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28 May 2018


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Sil, it is true we see this appalling, cheap con name/title propagated by thugs at the fringes of towns and cities and even in the villages.

All done to solicit some few gains from the affluent, which some of us see as detrimental to cultural and family values of names in society.

But on the other side, it’s the shift in how people think, learn and live in society nowadays.

People in high office decide to steal using their office and title despite being well paid. Those in the villages and on the fringes of towns and cities also devise ways to make a quick gain as you have described.

People can devise a clever strategy to rob a bank, do holdups on the road or rob a supermarket - all are risky in most cases. Others use less risky intellect to give you names/titles and set you off to cloud nine and you fork out more from your pocket.

Their strategy is less risky than robbing a bank. You the so called affluent or who just arrived from metropolitan society take the risk by digging deep into the pocket and forking out hard earned savings.

Those of us living in metropolitan society need to keep abreast of the shift in society at village level. If you isolate yourself in metropolitan society, you will be ripped off when you visit your village or town for the first time.

I smiled that day many years ago when I heard Iambake Okuk had decided to treat his electorate to many many cartons of beer. They were said to have been distributed at an airfield in Simbu. I laughed out loud when the results of the election were announced – he lost.

By the way, I notice that the renamed 'Okuk Highway' has now largely reverted to the original 'Highlands Highway'.

It was a bit like in New Ireland where what I (and many others) called Bulaminsky Highway is now the politically correct Boluminski.

Most reporters refer to New Hanover Island rather than Lavongai although the latter was approved by the parliamentary names committee after Walla Gukguk MP wanted the correct name for his island. Interestingly my family perhaps more correctly spell it Lovongai.

Sil describes the drug dens and their linguistically imaginative speech. When I worked in Moresby in 1980 one of my workers from a settlement told me to be wary of the ‘last calls’.

He was a highlander and I found his Pidgin hard to fully understand after my islands indoctrination into the language. It took me some weeks to realise he was warning me of the ‘rascals’ roaming the capital. Apparently the pronunciation of ‘R’ is hard for a lot of highland's folk.

I was once told that the Tari tribe is actually Huri but comes out as Huli. Mind, some have explained that the swampy Gogodala is actually a similar mispronunciation or mishearing by outsiders of GogodaRa.

I notice how the ‘bilong’ of my 1970s is often now ‘blong’ and mostly ‘blo’.

As the village idiot in 2007 I attended Taskul United Church still with its traditional separation of male and female sitting arrangements. We always started service with 30 minutes of so-called worship songs that were often mindless musical recitation of a few verses.

But one favourite of mine was ‘All stand up!’ I only found out a year or so later that my daughter and her friends across the aisle would giggle as they heard the silly white man singing i'All stand up' because they and the rest of tiny congregation were singing ‘Hosanna!’

Oh, it’s lovely when the mighty fall - be it in chapel or in politics. We had one wannabe who disappeared for months after the votes were counted. He only got one vote in his home village, his own.

That’s why I am sad to hear PNG may forget the preferential voting they have used in general elections and go back to the less democratic first past the post.

I was overjoyed to see lots of sitting MPs lose their seats when the fairer preferential system was introduced. They had thought they were permanently in control of their electorates.

I used to hear MPs stand up in parliament and say, ‘All my people in wanted this or that action’ when he was elected by a mere 10% of his electorate.

Over here in the UK I cringe when too often hearing Tory MPs telling us, ‘The country voted for us to govern…’ Actually 36% voted Conservative to get 306 seats while Labour and Liberals got 52% but only 305 seats under the first past the post system.

If FPTP returns to PNG the shenanigans in political life Sil writes about will certainly increase as the urban elite make their five yearly pilgrimage home.

I leave with Council president and onetime MP Walla Gukguk’s advice to citizens on how to choose a leader. He used three criteria:

Savi bilongem (knowledge)

Fasun Bilongem (community life)

Sindaun bilongem (family life)

Sil Bolkin - Another masterpiece cutting through the fine lines separating genuine interaction from fabricated con tactics. Well written.

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