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06 July 2014

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Timothy - I feel like we have gone down this road before.
What you are sharing is actually nothing new. We have heard it before.

You have not touched on the many “foreign interests” that perpetuate and nurture corruption to thrive. You and I and many Papua New Guineans are educated to a level to understand the negatives of corruption.

Yet there are so many people in this country who are not so educated and literate to a level to understand the level and seriousness of corruption.

They and we are victims and unwilling spawns of the corruption game. The end losers are the masses, us included, while the players are off with their spoils.
Many people are simply ignorant and trying to educate them will be a challenge in itself.

The worst forms of corruption are the ones that are institutionalised and systemised - they happen within the contexts of institutions or government departments.

The 10% culture and awarding contracts to cronies regardless of whether they meet the fit and proper test or not.

When you hear or read in the newspapers and see on television that a sizeable amount of funding was made available to an entity or government agency or to the district, you may be sure that a good chunk of that will be siphoned off through kickbacks or bad deals - corruption.

This culture affects service delivery, rural development, education and health for children and women, and employment for able-bodied and those seeking active employment or just want to genuinely participate meaningfully.

No wonder our social development indicators deteriorated, and economic progress have been stalled while we have some of the most atrocious maternal and child health statistics in the Pacific and the world.

There have been many instances of official corruption before even this one, where millions of kina have been squandered amounting to billions by now.

I do not agree that we should be putting efforts and money into complicated research when the problems should be addressed head on. There is enough known about corruption in this country.

There should be no two ways about addressing the corruption problem. A wrong is a wrong, and if a law has been broken, the same law must be applied to correct that problem.

Yet the problem is that people who are involved in corruption will use their squandered wealth and influence to use the same law to try and prevent the course of justice. That is why we see that lawyers are having a field day!

For me thinking outside the box implies a growing strong and independent middle class – if we have a growing strong willed middle class, who do not subscribe to the pressures of luksave but conduct themselves by the laws of the land.

We need to work very hard to ensure that ethnocentric views must be replaced with nationalistic sentiments and actions. Institutions, programs and practices that promote that needs to be encouraged and nurtured.

Virgil Narakobi wrote in a recent article that we need to call a spade a spade. A wrong is a wrong, an act that breaks a law must be proven as such and the perpetrators punished.

No Melanesian perspective or interpretations must be allowed to enter the picture and dilute the gravity of an official act of corruption. Otherwise we will forever compromise.

We must still have hope and faith in the justice system, the judiciary in particular and the courts. Failing that then we can say goodbye to any hope of salvaging the country from certain destruction!

There is an old joke in Australia that goes like this:

Question: When did corruption first appear in New South Wales?

Answer: 1788!

Corruption is, as Timothy asserts, endemic in this world. Wherever there are humans, there will be corruption.

The lure of wealth, power and influence is simply irresistible to many people. Some will abandon scruples and ethics in pursuit of these things. Fortunately, most will not.

PNG is exceptional only in so far as the corruption is so blatant, with its practitioners being completely shameless both in their criminality and their misuse and abuse of political power to avoid justice.

The current prime minister has left no stone unturned in his attempts to circumvent or overturn the judicial process initiated by Operation Sweep.

The question rightly asked has been: Is this the conduct of an innocent man who has confidence in his country's judicial process?

I am quite sure that no politician in Australia could survive in political office if he or she so openly and determinedly tried to avoid complying with the law.

Recently, the former Premier of NSW was obliged to resign when it was revealed that testimony he gave before the Independent Commission Against Corruption, in which he denied receiving an expensive gift, was subsequently found to be incorrect.

In this case there was and is no suggestion of actual corruption on his part, merely that there was the appearance of the potential for corruption. Yet he had to go and go he did.

The contrast with Mr O'Neill's behaviour is striking.

The solution is not "guided democracy". This is always code for a small, self appointed elite ruling the many.

There are perilously few examples of such regimes proving to be benign in the long term.

Perhaps only Singapore has managed the trick of combining a fairly robust democracy with a very authoritarian government and then only because of a very special individual, former Prime Minister Lee Kuan Yew.

It makes more sense to radically strengthen PNG's anti-corruption bodies to make them effectively immune to the whims of parliament.

Paradoxically, it may take a PNG version of Singapore's revered leader to actually do this, but it must be done before there is any hope of exerting serious control over the corrupt politicians and officials who are so relentlessly strangling PNG's present and future hopes of emerging from poverty.

So, Timothy, you and other like minded Papua New Guineans need to find a way to change the rules whereby the corrupt are relentlessly hunted down and severely punished.

Take a leaf out of Lee Kuan Yew's book where, in the face of inevitable human frailty, harsh justice was seen as an unpleasant necessity for the greater good.

The evidence from all over the world is that while corruption will always occur, a very severe regulatory regime will stop it from being a country killing systemic failure of the type evident in PNG.

"Liberal democracy must be done away with and guided democracy introduced."

Are you serious, Timothy? 'Liberal democracy' is about giving all people a say in the election of their leaders and being able to call them to account, via elections or institutions of state.

'Guided democracy' is about giving one person or an elite group autocratic control over the state.

Guided Democracy (Indonesian: Demokrasi Terpimpin) was the political system in place in Indonesia from 1957 until the New Order began in 1966.

It was the brainchild of President Sukarno, and was an attempt to bring about political stability. Sukarno believed that Western-style democracy was inappropriate for Indonesia's situation.

Instead, he sought a system based on the traditional village system of discussion and consensus, which occurred under the guidance of village elders.

All well and good

But remember. in the case of guided democracy in Indonesia between 500,000 and one million were killed.

A CIA report described the massacre as "one of the worst mass murders of the 20th century, along with the Soviet purges of the 1930s, the Nazi mass murders during the Second World War, and the Maoist bloodbath of the early 1950s."

And the Americans willingly helped. The American Embassy provided a list of over 5,000 'Communist' sympathisers who were subsequently killed.

-- David A Blumenthal and Timothy L H McCormack (2007) The Legacy of Nuremberg: Civilising Influence or Institutionalised Vengeance? (International Humanitarian Law). Martinus Nijhoff Publishers. ISBN 9004156917)

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