A NATION IN SERIOUS LEADERSHIP CRISIS.
1. LEADERSHIP AND THE SOCIAL MEDIA
The nation of Papua New Guinea is in a very serious Leadership crisis right now. Most people do not even know it. This crisis is long in the making. It started some ten years after Independence, and it has been long in coming. But it is here now, and it has found us. We cannot talk about leadership crisis without talking about economic mismanagement, and corruption. Typically, economic crises in third world countries are invariably symbiotic and symptomatic of a leadership crisis. This nation is at such as a crisis point economically, that it has now precipitated in serious cash flow problems never seen before. We cannot afford toilet paper at Vulupindi Haus! Everyone in the know is just pretending, but the reality of our economy is very frightening. We simply have no money. And this all started from the quality of leadership we have had, being the managers and drivers of our economy, since Independence.
In such times, with the deadly C19 virus at our doorsteps, the focus of every nation’s hopes naturally turn to their Leaders. And what are our Leaders doing today? They are all singing from different song sheets. It has been the circus of all circuses, with the tenors singing soprano and the bass singing out of tune, whereupon it is difficult to decipher who is saying what, and who should be doing what. The pandemic has caused pandemonium in government and on social media.
It is certainly a gift most enviable, if one can have the discernment to tell truth from lies, good from evil, light from darkness, mediocrity from the sublime, noble from the ignoble, and true virtue from debased forms of character and conduct. The task is made all the more difficult because the protagonists and antagonists of social media have marketed themselves so well in the public sphere that we have limited ourselves to judge by what leaders say or write on the key boards, than what they are really like, and who they are, as people straight up. In particular, in cases of a pandemic
like the C19 virus, we see so much raw talent exposed, going different directions, with Provinces all doing whatever they please, with no legal right or power to curtail basic rights and freedoms of people. What a circus!
The limitations of social media means that we don’t really see the national leaders of this nation as the adulterous womanizing conniving thieving duplicitous wretched and tormented souls that they really are in true life. We see only what they allow us to see, which is entertaining enough as a
right royal circus playing itself out, with its many glaring WTF moments. And you sometimes wonder whether they are leaders of a young vibrant nation, or clowns in a Parisian circus.
Some of the leaders are in dysfunctional family relationships, others are involving in more depraved orgies of every carnal pleasures imaginable that money can buy. They are constantly in every conceivable moral quagmire of their own making, to which they devote so much of their time and energies, when they should be focused on running a nation and its economy. You will quickly note which leader is involved in such when you see them texting, face booking, flicking through or just playing with their mobile phones during very important public engagements. Sprung!
Now you may not want to hear this as being the truth about the people you adore and admire, but its best to tell the truth than color it so as not to offend. I am way beyond that, and I will write the truth, because I can’t stand it any longer when, as now, the lives of eight million people are at stake. Still others are quietly running private security companies and other big businesses, all the while pretending to be full time salaried leaders of this nation and paying scant attention, or lip service, to the plight of this nation. They use their positions to direct government contracts and opportunities to their own companies, thus depriving the citizens of this country the opportunity to participate in the economy. And this, they call power. In reality, they are simply abusing their offices and the trust of
Only a few Ministers and Leaders are honest, honorable and upright. Most are in the pockets of those industries they have responsibility under their portfolios to manage or regulate.
Some are pretending to be Church elders and use the name of God and the church at every corner and turn as if they have a monopoly over God. They come out on social media and other forums offering themselves to save this nation, when they cannot even save or serve their own households. They lead duplicitous lives cheating on their wives and children, with extra-marital affairs, upon affairs, rip other men of their wives, break up families, and consider it acceptable behavior. This, again, they believe, is a natural extension of their being in power.
And of course we, the audience, are sucked in by their eloquent incantations and held spell bound by their logical deductive and inductive reasoning processes and the conclusions they draw to wage the war of the good against the bad, like in a Hollywood screen play. We are held enthralled, and at the same time comforted, and even somewhat vicariously gratified that we are part of these good guys, and are soothed to the core of our souls with their honey scented and chocolate coated words. We post our unrestrained likes, thumps up, and some even send red hearts to them, and we look forward to their next instalment like a pack of hounds, or thirsty throngs baying for the blood of gladiators in colossal combat.
And there we go, round and round on a merry go round on every issue that has come up. If you look deeply enough, you will have to admit that social media has insidiously played a very important role to both educate, and unbeknown to most, successfully waylay us.
Today Papua New Guinea is suffering from a malaise of leadership, or lack thereof. This has reached crisis point. With or without the C19 Virus, we are almost done economically. If we are not careful we are already half way into a watery grave, and in a country rife with apathy, no one will complain or scream! As appears to be the cultural norm, we morph around every crisis, or every death, accept it or find some plausible explanation for it, mourn and bury the dead with long speeches, and move on with life.
