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06 March 2012

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I would agree with Phil's comment on his own post, that is, the idea of bringing back Kiaps "is simply wishful thinking".

As Paul identified, the fundamental issue our leaders had with Kiaps was with "control" and the ability they had to influence our people.

There is no doubt that Kiaps played a vital role in all facets of nation-building in PNG, and as far as I am concerned, if we didn't have Kiaps - God only knows where we would be today.

But the idea of bringing back Kiaps in modern PNG, is quite bluntly, out of date. Even if a modern version of the Kiap was introduced, it is not the right answer.

The kiaps did a great job during the pre-independence era of this country's development.

However, I do not see how and where a reintroduced kiap system would fit into todays administrative framework.

Furthermore, the roles of former kiaps as listed above have now been delegated to respective departments.

Today's District Administrators (DA's) play a somewhat downsized role of the kiaps less most of the functions. Even then, I still have my doubts about the idea.

This is an interesting idea, but would the kiaps have exactly the same role or even welcome as before?

The overall outcome from the past group were admirable, but what suggestions on how such a role may be workable in todays PNG society, where Melanesian ethics is more than a little strained of late?

Wouldn't some argue that this idea is a return to colonialism?

Would such a role be accepted at the LLG level?

May be it's time for the next evolution?

Ilya, I'd imagine the last thing on anyone's mind is a blast from the past.

However, it's not impossible to contemplate seeing some volunteers put their hands up to help create a new, workable team of PNG recruits to do much same job.

The latent experience is still there even if the knees and backs are a bit creaky.

I didn't have in mind bringing back geriatric Australian kiaps - rather, I meant setting up a similar system with new, young and fit PNG kiaps and kiapesses.

I cannot envisage any PNG politician handing over that sort of power any time soon however, so it is simply wishful thinking.

That aside, there's nothing wrong with my knees, Ilya, and I'm heading up there for a bit of bush bashing next week. My brother in law who is also an exkiap is currently out in the jungle scouting seismic lines.

Bringing back the kiaps would be a good idea, but I am not sure their knees or backs are up for it

Most would be in their 60s-70-80s?

The system of administration the Kiaps' controlled was essentially fair, transparent, uncorrupted and provided rural government services while ensuring basic law and order prevailed. But therein lay the essential impasse. They were in control.

Those Kiaps who wanted to stay on were quite happy to follow directions from anyone in a position of authority, wherever they came from and whoever they were.

Their presence however created a dilemma for some emerging political leaders. Looking back, that was understandable, given the need for these newly emerging leaders to feel they had now achieved control over their own country’s destiny.

At a day of Shared History at the National Archives in Canberra in 2010, it was interesting to hear the then PNG High Commissioner, Charles Lepani, tell those attending that after a few years of Independence, Somare confided to him (Lepani) that maybe the PNG government might have to bring back the kiaps?

Perhaps it is now time to contemplate a PNG day of ‘Shared History’, at say a future anniversary of PNG’s Independence?

The Kiaps did an amazing job developing rural areas. They lived in close contact with the people and knew the local leaders using their authority to develop their clans.

They knew Independence was approaching and started training PNG patrol officers with the intention of continuing this unique PNG system after independence.

They created proud villagers who happily maintained roads to their village. They encouraged villages to build sanitation and safe water supplies. I can remember driving along local roads in the Chimbu and admiring the flower beds along the side of the road.

Then the local government system was introduced and the patrol officers played a really important role in guiding the local councils.

They were also responsible for encouraging the villagers to consider carefully who they elected if they were to get the most benefit from the council.

I greatly admired the work of these kiaps and was so sad when Mr Whitlam seemed to ingnore this system that had been specifically developed for PNG and instead introduced, almost overnight, systems that were suited to Australia not PNG.

I agree that mistakes made in the past should be considered when developing a new system that will modify the current system that does not seem to cater for the villager's needs these days.

PNG a great country with wonderful people deserves a system that benefits everyone.

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