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.