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10 February 2014


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More than time; it will take guts on the side of our leaders and a true desire to serve their people justly and equitably.

There are indications where it works.

For example, from my own observation at Tambul, MP Poponawa has the support of the najority of tribal leaders, even from warring factions because of the perceived benefits his leadership has provided to all.

In Dr Musawe Sinebare's new book about leadership in PNG he talks about 'nere tere'. He says that it is a cargo cult and this article of mine confirms what he wrote.

It is a cult and culture that will take time to died out.

People are actually selling their birth-rights for a K10.00 pot of beans.

They have themselves to blame.Serious thinking is in order, Sirs/Madams.

Please stop crafting excuses for immediate greed-tainted decisions.

They must be assisted to think long-term and communal benefits, that ultimately leads to personal liberation as opposed to the illusive cult mentality,paved by immediate greed and Short-sightedness.

This responsibility lies squarely at the feet of the churches and learned citizens with an educated world view. That responsibility must never be abdicated.

Jeremiah has an interesting point. The socio economic conditions of rural PNG make it conducive for the use of nere tere.

Once all the people in the village find a way to make money on a regular basis then they will not need money from the candidates and intending candidates.

Otherwise they have needs like you and I, but no stable income.

Good to hear Francis. We all have to play that citizenry role in rejecting money and corruption and accelerating that new trend everywhere.

People need to cry na wari lo sin bilong then eulogizing over their greed-money-master-saints.

There are new trends developing in the election system in Simbu.

The nere-tere business at election time in Simbu has already begun to change. The people have grown up and are realising the effects of this business of voting according to bribes.

Two examples are Kerenga Kua (Sinasina/Yongomugl) and Tobias Kulang (Kundiawa/Gembogl).

These two MPs won the elections on merits and not on bribes.

People like Jeffery Nape and the late Peter Waieng who spent so much money on bribes were rejected.

Johnny, looks like a lot of people are going to swing back to Nape because Kua is not giving free hand outs.

Educated people will say that Kua is doing the right thing but people in the village will have a different opinion based on their level of understanding.

Kua's ace was his popularity. He started campaigning years before the election and built a road to his village.

I did not know Nape until the 2002 election but Kua is so popular. Heard people talking about him back in 1997. He owns properties in Kundiawa town and everyone calls him 'Kerenga lawyer'.

It will never change in Simbu Province in the next 100 years. You have to spend more money to win an election in any electorate in Simbu Province.

Forget PhDs, it's money that talks in Simbu.

Kerenga Kua spent more money than Nape so he won. Simple as that.

A really interesting read, Bernard.

I'm interested to find out what made Kua's 2012 campaign successful, was it more effective pork-barrelling?

And are you saying local people are crying for Nape's return because Kua has not stumped up with handouts post-election?

Phil's right.

Michael is for sure not a gullible Papua New Guinean.

We have been debating on many issues on this forum for some time now. I must admit the debate has really helped me to understand a lot of things.

Corney, judging a politician based on weight is just as crazy as voting for one because he/she has given you a few kina I think.

Where is the logic there I wonder? It's certainly got nothing to do with what's best for the electorate. Until that mindset changes there ain't much hope of progress.

Now someone tell me that Nape did it because it's become the accepted norm or because that's what 'bigmen' do!

I hope Gary Juffa isn't reading this though.

Michael, I take issue with corruption - but in totality (in the political arena,government departments,churches,civic and life in general as a responsible citizen of our country).

I know and read of a Catholic Bishop in Mendi some years ago whose "fear for God was more than men" that he took issue with corruption and personally did something to correct that problem.

He was able to play a critical role in the restoration of law and order in the Southern Highlands Province by calling sin a sin and doing his very best rid that.

What triggered me to comment.....and ( to do something to assist Bernard) was the sad ignorance and complicity that was clearly displayed by the inaction of the Church at Rosary Secondary School.

Now, we need to properly assess what genuine repentance means to the people to go church and yet consciously participate in turning a blind eye on corrupt behaviour. That is double standards. I take issue with that.

When one truly repents and commits to a life a service in God's Kingdom, a sense of community obligation is an automatic product, even if it requires taking personal risks. I read nothing about the Catholic priests and other Christian Church pastors doing anything physical to assist the election officers there.

So yes, I certainly did pray for a "free and fair election" in the last elections (2012, 2007 & 2002) - and will continue to do that for 2017.

I thank God for Christian leaders like Hon Tobias Kulang (Kundiawa Gembogl MP) who I know personally. He is doing something good for his electorate, even to the point of assaulting so-called contractors who lie and fail to deliver road projects on time.

The tone of your comment at 09:41 PM regarding Bernard’s comment prompted me. I am sorry, if I misunderstood you.

