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19 February 2014


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More than food for thought John, I think Barbara's correct in saying that someone teaches us decent, moral conduct at some time.

Blame the teachers or not?

I think the disconnect is when, as adults, we are free to choose whether or not to adhere to those learned principals.

That's the guts of it - our leaders make a concisous decision to break laws and have things their own way.

That is, at least in my books, a criminal act.

Sure we all have bad days, but when so many more people depend on them and they should and do know better, why do they commit the sneaky and under-handed acts which are a betayal of the trust and confidence people have placed in them?

No, perhaps its less a question of morals, but of moral conviction.

That doesn't mean they'll get it right all the time, but at least we can expect that their intentions are good and that their right actions bear out their right words.

So, what about them SABL's they said they'd do away with?

Great points Barbara and Michael...something to chew on for now

Well John, I have to maintain my disagreement, along with Barbara.

I adhere to the thinking that, 'In all of Nature only Mankind is unnatural'.

I was just thinking, in our society parents probably train children in honesty, telling the truth, obedience etc from about 2 years of age. Even at this early age children start to test their parents and if they are deliberately naughty they have to be reprimanded.

Some people seem able to do this by talking to their children in a firm manner, using a few threats, others might resort to physical punishment. But at the same time once the child has shown some form of repentance they will be forgiven and shown that they are still loved.

This gradually sents up some moral understanding in the child of what is right and what is wrong. Primary school teachers also have a great role to play in teaching their young charges how to behave correctly.

One female primary teacher was recently telling me of the problems she faces with first born sons from one racial group that has settled in Australia. They have not been taught respect for woman by their parents. She has a hard job teaching them this important lesson.

John has mentioned that at the core of the leadership problem is morality. It is often the morality or honesty when handling large amounts of money that do not belong to you, being responsible for that money and using it honestly for the purpose for which it was intended.

The leaders, both politicians and public servants, have to be able to stand up to all sorts of temptations when it comes to handling large amounts of money.

I'm just thinking as a European white Christian lady living in a democratic society. Things may be different in PNG but I feel that morality has to be taught to every person at some time by somebody. It is not something done by Mother Nature.

Hi Michael, my point on the sense of morality (for leadrship) is that in each of us and in all societies there has and always been a sense of right and wrong. Regardless of which society we look to, this has generally been a common thread.

While much of it has to do with people learning the moral codes and the dos and donts of their respective societies, can we comfortably say that nature has imbued in us the inner sense or what is generally wrong or right? Arent we all then the product of nature, porgrammed to do amazing things than the other animals?

I am certain the leadership crisis and its plethora of problems may benefit from a different perspective in which people and leaders are reminded that we are capable of doing good, obeying the laws etc...and importantly demonstrate a leadership that benefits the majority.

I think thats a perspective worth pursuing. Then it follows that we are meant to live rich and fulfilling lives, without doing it at the expense of others,and if we do,will then brings us into conflict with the law - codes that we all agree to live by.

The laws of the land are however supreme still.

I am with you on the seond para.

I don't know if Mother Nature cares much about morality, that may be entirely an artefact of humanity - civilisation required moral codes to develop, and often developed at the expense of the natural order.

I think learning to live together successfully demands that certain philosophies are agreed to and adhered to so that the actions and reactions of individuals and groups is maintained within boundaries of what is considered acceptable, i.e., good, right and just: to make co-inhabitation achievable, challenges surmountable and sometimes inherent socio-economic conditions bearable.

Thank you Bernard for making us think and for all the very valuable comments on this important point.

Leadership at all levels in different forms is important. That we all know but what we dont have control over is how can we get the right leaders into parliament and how then do we keep them on their toes to do what they are supposed to do.

There are so many areas that need tigthening up, and many factors .... the people who work for the MPs, to voters ,to govenement officials in the key agencies to should I add more?

Getting educated people into Parliament will not necessarily solve all the problems.

It is a moral issue, one that is all the time knocking on each of our conscience.

And it is about each time we face a moral situation, and we decide how we are going to live with ourselves and with each other. That to me is core because we have already seen that declaring ourselves a Christian country, having strong laws don't always work!

The leadership issue is a moral issue, at its very core and essence.

And that sense of morality I would like to think Mother Nature has instilled in all of us within.

It should be what is within that should compel us to comply with the laws, demonstrate servant leadership and serve others as leaders.

Any demonstration to the contrary and is way off the mark!

You're not trying to tell me that prior to Keating politicians had no control over the public service are you Paul?

I guess of all our politicians Keating attracted the most hatred; I don't even think his fans liked him very much. Tad arrogant some people said. Like most politicians he did some good and some bad. At least he was entertaining. I rather like entertaining politicians; Bill Skate was a good one. I can't wait for Belden Namah to become the PNG prime minister. I am an admirer of Curtin, Menzies, Whitlam and Fraser too but they were all fatally flawed men.

