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Papua New Guinea desperately needs a new leader


TUMBY BAY - Australia desperately needs a new leader. Our core values have been eroded and demeaned by selfish ideologues over several decades now and we need to re-establish our beliefs in equality and a fair go for all.

Britain desperately needs a new leader. It has managed to back itself into a ridiculous impasse by trying to reimagine its future in terms of its past. Only a strong leader can extract it from the quagmire.

The United States of America desperately needs a new leader. It has managed to drag itself down to the level of a cheap and nasty reality television show compered by a complete idiot obsessed by hotels, golf courses and a humongous garden wall.

America needs a leader with intellect and imagination. Failing that even one that actually reads books would do.

When you think about it the whole world, except perhaps New Zealand, needs new leaders to take us into the future.

But, more than anywhere else, Papua New Guinea desperately needs a new leader. Over a short period of time it has become the plaything of a trumped up accountant who only knows how to do one thing - and that is to squeeze and pocket the last bit of profit out of everything he touches no matter what the consequences and who suffers in the process.

So what sort of leader does Papua New Guinea need? Is it a father figure like Nelson Mandela or a ruthless dictator like Fidel Castro or someone in between?

And where will it get such a leader, whichever way it decides to go?

A quick perusal of all likely candidates is decidedly uninspiring. So too is a survey of its previous leaders. There is not one there worth bringing back because the job they would face is simply too large.

And why is the job so difficult?

It is, of course, to re-invent the nation. To starting again and do much better than before.

It involves picking up the pieces of a shattered land and putting them back together again so they work for everyone and not just a few wantoks and cronies.

In the Mandela mould, it requires a person who is completely dedicated to the task with an unbreakable will to succeed. Someone who is completely unselfish and who will put others before himself or herself.

Someone who doesn’t care about their own personal circumstances and wealth but cares about the health and wellbeing of the children of the future. Someone who will build monuments of the mind rather than monuments of concrete and steel.

Most of all it requires someone of courage and vision who can see beyond the narrow prism of clan and tribe and actually think Papua New Guinea into becoming a real nation rather than one just in name only.

At the other end of the spectrum, in the Castro mould, it could be someone with ice water in their veins who would bend Papua New Guinea to their will no matter what damage that might inflict on its people.

Someone with a grand ideological scheme, who will be relentless and ruthless in achieving it. Someone unafraid of trampling rich and the poor to achieve the dream. Someone who would one day hold up their creation and say, “See what I have made, isn’t it great?” while not noticing the carnage lying about their feet.

Papua New Guinea is currently like a shattered beer bottle lying alongside the road amongst all the pipia and betel nut juice. Putting it back together seems impossible and so does finding someone who could do that let alone even thinking it is something worth doing.

How is it possible to find someone that eight million people and 800 disparate tribal and linguistic groups will recognise as a common hero or heroine. There has never been such a person in the past so why should there be one now?

But, then again, who would have imagined that a nondescript lawyer imprisoned by a brutal and racist government would rise up and lead his people into the future, as Nelson Mandela did.

Who would have imagined that a mere school teacher could stare down the most powerful nation on earth and still survive and prosper, as Fidel Castro did?

How do the people of Papua New Guinea not know that the person they so desperately need isn’t even now in one of the cities or towns or in the bush biding their time for the right moment to act?

Maybe he or she needs a signal.

Now might be a good time for that signal.


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Philip Fitzpatrick

For anyone interested, this is what Wikipedia says about Lee Kwan Yew:

"Lee's rule was criticised for curtailing civil liberties (media control and limits on public protests) and bringing libel suits against political opponents.

He argued that such disciplinary measures were necessary for political stability which, together with rule of law, were essential for economic progress, famously saying:

'Anybody who decides to take me on needs to put on knuckle-dusters.

"If you think you can hurt me more than I can hurt you, try. There is no other way you can govern a Chinese society."

Is this the sort of leader PNG needs?

And Bainimarama is notorious for cracking down on media freedom. "It is not unusual for Fiji to intimidate and imprison journalists," an Australian professor of political science said recently - KJ

Philip Fitzpatrick

It's interesting that you mention Lee Kwan Yew of Singapore and Frank Bainimarima of Fiji Peter.

As I understand it Lee Kwan Yew was and Frank Bainimarima still is a so-called strongman who doesn't tolerate opposition kindly. I think Lee Kwan Yew was probably more strident in this case than Frank Bainimarima.

I'm not knocking them for that reason and agree that their achievements, especially Lee Kwan Yew's, are considerable.

Whether they represent benevolent dictatorship or autocratic democracy is an interesting question.

Either way, what they represent is probably what PNG needs right now.

Peter Sandery

Phil, you fail to mention either the late Lee Kwan Yew of Singapore or Frank Bainimarima of Fiji as role models for leadership, neither of whom have received their due from the media in Australia and New Zealand but both of whom, in my opinion, have done more to democratise their countries than most others.

It is unfortunate that the latest Singaporean generation appear, somewhat like Australians, to have had it too good for too long and the Lee hallmark appears to have lost some of its lustre.

