18 Oct 2004

Chinese in PNG feel brunt of Gaming machine crackdown

9:14 pm on 18 October 2004

Papua New Guinea's Chinese nationals implicated in the illegal operations of horse racing machines have been urged to cooperate with the authorities.

The president of the Chinese Association in PNG, Ni Yumei Cragnolini, says they must help the police to complete their work in relation to their business operations.

Several Chinese nationals have been detained in the past few days in a crackdown on horse racing machines.

In the joint operations involving the police, Customs, IRC and the National Gaming Board, some Chinese were found to have breached immigration laws.

It is understood that 26 Chinese nationals have been detained and refused bail.

Ms Cragnolini says while the association supports the crackdown, she fears that it had caused anti-Chinese feelings in the community.

She says what has happened is most unfortunate, but they represent only a small portion of the Chinese business community.

Ms Cragnolini says that some Chinese-owned shops in Port Moresby have been attacked and looted.

Meanwhile, PNG's opposition leader Peter O'Neill says the crackdown on illegal gaming machines is being deliberately sabotaged by high level officials.

Mr O'Neill says that despite the current public uproar against the illegal horse racing machines, people who are benefitting the most from the business are left untouched.

The opposition claims the crackdown on the gaming maching business is being tainted by blackmail and extortion involving people in high places.

Mr O'Neill says officers of the Department of Foreign Affairs and Immigration, and the Department of Labour and Employment, who process and grant approvals on foreign entries, must be held accountable.

Mr O'Neill says the police have been targetting mere accessories through arbitrary and indiscriminate arrests.

Mr O'Neill has called for the government to put an immediate stop to what he says is a well-co-ordinated yet mis-directed persecution of Chinese nationals