KELA KAPKORA SIL BOLKIN
PEOPLE IN AUTHORITY in Papua New Guinea have a tendency to act on the spur of the moment, beat their chests, and announce their dreams with big promises but in most cases never put them into action. And when they are actioned or delivered, it is usually half baked.
In most cases politicians and bureaucrats advocate legislation, stringent public financial management and even commissions of inquiry primarily to allow their henchmen to plough through all these processes to enrich themselves.
The outcomes of past inquiries and amendments to Acts of Parliament have never made significant gains for the State and its constituents. They have just added to further losses from the public coffers. In all cases, they protected tenure of power and maximised wealth.
Adding salt to the wound, the mass media dance to the whim of the fat cats and are very subjective. They tell you about the inception of an inquiry or the registration of a court case against a fat cat but then fail in the monitoring and evaluation of the outcomes.
The mass media here have a tendency to hibernate after announcing the inceptions. Maybe commentators like Alan Jones are needed here along with the kind of media industries they work for….
In the regular world, the priests and pastors preach about looking over your shoulder to see if your neighbour has something to eat, only to shy away themselves during the week to their Western citadels at the expense of poor people’s offerings.
Their noticeable obesity in most cases is a direct result of indulgence and gluttony and is absolutely credible evidence of hypocrisy.
Some priests from poor countries like the Philippines, India and even Papua New Guinea tend to follow John Tetzel’s* selling of indulgences and other similar concepts to suck the meagre resources of poor Catholic families in settlements like Morata, Tokarara and others.
We give credit to the holy priests who do their pastoral duties with diligence. By the way, we Papists believe that the Catholic Church is holy but the people who manage it are prone to human frailty and when they fall they smear mud on the Church and hinder progress as well.
Many people have written about the controversial conduct of politicians and bureaucrats to enrich themselves and to hold on to their bastions of power and privilege at whatever cost.
However, the churches and sects and their clergy are not seen on the radar of many commentators, even though many of them tread the same path as the politicians and government bureaucrats.
Pioneer missionaries of the London Missionary Society, the Methodists, the Lutherans and Roman Catholic Church, we know, used both bible and guns to proselytize our ancestors and acquired land to build their citadels.
The entity created by the amalgamation of the London Missionary Society and the Methodist Church has covered the south eastern coastline as well as the inland. Sorry to say, their provision of schools and health services are very poor and disorganized.
We heard that the Central provincial government gives a stipend of K6000 – K9000 quarterly for the primary schools and health services. The Church Medical Council of the United Church manages these funds whilst the education funds are managed through a similar concept.
The church buildings are well designed and big. Unfortunately, schools and health services do not get the same style and look. The state of the schools and health services are deteriorating.
We recently had the privilege of travelling the whole south-eastern coastline starting at Malalaua in the Gulf to as far as the East Cape in Milne Bay. We travelled to the headwaters of Agevairo, Moreguina, Emala, Magore, Nunumai and Magarida and its hinterlands and islands in the Amazon Bay.
If you don’t know, we are telling you now. The schools and health facilities in this area are falling apart and are in sordid condition. There are no teachers in some of these schools.
In most cases a teacher looks after three to four classes because most teachers return to Port Moresby or to their villages after filling out the EDB12 form and securing their fortnightly pay for the year.
Some schools have tradesmen, retired public servants (not trained teachers) teaching. Two Grade 8 classes in one particular remote school in the Central Province have waited three years for exam papers to reach them.
A teacher in that school told us that the students gave up hope and went off and got married. That same teacher told us that he was a retired public servant but not a trained teacher. We observed that half of the teachers we met in our travels were not from Central Province but were from the other provinces of Papua New Guinea.
One of the reasons why most of the teachers and health workers come from the other provinces is because of the quality education provided by the Roman Catholic, Lutheran, Seventh Day Adventist and the Anglican Churches.
The well educated populations in the other provinces are soaring every year. It is self evident; if you count the number of heads in higher institutions and public offices and cooperative organizations you will surely confirm this statement. There are more teachers and health workers from the other provinces of PNG teaching and working at run down facilities on the south eastern coast line and inland than locals.
Mecca PNG is still cutting timber in Sabiribo in the Amazon Bay but there are no STI (sexually transmitted infection) drugs at Magarida Health Centre to treat females who are infected by the alien workers. That’s according to reliable sources we met at both Sabiribo and Magarida.
The United Church and the Central Provincial Governments have to wake from their slumber and start to deliver on health and education with proper planning, budgeting and with consistency.
The Seventh Day Adventist Church has to build more schools and health centre’s too since it has a large congregation in these places as well. The SDA Church might start rebuilding the Madana High School on the Aroma Coast for starters.
Caveat to politicians and church leaders! You are all duty bearers serving a beautiful race of people who you owe because they are undisputedly the rights holders.
We demand that it’s about time you duty bearers planned for holistic human development. Spirituality is only a minute of the bigger human advancement. Singing a good heavenly choir does not help them physically and intellectually.
It is heart breaking to see parents and relatives of the sick travelling all the way in from the outskirts of the Central Province, setting up tents and sleeping beside the roads at the Port Moresby General Hospital for months and months waiting for them to get well.
It is also equally painful to see Chris Brown and Riana-mirror-images not knowing how to spell their own names and struggling to keep their heads above water in an unforgiving city like Port Moresby when they journey this way.
We demand that you all change and become servant leaders and not pedestal leaders. Enough of the rhetoric and chest beating!
* Johann or John Tetzel, a Dominican friar, was Pope Leo's master salesman. Tetzel travelled from village to village with a brass-bound chest, a bag of printed receipts and an enormous cross draped with the papal banner. His entrance into the town square, with the papal bull announcing the indulgence on a velvet cushion, was heralded with bells, candles, flags and relics.
Staging his show in the nave of the local church, Tetzel would announce, 'I have here the passports to lead the human soul to the celestial joys of paradise. The Holy Father [the Pope] has the power in heaven and earth to forgive sin, and if he forgives it, God must do so also'.
The cost of the indulgence, Tetzel was quick to point out, was cheap when the alternatives were taken into account. Among the demons and tempests in the medieval world, the indulgence, no matter the price, offered a glimpse of light in a world of darkness.
In Germany, Tetzel exceeded his quota, as he always did. Indulgences were most popular among the peasants, yet it also hit them the hardest; they had the least money to spare. Tetzel's indulgence-selling campaign led Martin Luther to act on the frustrations that were consuming his thoughts. When Luther posted his 'Ninety-Five Theses', the sales of indulgences dropped considerably