Engan businessman, Kandaso Napi, is a vocal supporter of reopening the Panguna mine on Bougainville but he has already illegally obtained millions of kina by exploiting the war sparked by the mine and the suffering of women and children….
The Post-Courier are fond of publishing press-releases as news. Once again the Engan ‘self-made businessman’, Kandaso Napi, and his unadulterated views on Bougainville, have been getting heavy airplay in the national media. Napi made his fortune leasing trucks to Bougainville Copper Limited – owned by Rio Tinto – during the 1980s.
Napi wants Rio Tinto to return to Bougainville and uplift its ‘impoverished’ population who are now, he claims, “living off the streets of Port Moresby or the jungles of Bougainville”. Last year, the Post-Courier reported that Napi “urged all stakeholders, landowners and government to meet, discuss and explore all avenues available that would lead to reopening the Panguna copper mine as soon as possible for the benefit of Bougainvillean men, women and children” – not, of course, for the benefit of Napi.
Referring to Rio Tinto’s role in war crimes, Napi argued, “it is better to work with the devil you know”.
Now who else has said that recently? … none other than a certain ABG Vice President – they must have got the same memo!
Now the Post-Courier has devoted even more space to Napi (see 28/02/2014 edition), so we can hear his take on Prime Minister O’Neill’s visit to Bougainville:
“A LAE-based businessman and former contractor to Bougainville Copper Ltd has praised Prime Minister Peter O’Neill for taking that ‘humble yet very important’ trip to Bougainville. Kandaso Napi, who has a longstanding relationship with the people of Bougainville through his past association with BCL and the Panguna landowners, said the trip not only raised the spirits of the downtrodden people there but united the leadership of Bougainville at all levels”.
We are told – this is journalism right ?? – that “the Engan man who calls himself a Bougainvillean at heart wishes to let critics and others know that he has a very strong spiritual bond with the people of Bougainville”.
What The Post-Courier fail to note – why would they, after all truth is not their business – is that Napi cashed in on the Bougainville war through a scandalous and illegal claim which was slammed by the Commission of Inquiry into the Department of Finance.
Tens of thousands of Bougainvilleans had their homes and livelihood destroyed by national government forces between 1988-1998 – many lost their loved ones too under the most brutal of circumstances. None of these Bougainvilleans have been compensated for their loss by the national government; even a US class action against Rio Tinto has been slapped down.
Things, however, have fared much better for the Engan businessman. If money talks, Napi it would appear, is the only true victim of the Bougainville conflict, that is according to the national government.
The Commission of Inquiry allege that Napi’s company Nakitu Ltd, claimed “a total of K13.1 million [from the PNG government], as the ‘projected’ loss suffered” from the Bougainville conflict.
The Commission of Inquiry observed, “there is no cause of action known at law to support such claim and to link the State and make the State liable for loss of business which the claimant claims as suffered”.
They continue, “Mr. Gelu, as the Solicitor General … essentially agreed that there was no cause of action, (see transcript of proceedings no. 81, pp2677-2678) but yet he proceeded to settle the claim”. Now why would Mr Gelu do that????
Before the NEC became aware of the illegal transaction, Napi successfully pocketed K3.25 million. Not bad!
So Napi cashes in on the suffering associated with the conflict through illegal means, while the actual victims of state atrocities, the people of Bougainville, have received a total of K0.00 in compensation.
And yet still the national press feels it is appropriate to publish ‘article’ (press-release) after ‘article’ (press-release) on Napi and his vision for the reopening of Panguna.
Now why would they do that???