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.