The 'Yes Minister' line that public service mandarins manipulate ministers is a myth. So is the idea that they know what is best. Which is a shame, because if that were the case PNG might be in better condition.

Another reality that a lot of people fail to acknowledge is that for democracy to work you need a class system. That is, in PNG, the so-called predatory elite is a necessary evil. Bernard Yegiora makes this point when he cites Plato's 'The Republic'.

I've worked for several ministers of both political persuasions in Oz and the first thing they did when gaining power was sack all the senior public servants appointed by their predecessors and install their own people. I suppose Keating made that easier to do.

Replacing senior public servants with incompetent and inexperienced wantoks is an entirely different matter. When that happens the politicians and the public servants conspire to arrange things for their own benefit.

It would be interesting to know the relationships between Minister Malabag and the public servants involved in the BPP scandal.

This isn't a problem exclusive to PNG. Just look at other examples throughout the world. In Italy for example, an ex PM (bunga, bunga) with a lot of money keeps bobbing up like something in the ocean you'd rather not find you were swimming next to.

In Oz we have our fair share of crooked politicians and so called leaders. Some would say more than our fair share. We do however have a legal system that eventually catches up with them or so we are led to believe.

The essence of the problem both we and PNG share is that there has been a blurring of the separation of powers. In Australia this was primarily due to people like Keating, who when blocked by the entrenched public service doyens, organised a PS review in the late 1980's by an accounting firm's boss (The Block Review).

Guess what? The Review recommended the PS be put onto an Accrual Accounting system that needed teams of qualified (QPA) accountants to understand, let alone implement across the whole of the Australian PS. These accountants who had to be recruited from private businesses immediately demanded annual incentive payments and presents for doing the job that others had hitherto only been paid to do.

A ‘user pays’ system was then introduced yet everyone knew the public services were already paid for by taxation. Under the new rules, if you couldn’t demonstrate a service was profitable, it was outsourced or sold off to private business. Then the senior PS levels were put on annual contracts, appointed by their political masters and became totally controlled by their government ministers and guess what? What Keating wanted, Keating got. Yes Phil, we’re not all Keating fans are we?

Australian politicians had previously understood and endorsed the separation of powers enshrined in our effective method of government. Separation of powers was essential to prevent those at the political level who wanted to control the purse strings but who were not either qualified or elected to do so, from directly spending government money. This is the policy that was in vogue when PNG's Constitution was originally drafted.

After the Block Review, many politicians who had never had any line management experience, were then given the ability to undo decades of accepted policy guidelines specifically developed to stop an old disease. The panacea or controlling medicine had suddenly now been removed. If they wished, politicians could now make actual decisions without having to deal with an accountable PS who had abide by the law of the land. The potential for political corruption had returned.

How can we then assess PNG when the separation of powers mostly never happened or has now been ameliorated in practice? But maybe PNG can learn from past mistakes?

It will be interesting to see how Bougainville goes if they vote to be independent before 2020.

I'm not sure they are ready for independence but they have certainly fought for it and there is a very distinct Bougainvillean nationalism now, something that there wasn't in PNG in 1975.

I doubt the value of Machiavellian thinking.

I thought that our societies had always been egalitarian rather than authoritarian, Bernard.

The kleptocraccy that developed over time in PNG is not an authoritarian type system - it is merely opportunistic.

Machiavelli's statement could well justify NA's ten year long reign which provided stable government - but at what cost?

And the O'Namah regime overthrowing the Somare regime in 2011 - but at what cost?

What is the end and is it agreed to by all?

This may be pursued by a democratic process following egalitarian customs, but is it equitable for all?

Who's stands to benefit from this end point and when is it desirable to achieve?

For example, some argue that Independence was a milestone too easily obtained when people were unprepared.

"The ends justify the means" Machiavelli.

The Asian countries show an alternative development model especially China.

I do not necessarily believe incompetence and corruption are something for the educated only. However I have evidence to believe that those leaders who have ruled some of Asia's vibrant economies, including the East AsianTigers and the Asian New Industrialised Economies have done so with iron fists.

I mention Lee Kwan Yew who transformed Singapore, Dr. Mahathir Mohamad who ignored western alternatives and transformed Malaysia, Suharto, Mao Tse Dong, Marcos, Ho Chi Min etc.

They placed their countries at certain levels that not only beat PNG's development standards but made Asia a vibrant and lucrative economic hub.

Ruling with an iron fist does not require the exclusive use of force but to hold back certain rights and freedoms so that progress can be achieved.

Otherwise, freedom of speech and freedom of press have suppressed developing nations to remain in the third word domain for decades and will continue to do so because, those powerful tools are in the hand of the people who remain critical of seemingly good government policies and governance in general.

Exclusive rights and freedom to people, including that of elected leaders, need to be reviewed legally. Thus, a legal reform is necessary if we need to embrace/realize development. However, it is not the only way to prosperity.

