TRANSPARENCY International announced on Wednesday that Papua New Guinea is rated “highly corrupt” in its 2016 Corruption Perception Index (CPI).
PNG, scoring 28 out of 100, was ranked 136 out of 176 countries surveyed. This means that PNG is perceived to be the 36th most corrupt nation on earth.
Last year I responded to the CPI rankings with the post ‘Life in the 25th most corrupt nation on earth.’
This time I do not want to write about ‘Life in the 36th most corrupt nation on earth.’
This time I want to believe that things in PNG can improve. I want to believe that, like Ukraine and Georgia and other nations, governance in PNG can improve if we the people demand it.
To rephrase the words of Martin Luther King Jnr, good governance in PNG cannot be given by the corrupt, it has to be demanded by the victims of corruption.
[King said, “ Freedom is never voluntarily given by the oppressor; it must be demanded by the oppressed.”]
Demanding good governance is everyone’s business as demonstrated by many Papua New Guineans during the student protests last year.
There seems to be a tendency to park “demanding good governance” with so called “activists” and organisations such as Transparency International PNG. This tendency has to change.
Of course demanding good governance doesn’t necessarily involve protests.
This year Papua New Guineans have a unique opportunity to demand good governance through the ballot box.
I know time and time again voters have been conned but to assume that all candidates are bad is a fallacy.
Even the darkest nights are filled with the brightest stars.
We have seen some shining stars during the darkest days of this Parliament. And like the stars that helped our ancestors navigate vast oceans, these stars can guide this nation towards a better future.
I want to believe that there are good leaders in the current parliament who have a heart for the people of PNG.
I say this not as an outside observer but as someone who worked in Parliament between 2013 and 2014 and has seen the challenges holding the government accountable first hand.
I want to believe in decent and honourable Papua New Guineans who remained the light of this dark Parliament and the salt of the nation.
All around me I see and hear pessimists. I do not blame people who are victims of corruption being pessimists.
I think there is a tendency for individuals to think they are on their own against the tyranny of the corrupt. Truth is you are not alone — we’re all in this social contract together.
This is what the Chileans realised when the dictator Pinochet gave them the opportunity to vote. Many Chileans thought their votes wouldn’t count and the dictator would remain in power. But during those dark days a few shining stars provided hope for change.
And yes, Pinochet was overthrown by the people’s vote.
This year Papua New Guineans are given a unique opportunity to take back PNG from the corrupt.
Your vote counts.
Cast it wisely and #TakeBackPNG from the corrupt.