How A Couple Of TikToks Brought About A PNG Minister’s Resignation
Don’t let anyone tell you that TikTok can’t change the world, because for Papua New Guinea’s ex Foreign Minister Justin Tkatchenko, who recently attended King Charles III’s coronation, it’s made all the difference.
Yep, his daughter, Savannah, flew to the UK with her father on a taxpayer-funded trip and posted a bunch of videos to TikTok — at one point name-dropping some pretty expensive stores.
“We did some shopping around Singapore airport at Hermes and Louis Vuitton. For those of you that don’t know, Singapore airport shopping is so elite,” she said. I didn’t know that.
Savannah’s posting attracted an avalanche of criticism in Papua New Guinea, where an estimated 40 percent of the population live in poverty. The videos have since vanished from TikTok, but here’s one of them on Twitter:
— 자유로운 여자 (@niugini_girl) May 9, 2023
Tkatchenko, who was raised in Australia, then went in a little too hard defending his daughter against the TikTok comments.
“My daughter now is totally devastated,” he told the ABC. “She is traumatised by some of the most ridiculous and useless comments that I’ve seen.”
“Jealousy is a curse,” he added. “And, you know, these people clearly show that they have got nothing to do in their lives.”
If that wasn’t enough, on Wednesday things took an ugly turn when he described his daughter’s critics as “primitive animals”.
The foreign minister’s inflammatory choice of language sparked protests from students in Port Moresby on Friday, with opposition leader Joseph Lelang calling for Tkatchenko to resign.
“Prime minister, you are a Papua New Guinean,” Lelang reportedly said in his appeal. “The governor-general [is] a Papua New Guinean. I am a Papua New Guinean, [as are] all members of parliament. We are not animals or primitives.”
WE ARE NOT Justin Tkatchenko's PRIMITIVE ANIMALS.
Please share..! pic.twitter.com/xZNUlpZpgk
— Maisen Hungito (@MaisenHungito) May 12, 2023
Tkatchenko since delivered a kind of half-assed apology, and look, it wasn’t very good.
“I would like to personally apologise about my comments that were taken completely the wrong way and make known that these comments were solely directed to the individuals that made this disgusting and vile comments about my daughter,” he clarified.
But after a consultation with Prime Minister James Marape, Tkatchenko has since announced that he will step aside as PNG’s Foreign Minister. A political whirlwind!
There’s a lesson here for all of us here, which is that beauty is political. GRWM is political! But most importantly, maybe don’t speak to your constituents like some kind of 18th century coloniser after attending the King’s coronation. Words to live by, probably.