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01 January 2016


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I can't see that anything in PNG politics has actually worked so far Paul.

Andrew isn't advocating some sort of wholesale change to a Melanesian Way style of government i.e. communism. He is advocating a selective process so that some of the useful aspects can be incorporated into PNG governance.

That said, most of these things evolve in their own good time and no amount of planning or debate will alter that.

I suspect that if the 2017 election throws up another dysfunctional government there will be a movement for change sometime during its term.

I just hope its not too bloody.

Rather than waffle about what system is best for PNG or for that matter, any nation, let's look at the most important issue: Does the system in place work or not?

Take a helicopter view of PNG today and recognise what has happened over the last 40 years. Have the efforts to remove a simple bureaucratic dictatorship (District Administration - i.e. Kiaps) and modify the imposed Westminster system of Parliamentary democracy to suit a Melanesian paradigm actually worked? It has only worked for those who have used the hotch potch of results reportedly for their own gain.

Clearly more tinkering and waffle about installing a Melanesian model of government is missing the point. It hasn't and won't work. Why? Because the Melanesian model was suitable for the clan and village but not for running a nation.

Unless you start out with the known and investigate the untried it will just amount to more of the same and we know that doesn't work.

Concentrate on what works and dismiss as fantasy what has been proven doesn't work. Em pasin longlong tasol na tingting ikrungut pinis ya! Rausim sno istap lo het bilo yu na opim ai tru na lukluk igo lo ples klia.

Andrew Moutu is always worth listening to.

In this paper he argues that there should be a place for 'Papua New Guinean ways of doing things' in the evolution of the PNG polity and state.

He contrasts those ways with western ways which are being adopted in PNG because they are assumed to be superior or more evolutionarily advanced.

We've seen this idea of the evolution of ideas and systems expressed in numerous articles and comments on PNG Attitude.

The central theme of these comments is that things like the Westminster system evolved over a very long period of time and that PNG, as a young nation, hasn't had time to get used to its tenets but will, given enough time.

It is a view that conforms to the idea that western systems are naturally superior to traditional PNG systems and that history is lineal i.e. much of PNG and its ways of thinking are pre-capitalist and therefore inferior.

In his paper Dr Moutu argues that the impact of western thought on PNG in all its various forms is a new form of colonialism - not so much as something to be resisted but something to be very wary about.

The danger for PNG he identifies is the perpetuation of the vested interests of those agents, such as resource developers and media interests. He has an interesting take on 'development' where he suggests it is actually pillaging.

He suggests that 'a judicious appropriation of different systems of knowledge, information and information technology' might be a good idea.

I've argued elsewhere that appropriation of these systems, including the Westminster system, have been less than judicious and their appropriation has been scatological and determined by exigencies not in the nation's best interests.

What Dr Moutu is suggesting, I imagine, is a re-think of the way PNG is run so that Papua New Guinean ways are given much more prominence i.e. modifying the Westminster system to suit PNG social and cultural conditions - refocusing the blurred image of reality.

That to me seems like a really good idea.

Dr Moutu's paper is an academic one and is couched in fairly dense academic jargon. You have to read it very carefully to get his drift. That, in itself, is a bit ironic considering what he is arguing about.

What I think would be really good is if he produced a simple English version comprehensible to the man and the woman in the street (or bush).

It would then be a valuable contribution to the pre-election debate as it gathers momentum during 2016.

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