After carefully reading Anthony Regan’s articles regarding the Bougainville Referendum in the Post Courier’s Thursday editions, one cannot help but feel the patronising tone of the old colonial voice.
He addresses the issue by highlighting the different factions on Bougainville such as the Ex-Combatants, Me’ekamui, Resistance etc. as inherent threats to the referendum process.
Yes, there are many interest groups in the quest for the search of statehood, and the ABG is the vehicle that was put in place by those very groups to achieve that objective. To imply that the above is divisive is not in the best interests of Bougainvilleans who are sure and certain of their path towards referendum and independence. The ABG is a democratic Government and all are not required (forced) to fall in line as in a Colonial Administration.
But here is what is not stated by Anthony Regan. The biggest divisive issue on the island at this time and one that threatens to disrupt the Referendum process has been caused by Mr. Regan himself. It has recently come to light that he writes our President, Mr. Momis’s, mining policy position speeches, that the President delivers to the House and to Bougainville. These are written in Australia on behalf of Rio Tinto/BCL and presumably with their input, to influence the outcome of mining policy on Bougainville. He uses his role as trusted Aus Aid Sponsored Legal Advisor to directly make policy against the interests of Bougainville. We did not suspect this, given the people’s trust in those institutions. But now we find out that all along Mr. Regan/BCL were running our mining policy making process from Australia. No wonder the people of Bougainville felt that they were being attacked by their own government.
BCL has made it clear that they don’t want independence for Bougainville – what better way to achieve their goal than work on the inside in Buka to make sure Bougainvillean’s are stopped from exploration and small-scale mechanised alluvial production to get the economy growing.
Before Mr. Regan proceeds with his series, please let him explain this breach of trust and conflict of interest. And then explain how the return of BCL forced on Bougainville against the will of the people will advance the Referendum process. The factions he mentions are not the decisive issue; Mr. Regan’s work on the island is the biggest obstacle to achieving our goals.