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25 February 2013


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A very accurate analysis by Martyn.

The problem was we could not continue with our home grown model because we are part of the international system that was and is highly classed.

As a country on the periphery according to the international relations theory of Marxism, we had to comply with the trend spearheaded by the developed countries in the core.

The core countries and their agenda was pushed by international financial organisations like the World bank and IMF.

Thus, it was a strong current to go against as we risked being tagged as an undemocractic or authoritatian nation.

The core will still find ways to invade, like in Iraq or other weak countries who want to take an independent path.

The point is that the change from a home grown development model to the neo-liberal model was unavoidable and was the current trend during the time period Martyn mentioned.

Here's the thing. Martyn's right: of course getting money for nothing -- the politicians just give permission to companies to use others' land -- generates corruption.

And of course education is inappropriate, producing (at best) graduates ready for non-existent clerical jobs.

But...all that was not only obvious, but widely acknowledged, in the early 90s when I first worked in PNG. And the literature from the 70s & 80s suggests these points were pretty well-known then too.

So? So it's not a matter of knowledge. It's motives. People still vote for immediate goodies, which rent-seeker politician can indeed provide.

People would rather have one wantok student actually get the government job or professional career than have all their children properly prepared for life, so they keep the lottery curriculum.

Hoping voices like Martyn's eventually open enough ears...

Amen Martyn.

The clan-based Melanesian Way - subsistence wantoks sharing what they have with wantoks, making a living from modest farms and enterprises - is socialism at it's idyllic best.

It doesn't matter what our own politics; what PNG had for thousands of years worked.

I remember villages full of healthy, happy people, a pristine environment, rich with exotic flora, birds and wildlife.

What has development brought?

Are the majority of people better off?

Are the majority of people happy as they go about their day?

Are they still able to feed their wantoks? Their clan? Their family? Themselves?

Do they have still have pristine rivers and safe fishing?

The answers to these questions will also answer the questions surrounding the build up of PNG's military for the purpose of protecting the mines from the people.

Friedman is a pox on the planet still. Nowhere more so than PNG.

Martyn, In the past few years I've made visits to PNG. On each occasion the state of the nation seems to be getting worse.

In my rather uneducated way I've been asking myself, why? Your article gives me a lot of answers!

The villages in and around the Sepik River seem never to be visited by government representives, both civic and political.

In the so-called colonial times officers of District Services, Health, Agriculture and even Public Works made yearly and 6-monthly visits.

Airstrips were maintained by the government and the missions. From these airstrips medical emergencies were flown to places like Angoram and Wewak.

It is true that for a number of years directly after Independence things seemed fairly OK.

One thing I wonder about is: what happened to Somare's early idealism?

Martyn, your insights I find most informative, thank you.

"The best times in PNG’s history as an independent nation were between 1975 and 1985 when a Papua New Guinean model of development that focused on agriculture and small scale activities was being implemented" - Martyn Namorong.

Spot on!

I grew up in my village during that decade and I can attest to the development model working at that time.

How much I crave to go back to that model (small scale, family/clan based agriculture and small scale enterprises)supported by the power of the aggregates.

A real broad based, bottom up approach to economic development where the individual family unit can nod in agreement to the GDP growth numbers when we see them published in the newspapers.

And not be disorientated by some fancy number we can’t see, feel and touch.

With you Martyn.

And thanks Phil.

'Notta to da left, notta to da right, justa keep it ina da groove".

Martyn's article is well worth contrasting with John Fowke's article on education, where he largely sheets home the blame for a dysfunctional system onto idealistic "lefties".

John makes a valid point. Educational models are responsible for the mess to a large extent but I'm not sure they were so much the child of the left.

The vision of Papua New Guinea's founding fathers on the other hand was a distinctly left wing approach.

And, as Martyn points out, it worked in the first ten years after independence until the World Bank, pushing distinctly right wing policies intervened.

Right wing politics support social hierarchy and social inequality. Right wingers variously regard these conditions as either inevitable, desirable, natural and normal. They sometimes refer to it as a 'natural law'.

So for the right wingers the exploitation of resources in Papua New Guinea is good, as is the poverty of the rural majority.

So while the left wing might have stuffed up education it is the right wing that has created the terrible economic situation.

Left or right are just as bad as each other.

Best stick with the original vision.

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