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02 May 2014


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Good point Phil,

Even Michael Somare apparently recognised his mistake, according to PNG High Commissioner Lepani. At the 'Shared Histories' afternoon at the National Archives in Canberra it was revealed that a few years after Independence when government control was collapsing around the country, reportedly Somare observed 'Maybe we need to bring back the Kiaps'.

Nothing was done however and by that stage, trying to rescue a system that had been intentionally emasculated would have been a severe loss of face for the future Grand Chief and oft referred to as 'Father of the Nation' by those who were not there at the time.

Given the current youth bulge and huge increase in PNG's population, most PNG people now have very little concept or memory of what it was like a mere 40 years ago.

Leaving the kiap system in place would have been a good idea I think Paul.

There were some extremely competent local kiaps who, given a career path, might have stayed on and made a huge difference. It's too late to bring it back now of course.

As I recall Michael Somare's hatred of the kiaps was particularly virulent and he couldn't wait to abolish them. Some of the more bombastic senior people in DDA didn't help either.

As you say, hindsight is a wonderful thing.

Thanks Phil,

You're quite right about there being a need for an essential balance between government and private business being required to give social equity.

I was referring to the throwing out the systems of administrative control that were in place in the early 1970's in the name of anti colonialism without understanding that there needed to be effective alternatives in place before you did so.

Upon reflection it would have been far better to leave what was in place and was working while effective alternatives were sought. Hindsight is great however and it was just easier to let things slide.

Due to the lessons of history there ain't no easy way of ensuring a country's government isn't overtaken by corruption. Separation of powers and effective and consistent application of administrative legislation is the only way.

The quantum leap attempted in trialling a more relaxed set of rules was never going to work. You can't mix village custom with a modern government system.

Water and oil will not mix and when you add some mentholated spirits for incentive, what you get is a cloudy mixture that lets the corrupt flourish unseen and unhindered.

First, more prosecutions needs to be made in corruption cases and those responsible face the law and pay the penalties for their crimes.

Without that we will lose this country.

Second, publish and give publicity to more positive stories and cases of people who show leadership in fighting corruption, and those role models who conduct themselves in ways that show that it is possible to live a corrupt free life.

Third, do more of the first.

I'm not sure there is anything necessarily wrong with the Melanesian Way Paul. It is, after all, just a socialist approach with a different label.

I'm also sure that the Melanesian Way never got beyond being just a label used by the government. It might operate in some village societies but it certainly never operated in government.

Successive PNG governments have never given a stuff about social equity. If they had there would be better health services, schools etc. etc. etc. etc.

A lot of countries, particularly small ones, are realizing that a mix of socialism and capitalism is very effective. Among other things it delivers a reasonable amount of social equity. I think Australia is a good example.

There are things that the government is better left to do and there are things that private enterprise does best.

Hi Bernard,

a good dissertation mate. I can only however suggest that when it comes to modifying the rules to suit PNG one unfortunately dismisses the accumulated experience acquired over hundreds of years of human history. PNG in this context is no different to any other human community because it is just that; a human community. Humans are the same the world over.

Sure PNG cultures are or were different to many others and the comments about starting at the village level are sound. But this will take generations to work up from the kunai roots up through to the halls of power and be fought at every level by those who see their ill gotten rewards being threatened.

Over the last 40 years, the real problem was that some thought there was a 'Melanesian Way'. The problems PNG now faces is due to that misconception.

Why doesn't someone ask: What would have happened if PNG had not tried 'The Melanesian Way'?

Exactly, a family unit is as important as an individual. If individuals can change or be changed within a family unit, everything else would fall in line very easily - and corruption would be history.

Policy integration by all stakeholders to addressing corruption remains a catalyst that we all could count on and aspire.

As I see it,

That is why education is important. Most people in the village are uneducated, they do not understand that corrupt activities are wrong. These people are the elements that make up a family.

Changing the culture must start at the family and village level.

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