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The contradictions implicit in judging personality


An entry in the Crocodile Prize
PNG Chamber of Mines & Petroleum
Award for Essays & Journalism

IN my walk of life I come across people who sometimes confuse me with their personality, particularly those who have crossed over from the dark side.

Many times I have met up with this guy who once wilfully murdered a man, was imprisoned, served his time, got his freedom back, married a beautiful wife, joined the police force as a reservist and is currently one of the top officers.

Every time I meet him, I am confounded as to what kind of personality tag to confer on him.

And there is this public servant who was accused of stealing state funds while he was a district manager. He appeared in court, was found guilty and sentenced to six months imprisonment with hard labour.

He served his time, came out, somehow got back into the public service and is now occupying one of the senior positions in his department. I hear that he is considered one of the most hard working and honest officers.

Each time I see him on the road in his government white Toyota LandCruiser, I feel muddled as to what kind of personality he might have.

Then there is this other guy who was accused of raping a teenager. He was arrested, appeared in court and pleaded guilty. He was sentenced to two and half year imprisonment with hard labour.

While in prison, he joined a Christian denomination and was converted. Straight after he got out of prison, he attended bible college and became a pastor of the church, preaching the word of God.

Whenever I see him, I am confused as to what kind of personality he really has.

Another case. A politician who was accused of misappropriation. He appeared in court and was found guilty. He paid the penalty imposed on him and sometime later was awarded an ambassadorial post in a prestigious foreign mission.

Every time I read about him, I get myself confused about his personality.

There are many others, not only men but women in this society, who have gone through a similar experience in life.

Maybe I am suffering from some sort of vacillation complex which bewilders me when trying to confer a personality tag to each of them.

I guess I’ll leave it up to others. 


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Francis Nii

Agreed, Mike.

This is what this article is about. There are bad people after having paid the penalty, they are genuinely redeemed and are prepared to involve in nation building. And they should be given the opprtunity instead of dwelling on their past and keep mounting condemnation on them.

Some of our politicians need to be severely punished like Paul Tienstein so that they can be redeemed to serve the nation better.

Michael Dom

The key to reformation is capture and just punishment.

Also admission of guilt and acceptance of admonishment and reprimand from appropriate authority.

Without these the need for change may not be recognised nor the process of correction considered worthy of fear and respect.

Otherwise we have compensation and retribution.

It's like this: imagine a rapist keeps on raping girls, boys, women and mothers without fear of punishment.

Then the person becomes a teacher in a girls boarding school.

Are we to reasonably believe that this person, out of the goodness of their own heart, or some act of God, will stop perpetrating their crime?

An act of God is exactly that, but a key task is taking care of the acts of man.

"Let the punishment fit the crime"?

Francis Nii

Breaking News - A team from Digicel Foundation travelled from Port Moresby to Sir Joseph Nombri Memorial Hospital yesterday and conducted an interview with Jimmy Drekore, who is in the race for the 2014 Digicel Man of the Year Award. We had an exciting three-hour session with them.

We have also talked to them about the Crocodile Prize and the Simbu SWriters Association and presented them with all the PNG anthologies (2011-2014) and our own books. They were highly impressed. Full report coming soon.

Back to the article, Tambu Peter, I think you are defensive as you said.

I would agree with Phil and John. Reformed people, although not all of them, are great agents of change and reform if they are given the chance and opportunity.

I would say Peter O'Neill is not in that category yet because of all the dark clouds that are still hanging around him.

Mathias Kin

Here in Kundiawa, there are too many of the kind Francis refers to. And I think it depends on how they get around to living a life of it.

The common people know who they are and that they should not be in position of authority, but the authorities let this truth pass and have re-engaged that to important positions.

Murderers, prisoners, people who have stolen from the government purse, people who have enriched themselves while in position(they own expensive land cruisers and buses, guest houses, etc) and people wonder if they have another source of income apart from their public service salary (which we all know is not enough to buy an old Suzuki in a year!).

So the story rolls on and corruption embedded in all fabrics of our society. Oh how I long for that day...

Kela Kapkora Sil Bolkin

Life is a paradox; we are potential criminals as well as altruists. It depends on circumstances so therefore all episodes have to be inferred within the context.

John Kaupa Kamasua

Put that down as one of the contradictions of life, but people do change for the better, others display a chronic trait of behavior, and may be cannot be redeemed.

Don't judge the book by its cover might be useful advice here.

I have always wanted to attach myself to the better nature of everyone I meet, but in some instances this has resulted me becoming the victim of trust.

Better to trust your own instincts and judgement

Phil Fitzpatrick

I work on the assumption that my first impressions of someone is invariably wrong. That way you don't get let down so much.

I'm also a firm believer that there is good and bad in everyone and it is circumstance and environment that brings one or the other to the fore. Of particular importance is temptation and opportunity.

Some of the great social reformers started out as evil people.

That's why I think Peter O'Neill needs to be given the benefit of the doubt. I think (hope) he might be another reformed character.

Then again, I've always been a sucker.

Peter Kranz

Francis - There is a psychological disorder called Psychological Projection, in which a disturbed individual projects their own problems on to someone else in defence.


I have met a couple of people with this problem (well that's my take). But maybe I am just being defensive?

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