Home > Corruption, mining, Papua New Guinea > Momis defends his Australian puppeteer Anthony Regan

Momis defends his Australian puppeteer Anthony Regan

Bougainville’s President has a reputation for towing the line set by his Australian advisors. First there was the epic failure of his ‘Bougainville Initiative’ which was, we hear, the brainchild of a Melbourne based advisor, who scurried away in 1987. The initiative was a ham-fisted attempt by Momis to get a larger share of mine revenues for the North Solomons Province, by offering Rio Tinto access to the island’s other ore deposits,.

Now John Momis dances to the tune of a Canberra lawyer, Anthony Regan, brought to Bougainville by the Australian government – for a mere K680,000 – to advise the ABG on mining, and draft legislation that will facilitate Rio Tinto’s return.

So close is Regan to the President that his views seem to miraculously appear in the President’s speeches to Parliament – clearly ‘great minds’ think alike.

This is what Regan said in 2011:

“The conflict is not originally about total opposition to mining. It was much more about the unfairness of the distribution of revenue and benefits from the mine”.

This is what Momis told parliament in 2013:

“I believe that it is not really the Panguna mine that caused the many problems and the conflict Bougainville has experienced since the 1960s. No – the real problem was the fact that we Bougainvilleans were ignored. The mine was imposed on us. We had no role in decision-making. Without our consent, the bad impacts of the mine fell on us. All we received was a small dribble of the revenues and opportunities”.

This is what Regan said about BRA figurehead, Francis Ona, in 2011:

“Even Francis Ona has wrongly portrayed, the original leader of the BRA, he’s wrongly portrayed by many in Australia as an environmental warrior. He wasn’t. He was somebody who was using the environmental issues and the damage from the environment from the mine as a way of emphasising the point that the damage being done in Bougainville was significant and the revenue should be flowing much more to Bougainvilleans”.

This is what President Momis told parliament in 2013:

“Francis was not trying to end the mine for ever. No – his complaint was about the unfair treatment of Bougainville. He wanted the rights of Bougainvilleans recognised. He wanted fair distribution of the revenue”.

Of course, independent blogs have published on numerous occasions Francis Ona’s ACTUAL views, backed up by something the President and his advisors are immune to, evidence. Francis was unequivocal in his opposition to BCL and the mine, as demonstrated in personal correspondence written during the conflict.

But the spin doesn’t end there.

Here is what Regan said in about Sam Kauona in 2011:

“ABC: I spoke to Sam Kauona and Joseph Kabui, two of the Bougainville Revolutionary Army leaders and asked them if they ever thought the mine would reopen and they were both vehemently opposed to it and said no, it started this war, we don’t want it happening ever again.

DR REGAN: Yes, and in due course, both of them have become supporters of the reopening of mining”.

Fast forward two years, and this spin finds its way into President’s Momis vocabulary:

“The former commander of the Bougainville Revolutionary Army, Sam Kauona, is now on side and in agreement with the need to re-open the mine.”

Yet, these claims seem to contrast with Kauona publicly stated position on the mine captured on video in 2013, lest there be any ‘confusion’: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lZMOWpvD9W0#t=10

But of course, evidence is a relative entity. In a debate with UK academic, Regan has suggested that the mountain of data collected to date documenting BCL/Rio Tinto’s role in PNGDF offensive operations – including ADMISSIONS by senior executives at BCL, corroborated by internal BCL documents – are ‘not credible’.

And it is these types of logic-defying statements that led MP for Central Bougainville to raise concerns about Regan’s independence.

Yet what is most telling of all, is the high pitched response from the President’s office. Something of a panic has set in, as Momis faces the prospect of losing the power behind the throne. Like with the Bougainville Initiative in 1987, Momis is rudderless without his Australian support team.

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  1. pkay
    May 21, 2014 at 6:24 am

    For anyone that is unfamiliar with what has gone on, is going on and will go on in Bougainville it is very easy to criticize and dismiss President Momis in the way he has been dismissed and portrayed here as someone that does not have a mind of his own. Likewise, it is also so easy for nitwits to knit-pick on Mr Regan and make him out to be someone that he is not, such as a puppet master. It is a wonder why pngexposed does not blame Mr Regan and other Advisors as perpetrators of the crisis on the Island.

    No advisor is more close to the whole story and events on the Island before, during, after and since the end of the crisis than Mr Regan. No foreign advisor has been valued more for his advice and assistance by successive Bougainville governments and leaders before the crisis, during the crisis and since the crisis. His involvement predates the crisis, predates the Autonomy B’ville has now, and predate some of the lads that are stitching and cutting and pasting stories about what has been a very complex and times confusing situation on Bougainville. This is why past Premiers and Governors in NSPG and BIPG and the three Presidents of Bougainville so far have all continued to engage Mr Regan. If anyone cannot see or swallow this they should bite their tongues.

    President Momis is no puppet. For anyone that knows Momis’ political career and history he can be as adverse to any advice as most politicians come; stubborn and singular-minded as most Bougainville politicians come; and brutally honest and dismissive albeit in a nice and passive way about any advice he will not consider or accept be it from a local or a foreigner.

    The fact about what is attributed as being uttered by President Momis and Mr Regan in this article is this. YES, most of what they say represent some truth at the time of these these events; some of what they say represents the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth. And like all politicians and advisors wherever they may be, they are entitled to their own assessments and opinions.

    Pity the puppeteer that ever, ever thinks that they can manoeuvre Momis on a puppetter’s string. If Mr Regan ever wanted to be such a puppeteer on Bougaiville he wouldn’t be still around today.

  2. pkay
    May 21, 2014 at 7:12 am

    “The conflict is not originally about total opposition to mining. It was much more about the unfairness of the distribution of revenue and benefits from the mine”.
    Yes, this is very true and Mr Regan is not the only one that knows and says this.

    “The former commander of BRA, Sam Kauona, is now on side and in agreement with the need to re-open the mine”. Yes, this is also true. YouTube may have captured the moment when Sam was saying this in 2013. But Bougainville and Panguna are a process in motion, not a brief moment captured in video. Human beings change their minds all the time and are entitled to do so from time to time as situations or circumstances change. Why can’t Sam do that. He is intelligent and can speak for himself.

    Everything that Momis said in Bougainville Parliament in 2013 regarding Francis Ona and Panguna is true.

    Momis rudderless without his Australian support team?? Since when did Australian advisors win any elective office for Momis in PNG or Bougainville? If you have been eavesdropping around Australian conversations, I think they’re putting their bets on another horse to come home. All wishful thinking of course because the people of Bougainville will decide who their next President will be, not Australians. This is an insult to Momis and to Bougainville.

    The MP for Central a Bougainville is entitled to his views. If anyone has to respond to his public comments, it is Momis and he has done that.

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