Governor Sir Julius Chan made the comment after being briefed by the provincial police commander, Gideon Ikumu, about an ethnic clash between the Sepiks and Lavongais at the Kavieng Market on September 4th.
According to the report filed to police, the incident began when a number of Sepik women, who were after betelnut, jumped onto a moving boat coming in from Lavongai.
Amidst the scuffle while trying to stop the women from intruding, a Lavongai man accidently touched the breast of a Sepik woman. The woman then went to report the incident to her husband who retaliated with other Sepik men, resulting in the injuring of the men from Lavongai. The men were taken to hospital after receiving knife wounds.
PPC Ikumu told the Provincial Executive Council members that the matter has cooled down after it was found that two of those injured were in-laws of the Sepiks.
He said the three men who were involved in the stabbing are currently in police custody.
Sir Julius said he does not want the incident to become a tribal issue.
“I think we need greater education in the way we treat each other, and I think we should enforce the vagrancy act, and it’s not to get the Sepiks out or the Highlanders out, it’s also to get disobedient New Irelanders out from Kavieng as well.”
The Vagrancy Act 2012 gives the NIP Government the power to get rid of people who are involved in serious crimes and persistent lawbreakers, including abuse of New Ireland customs and traditions.
Sir J also relayed that the Act also applies to New Irelanders who commit crimes.
“New Irelanders caught committing crime will be restricted from returning to the place of crime for a specified period of time and barred from receiving free education, Old Age Pension or any of the Government incentive aid schemes.”
The matter was discussed during the New Ireland Government’s Joint Budgetary Provincial Meeting, Provincial Executive Meeting and Provincial Executive Meeting on Tuesday.
One of the other major agendas discussed was the building of the Tinkoris Hospital.
Representatives from the New Ireland Provincial Heath Authority were present to give an update on the progress so far.
Sir Julius Chan made it clear to the Provincial Health Authority representatives that there had to be open and transparent dialogue between the Authority and the Provincial Government. He urged the team not to work in isolation, especially where huge impact projects were concerned.
Sir J also called on the PHA board and health workers not to politicise their positions.
“I don’t want you public servants to become political in your work, I know that some of your doctors and nurses are biased. We need public servants who are neutral, the provincial government through the tax credit scheme has given millions in water and power, x-ray equipment, delivery beds, wheelchairs and walking sticks to the Namatanai Hospital but they remain ungrateful and want more. The whole nation is going through very tough economic times,” expressed Sir J.
Governor Sir Julius has challenged the Provincial Health Authority and his Provincial Implementation Committee to complete the Tinkoris Hospital before the end of February 2019.
The Provincial Health Authority is separately funded by the National Government.