As regards PNG, as I have said before, I think it like Islam, will get nowhere in the modern world until it has its own grass roots Reformation which must in both cases be self-generated but guided by non traditional methods.

Lindsay F Bond

Governor Gary Juffa expressed opinion (7/8/2018): “Going by the trend since 1975 16 September, the philosophy of 5 weeks dring bia na kaiak lamb flaps na 5 years kisim taim will most likely prevail. We shall choose followers, spineless cowards, crooks and not a few imbeciles.”

Taking a look at “followers”, it is hard not to notice a 2018 item by Michael Kabuni which includes:

“DSIP/PSIP funds

"Initially designed as electoral discretionary funds in 1984, these funds reached their height in 2013. K10 million was allocated per year for each of the MPs representing one of the 89 open electorates/districts through the DSIP; K5 million per electorate for each provincial MP (through the PSIP); and K500,000 for each local-level government.

"The relevant legislation and guidelines governing these funds do not state the specific dates and amounts to be given to the respective MPs.

"The government has been accused of exploiting this vacuum by deliberately withholding the DSIP and PSIP funds belonging to parliamentarians in the opposition, while releasing the funds to MPs who support the government.

"For instance in August 2016, the governor for Oro Province, Gary Juffa, who was critical of the government’s decisions, claimed that the national government only released K1 million for Oro Province instead of K10 million (i.e., K5 million each for the two open electorates in Oro). Sam Basil, the MP for Bulolo District, Belden Namah, the MP for Vanimo Green, and others made similar claims.

"A month after Peter O’Neil formed government in 2017, Sam Basil led 12 other MPs from Pangu Pati to cross over to the government side. As Pangu joined the government, Basil explained this decision as being driven by his MPs’ need to be able access DSIP funds, which he claimed may have been denied had they stayed in opposition.”


While it is the prerogative of PNG Parliament to pass into law methods to give effect to distribution of funds for national development and community welfare, there has arisen particular critical disquiet and even rebuke, at the operational outcomes of DSIP.

For instance, as early as 30/10/2014,Governor Gary Juffa put it that: “This has suddenly exposed the Two Open Members who have been using their Joint District Planning and Budget Prioritization Committees as procurement authorities…which is illegal…the laws do not allow that…the JDPBPC is merely a committee to prioritize the disbursement of DSIP funds.”

A question is, has this distribution methodology settled into electoral acceptability, or nonchalance?

A next question is, apart from an actual “need to be able access DSIP funds”, and a societal imperative to be visibly and effectively handling the produce of ‘platform’ (namely funding), can PNG democracy yet function sufficiently on trust of distributions through Departments of the Public Service?

Question too arises from the Juffa observation, that if societal preponderance gives rise to numerous self-interested elected representatives, is it any wonder that the queue is stood long at the trough?

Nomah Mambi

True indeed.

Philip Fitzpatrick

It's a truly dispiriting thing to list all the despots, maniacs and bloodthirsty leaders in the world because there are so many of them. I thought of mentioning Mugabe but hopefully he's now gone for good.

I was talking about Trump in the context of Morrison and May rather than in the context of all the bad and barbarous leaders of the world. What I dislike about Trump is his ego, his dishonesty, his lying and his manipulation of dumb white voters. But you could say that of Morrison too I guess.

What's also dispiriting about Morrison, May and Trump is considering the alternatives, Shorten, Corbyn and Biden. It's all so depressing.

It will be interesting to watch Adern. People have put her on a very high pedestal and it's a long way to the ground. I hope she can hold up over the coming years.

I also thought about mentioning both Mekere Morauta and Brian Kramer but decided they are nowhere near even a tenth of a Mandela. It would be nice to think I'm wrong about Kramer, he seems to have great courage but it might need more than that.

Robert Wilson

Hello Phil, great article which I mostly agree with. However, lucky for us, we are free to disagree with each other on these pages without being censored or feel like we are in a war zone because we dare to differ.

That's true freedom of speech, something which is sadly looking to diminish in our society.

You have shown your intense dislike of Trump through strong rhetoric yet nary a word about the mass murderers, genocidal maniacs and horrendously corrupt leaders that abound. Trump is none of these!

The French and Canadian leaders also deserve mention for their efforts in virtue signaling leadership. Look what has happened to those great countries and New Zealand's Adern is following along in their path so I would not be singing her praises just yet.

Anyway, we all despair of what PNG has become but one new young member, Brian Kramer from Madang is worthy of some respect. Whether, however, he can stand up to the constant pressure remains to be seen.

Raymond Sigimet

An ideal leader for PNG would have to be a "man of the people". Suitably an orator who can inspire attitude change and positive action in the people.

He or she should be passionated and visionary enough to envision a national development path that is for the people and have the " big" bigman in the Haus and "liklik" bigman in the public service walk with that vision.

Two important traits of modern leaders who have changed the cause of history or created change in their country was that they were great orators and the people listened to them; and they were firm in their resolve to create a great nation whatever the cost.

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