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24 February 2013

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Thanks Ed.

I like John's opening paragraph.

Australia had no choice but to establish a Western style democratic system. This made it easy for Australia to exert its influence ever since.

I don’t get it, John:

Were not Messrs Siaguru, Namaliu, Nombri, Ainui (and the likes of Bart Philemon) graduates of the very education system you have chosen to vilify?

Are you seriously suggesting that the likes of John Gunther, Elton Brash, John Lynch and their UPNG and Hitech vice-chancellor colleagues were an ’undistinguished caste of ideology-driven foreign educationists’?

Is it at all possible that Les Johnson, Ken McKinnon and Vin McNamara were uninformed, unethical and lacked ‘history-and-economics-savvy leadership’ and yet managed to craft an effective, innovative and professional national education system (from the bare bones of its precedent institutions) in less than two generations?

And how dare you suggest that those of us who worked at the education coalface throughout PNG were motivated not by expectations of excellence but by the mediocrity of “left-luvvy-ideology”.

Idealists we may have been. Ideologues, in the sense that you have described, never.

In any case, one has only to read the contributions to this site from the likes of Martyn Namorong, Joe Wasia, Michael Dom, Leonard Fong Roka, Bernard Yegiora (and many others) to confirm the efficacy of the education (regime(s)) they have experienced.

Constructive critique (and reflection) is a necessary condition for productive intellectual engagement and development. So too are balance and acknowledgement of credit where it is due – as in the case of those mentioned above.

Arthur, I noted your comment regarding over 30,000 years of independence. Surely, this cannot be termed 'independence' in the ideology of statehood?

The people were segregated, undefined as a cohesive, functional social entity, without recognition of our inherent worth as a united people, with shared values and a future directive. State was unrecognised. Government was non-existent.

Now all the legal instruments are in place. But the pessimist in me smirks, things haven't changed that much have they?

"Beyond the measure of these shackled halls
Our hearts and minds must leap from prison walls."

John Fowke's right-wing harangue casting opprobrium on all things left was quite a diatribe that presupposes that Australia was/is naturally right.

Wondered at his unexplained 'lefty-luvvy-ideology' or lLefty political correctness' but he deserves a literary raspberry for his alliterative contrivance of 'sibilant susurrations of fluttering left' wings. Thought susu-rrations was some sort of baby powder. Surely he can't be a Pom – kos ain't heard no Ozzie use such Latin lingo.

Was good to see him apologise to Joe Wasia and, having once been a lowly Council Adviser myself, and, many years later a Councillor after Micah's reforms, I liked his ideas on making LLGs more integrated into the mainstream political scene.

In my time in New Ireland I can say that most islanders were in favour of getting Independence in 1975 and indeed my wife's people had tried hard to get it in the early 60s but were cruelly treated for that desire.

Far from the early days of independence being the best years, our leader and MP Walla Gukguk sadly gave up on Waigani with a revealing comment to me, 'Planti MP oli korupt'. That was in 1980.

And, in light of the posts on education, he also once said, 'Kalabus igat plantu savi man istap'.

What is needed is honesty in all aspects of one's life even at grassroots or village level right upto the highest office holder in the land. Do they teach honesty in schools?

Some thought provoking articles in Attitude and it seems readership numbers are increasing.

One little snippet that often niggles me in discussions is the idea that Independence was given to PNG in 1975. Even PNG born writers allow this fallacy to continue. PNG was independent for more than 30,000 years before strangers showed up on its shores.

None of the students at Watabung in the Eastern Highlands had completed their high school education by 1975.

Therefore the people of Watabung had no one who could responsibly contribute to the debate about independence. This would have been the case in many areas.

I was surprised at the time for the patrol officers were developing local government and guiding the councillors on ways to govern.

We all expected this very successful program to then be extended to regional and national systems.

By selecting out-standing experienced councillors to accept roles in regional and national roles a better system could have been developed. This system was thrown out with some of the other systems that were working so well.

But now Papua New Guinea has the well educated people who have both a university degree and experience to take on the challenge of governing PNG in a manner that benefits all.

The past has gone, mistakes were made but now its time to develop PNG in its own way by the honest Papua New Guineans who have the education and ability to achieve great things. You have my blessings.

It's true that PNG was not ready at the time when it was offered the independence. Most of you are right. Yes, we failed in that.

So what shall we do now? Blaming the founding fathers? Aussies?

I think we should do something now. Every Papua New Guinean readers and contributors of PNG Attitude must start developing and educating youngsters in your own community. Read more in my article.

Government, NGOs and business etc may help educate and develop the young generation for better PNG in the next 30 years.

Let's not cry over spill milk. Do something now to save the future of our nation.

Vince Mycoe, you obviously have really firm grip. Be careful of warts.

And its "they're," not "their...."

John, I have the feeling you've just reopened Pandora's box. Was PNG ready for full independence and what is today's view on those in PNG and Australia who had responsibility for the decision at the time?

Even using hindsight to dissect and analyse the decision it might still depend on your perspective.

Decision making based on ideology should always be subject to equivocation. The trouble was that at the time, there were no means whereby the vast majority of PNG people were in anyway fully prepared or consulted.

The ‘Political Education’ content of our patrols were just beginning to create an awareness when the decision was rushed through.

Those I met in rural PNG consistently spoke of delaying the inevitable until they felt they were ready. Clearly that was not the view of those few in PNG who thought they personally were ready to take control.

Looking forward however, there are now many educated and erudite young PNG people who are ready and have the ability to take their nation forward.

Perhaps in the future, people will look at the period you mention as merely a blip in the long term radar?

For those who lived through it however, it's a pity it had to happen when there were many examples around that could have been productively referred to and learnt from.

Congratulations John for hitting a large number of nails on the head very succinctly - but as the other responder partially points out it's not all Oz's fault.

There are now large areas of PNG that have been independent for longer than the period they were administered by Australia.

John, as independence neared for PNG, self government was already starting to deteriorate. I remember the riots back then.

Stop blaming Oz for PNG's problems. They, PNG, wanted independence and us expats out. They said they were mature enough and ready to govern themself.

PNG got what it wanted (except for continued funding from Oz) and spoilt children don't like their pocket money allowance being reduced because their big now, so need more pocket money not less. Get a grip, John!
__________

PNG receives about half a billion dollars annually from Australia and has been receiving similar amounts since independence in 1975 - KJ

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