Just travel anywhere in PNG and spend some time in the villages and towns. Look at the logging camps of the Gulf and Western provinces where resource owners are recruited as ill-paid labour to harvest their own timber.
They have the privilege of earning some coins which are promptly spent at the tucker boxes or mini-marts in these same logging camps. It’s akin to modern day slavery.
Look at the hordes of illegal fishing vessels that anchor off the waters of PNG waiting for the cover of darkness to enter in search of shark fin - cutting off fins for this lucrative but heinous trade and sending the sharks back into the ocean to slowly die a horrible death.
Look at the predators that enter Western Province to hunt for crocodiles, deer, Saratoga and barramundi - shooting indiscriminately at villagers who wander by. These villagers have become too frightened to venture into their own forests to hunt or farm.
Meanwhile, the government is still entertaining Nautilus Ltd and its Solwara 1 seabed mining project that seeks to pioneer another destructive effort in the seas of PNG despite the law and despite the objections of more than 20,000 Papua New Guineans.
Our leaders who not so long ago insisted they were concerned about their people have done an about faces and suddenly promote the Nautilus project proclaiming “pioneering revolutionary technology” and espousing the great economic boom that can come about from such projects.
What they fail to say is that the great economic boom is not for the people who have lived there for hundreds of years or more and call it their home. Apparently they do not matter - at least not until the 2017 election.
Then the usual suspects hoping for election or re-election will expound their usual rhetoric of declaring great things for the people and the country and denouncing corruption.
Now let’s add to these concerns the issue of the fugitive Djoko Tjandra, wanted by Interpol and Indonesia for massive bank fraud. Tjandra managed to enter Papua New Guinea in July last year just a day before he was to front up in the Jakarata Supreme Court.
In Port Moresby he was met and greeted by the then Minister for Foreign Affairs (with 10 boxes of blue label Johnny Walker), granted PNG citizenship in record time and issued a PNG passport despite the fact that PNG is a signatory to the United Nations Convention of Transnational Crimes which stipulates that signatories cooperate in the investigation and prosecution of such criminals.
To add salt to the wound, a company Tjandra is associated with, Naima Rice Project Ltd, has been given the green light to proceed with plans to monopolise the commercialisation of rice in Papua New Guinean – and was even granted funds by the Department of Agriculture to conduct research and prepare a submission.
This is of course not the end of it. It is now revealed that Tjandra’s relatives who already have citizenship are embarking on a venture that will see them control the buai industry. This same group of people killed the vanilla industry in PNG by monopolising the purchase of vanilla and encouraging improper processing that saw international markets close their doors on what could have been a potential moneymaker for the ordinary people of PNG.
There is even more. Perhaps one wants to contemplate the efforts being made to re-open the Panguna mine. Again, the people who matter are not being considered and leaders are enthusiastically signing paper and making grandiose speeches without considering the reasons why the mine led to a civil war that lasted 10 years, destroyed an island and cost 20,000 lives with many more people affected to this very day.
Or maybe we can discuss what benefits Porgera and other such mines have really brought to the local people in those areas. Sure we got much revenue but where did that revenue go?
Many people will no doubt defend the mining industry, but I would like Papua New Guineans to think whether their districts and stations and towns are better off. They are not. They are rotting. Filled with decaying colonial era infrastructure and unfinished overpriced and dubiously paid projects that were either scams from the beginning or, in some rare cases, great ideas hijacked by the self-interested.
There is no shortage of stories told about the exploitation of the people’s land, timber, marine resources and much else. There is also no shortage of stories of neglect of the people by the very governments elected time and time again promising wealth, development and a better life but instead delivering failed projects, scams and schemes.
No matter what people say, and there are those who profusely defend the government, one can carry out a simple test to determine the validity of my claim.
Take a drive to any District station, let’s say Kwikila, or Kupiano, maybe Kokoda, or how about Banz. Or Tapini. Select any District in any Province and take a trip there.
Your own observation and research will satisfy you that there has been no progress.
Easier still, take a stroll through any government department and observe what happens there. Take note of the level of dress and professionalism, punctuality, cleanliness, written and spoken speech, and assess the credibility of some of our senior public servants and ask how they got there and consider whether they would ever be employed in a corporate entity anywhere.
So what guarantee is there that stability will ensure development? What guarantee is there that stability will ensure that the thieves and plunderers still in the parliament will give up scheming and concocting ideas of how to steal the people’s money. Will they ever be stopped or brought to justice? Ever?
There is really no guarantee that political stability will bring true development. If true development can be brought about without justice, then I am wrong.
Until then, I await the promised reshuffle. Will some of the garbage be taken out? If so, I am hopeful that political stability in this instance may work. If not, then let’s brace ourselves for another round of scams, schemes, lies, theft and general misconduct by our so-called leaders.
Perhaps the people will come to their senses in 2017, mobilise and nominate their own champions and elect them – regardless of existing political parties, campaign rhetoric and seasoned party strategies promoted every five years.
Or maybe PNG will continue down the slippery slope of anarchy, chaos, illegal land grabbing, marginalisation of land owners, destruction of forests and oceans, disease and rampant crime and corruption until we are in such a mess as to satisfy foreign powers to enter on the pretext of saving us from ourselves and our inability to govern our future.
Who knows really.