AS we start the fresh year of 2017, I want to reflect on things of the year gone by, 2016, which was not an easy road for anti-corruption leaders, individuals, institutions and movements.
In the short history of PNG, 2016 will be a year marked by the reign of corruption peaking and the anti-corruption movement collapsing.
As journalist Sally Andrew said in The Diplomat: “Backstabbing, factionalism and dramatic abuses of power have led the battle against corruption in PNG to take on Shakespeare drama, as the National Fraud and Anti-Corruption Directorate locks horns with high profile government figures, including the attorney general and prime minister".
That was on 22 April, a black week for PNG in a black year in its history.
2016 was a year that tested the government system and government institutions that were originally built for the nation and its people.
In previous years, when there were sizable numbers on both sides of parliament, the debates were closely contested and usually hot.
But now that money matters, most MPs are packed on the government benches and we observe a situation where less than 10 MPs are in opposition.
At one point, only one MP was in opposition, former leader Belden Namah.
A previous government had made legislative amendments governing the distribution of district and provincial service improvement funds.
These have been used selectively to support government MPs and have contributed to the downfall of the opposition.
Even if the recognise that the government is corrupted, MPs want to remain on its side for the sake of their district and provincial funds. The district funds alone total K50 million for each MP.
It is a forlorn argument to say that an ethical government should not use these funds as part of the political numbers game.
DSIP and PSIP funds have become the lifeline of sitting members in PNG politics.
An honest government would unleash the chain around MPs necks by making regular payments of DSIP/PSIP funds into district and provincial treasuries regardless of where MPs sit on either side of parliament.
Instead the government is directly manipulating what rightfully belongs to the people to preserve its power and maintain itself in office.
If the DSIP/PSIP funds are kept away from the floor of parliament, the former glory days of government and opposition will re-emerge. This would mean a reduction in the amount of corruption PNG is facing today.
In May we will decide who should get into parliament for another five years and who should not. The power to make that choice is in your hands. The people will have their say. You will be the judge and jury.