I NEED to say something to a few of my Papua New Guinean friends and colleagues who seem to have become distracted following the formation of Peter O’Neill’s new and hopefully temporary government.
And that is that they ought to be working to protect and enhance what are emerging as some good, strong trends in Papua New Guinea and saving their angst and contempt for the corrupt, the venal and the incompetent.
I’m compelled to write these words after sitting through day after day of intemperate criticism, mocking and trolling of newly-elected MP Bryan Kramer after his decision to forego a new member’s allowance of, I think, K5,000 and donate it to some useful project.
For this Mr Kramer has been characterised as over-privileged, self-serving, a cheap publicist, a phony philanthropist and even narcissistic (how that computes I don’t know).
And then there’s been the excoriation, by some of my friends, of Papua New Guinean voters for re-electing the O’Neill government – a criticism I find both unfair and misleading.
Blaming grass roots people in the wake of what seems to be the criminal manipulation of an election seems to represent the worst kind of contempt of an already predated upon Papua New Guinean people.
I mean, if PNG is to become the kind of country my PNG friends want it to be then it will require people of goodwill, honesty, courage and reason to collaborate in ridding it of the corrupt, the fraudulent and the self-serving. Social media mockers and trollers are quite frankly a downright waste of space in this context.
For the first time in a long time, perhaps ever, PNG now has an opposition Alliance that looks like a genuine alternative government and which – with 46 MPs, perhaps more – has the numbers to apply consistent pressure on a failing government and has good prospects for securing the treasury benches for itself.
But what the Alliance requires more than anything is the vocal support and reinforcing action of motivated people with the experience and knowledge to bring about the profound changes required.
This will require cohesion, energy and constructive action instead of what I’ve been witnessing, which is a protracted bout of internecine warfare, name-calling and trolling on social media. When you think of what the people of PNG need, it's absolutely bloody self-indulgent.
Instead of targeting the well-meaning Mr Kramer, I would expect people of worth to be calling on other politicians to do something like he’s done.
Instead of blaming their fellow Papua New Guineans for voting for the wrong mob, I’d expect there to be a persistent effort to continue the awareness raising and political education that recently seems to have secured some traction in PNG and led to a significant shift in this recent election towards better candidates and more informed voters.
This post-election sniping and carping and whinging from people who have so much to offer is depressing – it gets nowhere, pushes positive action out of the way and makes me think that it isn’t just corrupt and self-aggrandising politicians who are PNG’s problem.
Perhaps another giant hurdle for PNG is a disillusioned and hapless class of intellectuals who have given up on profound social change and taken to using social media huffing as their only trick instead of regarding SM in its correct role of assisting to disseminate clarity of thought, a vision for a better PNG and an understanding of the practical action required to achieve it.