HAVING ALREADY APOLOGISED for the aspersions I recently cast upon Joe Wasia, and I applaud the sentiments expressed in his recent, eponymous opinion piece.
Successive governments have neglected this vast majority, their focus diverted to the main centres of the country. And that was really unfair for the people…. As a member of the educated elite in my society, I know I would not tolerate tribal fights or other social disorder in my society nor support perpetrators in any way.
Indeed, Joe. Oh yes. I have been writing off and on for several years urging people like you to form a progressive linkage or union across tribal and provincial boundaries and the nation.
Much of what I’ve written has been published in the various daily and weekly papers in PNG including in Wantok, and in Australia as well as PNG-related blogs when these arose not so long ago.
Just recently my hopes that I may have a small audience, or better, friends, in a combined enterprise, have risen.
I am in touch with a small group of your peers, professionals with progressive ideas and idealism driving them in the process of incorporating a formal "think-tank"-type organisation. This to organise and propound at grassroots level the sort of ideas leading to changes in society, government efficiency and services which you yourself wish to see established.
I am hoping to persuade them to give consideration to my plan for the grafting of the LLGs into the national political system, replacing the parties as the foundation of representation, being accessible to and in the control of the ordinary voter. This "grafting" to be effected by using the existing system and making the plan interesting for MPs.
The idea presents no constitutional problems and in providing for a real, sustainable return to asples-generated control over national government policies, it is in line with Melanesian cultural aspirations.
The parties and thus the MPS are not seated in the villages and settlements of PNG- they stand upon selected, Moresby-based stepping-stones to opportunity for smart, often unprincipled and personally greedy men; men who keep a very opaque "ceiling" in place above the asples/settlement masses downstairs and their MPs' very exclusive, enjoyable "mens club" upstairs.
There will be resistance to any move to empower the LLGs . These have been kept on starvation diets and very short dog-chains for the past three decades and more. However there will be a very distinct advantage for all MPs who agree to participate, and as time passes it will be increasingly obvious to MPs that this is the best way for them as well as the people at large.
The LLGs will become, in effect, the quality-controllers for all government services, institutions and development within their electorates, working as all-encompassing "Lokol Komiti" in regular face-to-face contact with their own MP, and with him, the Governor of the province concerned.
I have painted this picture a number of times and will not re-draw it here. Suffice to say that anyone interested is very welcome to email me for a draft for comment and criticism.
Two points I will however add here: firstly, with regard to Joe's piece and the desired eradication of tribal conflict and intra-community violence of all sorts, it should be remembered that this condition of society prevailed in a great many parts of PNG at the coming of the first exploratory patrols.
In the Highlands being the last part of PNG to be brought under the rule of the new imported laws, fighting and practices such as murder and mutilation in punishment for offences such as sorcery and adultery generally took about ten years to put down in a particular area once a patrol post was established.
Whilst some of the methods used verged upon the brutal and inhumane, as recalled now and then right here in Attitude, the practices thus addressed and eradicated where just as brutal and were sanctioned by the "eye for an eye "system of ongoing vendetta which had ruled for many centuries.
In the Hagen-Wahgi area, for instance, a woman suspected of adultery or one who ran back to her family from an abusive husband was captured and had her Achilles tendons cut. Thus ensuring that she would be confined to a life of imprisonment within the crawl-perimeter thus established.
Even though firearms are widely present now, and in use in fighting, it is by no means impossible, under existing law, for a determined and well-organised government agency to repeat the achievement of the early system of armed and disciplined law-enforcing patrols and on-the-spot court hearings.
Energy, organisation and determination plus political support are needed. Provided that the will to act exists or is summoned, tribal fights and acts of vengeance and payback can be made to cease. From there , regular touring by patrols comprised of District Managers, Police, Magistrates and paramedical personnel with supplies will maintain peace, progress, improving health, and increasing prosperity.
Councillors must insist upon three-monthly inspections of schools, health-facilities and village courts within their purview. Schools, in particular are now endowed with direct access to voted funds and acrrued school-fee payments kept in accounts generally administered and operated by headmasters.
Not often spoken of, this is another semi-hidden sea of corruption. I have PNGian friends who are employed behind the counter at a popular betting-shop in one of PNG's cities. They tell me that there are large numbers of regulars every day, but the biggest regular punters among these are bush-school teachers and policemen.
Government Stores no longer exists as the agency for supply of consumables to outstations. The Head Teachers themselves go to town and buy for cash. The trips often take up to a week.
The other point I'd like to make is that it will be a positive step if the nation was to consider instituting a version of the Public Service Institute / PNG Administrative College designed by INA, NRI and the PNG/Pacific Policy Institute plus professional institutes to provide a short, very intensive residential re-orientation course for all public servants at a senior level.
Residence would incorporate medical and fitness examinations, treatment where necessary, and appropriate aerobic exercise regime before classes each morning. Psychological and aptitude assessment and grading, ethics and corporate bonding/working relationship sessions, profession-specific refresher courses, and a crash course in "One Hundred Years of Human History and PNG's Emergence as a Nation" would be incorporated.
As well the working/professional aspect would be addressed by the provision of a Management and Administration course such as those offered in Melbourne and participated in by many PNGian executives in the past.
The whole to be energetic, intensive and a wake-up call with implications for transferring what is learned to each individual's workplace. Additionally- and undoubtedly controversially- employment by contract where renewal is based upon performance must be introduced at all senior public service levels.
I believe such action and resulting reforms are absolutely essential as a step in the emergence of PNG as a recognisably fair, equitable and humane society.
My well-worn heart, suffering though it does from the effect of "pinisim katen syndrome" and medicinal ingestion of pure, natural sugar-cane juice in its rum form, is warming and heading to a state of sleepy old man happiness because of these positive vibes from your generation of PNG professionals.
The sort of people who always give me hope even when the horse of Waigani where galloping at their wildest- think Bill Skate era for one-are many but sadly, also departed in many cases.
For instance the late Sir Anthony Siaguru, Henry Kila, also now departed whom I got to know because I had worked with his father the late Kila Kone, as well as Mahuru Rarua (known to his small group of intimates as "leader") and again the old Co-op linkage, Sir Tore Lokoloko. There are many others.
We need a modern, ideals-driven Bully Beef Club, but without the "bully." How about "Sosial na Ekonomik Abus Klap"? Okay,okay. Lapun sili baga ya.