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05 January 2018

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Thank you Sil for this article. I travelled to a place in PNG and saw people in the morning in family units facing the sun.

I asked my personal assistant, and he told me, "They are waiting for the cargo ship promised by their leader to come and introduce a golden era."

Similarly, in the Highlands the cargo ship is the office of the MP. People perceive that the MP will introduce a golden era. But, in reality, never.

In terms of change, I see two major requirements to solve this cargo cult mentality.

1. We all need to pull together to kill the seed of ignorance. How? Everyone who is educated has an obligation to school his or her tribesman and women the arithmetic of service delivery.

2. We all need to pull together to kill the seed of greed at all levels.

Otherwise, mouth service will gain momentum and real service will be far from the reality.

The recent film 'The Post' underscores the essential need for a free press in order to keep political leaders accountable.

Does PNG now have a 'free press' and an unencumbered media?

There are three groups of people that follow MPs. The first group expects money and grog for free from the MP. The second group obtains loans to host parties using the MP's name. And the third group are mostly unsuccessful tribesmen who hang around the streets of Port Moresby and provide paper consultancies for ghost projects. The future of the district is at stake!

Thanks Sil. What you mentioned of early missionaries' techniques to bring the Bible/Christianity to the natives now become a modern day political realism of tongue service -the paradox.

The natives passed on expectations that the missionaries bring goodies from generation to generation ending up with the modern systems of politics.

However, that technique of taming natives with goodies to accept Bible/Christianity has turned into tongue service in modern PNG highlands politics. That is the political reality today.

The case of Kerowagi electorate and the people's expectations of their MP between development service and tongue service is a trend that once thought to work for the natives in the early days by missionaries now turned into a development paradox in modern day politics.

It might change after the current generation but there is no guarantee that expectations from local people of their MPs will change.

Phil, the essence of the problem as I see it is one of disconnection. People know what's happening but prefer to turn a blind eye if there is a chance they personally will obtain some benefit.

It took a long time to get to the political situation where our corrupt politicians are sometimes caught red handed and publicly denounced. When this happens, the usual public statement of contrition is 'I am sorry!' Yep. Sorry he/she was caught.

PNG's problem is one extending right down from the top through to the lower levels of power. No real accountability and essentially a muzzled local press and an indifferent overseas media.

Emmanuel Narakobi wanted to get his 'Tanin graun' program going before the last general election but had a hard time getting the media interested.

Given the laws on now registering your PNG SIM card, it seems ever closer to a political takeover of any effective social media that might allow information about political and public corruption to spread.

The drivers for change appear to be ever more distant and slip sliding away......

Education is the key, Paul.

Imagine this.

A national television and social media campaign showing a fat politician in a fine suit standing in front of a poverty stricken family in a rural or squatter settlement setting. The children, obviously undernourished have their hands out begging for help.

Switch to rear view of the politician, who appears to be studying the situation. A hand comes in from off screen and slips a wad of kina notes into the politician's hands which are behind his back.

He considers the scene before him a moment longer, puts a hand in his pocket and takes out some small change in coins. He throws it down in front of the children and then walks off putting the wad of kina notes in his pocket.

A caption appears on the screen: 'Corruption is destroying PNG'.

Well said, Philip. However for what seems like a very long time, I’ve read excellent dissertations from PNG people on what should be done but no real plan on how to make it happen.

Until the nexus between the people’s wants and needs is determined and identified, nothing much will happen. The article above effectively identifies the problem.

PNG politics is clan based and until the majority of the people start thinking and voting in terms of national identity and national needs, nothing much will change.

The only thing that must change in order to recalibrate the majority’s views are the emergence of energetic and community minded leaders who can and will explain what needs to be done and convince voters before an election on how they should vote to ensure this will happen.

This needs an effective political party machine to enforce party discipline and that stated objectives before an election are in fact fulfilled after the election.

This shift in public opinion will not occur until enough people at the kunai roots are educated sufficiently to understand what the problem is.

This is not a new issue and requires a quantum leap in political leadership and leaders. Normally this leap only happens in or after dire circumstances when the nation is in severe peril, whether this be of internal or external in nature.

Clearly one of two drivers has not yet happened. Firstly Australia left before any real nationalistic revolution happened. Had the ‘elite’ realised this they perhaps might have wanted Australia to stick around a bit longer to help them enhance their political notoriety and encourage a true national spirit.

Secondly, the Bougainville war was not either popular, nor allowed a true national spirit to develop. The film ‘Mr Pip’ effectively portrays the nexus between mainland PNG soldiers and the local Bougainville people. Keeping the nation together and recognising the local people’s sovereignty are currently at odds.

As I suggested in my earlier analogy, you can’t have your cake and eat it as well. You can’t complain about a lack of government services when you simply require personal gain from those one elects.

Voters must start thinking in terms of national objectives and not personal ones otherwise PNG will continually elect those who only think of themselves by those who only think of themselves.

Some people are corrupt but many people in the community are ignorant of exactly what this means.

Knowledgeable stakeholders have a task to school people on how good governance works.

Besides, politicians have to stand on their principles and not bend to parochial political demands.

Development has to be people oriented and it has to come from people's own initiative,

Our mode of production is kin based whether be political, economic, social, spiritual or environmental.

Sustainable development will be seen when people take ownership of development and take pride in it. we cannot impose our ideas on the people that it will work, they won't be interested and projects will fail.

Before bringing any development projects to the rural population find out what the people need and not what they want.

Awareness education and baseline survey must be done and people must be aware of what going and let them be part of this development process.

In most cases the MPs and government bureaucrats are paternalistic and regard the people as ignorant and those who don't know. This paternalistic approach must stop and we must apply dialogue and base our work on what the people really need.

Poverty is very high and any development must aim at eradicating poverty and promote sustainable human development which is a means to an end.

Sil, it's rather like a person taking a ride in a government bus and scratching graffiti on the back of the chair in front the words 'Taxation is theft'.

Political objectives in PNG have now obviously become fixated on how much of material value a politician's supporters can get out of electing him/her.

The problem is to recognise this indisputable fact and celebrate the theatrical groans and mutterings that continue to be heard that nothing else works.

Clearly nothing else works because the public funds and resources were in fact already earmarked at election time to be given away to supporters in a simple 'pork barreling' exercise.

So the political system in PNG is alive and well recognised but the real issue is why no one will publically recognise it for what it is and stop banging on about how nothing else works.

Or is that just the continuation of the village theatre of yesteryear?

Why therefore complain about the lack of services not provided by the government? Money trees like most PNG trees are increasingly becoming scarce these days anyway.

Ai blo mi nau em op pinis ya. Tenkyu tumas wantok.

I guess we don't think a lot about the average MP and everything he or she has to balance when dealing with their constituents. And they usually only get one shot at it before the next election.

This must be doubly so for honest politicians.

In this case it looks like it's the people who are corrupt, not the politician.

Great topic for an essay Sil, how does an honest politician deal with a corrupt constituency.

A case for Inspector Metau I reckon.

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