Wednesday, September 24, 2014

ONE OF THOSE STORIES, ONE OF THOSE RAIDS


There is never a dull week in Papua New Guinea.  

As a TV journalist,  there are things that happen when you’re covering stories that you simply can’t decide there and then, if they should be reported as they happen or kept from the public.  Sometimes the reasons are simple:  Some may find it highly insulting and discriminatory   while others  extremely humorous.   I must add that Papua New Guinean humor can sting. 

In  one of those busy months in 2013, the Immigration Taskforce arrived in Lae City for a series of investigations and raids.   The team made up of officers from police, immigrations and customs  conducted a string of  raids on various  Chinese and Bengladeshi  run businesses.   

In  hindsight,  It was quite   unfortunate  that those allegedly  involved in instances of  human smuggling came from those two groups.  Each had their own methods of  getting into the country. According to government information,  the Chinese would use official means, take shortcuts and try to make sure documents appeared as legitimate as possible. 

The Bangladeshis worked in organized groups   and focused on getting their people to rent shops in rural areas  or suburbs away from the prying eyes of government authorities.  This however,  is a simplified version of how things work.   I must  also add, this is,  in no way meant to stamp  the Chinese or the Bangladeshis  with a stereotypical label.
So we get called to this shop in Kamkumung – Salu trading. We were allowed  to film the investigation  at  the shop.    All  the front doors were locked  so we had to wait a few minutes.   As I stood armed and ready with the camera outside,  a subject from the previous drugs story   - who I won’t name   - due to security reasons said:  

 “Hey, Wanpla man  ya, ronawe na go insait lo haus blo mipla na hait. Mi toksave pinis lo police.”  

Camera switched on, we ran after two cops who  were tracking the guy.  Inside the compound,  two  girls both wearing shorts came out of the little timber dwelling where the Chinese guy  was believed to be hiding. 

Cop armed with an M16 goes in cautiously and pokes  the barrel of the weapon into the heap of clothes and bedding.   

 “Ankol, kam arasait. Putim han go natap na kam arasait!  Then, after a few seconds… “Oi!!! Hapim han go antap!! Gun we?  Blary Idiot! Gun We?”

 I also make a mad dash into the small haus kapa.   Sitting on the  floor is a Chinese  guy with  hands raised.  He is, to my astonishment, smiling nervously!.   In a Chinese accented Tok Pisin:  “Nogat gun…Nogat Gun….”   

Police officer unconvinced, grabs the guy by the belt and literally stands him up as if he were paper.
“Why na u ron? Ah?  Ankol, Why yu ron?”

Later, as he was escorted out   with the M16  pointed squarely  at his back, we found out, the mother of the compound who was doing laundry, had  not the slightest idea that  Chinese guy from Salu trading had climbed over the fence and sneaked into  the haus kapa, crawled under the mattress,  disrupted play for two  6-year-old girls.  She was furious.
 “Wantok blo yu we na yu ron kam go insait lo haus blo mi?
Chinese guy was told to go back the same way he came. Over the fence  with his skinny jeans.  He had no visa,  no work permit and no passport.

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