Very enlightening comments, thank you all.

I think not PNG alone, but throughout the whole world, the Westphalia issue(1648) as the state system started to emerge, and I guess, this is where the society structure that we have today with define authorial boundaries is substituted with legitimate functional bodies. But this issue of leadership is old as the domination of the human beings.With regard to the biblical context, Lord the Creator has given the domination power to the human resource. Then His chosen people, he did not just choose them, but He instituted the authorital body of leaders, and then claim that everything he had created should be sustain and upheld by his words. There are significant elements that I think we can derive from Mr Yegiora's essay on breeding PNG Leaders, but its quiet complex here. The availability and capability of the institutal bodies to instituted leaders, and what should be a foundation to sustain Leaders. The Lord has established Israel's leadership institution, and by means of sustaining them, he gave them the "Ten Commandments" which guide leaders to lead the entire people. The institution to breed leaders is quiet plural, but the sustaining elements to leaders is straight jacket-our nation Constitution. The institution in the PNG context in the foundational process; the family, then we have the community, province and the national authority as a whole(building s brick wall) to create avenues for breeding leaders. All this stages are the testing process to fine the purity (the lord test Moses in different ways to see his maturity). I believe the fundamental role of leaders is to teach his people to become leaders, because leaders think generational meaning, they know that someone is going to succeed and their bigger vision is to ensure the next generation is advancing, therefore, they teach their people when their term comes to end, they have no regrets because they know there is someone capable to lead the generation forward(this include all the process stated above). If it is hope that the society of PNG should be sustain and uphold by the constitution and if it operate not according to the constitution, then it collapses, chaotic. And I think this is the foundation of principle. You cannot stand on iron roof which is ten meters high and jump down hoping to be safe. You are definitely against the law of gravity, therefore, death. The concept is just the same as our constitution. Leaders are to lead and their leadership should be sustain by the constitution or the law accepted by the society. If they don't follow the constitution, they lead people into confusion breeding adversity in the society.
Therefore to breed PNG leaders for tomorrow, I am convinced, the "institution" to breed leaders and the "foundation to sustain"and uphold them is the foundation of principle to breed leaders.

Thank you, my view and comments

I follow you Bernard. My hesitation is the idea people will get in their heads that a 'PhD' is better than a certificate when it comes to leadership capabilities and moral character, social conscience and plain old pasin.

The other side of the coin Barbara alludes to is the inability of educated leaders to accept sound advice from their peers.

Pride? And fake drugs may be the fall.

Arrogance? And the constitution can be changed at the drop of a hat.

Ignorance does what ignorance is regardless of educational qualification.

This is a very complex problem, Bernard.

Just look at the present situation over the bungled contract for the supply of pharmaceuticals. Both the Health Minister and the Secretary for the Department of Health appear to be well educated, but not in medicine.

The sad part about it is that they are not willing to take the advice of the Professors of Medicine and the Doctors' Association that their decision could well lead to fake medicines entering PNG again and causing many deaths.

There is obviously a great difference between being educated and being wise.

Yes I agree it is not easy, but we have to start somewhere.

If it means to change our laws so it helps in one way or an other to propel good leaders to the legislative house then it is worth trying.

Regardless of the fact that educated people do involve themselves in corrupt practices. PNG needs to have a benchmark.

By limiting the right to contest public office to those who are educated we will lay the foundation for future changes.

I hate to be boring by citing another Australian example but one of the most effective prime ministers in Australia in the post-war period was Paul Keating.

He set up the economic conditions that have seen Australia grow into a prosperous nation and he continues to offer sage advice in his retirement.

Paul Keating left school at 14 and never went to university. That was a conscious decision on his part. He didn't believe that tertiary education could offer anything that he couldn't provide himself.

I agree with Sil. I am not too familiar with the law but I don't think getting better leaders is about 'limiting the right to hold public office'.

There are other factors to consider as well, like clan allegiances, bribery and as Sil alluded criminal minds are not uneducated.

No, I don't think the solution to breeding better leaders lies solely in legislation.

It's not going to be that easy.

My countryman, unless we get rid of the majority of half baked school drop out-cum politicians and village coffee buyers in the current helm, we will not have a bill passing the first stage of reading to amend Section 84 and 85 of the Organic Law on National and Local Level Government Elections that deals with the nomination of candidates.

The other point here is not only the uneducated are egocentric (narcissism) but look at all these many educated men with university education that are implicated for corruption and other crook deals.

Continue to teach these to your students because the ripples of it will get the moment going for a change.

Excellent reasoning, Bernard. You create the picture of the ideal state. I remember studying Plato and loved "The Republic".

But I'm sure you realize you are sitting in your ivory tower of learning and as a teacher can only do your part by teaching the multitudes that come to your lectures.

Maybe you will go into politics one day!

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