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02 August 2018


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Totally agree, Phil and Keith.

The way the government is preparing for APEC is no different to how village people prepare to welcome big-men/leaders in their communities.

When word of a leader’s impending visit reaches community leaders, they mobilize the people to do clean-ups and decorate the place. Pigs are slaughtered, mumus are made, a party is thrown in honour of the big-man.

The big-man, upon seeing the massive work done to celebrate the visit, dishes out cash. It’s typical Melanesian (PNG) thinking – we’re doing this to show our appreciation for your visit, you have to give us some money in return.

At the village setting, everything is fixed on the event. Once the event is over, the community goes back to where it was before. Nothing changes.

Another thing to note is that it’s only the sites that are to be visited by the big-man that are given makeovers. The rest is neglected. It all goes down to enticing the leader to donate money. I call it “big-man begging”.

That Port Moresby is getting transformed for APEC at the expense of other centres shows the rationale is not lost on our parliamentarians – they are doing exactly that but on a much bigger scale.

The government has been proclaiming the possible benefits of APEC to justify its gross spending on preparations in the Nation’s Capital. Only time will tell whether the investments/sacrifices are worth it.

But as a nation we have to present everything about us to the world leaders, not just glossed-over Port Moresby. That’s where writing comes in. Social media platforms need to light up.

While the world leaders are looking at our skyscrapers, show them the squatters in the settlements; while they drive on the good roads of the city, tell them we ride to town every day on crater-like potholes and overcrowded PMV’s; while they savour the delicacies of the country’s finest chefs, remind them that our government is forcing many families to leave on junk food; and as they enjoy the Pacific sunshine, remind them of the child who just died because the government failed to provide immunisation. Let them know Port Moresby is not PNG and what they are seeing is merely a veneer forged to hide our government’s mismanagement and incompetency.

World leaders need to know about the real PNG, not the sham that is fabricated in Port Moresby, or that if – and I say “if” – they want to invest in the country, they will know where and how to prioritize their investments.

If we take a nap during this time, the money might get stuck in POM, get lost in the pockets of a select few and gradually make its way to Australia … like it always does.

Wardley Barry is a poet and writer Lindsay. He is perfectly entitled to use the word inbox as a verb. It's called poetic licence.

And how long has inbox been a noun anyway?

Although the sentiments expressed in this essay have been written about before, it's a timely and succinct reminder of something very important for a nation like PNG.

One would hope that PNG writers and PNG Attitude are both noticed come APEC in November.

I suspect that APEC will not showcase PNG and Port Moresby to the world as Peter O'Neill expects but will reveal how corrupt and incompetent he is and how badly he treats his people.

It will also reveal how weak his government is and how exploitable the nation is for international carpetbaggers.

Australia, of course, will simply ignore it all.

If the writers of PNG are going to take pen to paper November would be an ideal time to do it.

A great idea and agree entirely with Phil. Flood the social and mainstream media with rational, factual and well-reasoned commentary through October and November. Depict through your words the greatness of the Melanesian people and the immoral villainy of their current leaders. The message will be heard - KJ

Wardley, if it's seen on PNG Attitude, it has raced past the 'chequered flag', so is notably a winner.

I keep asking myself, what is the writer’s role in society? This question goes beyond the simple entertainment value of a good poem or story.

The great poet Dylan Thomas said: 'A good poem is a contribution to reality. The world is never the same once a good poem has been added to it. A good poem helps to change the shape of the universe, helps to extend everyone's knowledge of himself and the world around him.'

Writers reflect what the society is thinking or give a new perspective to some of the issues affecting us.

Our writing should be diverse and ambitious in our exploration and social observations of the multifaceted nature of modernity. We should also have the freedom to examine the darker aspects of contemporary reality.

We should write because we’re passionate about writing and because we have something we want to say to the world. Not because we desire worldwide fame, secure funding, projects or money.

To be literate not only means reading and speaking English. It also entails writing, including writing books. We can't afford to wait for outsiders to write about us. We have to write about ourselves!

I've written a poem that expresses similar concerns:

"Five Year Development Plan"

Year 1:
Member buys a mansion at Touguba
Enjoying the Waigani lights and yoga
Children cradled to empty bosom
A future of hope, we cannot fathom.

Year 2:
Member has three mistresses
And shares his bed with cronies
Buai-sellers are beaten for APEC
Another smoke-screen pekpek!

Year 3:
Member wakes up from hibernation
And plans to win the next election
Heavy hearts beg the sky
Sigh and wonder why.

Year 4:
Member announces multi-million kina projects
That have no real impacts
Health facilities need repairs
Our mothers watch in despair.

Year 5:
Member does ground breaking ceremonies
Continues with his sweet little lies
We are dying every day
Our cries forever kept at bay.

Hi Lindsay - I just realized that "inbox" is a noun. But it has been used as a verb on Facebook for a while now. Perhaps, it's only from Papua New Guinean users. It shows technology and society's influence on word understanding and usages.

Lindsay - The English say "I'll Hoover the carpet when we have finished".

Papua New Guinea has people like Wardley who can write and be published and celebrate freedom in the process of exercising opinion.

Find your choices, collect your support, put forward your views on values yet work to respect equality of people and redress inequity of opportunity.

Invent as you will. Hey, Wardley, yours is the first I've seen of 'inbox' as a verb.

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