AS THE Peter O’Neill saga rolls on in tandem with Papua New Guinea’s worsening economic outlook and plunging social indicators, the cacophony on social media is building to a crescendo.
It is like watching a volcano getting ready to blow its top.
People are actively looking for ways to get the message out to voters to eject the current crop of parliamentarians in 2017 and to never vote for their like again.
Whether they will succeed or not is difficult to predict. The optimists are hoping they might and the pessimists are resigned to their belief that nothing will change.
Among all this light and shade there is a thin group of commentators who are resolutely defending what to everyone else is indefensible.
I’m not referring to the spin doctors employed by the government and politicians but to ordinary citizens who seem to honestly believe that Peter O’Neill has been a good prime minister.
Or do they?
I suspect that deep down they know the truth. They just can’t admit it.
I was going to say I feel sorry for them and their naivety, but that isn’t quite right.
I think they are good people with a strong nationalistic spirit and pride who are hurting on the inside; perhaps more so than anyone else in Papua New Guinea.
As an old white kiap who had high expectations for Papua New Guinea, and still does, I can relate to their anguish.
All through the deteriorating years since independence I had resolutely defended Papua New Guinea. When Bill Skate wrecked the economy I told people that it was only a passing phase, part of the process of growing into a nation.
When news came through of the horrific torture and murder of women suspected of being witches in the highlands, I told people this was but an isolated phenomenon among backward and uneducated elements of the population.
When tourists were attacked and their carriers cut up with bush knives near Wau, I told people it was an isolated incident and most of Papua New Guinea was safe.
It is only in the past couple of years, during O’Neill’s reign, that my optimism has turned into despair.
It must be the same for many of O’Neill’s disillusioned defenders. They must know by now that their political hero is a fraud of the worst kind.
All around them people are echoing this sentiment. On PNG Attitude commentators are comparing Papua New Guinea to the worst of the African failed states.
I don’t think anyone believes this is a fair comparison but it is a useful way of highlighting the dire state of the nation.
Most people know that the conditions that exist in those states are no way reflected in PNG. Papua New Guinea doesn’t have that key ingredient of a dominant ethnic group; although O’Neill’s bolstering of the PNG Defence Force is a worrying trend.
We in Australia don’t seem to have a problem in acknowledging that we are governed by mediocre people somewhere on a par with used car salesmen and real estate agents.
In PNG, which is a largely a patriarchal society, pride is important. Tribes go to war over matters of honour. Admitting that their pride is misplaced is very hard for many Papua New Guineans.
Papua New Guinea has many achievements to be proud of, but I’m afraid Peter O’Neill and his government isn’t one of them. He is destroying everything that people can be proud of in their country.
Things were bad before O’Neill but they were salvageable. It is getting to the point where salvage may not be an option.
Better to be rid of this government – it’s the only way to restore Papua New Guinea’s rightful place in everyone’s minds.
Then it will be a country to be truly proud of.