‘We’ll deal to you’ Namah threat to PNG daily newspapers

A tale of two newspapers ... contrasting front page views of the 2018 Papua New Guinea Budget. Image: Screenshot/The Pacific Newsroom

Pacific Media Watch Newsdesk

An opposition party leader who believes there will soon be a change in government in Papua New Guinea has warned the country’s two foreign-owned daily newspapers that the new regime will “deal” to them.

Vanimo-Green MP Belden Namah, leader of the PNG party, one of the two major parties in the opposition, has put the Australian-owned Post-Courier and Malaysian-owned National newspapers on notice.

Angered by the two dailies for not running his news conference stories, he threatened to regulate the print media when a new government is installed in a likely vote of no-confidence next month, reports the Post-Courier.

READ MORE: No media freedom in PNG, says senior journalist

Opposition politician Belden Namah … threatened PNG daily newspapers. Image: NBC TV

“One thing I also want to say, especially to the print media, the Post-Courier and The National you have to report what’s coming out from the Opposition as it is healthy for the country,” he said.

“You know I held a media conference two days ago, the Post-Courier and The National never printed it.

“I congratulated the two ministers who resigned and the Post-Courier, you only printed about the OTC land at Five-Mile [land designated for a controversial K2 billion Chinatown development],” he said, with three Highlands provincial governors and two other MPs also resigning yesterday from Prime Minister Peter O’Neill’s divided government.

World Press Freedom Day – May 3

O’Neill is in China this week to attend a “Belt and Road” initiative conference.

Newspapers ‘on notice’
“I am putting the Post-Courier and The National on notice, tomorrow when government changes it will be a totally different story and we will regulate to ensure that you do the right thing for the people of this country.”

Namah has a controversial background being both a former Opposition Leader and part of the O’Neill government.

Before entering politics he was a PNG Defence Force captain and jailed for sedition in the Sandline mercenary affair in 1997. The scandal surrounding the ill-fated mercenary operation, planned to crush Bougainville rebels, forced the resignation of Sir Julius Chan as prime minister.

In 2014, a former police chief issued an arrest warrant for Namah, accusing the politician of having threatened him.

Although Papua New Guinea has risen 15 places to 38th in the latest RSF World Press Freedom Index this month, Reporters Without Borders warned that the country’s media independence was “at risk”.

Pacific Media Watch is a regional media freedom project of the Pacific Media Centre.

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