Providing hope to our people in this hybrid land
Calling out PNG’s leaders: Your country is no democracy

Let's make an individual effort for the collective good


IT IS generally acknowledged that there is an endemic problem of corruption which is deep-rooted at all levels of Papua New Guinean society.

The country’s leaders seem accountable to no one, and this is compounded by weak and ineffective checks and balances within the bureaucracy.

To perfect the democratic representative political system is a multi-generational process, tedious and messy but we need to embrace it.

In the meantime, instead of focusing on this bleak outlook, we can emphasise how our individual efforts can make an imprint on our community.

No doubt hundreds of people with goodwill are doing their share behind the scene to help make PNG a better country.

Keith Jackson, the engine of this forum, and countless other friends who care about PNG and its people are doing what they can.

The likes of Martyn Namorong, Daniel Kumbon, Elizabeth Dumu, Michael Dom and Mathias Kin also graciously shared their personal experiences and their sense of community and nationhood.

We can take advantage of advanced communications technologies to foster wider networks and harness the efforts made by many folk whose hearts are stitched together for the well-being of PNG and its people. The obligation starts with each one of us.

The path I have taken is to make an individual effort and hopefully make a beneficial impact both at community and personal level.

To mobilise community participation, I have organised small groups - but the outcome has been dismal. The efforts consumed time and effort in writing objectives, preparing organisational flow charts and keeping minutes only to mirror a mini Waigani bureaucracy in a rural setting with nothing happening on the ground.

Creating grass roots groups on paper gives a false impression of measurable success.

Instead, I have turned to the Melanesian value of making an individual effort for the collective to makes a difference in someone’s life. This is done by expanding our viewpoint to think about our people as one Melanesian family, not limited to tribal or clan thinking. We have to think we are our brothers’ and sisters’ keeper.

This requires an action mindset. It means sticking out our necks, taking some risks and allowing ourselves to stand out. It is about engaging in ways that benefit our fellows and allowing our behaviour to engage, involve and inspire others.

It is OK to step in and intervene when you witness a husband bashing his defenceless wife at a market place while tens of spectators stand watching with the look on their faces of “em family problem bilong tupelo”

It is OK to get involved in situations where people other than our own bros are involved. We are where we are today because somewhere during our journey we stood on the shoulders of our parents, teachers, ol didiman, ol kiap, pastors and random wantoks.

If you have reached the top of the corporate ladder then don’t take the ladder with you. Lower it, reach down and assist someone else to climb up.

Positive approaches are contagious. The people around you will catch the positivity flu. Expand the circle of bros and embrace other wantoks.

Don’t wait for someone else to start. As some wise people have asked, “If not me, then who?” and “If not now, then when?”

Act now in your own situations in life. It does not have to be an earth shattering experience. It might mean helping someone get up at a bus stop, letting someone else go ahead in the line, helping a little child with homework, helping someone with their job application, giving job opportunities to a high school dropout, offering a helping hand to a disabled person or to folks who are not your bros or not from the circle of well connected elites.

Papua New Guineans are good at making individual efforts for the collective good. We need to re-ignite our passion and purposely take this personal journey.

Life is short. This moment is all we have to make a difference, however minuscule the efforts may seem.


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Paul Oates

All these thoughts are very good Joe but what is holding PNG back is as we have agreed on many times; True Leadership.

The sort of leadership PNG is crying out for is not really a traditional role within the traditional culture of PNG in my humble opinion. The role of the so called 'big man' and the traditional 'fight leader' are expounded as leadership roles yet they are really only vague images of community perceptions.

True leadership is the type being expounded and practised by people like Gary Juffa who is walking the talk. Governor Juffa provided an excellent example of a senior Public Servant when he as responsible for PNG Customs. Now he has resisted the temptation to bow down before the opposition he is meeting from those who don't want anyone to follow his example.

Don Polye also made an ethical stand against the PM when he spoke out against the buying into the LNG business and now look at what has happened to PNG's national assets due to the collapse in world fuel prices. The cause of this collapse has nothing to do with PNG and is due to a price war being instituted between the Gulf oil dictators and the US who undercut their monopoly on oil with its shale oil reserves. The other factor that for so long made the US great was that oil had to be paid for in US dollars.

That monopoly has now been broken and the subsequent imbroglio is the result. Everyone seems to be scratching their collective heads about why it costs much to same for petroleum products when the basic cost of oil is a fraction on what it was. Someone is therefore price gauging and it not hard to work out who. Obviously those who are in the food chain of big oil producers. Yet unaccountably, governments seem to be 'egg bound'. As the yanks say: 'Go figure'. The taxes being reaped on the sale of oil products are of course the answer.

Governments must stay our of business otherwise they risk becoming beholden to it. There is a basic and clear conflict of interest when those responsible for legislating then become involved in the business they legislate about. The temptation to dabble then becomes too great for the weak to resist.

It will be very interesting to see where the Deputy Leader of the PNG Opposition Mr Sam Basil will take the now revamped PANGU Pati during the lead up to the next general election.

As has been said many times before: 'Evil triumphs when good (people) do nothing'.

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