I SALUTE THE FOUNDERS of this great nation for their role in nursing and nurturing it to where it is today at its 38th birthday.
We sometimes make negative comments about them, but it was not as easy as many of us think.
Even after they are gone their names shall be remembered as they moved the nation from colonialism to independence.
One of those great leaders and founders is Grand Chief Sir Michael Somare who was instrumental in taking this nation out of foreign hands without bloodshed.
Beside him were a few other key figures who shaped the future of Papua New Guinea politically, constitutionally, socially and economically.
We thank the first Prime Minister of the Independent State of Papua New Guinea in the Westminster system and the Governor for East Sepik, Sir Michael Somare (Pangu Party) and the first Opposition leader and the MP for Wabag, the late Sir Tei Abal (United Party).
With their political parties, they made great impact in bringing independence in 1975.
Other great architects are Sir Rabbie Namaliu, Sir Julius Chan, Dr John Momis, Sir John Kaputin, Anton Parao and Paul Torato. Others who have left us were Sir Iambakey Okuk, Sir John Guise, Sir Ignatus Kilage, Sir Albert Kipalan, Sir Buri Kidu, John Watts, Sir Sinake Giregire and several others.
We thank Sir Michael and those who are still living and those who have left us for their collaborative efforts to get Papua New Guinea out of foreign hands. They deserve gratitude.
As you cannot teach an “old dog a new trick”, I an era of globalisation, economics and trade, we now need young and innovative leaders like Peter O'Neil, Don Polye, Gary Juffa, Sam Basil, Charles Abel, Richard Maru, Belden Nemah and others who are more focused on issues to take the country to the next stage.
With due respect, I must say that any of the veteran (former) PMs who have returned in this term of parliament or who may return in the future elections must assist the young leaders to form a vibrant government for a better Papua New Guinea.
I believe this country has the potential to fly higher than any developed nation if we are honest in our affairs.
We have some of the biggest mining, oil and gas projects in the world. We have the giant Porgera gold mine, Ok Tedi copper and gold, Lihir gold, Bougainville copper and gold, Freda gold, Ramu nickel and cobalt, Wau-Bulolo gold, and the PNG LNG project to name just a few.
We also have potential in agriculture and livestock. Papua New Guinea has more than 75% of its land covered in bush which we can use for agriculture and livestock activities.
Currently we have Ramu sugar in the Sepik and Markham valley, oil palm projects in West New Britain, Ramu and Popondetta, coffee projects in the highlands, Morobe and parts of the coastal provinces, and cocoa and copra projects on the coast.
We also have pig and cattle farming in the Markham Valley, in Central Province and in other parts of the country. We have everything a country could need.
Now, as PNG turns 38, everyone has high expectations and hopes for a better future as our Gross Domestic Product is expected to double as the LNG project goes on stream.
However, the problems of mismanagement and corruption by the elected leaders and their cronies and bureaucrats remain unresolved. We cannot expect miracles from heaven if we are not accountable in handling the billions of kina from the projects and other revenue sources in this country.
It’s about time we managed these massive funds with transparency, integrity and with good governance.
If we continue fail in this area even after 38 years of Independence, we will have no one to blame but ourselves.
Happy 38th birthday to all. God bless Papua New Guinea!