EMINENT AND OUTSPOKEN Governor of Oro Province and Papua New Guinea member of parliament, Garry Juffa [pictured], has endorsed trenchant criticism by PNG Attitude commentator, Phil Fitzpatrick, that PNG’s political leadership is “an international disgrace”.
Fitzpatrick, an author whose recent book Inspector Metau, on the surface a detective story, delves into the murky world of PNG politics, last week wrote a pungent article, The scum that they call politicians in PNG, which accused the PNG parliament of being “one of the biggest cabals of thieves, robbers and rogues on the planet”.
Responding to the criticism, Governor Juffa said, “You are absolutely right. Your article is nothing but the truth. I am sad to say that the trend is indeed worrisome. This nation, as great as it is, is being packaged and sold fast.”
And an academic with a deep interest in PNG, Dr Kristian Lasslett, also agrees with Fitzpatrick, saying that “most people I work with around PNG would agree with 98% of the sentiments expressed”.
An aggrieved Fitzpatrick particularly examined the social cost of high level, multi-million dollar corruption: “The completely unnecessary deaths and injuries attributable to a dysfunctional health system and moribund hospitals, not to mention the horrendous infant mortality rate (and) the victims of violent crime due to the lack of law and order.”
“These egomaniacs are also responsible for the nepotism, dishonesty, inefficiencies and downright stupidity which are defining characteristics of the Papua New Guinea public service,” he said.
“When they have finished selling off all the countries’ resources to the global multinationals and shonky and rapacious Asian businessmen they will have completed the total destruction of a nation which once had such enormous potential for the welfare of its people."
Fitzpatrick also blamed Australia’s succession of “gutless governments” for “aiding and abetting the process by feeding vast amounts of taxpayers’ money into this abysmal pit without the slightest hint of concern.
“In human terms what it has done it has been akin to feeding a drug addict with free and unlimited amounts of heroin,” Fitzpatrick said.
Dr Lasslett of the University of Ulster said people in the settlements of Port Moresby “are angry ... they pay taxes, and they work in government offices, the service industry and the informal market so they can send their kid to school and university and feed their families.
“In the working class urban communities people are angry, fed up, overworked, sick, and entirely aware of the darkness of neon lights.”
“Often they speak to me of revolution. ‘We aren't communists they usually add’, so breathe easy Canberra and Jakarta," Dr Lasslett said.
“But people are searching for a revolutionary answer to this static crisis that is PNG's political economy.
“Politicians like Gary Juffa are perhaps the one ray of light in this respect," Lasslett added. “He is destigmatising the R word.
“It appears the entire tectonic plates of PNG's social existence need shifting if people are to realise the noble aspirations in PNG's Constitution, one of the finest documents you will see anywhere in the world.
“People are hungry - it needs a spark and organisation, but I don't doubt PNG will be going through some interesting changes in the years to come."
Inspector Metau: The Case of the Angry Councillor by Phil Fitzpatrick, Pacifica Sene 2013, 286pp, ISBN-10: 0987132121, ISBN-13: 978-0987132123. $10.80 (paperback), $5 (Kindle ebook) from Amazon.com here