5th Melanesian Arts and Culture festival organisation a disgrace says PNG MP

THE 5TH Melanesian Festival of Arts and Culture, which ended last Friday, was an “international embarrassment”
for Papua New Guinea, Sports and Pacific Games Minister Justin Tkatchenko says.
And Tkatchenko, who is responsible for national events, wants festival organisers to explain how they have spent the millions of kina allocated for the two-week event.
Tkatchenko, who has been critical of organisation of the festival from the beginning, said that on Saturday after the cultural bonanza ended on Friday.
He said his department was supposed to have been in charge of the event but organising committee chairman and National Cultural Commission director Dr Jacob Simet took it upon himself to run the show.
“The Melanesian festival is a bitter disappointment to me as minister because it could have been done 10 times better if they had come to us instead of being so hidden, selfish, and manipulative of the whole event,” Tkatchenko said.
“This event was for everybody, not just for the culturalcommission, it was for national interest to show off our culture and our traditions to the Pacific and Melanesia.
“At the end of the day, I’d be very, very interested to see the audited report of the K20-plus million that was given to them and how that money was spent and allocated.
“The National Executive Council made a very clear decision at the beginning of 2013 that all national events come under the ministries of events and foreign affairs to ensure that they can be organised, run and managed properly.
“The scenario at the end of the day is the Cultural Commission needs a big clean-up.
“At the end of the day, you’re looking at culture and tradition – the last assets that Papua New Guineans have as their own.
“The Melanesian Festival of Arts and Culture was very important as it was showing off who we are as Papua New Guineans.
“If it was not organised properly, we’re letting our people down.”
Tkatchenko said he had a meeting with Prime Minister Peter O’Neill, National Capital District Governor Powes Parkop, Simet, and Minister for Tourism, Arts and Culture Minister Boka Kondra three months before the event.
“The prime minister raised his concern about the village not being completed, the wrong location, where we’re going to have the opening and closing ceremonies – they didn’t even know.
“They didn’t want to have anything to do with us, saying ‘no, we can do all this, we know what we’re doing, all this is under us, we’ve got our budget’.”
Tkatchenko said Simet should not be blaming the Government for his failure.
“You don’t blame the government for your own failures,” he said.
“It’s all about management, administration and planning.
“Blaming someone else just shows that you’re guilty of not doing your job.”
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