Science: making a buck in the Bismarck Sea
Ilya 'Scoop' Gridneff says bamahuta PNG

What is needed to be different in 2012


ELECTORALLY, WHAT will make a difference in PNG in 2012? To produce a different result, you have to change the equation.

If the same circumstances exist in 2012 as at the last general election, why should we expect a different result?

After the last election, the government jet was used to fly successful candidates to a meeting with the PM to where he used his resources to convince them to support his government.

Will there be any change in this situation? Sorry, unlikely.

Are the voters now more informed about their candidates? Many voters claim they see their elected leaders only just before an election and then to hand out incentives to vote for them.

Has there been any successful initiative to inform voters of their rights and responsibilities? No, so what will change?

During the life of the current parliament, the opportunities for members to pursue the rights of the people they represent have been dismissed three times in an unconstitutional manner by the current government.

The Speaker is and has been biased and in collusion with the current government. Any change to this situation? Nope!

Has any significant legal action either been undertaken by responsible authorities or if started, carried through to charge and convict any political figure except the PM who has just been given a ludicrous penalty by overseas and not PNG judges?

Legal irrelevancies have been used to stall or obfuscate any official legal proceedings and public funds used to pay for the legal advisors. Any change to this situation? Not that one can see.

Has the PNG Opposition been able or competent to keep the government honest and accountable? Sorry, no contest.

So can anyone expect any change (tanim) in 2012? No way. Las momo kani. Nogat tru. Arita yamboma. Meyegayeh. Nyet. Nada. Etc, etc.


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Arthur Williams

Don't forget we did have limited preferential voting in the 2007 election and some deadwood did lose their oft thought seats for life.

Francis Hualupmomi

I do agree with Bernard's and Regi's views. PNG's political culture is based on "bigmanship" and is socially systemic. PNG politics is a money game so to speak. One cannot avoid rent-seeking behaviour.

There have been some improvements in electrol politics with LPV system as shown in two by-elections. However, some anaomolies in terms of rent-seeking is still predominant.

One of the reasons could be lack of education and awarness. Elctrol commission should also consider early awareness and education in provincial urban and rural areas.

I am of the view that there will be some improvements in 2012 election with the LPV system, however rent-seeking behaviour is inevitable.

David Kitchnoge

Sure it will cost a little bit more to tally the results under LPV. But in the scheme of things, I think that is a small cost to pay for a greater gain.

The hidden costs of electoral corruption in PNG are much more than whatever extra we will spend on face value to get our election process right.

Bernard Yegiora

David - It will be interesting to see how the LPV [limited preferential voting] works in 2012. Looks like it's going to be a very expensive election, with the elimination process, more time is needed. More time means more money.

Reginald Renagi

Every successive election will have an incremental improvement over previous ones.

This will become so as people are more aware of their rights, and the need to have fair polls, despite the some ongoing problems.

Change in the Highlands will come more slowly than in coastal regions of PNG.

The latter people do not have an inbuilt culture of corruption like the people in the Highlands, where people do not care what the rules of the electoral process are.

They put their own kinsman into public office so he can later reward his village with pork-barrelling projects in the next five years.

Then we have another big problem in parliament. When their local member gets in as a MP he starts acting in a strange way to look after his tribesmen's demands, and not in PNG's national interest.

David Kitchnoge

Bernard - I think we can not discount the workings of the new LPV system of voting.

Our people now have the opportunity to exercise their real preference at the polls with their three choices. More voter awareness with regards to the workings of LPV will certainly make a difference both from a voter and candidate perspective.

The voters must know that they will still have three choices regardless of whose mumu pit they've eaten out of during the campaign period.

And the candidates should by now come to their senses and realise what a waste of money and resources it will be to try and buy votes.

They can buy votes all they like but a ballot is null and void if it does not have at least three choices.

Bernard Yegiora

In reality, education is no match to PNG style money politics. No matter how much money is spent on educating voters they will still vote for the candidate who entices them with sweet gifts of money.

Most uneducated and even educated voters do not have that ability to reason, am afraid the 2012 election will turn out to be the biggest party on earth maybe like the Mardi Gras, with the slaughtering of thousands of pigs and the circulation of millions of kind.

In the Highlands, the people have develop a new culture where they now look forward to the election period because this is a time where there is much enjoyment, there is free food provided by intending candidates, and they receive a substantial amount of cash for doing nothing.

In their enjoyment, gambling rates increases, more people are infected with HIV/AIDS, and more marriages are broken. This is the current trend.

Intending candidates and incumbents are not stupid, they know that all human beings have a weakness for money, and poverty in PNG makes it more conducive to play a smart tactic centred on the use of money.

The answer lies in the new generation. Changing the curriculum by including elections and sensible voting as a unit in social science at primary, high, and secondary level of education is the best approach.

Reginald Renagi

Paul - While we assume the status quo may not change in 2012, more voter education is needed.

The suggestions by Trevor and Lydia are good and needs to be ongoing between elections.

The Electoral Commission and other community-based NGOs will be doing that under some limited funding.

Lydia Kailap

"Change will not come if we wait for some other person or some other time. We are the ones we've been waiting for. We are the change that we seek" - Barack Obama

People must let go of the "bigman" mentality where they treat these fellows with adoration and respect regardless of how despicable they may be.

The responsibility falls upon the shoulders of those who have the knowledge of what is really happening in the leadership circle to share their knowledge with those who do not have ready access to constant communication.

If every person in PNG who has this knowledge went home to their village and passed it onto their own people, then we would see a change.

Instead everyone is sitting back and waiting for it to be done for them. We all need to be pro-active.

Trevor Freestone.

Somehow the people in rural areas have got to be educated as to the importance of the elections in 2012.

They also need to understand the requirement to pressure their elected representative to produce the results their area needs. Two obvious statements.

How can this be achieved? I am no expert and don't fully understand the current position of Local Government.

I can see potential for some sort of education program visiting all local government councils. I believe that major changes can occur if councils come on board.

For success, the members of the group that carries out this program would need to be carefully selected. Who these members are and who selects them is a difficult question.

The wrong people selected would be disastrous. If this idea is feasible maybe Papua New Guineans with far better qualifications than I could work on it.

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