ON THURSDAY OF NEXT WEEK, the council of the PNG University of Technology will decide the fate of Vice Chancellor Albert Schram. The Sevua investigation of Schram and the resulting report have now attracted the support of Port Moresby’s anti-corruption activists, becoming part of their list of demands aimed at the government of Peter O’Neill.
The anger has deepened and spread because the Unitech scandal is seen as a case study in the O’Neill government’s blatant tolerance of injustice. It is also another clear example of public servants being paid to solve a problem when all they do is waste public money by backing off, running away, flip flopping, lying, pretending or dodging responsibility.
I have become damn angry reading what has been going on at Unitech because a lot of my salary is deducted to pay idiots like them and the money is totally wasted.
How did the Unitech affair reach its current eternal status, considering that only a year ago, students and staff were raving about their new vice chancellor? It appeared that Albert Schramm was a rare catch for Unitech and for PNG, very different from the foreign carpetbagger or mercenaries we usually attract. The evidence shows that he achieved much positive change in a short time.
However Schram quickly found himself with enemies, as Unitech tried to straighten out its financial mess and past corruption was uncovered. Schram’s opponents within Unitech seemed to be national staff who didn’t like a white man in charge. Fair enough except for the fact that the Unitech mess wasn’t created by foreigners and was getting progressively worse.
As the months went by, social media voices began asking why Schram’s own supporters weren’t doing more to help. The students representative council President went from supporting to denouncing the VC, saying he knew things he couldn’t divulge.
The acting vice-chancellor presented himself as, in Martyn Namarong’s words, another sheeple, afraid to say anything that might offend people above him and threaten his pay cheque.
The focus also turned to the Office of Higher Education. Why did no one at the top openly express displeasure at the shabby treatment of Dr Schram? As word spread that there was no evidence of any fraud, the silence by supposedly fair people became deafening.
Were they aware of some other wrongdoing by Schram? If so, why didn’t they use that evidence to end the debacle quickly? And what was he guilty of? Of speaking honestly? Of being effective? Of getting too much support from Unitech students and staff? Of making a few thieves and liars unhappy?
It is past time that we stopped running away from our responsibilities as citizens of this great nation and of hoping Don Polye will solve all our problems. It is sinful to see injustice, close our eyes to it, and run the other way. As Martin Luther King wrote, to allow injustice anywhere threatens justice everywhere.
You don’t wait for God to act, you get up and take some action yourself if you see injustice taking place. We must speak our conscience even if it means breaking protocol. If we feel so personally threatened by what might happen if we speak out, we can always use a pen name to spread the truth, can’t we?
It seems that in PNG we follow a different pathway from what Martin Luther King advises. In fact, sometimes it looks like we’re trying to convince the rest of the world just how mean, unjust and discriminatory we can be, usually to each other but also to foreigners like Schram. Why are we so self-destructive? Why do so many of us allow incidents of injustice to stand and spread until it paints our entire country with a disgusting odour?
The particular injustice Dr Schram suffered was brought to him courtesy of an old PNG trick called letting things drag on forever. Dishonourable people know that if their opponents and supporters get really angry about some injustice perpetrated on them, even deep anger will fade with time.
Thus, dishonourable people try to drag events on as long as possible hoping that the other side will forget, give up and move on. Intentionally or not, the so-called fair people help the dishonourables by doing nothing to bring the dispute to a speedy conclusion so that justice takes its proper course.
How can anyone who looked into the Schram case now not feel guilty about their role in forcing without cause a human being into exile? Such people deserve no respect whatsoever. Shame on you political pompous asses, Don Polye and David Arore, and the ineffective intellectual clowns at OHE! Shame on you sheeple administrators! Shame on you Unitech council members!
Actually, these pretenders to decency seem to have no shame so we better start looking for what kind of dirty tricks they might be lining up against Schram, hoping to get rid of him without their fingerprints showing.
One sneaky trick the council could use to perpetuate injustice would be to force Schram to accept a buyout of his contract even if he wishes to serve out his term at Unitech.
Another trick would be to say that Dr Schram should go because he has divided Papua New Guineans and created disunity. I laugh! If Schram caused any split, it was to unwittingly separate the good from the bad from the silent that helps the bad by default. That enlightenment was long overdue.
Or maybe the council should blame Albert Schram for speaking out in his own defence and use that as basis for getting rid of him?
It’s time to call all this to a close by marking the final day of judgement: 12 December. That is when the Unitech council meets and it can only end with one of two possible outcomes: justice or injustice for Albert Schram.
The current injustice will stand and Schram will hang if the council dares to again postpone action on the Sevua report or gives any kind of excuse to ease Schramm out of the vice-chancellor’s job that does not relate to fraud or intentionally breaking his contract conditions.
Justice will only prevail if Schram is declared innocent, set free by the Unitech council to resume his residency and his position in Lae and given effective protection against his foes, most of whom show no capability other than vindictiveness.
If you care about PNG and our reputation as a fair and just nation governed by caring leaders not silent sheeple or corrupt pigs, carefully observe what happens on 12 December. Will the council release Schram to carry on his good work or will they let him hang?
See what appears in the newspapers after the council meeting. Or find out if acting vice-chancellor John Pumwa communicates to his staff at Unitech what transpired.
If you see and hear a black hole, don’t accept it. Demand that council members speak clearly about whether Schram will finally get some justice in PNG or whether they decide to let injustice stand.
Whatever message the council chooses to deliver, please join those of us who are determined to shout the council’s results so loudly that they reach all corners of the land and touch the heavens above.
Make the world our permanent witness and the internet our permanent record of what those who had the power to make a difference did with respect to the Schram affair.
What if the council tries once again to hush up everything and stay silent? Man oh man, those will be the loudest words of all and just as easy to broadcast.
The whole world will begin to know in a few days.