I will not resurrect that debate on removing the idols and totem poles because it’s a settled issue.

There’s overwhelming support for what the Speaker did and is doing because it’s envelopes a greater reform agenda in bringing sanity to Parliament.

I know some smart and honest politicians of PNG who are fat and delivering.So your assessment is plain wrong and off the rails.

I will admit that Bernard is correct about my stereotype, because in most cases there is no proof either way.

And using a PhD as a means of popularity is a silly gamble on both sides.

Thanks, Corney, but I cannot help but take issue on corrupt leaders 'personally' because I have a belief that we should.

How else should I take it; academically to debate ethics and morality? Or superstitiously to start chopping up carvings?

Bad leaders or leadership is an insult and an injustice to us as a people.

Until every Papua New Guinean starts to take this personally nothing will change.

I would pray for this to happen at the next elections.

Michael's approach of calling a spade a spade is what's missing in many of the debates in PNG and on Attitude. I'm sure that Bernard realises this is what he is doing and doesn't take offence.

When we get too prissy and politically correct the quality of the debate declines.

I'm not sure anyone needs to pray for him either (well, maybe his Mum).

I've calculated my assessment of Nape on the basis that he is obese. I use the same criteria for other politicians and business people like Wartoto.

He's grossly overweight, therefore he must be (1) greedy and (2) a crook. Simple!

The corollary of this is that if you humanely removed all the fat politicians in the PNG Parliament you'd end up with a fairly honest government.

In Oz fat politicians never make Prime Minister, ask Kim Beazley.

I have read with interest everyone's comments and thank you all for your full and frank reflection on this insightful article.

Without wishing to set the plough to deep, the old adage of 'judge a person by their actions, not words,' still rings true. I feel it surely does with many of today's polliticians.

The real problem as I see it from afar but with PNG firmly in my thoughts, is that this situation is nothing new. It has happened many times in many countries and only the places are different, the scenarios are all very similar.

I don't quite know why some of us who lived in PNG thought it would be different. Clearly we thought we could show how things had developed in our history and that PNG could learn from those examples without having to go through the pain of actually experiencing the problems.

Clearly that hasn't been the case.

Corney, an interesting observation.

Looks like Peter Ipatas will occupy the Enga regional seat up until he dies.

For the Simbu regional seat, it is a different story. From Fr Luis to Peter Launa to Fr Garia and now Noah Kool. No consistency and high turnover.

My counter-perspective on Barbara's assertions as quoted from Sir Charles Maino is this.

In the Highlands, not all rich guys are mediators, orators and peace makers. If some are wealthy, most tend to favour leaders who know their history, family linkages etc and connect the dots for a peaceful co-existence.

In my village, the local pastor is our spokesman and leader because he talks sense. His motive is crystal clear.
The people are able to filter the real shepherds from the opportunists and wannabe leaders.

The thrust of Bernard's article is that, people are driven by "immediate greed" and blinded by cash. Hence, they are not able to make proper judgements to determine a better future for themselves with the kind of short-sighted decisions they make - only to lament when the fervour is over.

Kela Kapkora Sil Bolkin has been a regular on this blog, expressing how the Simbu people have lost values and principles that have been passed on by the traditional leaders.

I wonder if what he has been expressing are purely attributes that characterise leaders with wealth.

I know of some exceptional academics and business leaders from Simbu but when they contest, they don't fare well in the elections.

And Simbu has a strange legacy of swapping their political leaders on a more regular basis than many other provinces in PNG. Maybe some political scientists can elaborate on this.

I applaud Bernard for documenting and giving us a glimpse of how elections run in Simbu. Many of the episodes are a reflection of what goes all over PNG, but I was quite intrigued by how the Church turns a blind eye to the blatant corruption that occurs right in front of her nose.

And finally, my good brother, Michael, please don't get personal. Let's debate and discuss ideas as always. Do know, that I have been praying for you and I still do today. Your mum has become a good friend of my family lately.

PhD means popularity in the PNG context. But popularity alone will not win you need money as well.

Stereotype meaning we can not say and think that everyone who use money in their campaign extensively are using public money.

Here is a quote from Sir Charles Maino a previous Ombudsman -

SIR CHARLES MAINO: Traditional leadership, I must say, is very strong. For instance, up in the Highlands we have a 'big man' system. This is a system whereby anyone from scratch, so long as he is wealthy, [becomes] a leader -- he's a big man.
He's a recognised figure in Highlands society. The question then -- sometimes I have been sitting back days and nights scratching my head in my previous job as Chief Ombudsman -- has this sort of mentality had any effect on the current leadership at a political level? And I'm afraid to say, it tends to be.
They tend to think OK, back in the traditional society of the Highlands no matter how I acquire wealth, so long as I've got wealth, I am a man. Why not here now? In order to be a big man, I've got to be rich. A lot of young people today think that the only way to become wealthy is to become a politician. A lot of stupid politicians smile about such a statement, when they should take it as an insult.


