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SABL debacle reveals the power hunger of PNG’s ruling elite

Overland_ChrisCHRIS OVERLAND

THE incapacity to sort out the special agriculture and business lease (SABL) debacle reveals that the only unifying factor within the current Papua New Guinea government is the acquisition of power and wealth by office holders.

There is no coherent "chain of command" or enforced discipline within the government, no real concept of Cabinet governance and only a tenuous capacity to direct and control the public service.

The government of PNG is broken and seems destined to remain so, to the great cost of the great mass of Papua New Guineans.

Like so much of the developing world, PNG seems quite unable to do much more than create the illusion of a functioning liberal democracy when, in fact, it is a shambolic collection of competing interest groups jockeying for power, influence and ill-gotten wealth.

In truth, the governance of much of the developed world has more in common with the early medieval era when various "robber barons" established their primacy over the rural yokels by fire and sword. The only difference is that, instead of fire and sword, today's robber barons use lies, bribery and corruption as their weapons of choice.

What I cannot understand is why so many Papua New Guineans simply allow this to go on. Perhaps it is a form of "learned helplessness", whereby the victims of oppression and victimisation feel powerless to do anything to prevent it and so simply accept their fate.

It depresses me to say so, but the sometimes oppressive, patronising and casually racist colonial regime looks pretty good when compared to what is on offer today. At least it was mostly honest, reasonably efficient and genuinely trying to improve the circumstances of the people.

Where are the Papua New Guineans who will move decisively and resolutely to fix their country?

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