“What I have seen and what has been shown all over social media is wrong and should never have happened,” said the local MP and Police Minister, Jelta Wong.
“There are no two ways about it, no excuses and no concessions you can allow for this.
“It is immoral, disrespectful and WRONG!
“I would also like to preface everything with a message to our ENB people – please do not take this opportunity to try and degrade the National Mask Festival as an event. This festival is a very important event on our tourism calendar.
“The National Mask Festival is a great platform, which hosts more than just Tubuans and the Kinavai. Over 2,900 performers from all over ENB took part in the 2018 event, which ran over the course of five days. Church choirs, cultural performances (including youths), string bands and vendor stalls all take part in the event every year.
“The ICILRCLE issue and the exploitation of the Tubuans needs to addressed as soon as possible and our attention needs to be focused in two areas.
“Firstly – Who was the operator or organisation that brought the ICIRCLE camera and production crew into the province? If you are operating as a tourism organisation in East New Britain, then your guests are your responsibility. What they do and how they conduct themselves in our province is your responsibility.
“Secondly – Who do these Tubuans belong to? Regardless of the argument of, is this photoshopped or not. You know the strict protocols around the Tubuans. It is you that has sold our people out. You are responsible for this, not the Mask Festival or the Mask Festival committee.
“As member for Gazelle, I am looking into a few possible solutions moving forward.
“Firstly – I want a complete review of the Mask Festival – with an emphasis on highlighting all cultural sensitivities when it comes to each individual performance group.
“Secondly - I will be investigating who was responsible for bringing this film and production crew into the province. Be it an operator or organisation.
“Thirdly – I will be seeking the head of the Tubuan Society to investigate whom these Tubuans belong to and to deal with this issue ASAP.
“Moving forward I will be seeking to place a few quality control measures in place if you are to operate in as a tourism organisation within East New Britain.”
The quality control measures are:
- As a tourism operator in the province – you must be an accredited tour operator to sell National Mask Festival Tours. In order to be accredited you must complete a Responsible Tourism Training course on how to conduct your operations in line with ENB’s cultural sensitivities.
- All Accredited operators are to sit a responsible tourism induction held prior to the National Mask Festival
- All tourists who are coming to the National Mask Festival are to sit through a ‘How to be a Responsible Tourist in ENB’ presentation.
- Tourists will need to sit through this and sign a document before accepting their festival passes
- What will be covered in this event will use this ICIRCLE issue as a case as to how not to conduct yourself at the festival.
“The horse has bolted with this and I will be seeking to make sure those responsible are dealt with. But most importantly, we need to be putting things in place ASAP to ensure this never happens again. Never ever,” said Wong.
(Picture: Jelta Wong Facebook page)