By JOHN FOWKE
The published comments of foreign writers/journalists unknown in PNG may be annoying to many but are not worth wasting time upon. I refer in particular to the piece recently printed in the Australian Financial Review. Anything by, for instance, Rowan Callick or Sean Dorney, to mention two Australian journalists who have longstanding connections with PNG are worth considering. Others are to be ignored.
But more to the point, ol lain PNGBLOGS followers, there is, right now a glimmering of the start of a real discussion upon the need for, and the best form of, a reformed political structure for PNG. This discussion is starting to take place on the blogs of a number of erudite PNG'ans. The discussion may go on for long, but one hopes that it will build momentum and arrive at a logical conclusion where a much better, fairer, more culturally-aligned system of representation, execution and administration arises in PNG.
PNG is firmly set on the path of democracy because a democratic way of social management fits with what was here in centuries past. Very few regions indeed were headed by hereditary chiefdoms with any hint of despotic powers. Justice was rough and even lacking at times but the principles of fairness and open, free speech within the clans were at least an ideal within the social ethos. PNG is not a candidate for a dictatorship, although through the weaknesses of the party-based parliamentary system an isolated, enriched and manipulative class of influential people has arisen to a situation of political strength. Even these cannot be said to be a true hegemony, divided as they are by personal ambition and greed.
Some of you may be familiar with my own contributions in PNG's press upon the desirability of restructuring national representation based upon the local level councils. These being both accepted and familiar, and based absolutely within the heart of the nation's roots- within the clans which are basic blocks of this society's social structure. Their exclusion from the structure which grew from the transition from the Legislative Council of early colonial years to the House of Assembly and self-government was Australia's major sin in its largely-beneficent if paternalistic period of rule.
Among considerations being discussed today are those of regional, district or "asples" based representation rather than the unrealistic "party" concept, and the possible need for a "house of review" or a senate to review the decisions of the lower house or parliament.
Please keep your ears and eyes open on the development of this discussion, and join it or at least discuss it at home and at work and at church. For it is the beginning of a new era in the growth of a fair and progressive, free society.