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DO OUR LEADERS DESERVE US? OR DO WE DESERVE THEM?

by PAUL AMATIO

One of the greatest fears I have is whether my country is still MY country? Now why would someone like me, a 100% PNGean born and bred and as brown as can be think that? I wrote this piece using the backdrop of international politics and events as a possible picture of what can be happening in my country. While I am no expert in international politics, I am trained in information collation and analysis and evaluation and I have some experience in being able to put together information for evaluation purposes. I may not be 100% accurate but I believe I am not totally wrong.

My sources of information are open and easily accessible to anyone who can read from the news media, web sites, history and current affairs.

If one looks at recent history the new economic powers of India, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka and the ASEAN nations, these nations have followed the path of development taken by Western Countries. They had a moderate economy that was heavily dependent and reliant on external exports from the West. They then entered into a period of internal economic or political crisis. Many of these led to civil war or serious unrest. It is very highly probable that some (if not all) of these crisis’s were brought about with major input from external sources. One needs only look at Africa with all the divisions and factionalising were different interests were manipulated by either East or West to promote their own political or economic ends.

The Pacific region has the resources that the West and the East need.

And in order to gain those resources, situations could be manufactured or created which would lead to internal conflict which gives the excuse needed to come in as a force assisting the legitimate government in restoring order. Thereby legitimising their need to cement their position in the country in order to continuously reap the resources of the country while marginalising the nationals and maintaining the status quo of having a subservient native population that could be controlled through the barrel of a gun or through the use of out dated and draconian laws that would legitimise their position.

In PNG such a scenario is entirely feasible. However in my view, it is not practical. We do know that any powerful country will do whatever it can to ensure that its economic interests in a foreign country are protected (short of an invasion). And the easiest way of ensuring this is by having in place a government that is aligned to their interests. And if this means that looking the other way when human rights are trampled on, then so be it. If it means to ignore blatant breaches of the law, than that’s alright. If it means to condone wanton corruption and enrichment of the few at the expense of the majority, than that is fine too. After all, it is not as if these acts are hurting their citizens at home. The only people affected are a few natives sitting under coconut trees in a far off land nobody even knows exists.

The simplest and most economical and most effective way of getting what you need from another person is by paying for it. So in our case, the paying of money to the right people gets you what you want. Hence it is in the interest of the party needing the resource to have someone who is in a position of authority and who is willing to use (or abuse) that position to sell you the resource.

Hence maintaining a corrupt government is more beneficial to foreign interests that getting rid of it.

I have always been a firm believer that no country can advance or progress without The Rule of Law. It is an acknowledged fact that without the rule of law, there can be no development. No investment. No security. No safety. So what is the rule of law?

The rule of law

Quite simply the rule of law exists when all inhabitants of a community agree to the need for a set of rules and also agree to the mechanisms needed to ensure these rules are complied with as well as the accompanying punishments for infringements. In PNG, we inherited one of the best legal systems available with a clearly established system of internationally recognised laws. We started of quite well. Over the last 40 years since independence, we have permitted these legal systems to break down through many different ways. Primary among them being the refusal of politicians to do one or more of the following things:

1. Properly appropriate funds through the budget for all agencies that have a law enforcement responsibility

2. Enact new legislation to meet current requirements and make the laws both current and relevant.

3. Eliminate duplication of functions thereby allowing enforcement agencies to be able to clearly identify which infractions of the law come under them for investigation

4. Maintain their distance from the public service

Destroy the enforcement agencies of State

We have clearly seen that all the various arms of government that have been instituted prior to and after independence to ensure that this country runs under and in accordance with the rule of law have been compromised, weakened, diluted and/or wrecked. Many of them now exist as shadows of their former selves who cannot perform their functions! Some of these include:

1. Customs –
2. Internal Revenue Commission
3. Foreign Affairs
4. Department of labour
5. Police – Royal Papua New Guinea Constabulary
6. CS – Correctional Services of PNG
7. PNG Defence Forces
8. National Intelligence Organisation
9. Auditor General’s Department
10. State Solicitor
11. State Prosecutor
12. NICTA
And others.

Why have we the people allowed our governments (past and present) to do this to us? Simply because we were ignorant and didn’t know any better.

Without the appropriate agencies in place to enforce and maintain the rule of law, the rule of money and the maxim Might is Right take the centre stage. Which apparently is where PNG is right now.

Destroy education and you destroy the peoples’ ability to question you

We the people allowed our politicians to degrade and destroy our education agencies. Our universities are now among the lowest of the low in the world.

It is my personal belief that our political leaders and the heads of the various departments in PNG have allowed our country to deteriorate to this current level. They never stood up for the common benefit.

I believe that this is all a part of a grander scheme of things designed to keep the people ignorant and manipulative. For the example the current lies about why the country in in a financial mess because of “low commodity prices for our key exports”. Heard that before? Too many times from this government. Yet I wonder why the few who have received a good education under the old system, have continued to allow the State to continue to neglect funding to the very agencies that can enable a solid foundation for this country.
Sir Mekere Morauta only yesterday (01 May 2017) questioned where all the money from the LNG shipments have gone. It is a good and valid question which no-one in government o the public service has answered. I wonder when we will know the answer to it.

Almost every single politician and departmental head is sending their kids overseas for education. Yet they are unwilling to fight to fix our broken down education system. They prefer to enjoy the “free education” which does not even educate their children.

Almost everyone is crying about why the laws are not being enforced in all sectors of the country, yet they are not willing to see why the enforcers have been crippled and disabled and do something about it. They cannot even discuss it because they don’t understand it.

Inter-linked relationships

We must all wake up and see that everything in this nation, in any nation, is interlinked and interrelated.

A strong legal and law enforcement system allows for:

• a safe and secure environment to do business and invest
• ensues that those who would destroy this country through internal means like corruption, bribery and white collar crimes are apprehended and dealt with
• that all who are supposed to pay taxes do pay them and on time.

A strong and robust education system ensures that the local populace can understand and take control of their destiny.
A strong private sector ensures that those with the ability can be taken into the workforce to develop this country.

A strong internal infrastructure system ensures that all possible partners in economic development can contribute as much as possible to the nation.

None of our past governments have been able to deliver on each and every one of these above key requirements to social and economic independence for PNG.

As we approach the next General Elections, can we act as one PNG and get ourselves a government that deserves us or will we get one that we deserve beacuse of our own stupidity and short term greed?
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