“AUSTRALIA has produced and continues to produce the monsters and psychopaths that run Papua New Guinea.” So wrote Martyn Namarong in a recent blog.
I believe Martin’s statement encapsulates the real problem for PNG. It is, as Phil Fitzpatrick has pointed out, nothing new.
Australia itself went through a coming of age with our ‘mother’ country, Great Britain, and that took around 50 years to evolve. One hundred years ago Australians were looked on by the British government as the equivalent of colonial riff raff, whether our ancestors were free settlers or convicts.
Britain was quite happy to receive a large payment in return for protecting us with some naval ships - and resisted us having our own Navy. As a new nation, however, we stood up and demanded our own Navy, and the benefits were clearly seen when World War I commenced.
The ultimate death knell for relying upon Britain came during World War II when it was evident that Britain could not defend us and, due to poor generalship, created a situation in which many of our troops were captured in Singapore.
We then had to rely on another ally, the United States, to help defend us. Whether we got the best of the deal rests in the eye of the beholder. As I write, US owned companies are now either threatening to or actually pulling out of Australia after an association of 50 years.
The importance with which the US has regarded Australia as an ally since World War II is rather controversial. At one stage, it was reputed that Australia warranted a single desk in the equivalent of the Department of State.
And there are examples of how we were hung out to dry, as when Australia supported West Papua and then found the US was supporting Indonesia.
We were also caught flat-footed when we were fighting in Vietnam and found that ‘Tricky Dickie’ (Richard Nixon) flew to China and had a meeting with Mao Tse Tung during which they agreed to cooperate and deescalate the Vietnam War.
In addition, problems have abounded with our exports to the US, Lamb and steel have been heavily disadvantaged while we go cap in hand to the US, which is our main supplier of defence equipment.
Australia is still finding that it must stand on its own two feet. No one will do the hard work for us.
That’s the lesson that PNG needs to learn. It’s no good complaining and blaming others. To blame others for problems is a cop out and clearly an attempt to deny responsibility.
The current scandal over the purchase and distribution of government pharmaceuticals is a classic example.
Clearly this case involves huge corruption somewhere in the process. As a nation, PNG must stand up and demand change in this type of immoral behaviour. Yet are PNG’s political leaders voicing their concerns and representing the interests of the people who elected them?
And where are the free media who should be investigating and demanding the decision be re-examined? The PNG media seem to have been effectively muzzled on the issue and appear to be conforming to the government’s wishes to drop the whole affair.
If rural Papua New Guineans realised the truth about what was being done in their name and were aware of the potential inimical effect on themselves, they would be horrified.
They might put pressure on those who are currently chest thumping and saying what good people they are and give them cause for reflection.
Perhaps even to feel that very important of PNG emotions, ‘Bikpela sem’. Shame, embarrassment and humiliation for allowing this travesty to happen.
The relevant Minister, Michael Malabag, now claims he’s been a good person for the last 25 years and that this in some way absolves him of any current blame.
Irrelevant and not good enough.
Fix it, Michael, fix it.