Former PNG Defence Force Commander Major-General Jerry Singirok (retired) has raised serious questions over the controversial PNG-U.S Defence Cooperation Agreement.
Singirok, best remembered for his role in the 1997 Sandline affair, dissected the DCA and joined the growing chorus for it to be tested in court.
Singirok said the DCA was never done through the right processes and “has created a serious compromise to Papua New Guinea’s Constitution”.
He said the DCA was largely in favour of the interests of the United States, and talk that it would result in the upscaling of the PNG military was false.
“An assumption that the United States of America would invest in the capability upgrading of the Defence Force is highly speculative and remains to be seen,” Singirok wrote.
“The manner in which the Papua New Guinea Government was cohered into allowing a major naval base to be built in Manus post APEC 2018 by United States and Australia through soft approach diplomacy and without the PNG parliament ratifying their military presence without any Security Treaty bilaterally or multilaterally, has created a serious compromise to Papua New Guinea’s Constitution.”
“The presence of U.S and Australia using the DCA as an instrument to legitimise their presence in Manus and operate unhindered should be tested in a competent jurisdiction…”
But Prime Minister James Marape, leading up to the signing of the DCA and weeks thereafter, has stuck to his guns, saying repeatedly that the agreement was done in the best interest of PNG, and will result in the development of critical military infrastructure so desperately needed by the PNGDF.
Singirok said also that by signing the agreement with the U.S, the PNG Government runs the risk of creating discomfort with China, which is PNG’s second largest trading partner and friend.
“By aligning itself with U.S and Australia, it has already indicated its security and military alliance, therefore by association, Papua New Guinea as a sovereign State is no longer neutral,” Singirok wrote.
“An act of skillful balance in its bilateral relations with China may cause discomfort as China is equally a friend to Papua New Guinea and continues to invest and trade with Papua New Guinea. China happens to be the second largest trading partner with Papua New Guinea.”
But Marape says PNG goes by its foreign policy principle of ‘friends to all enemies to none’ and the DCA does not in any way threaten that policy.
China has also said it respects PNG’s sovereign affairs with other countries, as long as those dealings are for mutual benefits and common development and not used against third parties.
SOURCE: POST COURIER/PACNEWS