Bernard, I made a general statement.

Many people know or suspect where the bribe money comes from, but turn a convenient blind eye. Tell me my statement is false.

And please explain what your reference to PhD is about.

Lets not be naive. Parties endorse the nominees. Behind the scenes is where the big boys exchange money for political favours later on.

Election is the highest business in PNG.

Michael, do not stereotype.

Nape used his own money when he initially contested the seat. The same for other hard working men who built up their political capital before contesting for public office.

Everyone contesting nowadays spend a lot of money in the campaign. It a very expansive exercise.

Do not assume that one who has a PhD can come and contest without spending a toea. In reality, if you want to have a good chance of winning you have to spend money in not only buying votes but logistics and other needs.

Bernard, what you fail to point out is that the wealth that modern day bigmen are distributing during election time does not in fact belong to them.

Em ino gaden na pik blong ol yet.

And while we are being frank, lets spill our guts; most people actually do know that the money their bigmen use to get into power was obtained through corrupt means.

They either do not care, think it's good fun or use their unfortunate circumstances as an excuse to say the ends justify the means.

Michael, thank you for the questions.

Traditionally, a big man uses his wealth to gain influence.

If my five wives have a sweet potato garden, which would be about the size of the Port Moresby rugby field, I will definitely supply sweet potatoes to those power brokers in the different clans.

With the promise of more sweet potatoes and a few porkers from my well stocked piggery, my position as a bigman in the village is settled.

This was done in the past but was not documented.

Our ancestor know politics. The need to acquire power and influence is a shared human need regardless of race.

Excellent report Bernard!

I have a challenge for you.

If you can organise a community group to campaign against this "short-sightedness" starting in 2014, I will electronically transfer K1,000 to the "Community Group Account" number for the campaign effort.

We educated Papua New Guineans must mobilise and kick this nonsense in the guts, whatever it takes to redirect the destiny of our beloved nation and cause a change in our thinking process.

Thank you for the correction Paul.

Electronic identity cards will be a game changer. But when?

In short, bribery and cheating is acceptable practice in Simbu politics. That is a disappointing outlook.

But I ask you, Bernard, is this the way our ancestors and elders selected their leaders in the past?

And is this nere tere behaviour really helping the people or just satisfying today's hunger for money?

If you have courage as a leader you know that sometimes you just have to do things which people don't like, but is best for them and is morally and ethically right, by the standards we share today with the rest of human society.

Hi Bernard, I believe the quote from the good book is: 'The love of money is the root of all evil'.

There is another old quote that should be thought about by everyone who votes. It is: 'You can't have your cake and eat it too!'

Those so called leaders who give out small notes to influence voters to vote for them because of traditional feelings of reciprocity are actually robbing the people they are giving money to.

How can that be? Well, by using their discretion to use public taxpayers funds to buy votes rather than pay for teacher's salaries, police equipment and public facilities is very short sighted.

Yes a free beer or a bag of rice might assuage a voter's conscience but it doesn't pay for everything the community needs. That's why taxes are collected. Not to give away and so make the giver feel good, enhance his ego and try to get elected next time. The funds are for the greater good of everyone.

Until PNG people understand how they are being manipulated and conned, nothing will change. It is the responsibility of those who are educated and know what is actually happening to explain it to those who don't know. Unless they do, how can anything change?

This collective myopia (short sightedness) is what all those so called politicians depend on to stay in power and continually rob those who vote for them. While ever those who don't understand what is happening continue to lament corruption yet also continue to support it, nothing will change.

Where are all those people who know what is happening yet do nothing about it? Social media now must be put to work for the greater good. 'Don't complain rather explain!'

There are those who make it happen, those who watch it happen and those who wonder what happened.

Is the strategy of showering money on eligible voters unlawful? Does it constitute bribery, which is a key element of corruption? Should PNG politicians and wannabe politicians refrain from such practices? .....the answer is Yes!!! it corrupts Democracy... there needs to be a law against it.

I cry when I think of the wonderful highly intelligent Chimbu men I taught at Keravat who now sit at home with nothing to do - because of politics.

They are now in their late 50s and have degrees aplenty, and piles of experience of the world, and are sensible with brilliant minds!

How they must suffer when they see the corrupt fools getting elected and the country becoming completely corrupted.

The faulty medicines that will kill plenty are the end result.
The government, in order to get money to bribe the people, are willing to take bribes from questionable companies and allow them to supply your pills and to take away your rainforests.

OH, PNG I cry for you!

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