The Occupy Waigani protest as it unfolded
Kidu, Wenge cited for contempt by rogue parliament

Social media driving new chapter of consciousness

BY TAVURVUR
GARAMUT

Tavurvur – whose identity remains a secret even from PNG Attitude - is arguably the most perceptive political observer in the strong crop of social commentators writing in PNG at present. You can catch his articles regularly at http://garamut.wordpress.com

ALTHOUGH THE PAST FEW MONTHS, and particularly the last two weeks, have been tumultuous for PNG politics and Papua New Guinea in general, there are a number of positives which have since become clear in what has been a difficult period for the country.

These positives are not do so much with any change in the political decisions of the O’Namah government, although Peter O’Neill’s re-commitment to again not defer general elections 2012 is to be welcomed, but more so with the socio-political phenomena gaining traction in PNG which I am calling the opening up of PNG’s consciousness.

Yesterday’s protest march against the delay in elections and the implementation of the Judicial Conduct Act 2012 has highlighted the interesting growth of pipol pawa (people power) which began to take shape during the height of the constitutional crisis last year.

Regulatory watchdogs, non-governmental organisations, the public and particularly the young people of PNG are beginning to realize, what in the past has been a somewhat hazy understanding, that we do have the ability to organise ourselves in such a manner as to effectively and responsibly make a difference – through pipol pawa.

This ability, and indeed the desire to effect such change has always been present in PNG, but the means to do so has not.

The opening up of PNG’s consciousness has social media and technology to thank.

This emerging phenomena in PNG has added a new dimension to the very fabric of PNG society, and consequently to PNG politics.

Where just two years ago PNG politicians could comfortably sit in their plush parliamentary seats content with the knowledge that their words and actions would be somewhat disjointedly reported to a small minority of PNGeans thanks to local traditional media and to the one or two pesky foreign-based correspondents, now with a simple Tweet or SMS, messages are flowing from the Highlands to the Islands and are consequently being transmitted to the world.

The tables have turned, and ever so slowly, the PNG government is beginning to realise that the environment is changing. If they haven’t recognized this yet, they have surely felt the effects of the opening up of PNG’s consciousness.

Peter O’Neill’s caretaker term as prime minister since 2 August  2011 hasn’t been the easiest..

He has faced the ongoing constitutional crisis with Sir Michael Somare, the enduring conflict between the executive and the judiciary, the backlash to the polluted actions and questionable statements of his deputy Belden Namah, ongoing land-owner issues with the PNG LNG Project, the sinking of the MV Rabaul Queen, and the Tumbi landslide.

It is a combination of these events, which all hold value as events of national importance and/or significance, and the steady growth of social media users due to improved and affordable technology in PNG, that has seen Peter O’Neill become one of the most, if not the most, accessible prime minister in the history of the nation.

This new found accessibility hasn’t been a proactive policy or strategy, or maybe even choice or wish, of Peter O’Neill. Instead, it has been a reaction to pipol pawa, social media and technology.

Despite O’Neill’s appearance to address the protest march yesterday at Sir John Guise Stadium, plans are already beginning to place if the Prime Minister doesn’t stick to his new pledges of old commitments.

Social media will again play an important role here – and from this point onward in opening up PNG’s consciousness.

Comments

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Trev Shelley (Jnr)

Tavurvur, well said.

The introduction of the 2005 mobile competition policy certainly contributed significantly to solidifying the imperative for change in PNG.

No other form of technology has had the ability to neither penetrate our complex social networks nor overcome the significant geographical constraints to the same degree as the mobile telephone.

Rugby league has long been championed as having the ability to unite our fractured nation (courtesy of deep ethnic allegiances), however the major drivers thus far for a united voice has been mobile communications (enabling social networking/internet) and ironically an inept government’s politics without principal.

Interestingly, Metcalfe's law states that the value of a telecommunications network is proportional to the square of the number of connected users of the system (n2).

This has certainly proven to be true in Papua New Guinea. As mobile communications becomes more accessible (enabling social networking/internet) the louder the voice for change becomes.

Bernard Yegiora

I support David in thanking Digicel for initiating this change in mind set by making communication affordable.

David Kitchnoge

Thankyou Digicel.

What was once such an evasive luxury has now landed on everyone's finger tips on the streets.

I am excited about our country and I think we can truly say there is reason to be optimistic about the future.

Thankyou again Digicel.

Mrs Barbara Short

An excellent summing up Tavurvur!

And you know that I, and all the other PNG supporters who contribute to this blog, are right there behind you and all these other PNG people who are showing the paid politicians that they are only there as their representatives.

PNG people are starting to learn that in a democracy it is the people who have the power and the paid politicians have to repect them. But the people have to have this "integrity" which was spoken about in a poem yesterday.

I have fond memories of my time in PNG and I knew plenty of PNG people with integity. But somehow some of the politicians that have been elected over the past 35 years have lost this integity and started to do things which they feel are OK but which are actually corrupt.

The people of PNG now have to show great integrity and show them where they have gone wrong.

I guess that some of the Judiciary have also lost their integity too. But the ones I know I feel have not lost their integrity so I don't know enough about them to comment.

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