AS WE prepare for the forthcoming national elections, many candidates and parties are coming out of the woodwork ready to take our people again on a journey that we assume to be a date with destiny.
Our people are being led and hyped to believe that 21 April ,when the writs for the elections will be issued, will be a point at which some dramatic things will happen in our country and in our people’s lives.
Come 21 April a carnival-like atmosphere will grip our nation and our people. Singsing groups will abound and pigs aplenty will be slaughtered. A lot of pronouncements, declarations and promises will be made. A lot of tension and allegations will fly around and, judging from past experience, we might even witness violence.
This will be all in the name of electing members of parliament who we look forward to represent us and provide leadership.
However, will these changes result in a dramatic change in our lives or will we have another round of the vicious circle in which another group of critics start accusing the new incumbents of corruption and failure and start campaigning to remove them from parliament at the next election?
If there are to be real significant changes in our lives, it really starts with us changing and holding ourselves to high values and morals. The elected representatives are only an image of us. As the saying goes, in life you get what you deserve, not what you want.
So we all might prefer or want our elected representatives to be exceptional and perform to high standards but we don't hold ourselves to high standards. We elect those who make empty promises, who are just like us or worse. Usually their own personal lives do not represent the changes they promise, so how are they going to lead a city, people or nation?
I have said many times, in the arena of politics each MP, as an elected leader, has a duty to uphold the mandate of the voters, including having clear successes and achievements to show how the constituency has developed and changed during their tenure. Even if it is only a 5% change, they must be able to account for it. That’s what we MP’s are elected for.
The task is not easy and I know many politicians do not measure up to it. And many times the very people who demand change are the very people who first need to change.
We all know that change does not happen overnight. We cannot summon change and think that after the elections things will be different, health care will be improved, agriculture will be mainstream, the economy will sky rocket, only Papua New Guineans will hold all jobs, all Chinese stores will be shut down and every Papua New Guinean will live a better life.
All is possible but can only happen unless we change, unless we believe in ourselves, in our people and in our leaders, no matter who we are and where we come from. Change requires a deeper calling and a willingness and ability to work with what we’ve got.
As we all prepare for the coming elections, I would like to ask all Papua New Guineans to remove our negative mindset that is sabotaging the change that we wish to see in our nation. Change in politics requires change in people. Politics will not be better, the economy will not improve and people will not enjoy a better quality of life just because we elect in a new crop of MPs and a new government or prime minister.
The election is a great time for us to choose leaders who have performed, whose actions match their words, whose lives are congruent to their speeches and who have displayed integrity, transparency and a proven track record of success.
People make a lot of promises for change but making promises and living up to them are two different things. The willpower we assume when we set a goal rarely measures up to the willpower we display when trying to achieve it.
After the elections, our lives will be back to normal. We will wake up to realise that nothing has changed in our lives. We will still have the same job, same lifestyle, same home, same health conditions and same habits. Then we will blame the very same people who promised change.
The politics of PNG is in a deep quagmire that requires better process, experience, tenacity and capacity to carry out the duties of running a nation. We, individually and collectively have to power to change our lives to be better beyond politics. We as a culture have lost all our humility and live on the unfounded faith that our leaders will save us.
Elections are just around the corner. Many people will create unfounded rumours, instability and spread malicious gossip. These is cheap campaigning on social media and unwarranted blogs to create scare tactics and to brainwash.
To those of you campaigning by digging dirt on others on social media, you are not reaching everyone. There are real people out there not just those sitting behind some computer or phone. You will not be successful that way.
We have a big problem in PNG in that we place all our hopes and emphasis on politics. We blame our failures on the leadership of the day and on personalities. We don't blame or examine our own inabilities or failures.
We need to shift from blaming others, blaming leaders, blaming foreigners to taking responsibilities for our own shortcomings, under achievements or failures. Only when Papua New Guineans take responsibility for their own lives and start to choose based on deeds rather than words will we have better leadership, a better economy and also better lives.
Finally I urge Papua New Guineans to wake up. Change begins with each one of us. So let us take a deep look at ourselves in the mirror, that’s where change begins. Choose sensibly for wise leaders with proven track records of change so our beloved country Papua New Guinea will retain its glory and we will leave a positive legacy to our children and to our future generation.
Hon Powes Parkop MP, a lawyer from Manus Province, is Governor of the National Capital District and has been a national politician since 2007