You Speak Me!
Free education, cargo cults & the handout mentality

Tired of poor governance, people yearn for a new dawn

Supreme Court (Hal Holman sculpture)FR GIORGIO LICINI | Catholic Reporter PNG

WE leave it to the courts to determine if presumed legal services by Paul Paraka Lawyers were really met with illegal payments by prime minister Peter O’Neill and others.

We also stay out of the political wrangling that inevitably accompanies inquiries into government officials and politicians.

Nor do we care much about political careers that may end or blossom according to court rulings.

We just note that the soul searching the country is undergoing these days reveals a deep yearning for a new beginning.

Since independence Papua New Guinea has been marred by poor governance and corruption. Now people had enough.

They had enough of dubious payments, uncompleted projects, political consent, and votes captured every five years with unfulfilled promises.

Mr O’Neill and colleagues always repeat the same refrain: judge us at the election in 2017. But what if, by then, the country is financially, socially and morally bankrupt.

Outgoing ministers and members of parliament are not going to pay a price for it, but the common people will suffer.

There is something missing in a democracy when constitutional changes become too easy and parliamentary opposition is almost nil.

Thank God the judiciary appears to be vibrant and independent in Papua New Guinea.

But government and politicians should not blame the media when they prove to be the last bulwark of democracy.  Who else is going to expose bad or wrong decisions when parliament is an accomplice and the judiciary cannot acquire necessary proof?

The dream for a clean and honest running of the public affairs is palpable among young people.

There is a third post-independence generation of Papua New Guineans emerging after the Somares and the O’Neills.  They want a more mature democratic process and a totally transparent management of public wealth and funds.

They are preparing for it. Please, don’t stand in their way.

Comments

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Philip Fitzpatrick

What we need Keith is some of the other churches speaking up "officially".

Anything else is a waste of time.

Keith Dahlberg

Fr. Giorgio has stated PNG's dilemma very clearly and concisely. PNG citizens deserve better than they are getting from their squabbling politicians.

There appear to be some - few perhaps, but some - in the police, the judiciary, the press, and the government who are trying to do an honest job. They should be encouraged, not harassed.

As for churches not speaking up, actually they do. Sometimes their message is cloaked in fiction or personal opinion, not speaking officially as the church, but because of the church.

Samuel Roth

I totally agree with Dr. Albert Schram's suggestions, although not new.

Philip Fitzpatrick

Stuff that appears on PNG Attitude seems to get picked up by all sorts of outlets.

Far be it for me to suggest a bigger workload for Keith (he's currently battling to deal with all the late Crocodile Prize entries) but it wouldn't hurt the other churches to do what you are doing Fr Giorgio.

Good and useful comment, as compared to overt religious preaching, is always welcomed by the enlightened reader, Christian and secular alike.

Giorgio Licini

Well... Philip, I don't know what to say.

I understand the Churches in PNG are a bit behind in terms of social thinking and media liaising. They do a lot on the field but they are poor in communication.

Catholics in PNG are not much better off. Now they've got me part-time trying to do something. Just good that as a young priest in Italy I was forced to spend three years in a news room dealing with international issues and hitting (only with two fingers as I still do) one of those black old typewriters.

At 32 I learned some sort of English and moved to the Philippines. At 44, in 2003, I was in Alotau with the task, among others, of producing a diocesan newsletter in English.

A very old British Muslim convert journalist there was my first very precious mentor. Now at times I rely on Keith's kindness.

What eventually goes on our monthly print Catholic Reporter PNG is Keith's edited version. In fact I share with media and online the articles I manage to produce or receive from others.

Some are being picked up and I hope they do some good.

Going back to the Churches: the idea of a common press office or at least more frequent joint press releases is something we should work on. Thank you Philip for challenging us!

Philip Fitzpatrick

Well said Fr Giorgio, totally agree. Also agree with Albert Schram.

A question though. Where are the other churches in this debate? Why are they leaving it to the Catholics to make the running (again)?

The churches in PNG have great influence. They need to take these issues on board too.

Albert Schram

I fully agree. The UNITECH students demonstrated through their actions they are tired of political interference in state institutions, and lack of transparency in their governance.

Learning from more mature democracies, PNG could consider introducing nationwide biometric voter registration to end habitual election irregularities, and a constitutional change introducing a two chamber system, in order to improve the quality of legislation.

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