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« Those tough Chimbu kiaps included the remarkable Joe Nombri | Main | The laurabada blows & I long for a true PNG-Australia partnership »

28 April 2018

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Mathias, your post has clearly resonated with many lapuns like myself who continuously lament that given enough time, a better outcome would have eventuated.

It's now too late to overturn history however the principles that have been allowed to lapse can always been reintroduced.

All it takes is guts, gumption and get up and go.

I started work at Kondom Agaundo House (the Simbu Provincial Government building) around November 1993 after university.

There were many of the old PNG kiaps still in the system then, mostly working in district affairs and the provincial and local level government offices.

I remember many of them for their cleanliness and their discipline. They were always very smartly dressed, usually the best dressed workers each day.

They were at their offices at 8.00 am sharp and left after 4.06 pm each day; their punctuality left a mark on me.

They spoke much better English than most of the government workers and their written instructions were good also.

They maintained the highest standard of integrity and were graceful in all their dealings.

To this day, after all the turmoil and ills of governance we see every day, many PNG people talk of bringing back the kiaps as District Administrators, Election Returning Officers etc.

We may have come too far to turn back, but just think of what it would it be like if the planners at independence had maintained the kiap system for a little longer until the new system settled?

I think I should have added that kiaps everywhere, including a lot of national kiaps, were advocating a go-slow policy towards independence, which was counter to everything Michael Somare wanted. Ellis was echoing the kiap line.

Michael Somare had a particular dislike of the Australian kiaps and wanted them gone. A lot of his animosity stemmed from his poor relationship with Tom Ellis, the Director of DDA.

Given there was a core of well-trained national kiaps it now seems silly that the system wasn't kept on. I think it's called cutting off your nose to spite your face.

A few provinces like East Sepik had their own kiaps for a while after independence. They actually had khaki uniforms with kiap badges.

Some of those senior kiaps like Jack Karukuru were quite capable of running a kiap system but I think a lot of them didn't have the stomach for the politics and slowly faded back into civilian life.

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