Let's make an individual effort for the collective good
Is the crocodile still swimming - or is it drowning?

Calling out PNG’s leaders: Your country is no democracy

Paul OatesPAUL OATES

LET'S just call it as it is. Provided the local members of parliament keep supporting the prime minister and his government, the District Services Improvement Program (DSIP funds keep coming.

They have become slush money local members can use as they wish.

DSIP program has the dual purpose of ensuring those who support the government are financially rewarded and providing a re-election fund for these members.

Feedback from the kunai roots is that, at each level of the DSIP financial food chain, everyone involved takes a large cut out of any funds that trickle down.

By the time some of these funds actually reach the local level, ineffective management and malfeasance disposes of the residue before anything positive is achieved.

Why would anyone really be surprised at this? The system has been intentionally set up by those in power to reward the loyal and thus presents a continuing example of how things in PNG should be run.

Why has this been allowed to happen? Yesterday’s article, Politicising drought relief in Papua New Guinea, explains with great clarity that those who are marginalised by the political process in PNG don't have any say at all.

So let's call a spade a spade. Papua New Guinea is not democracy. It is autocracy trying to make its way to dictatorship.

And, in providing over half a billion dollars a year of aid to PNG, the Australian government is apparently happy to both formally recognise and assist in the formation of an autocratic dictatorship imposed on our neighbours next door.

Comments

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Philip G Kaupa

Scary Truth....Your 7 pointers are remarkably, but as you've mentioned, I believe the DSIP system/programe is designed to run this way.

Change will never come, unless a throughly people centered system is designed.

Michael Dom

Quite right, Paul.

We can't say much more, and you've just outlined what we can do.

Arthur Williams

Yes Paul the ongoing daily revelations of corrupt activities sadly no longer surprises me. But the almost non-existent or at best lethargic local responses does. Because all ex-kiaps had experiences in the days long gone by of trying to adjudicate some petty dispute threatening the peaceful life of a tiny hamlet.

Then I consider how 45 years later I sit watching a news channel where some apparently newsworthy item is being discussed and western pundits are hotly arguing for or against and erudite columnists write reams in all the national newspapers. I suddenly ask myself what would my extended family home in rural PNG say about this latest hot-potato.

Kaukau may in fact be the answer. Because to 80% of PNG's families its getting the kaukau on the plate tonight that really matters, not whether a bigman is ripping someone off somewhere perhaps a few hundred kilometres away in that place called Port Moresby. Even if he is your mother's cousin's nephew who is now MP.

Lavongai appears not to have had a Chiefly system in earlier days so much so that when the Wycliffe Bible Translators came to try and translate the Bible into the Tunag language they were somewhat surprised to find there was no word for supreme leader (ie 'God' for the SIL).

Sure the Lavongai had Bosap for the leading them in a fight and considered Passingan as being possible tokples word to use for God but even he in early days was apparently more of a orator rather than a supreme leader.

Yet despite this appearance of an egalitarian society pre-1914 every clan seemed to have tales of sections of clans being impressed by their bigman to leave their normal daily activities and follow him in some endeavour.

The first one such tale I heard was of a bigman from Baunung, West Lavongai, called Igua Rangai who had so many wives he could muster them and their immediate families to 'make a sweet potato garden in a day' - so the tale went.

I arrived in 1970 when the wealth of his current direct descendant was the large numbers of coconut and cocoa trees he harvested. There were other modern 'bigmen' I met over my years on the island who behind & beyond the scenes of our LLG system actually ran their villages. In fact many never sought to vulgarly stand for the menial task of councillor.

So it seems that today's apathy is in fact a long ingrained acceptance of – that's how it was, that's how it is – that's how it always be. Or with a Christian overlay today of, 'ples daun!' A sad concept for westerners to accept. Phrases re-echoed every day - 'Noken wori! - 'Yu gerap no gut?' - 'Noken seksek!' - 'Samting bilong lukluk bihain!' - 'Oli giaman tasol!'

A bit like the duet by Bing Crosby & Frank Sinatra in the 1956 classic musical by Cole Porter, 'High Society':
Have you heard?
It's in the stars
Next July, we collide with Mars.
Well, did you evah?
What a swell party, swell party, swellegant, elegant party this is.

But! Like you Paul the so-what attitude as it appears to us is so annoying when we know time is short for all of us even Petrus O'Neill. 'Oh if only', we daily sigh.

Just as you have written today I once sat down with a newly elected MP in New Ireland an suggested the very same thing to him to avoid gossip and lies about his relationship with constituency monies in the next five years.

I advised him to regularly visit every village and importantly make a monthly report newsletter to all his electorate in which he should provide information not only of his initiatives in Waigani ('Distant Thundering' as Ijivitari people called such activities at their recent by-election) but accurately show use of any funds allocated to him that month and who or what group etc had received funds from him. He ignored my advise and would eventually lose his seat.

Your suggestions are worthy of consideration and support but will they bear fruit?

'Bihain!'

Paul Oates

Well.... the silence is deafening so here's the challenge I make to those aspiring to lead PNG.

1. Get the media to combine with say the Opposition and other reputable independents and publish a list of all public disbursements to each local member over the last four years of the Parliament.

2. Publish this list and broadcast the results in each electorate.

3. Publicly ask each local member to explain what he or she did with the money they received from the public purse each year?

4. If the payments made under DSIP and other arrangements are legitimate and ethical, why would anyone have a problem in this action?

5. If your local member only gave money away and didn't keep any records, whose to say that's where the money went or who actually received the benefit?

6. If the money disappeared surely that's graft, corruption and criminal activity and a complaint must be made to the police to investigate?

7. If, as it has been claimed by a Deputy Police Commissioner, at least half of all public monies disappears through corruption then how is this possible if people are properly informed? If the person wanting to be re-elected doesn't reveal what is happening to the money that has already been given to undertake public work for the people of their electorate, how can they be trusted to hold public office at all?.

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