturbing and will almost certainly leave the PNG, as well as Melanesian countries and the wider Pacific islands without sufficient capacity to negotiate.

A significant issue in all of this has been the exclusion of Fiji from the negotiations. While I am deeply supportive of the democratic process and the Forum efforts to promote democracy the current situation will mean that the entire people of Fiji will be penalized by their exclusion from PACER through events not of their own making. Moreover, once democracy returns to Fiji there can be little doubt that a future democratic government will have little choice but to accept the terms of an agreement that will have been negotiated without its participation. 

The arrangements being developed require complete ownership of the negotiating process by the Pacific islands.  It is for this reason that I write to you to call on you and other MSG leaders to remove the negotiating process from the Pacific Islands Forum altogether and move it to the Melanesian Spearhead Group Secretariat. I also call upon you to assure the rights of the people of Fiji are protected and that their voice can be actively heard at the trade negotiations. In order to assure that a neutral negotiation occurred the small island states should also be invited to participate in an MSG based negotiation.  While I recognize the direct financial cost of such an action the PACER plus treaty is so important to an entire generation of young Papua New Guineans, Melanesians and Pacific Islanders that it cannot be handled by institutions which are so thoroughly dominated by Australian and New Zealand interests. Only the MSG has the neutrality to manage this process.

I know that PNG and other Melanesian countries jealously and rightly guard their sovereignty. To sacrifice this sovereignty on such an important matter as your future economic relations with your neighbors and to potentially end up with a treaty that is not in your interests would be the sacrifice of your sovereignty for which you fought.

Sir, you are the last remaining father of the Forum. Your vision in creating the Forum was grand but in certain matters such as these the Pacific Islands simply cannot leave such important negotiations to institutions dominated by the interests of Australia and New Zealand.

Yours sincerely

Dr Roman Grynberg

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5 thoughts on “Totally missing the point, Dr Grynberg

  1. Roman is only trying to ensure that Aust and NZ don’t run roughshod over the region during these EU “triggered” trade negotiations a’la Pacer Plus.

    He is rightly pleading to the economic powerhouse of MSG to hold their ground.

    He is also right in asserting that Fiji as one of these economic powerhouses has a right to sit at the negotiating tables…otherwise the whole trade talks are meaningless.

    Where Roman is wrong however is to try manipulate the MSG to ride on anti-Aust/NZ trade concerns with democracy. Fiji essentially has illegal representatives as its negotiators. Therefore Roman’s tactics are totally flawed.

    If Roman really thinks that the “last remaining father of the Forum” aka Somare is going to bite the hand that feeds him he really needs to check the latest AUSAID grant reports. Rudd knows it. Somare knows it.

    BTW we are all assuming that the reports from the MSG are rosy for Bainimarama — the whispers on the kokonet are that the other MSG leaders put some very tight proxies in there as well for Bainimarama…stay tuned!

  2. Very true, KTF. The other wild card in the pack is Vore’s old buddy, Beijing, which has been courting Melanesian governments for a while now (under the table). At the moment Fiji’s fishing industry is held in check because our Forum neighbours won’t allow Chinese, Taiwanese or Korean boats to enter our waters via their waters. If the MSG decide to grant access to those fishing vessels …
    God bless Fiji

  3. From my point of view, the Pacer plus agreement with Aust and NZ is just their bid to steal PNG’s resources at a time when PNG’s economy is booming.
    They want us to remove our tarrifs to fund their goods into our own economy. No way !!!
    Aust & NZ economy are both in recession right now and thus the rest of the dependent pacific islands are down too.
    But in PNG, we can still do 5% economy growth during this world wide recession. So who do they want to sell their goods to? to PNG with its millions of people and billions of mineral dollars.

    PNG does not need Australian aid any more. If I was Somare, I will tell Rudd to get lost with his money.
    Who the hell does Aust and NZ think they are to tell us what we should do with our own money? If they want to sell goods to us, they must compete like every other nation that operates in PNG – pay all the taxes that are due. No free trade agreement. Not for PNG. There is nothing such as free trade with us. Either you compete like everyone else or you sink, we are a sovereign nation.

    As far as the Fiji situation, I hope Bainimarama sorts out Fiji or the Fijians themselves sort him out sooner rather than later, so the nation starts to get rich again.
    But my concern is that this PACER deal is a lopsided one. Aimed at stealing PNG and MSG resources.

    Polynesia has got nothing, they are bought out by NZ already.If NZ sinks, polynesia will sink with it.

    Our billions are slowley starting to pour in, and in 5 years time, PNG economy will double or triple. Then we will tell Australia to get lost.

  4. So you would prefer PNG to hawk their wares for Chinese money rather Oz/NZ? You would prefer for democracy to die in Fiji for the sake of a madman? Talk about missing the point!
    God bless Fiji

  5. If you want to get rid of your illegal leader in Fiji, you would have done it a long time ago. Do not wait for the political process to find a way, because it will never come. Political pressure is a waste of time. Do not trust in it.

    Rise up and fight. Not with computers.

    In the 90’s we had our sandline crisis in PNG and the people overthrew the Chan government of my country for bringing in merceneries against Bougainville. I personelly fought my own Police forces in the streets. Some of my friends died. With sticks and rocks we fought against tear gas and bullets – wantok warriors. The real deal.

    But at that time I must admit, I was a bit of an insane university student. Now I am married and too old for that stuff.

    I would rather do business and get rich with my own sweat in my own country’s economy. After all, I paid a price in my younger days to hopefully get PNG on the proper path. I did not fight with computer or political pressure, I did it the real wantok way on the streets of Port Moresby – eye for an eye and tooth for tooth. The Police and Army forces of PNG know who the real power is, so they will not mess with the PNG grassroots.

    A short time ago when a lot of illegal chinese businesses in my country were attacked, the Police could not do much. They know who the real power is, because in PNG we know how to fight. So now, even the chinese business people in PNG know that they do not mess with wantoks.

    We trade with whoever we want to trade with, and cut off links with whoever we do not want to trade with. We are the masters of our own destiny.

    Don’t just stand there! Fiji is sinking and all you are doing is standing around hoping for some outside power to intervene?

    Your destiny is in your own hands.

    Or do you want me to come over there and pick up the first rock for you to throw at your army?

    I can do that provided that I pay one way ticket to Nadi, and you pay my return trip back to Port Moresby.

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