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History has a lesson for leaders who engage in corruption

The assassination of William McKinley
The assassination of William McKinley


WABAG - Leaders must not shout ‘prosperity’ and secretly involve themselves in corrupt deals as a result of which their constituents suffer from want of basic services.

Leaders need to exercise caution and conduct public affairs in a transparent manner, especially in this this land of a thousand tribes.

Elected leaders must be aware when they are putting a lot of strain on the lives of the ordinary people.

What do people think when their loved ones die from curable diseases because there is no medicine, or when the cost of living becomes unbearable in urban areas.

Are leaders not aware that the people become angrier every time a million kina corrupt deal like the Paladin saga is exposed?

According to a study, when negative emotions take the form of anger they are most likely to lead to acts of crime and violence.

Papua New Guinea has already seen the rise of angry young men like bank robber William Kapris, ‘Black Jesus’ Steven Tari and ‘Robin Hood’ Tommy Barker, whose gang is currently being pursued in once peaceful Milne Bay Province.

Is it not possible angry revolutionaries are being bred in an environment of deep rooted corruption, bad governance, nepotism and other vices so prevalent in successive governments since independence.

Let me relate a story from the pages of history in the hope it can instill some sense in the ruling class.

On 6September 1901, William McKinley became the third president of the United States to be assassinated.

He was shot by shy 28-year old former steel worker Leon Czolgosz inside the Temple of Music during the Pan-American Exposition in Buffalo, New York.

“Welcome President McKinley, Chief of our Nation and Our Empire,” were the welcoming words at the expo.

But anarchist Leon Czolgosz had planned to kill McKinley, who was six months into his second term.

Czolgosz had arrived in Buffalo a few days earlier and purchased a .32 calibre Iver Johnson revolver - the same type of weapon that another anarchist had used to assassinate Italian King Umberto I the previous summer.

He waited in the front line with other people inside the Temple of Music to meet and shake the president’s hand.

When McKinley reached out to shake his hands, Czolgosz shot him twice, the revolver wrapped in a white handkerchief.

“It was in my heart; there was no escape for me,” Czolgosz later said. “All those people seemed bowing to the great ruler. I made up my mind to kill that ruler.”

On 29 October 1901, Czolgosz was executed in the electric chair at New York’s Auburn Prison.

“I killed the president for the good of the labouring people, the good people,” he said in the moments before the sentence was carried out. “I am not sorry for my crime.”

What is the significance of this story in today’s PNG where so called ‘die hard supporters’ who hide behind fake names heap praise on certain leaders by giving them all sorts of uncanny titles like King, Queen, Chief, Leader, One and Only ..?

The rural masses may be ignorant but the educated few living in the cities can no longer be fooled.

Our leaders must not shout ‘prosperity’ and water down important issues while they are secretly involved in corrupt deals to enrich themselves and their cronies.

Who can dare say history cannot repeat itself?


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Albert Schram

Accepting extractive, corrupted State institutions which benefit only a predatory elite means keeping the whole population hostage in an endless cycle of poverty, ignorance, disease and violence. Make no mistake accepting the Chinese development model, means to do away with all democratic niceties and individual rights. Eventually, this predatory elite will be hated by the population at large.

Today, it is disappointing that no serious effort is being made to protect constitutional rights and those essential institutions for an open, free and democratic society, such as a free press, independent universities, an independent judiciary and police, etc. PNG inherited these institutions from the colonial times, but then failed to exhibit collectively the behavior required to sustain a democratic society.

Making inclusive, democratic institutions function in PNG was never going to be easy. Let's hope, politically motivated murders won't be necessary.

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