But just humor me for a minute. Hypothetically, if we have several cases of C19 in several Provinces in the country, I am afraid this country is going down. It will go down because our government today does not have the money to buy basic things like face masks and hand gloves for our health workers,
let alone mobilize large medical teams, isolate patients in large numbers, conduct proper medical protocols, and purchase pharmaceuticals necessary to fight this virus. That, I am afraid, is the simple and naked truth!
It will be like, sorry the virus killed your baby, or your parents and the government is doing all it could, but, sori tumas ya!
No one asks questions. And no one will ask questions about who stuffed up the economy of this nation. No one will enquire or hold anyone responsible for how we ran out of money. No one will ask who made what decisions concerning the wealth and value of our resources and how did we, so rich a nation, end up in this impecunious squalor? There won’t be a trial. There won’t be any public hangings. There won’t be a firing squad. We will just die silently.
The flipside of this Leadership malaise is that, Papua New Guinea society, in our contemporary embrace of all things modern, and our haste to be a “me too” on the information superhighway of globalism make, have become numbed to the gravity of glaring crimes against the nation by our leaders. We have accepted corrupt decisions of our leaders. We have accepted negligent decisions of our leaders. We have accepted the resulting poverty, lack of proper health care and proper education, and other societal inequities and disparities as the norm. We have become an unfeeling and eerily silent society, wrought by the deadly virus of apathy and complacency in the stark face of corruption and economic mismanagement by our leaders, corruption of public offices, social injustice, inequitable treatment of people, inequitable diversion of resources for improper purposes etc. We have become a deaf, dumb and blind people.
I write because I have had enough. As a citizen of this beautiful country I have seen the hopes, aspirations and dreams of many Papua New Guineans crushed by the weight of plainly stupid and corrupt decisions, and inept and incompetent leadership at Ministerial levels. I have seen the excitement energy and inertia for a exciting united Papua New Guinea die an unnatural death. I have seen what happens when governments do not heed the call of the people, as happened in Bougainville (and could happen again in Hela, Southern Highlands or Enga). I have seen enough of what this country has been reduced to by its leaders in the last 30 years or so.I also write because I am concerned for our children and what future they will have if we continue to accept this narrow and bleak future we are told is our lot by our leaders, and made to feel we have to accept this, and
live with it.
WELL, ON BEHALF OF EIGHT MILLION PEOPLE OF THIS BEAUTIFUL NATION, I HAVE
THIS TO SAY TO THE LIKES OF JAMES MARAPE, AND EVERY OTHER POLITICIAN, INCLUDING THE SUCCESSIVE PRIME MINISTERS OF THE LAST 30 YEARS….THE STATE OF THIS NATION, AND ITS FUTURE PROSPECTS THAT YOU HAVE CREATED IS NOT GOOD ENOUGH, AND IS ABSOLUTELY UNACCEPTABLE.
2. LEADERSHIP AND THE NATIONAL GOALS AND DIRECTIVE PRINCIPLES
May I draw the attention of every citizen to the National Goals and Directive Principles (NGDPs) under the Constitution that the fathers of this nation envisaged for us, and the type of society that they could see possible for every citizen of this country to live work and raise their families. It contains the blue print for a successful Melanesian State to assert itself, develop and emancipate its people, to find their place among the great fraternity of nations. In so doing we are provided in the NGDPs the necessary impetus to develop as a healthy nation buoyed by our great resources to contribute meaningfully to international debates and causes beyond our national boundaries, and become true citizens of the world, instead of cowering and apologizing our way through, as we do now.
We have nothing to be ashamed about or apologize for. Has God made a mistake in creating Papua New Guineans, or placing us on this beautiful Island of abundance? Or are we just an aberration, like a pimple or scar upon the very arse of this universe that we should always cower in shame because some immature and half-baked politician did or said something unthinkable, or sold us out once again for his personal gain? I respond a resounding “no” to both questions. And I apologize to no one for being born a Papua New Guinean. I thank God almighty for the great honor and privilege.
The NGDPs are a set of guidelines for our leaders to always adhere to, to create a healthy progressive society for all citizens to find their place and contribute meaningfully in building a strong nation. It provides the litmus test and philosophical framework for all laws, policies, major government decisions, major economic impact projects, and how to treat or approach new opportunities and investments by government and government institutions, for the benefit and betterment and good government of this nation.
The NGDPs were drawn up by men who were not adulterated or profanely compromised by the love of money or material wealth. The noble principles enshrined in our constitution were drawn by men who were wise, and who had an idea what will become of this nation, if its leadership was not provided some timeless guiding principles to guide their conduct and thinking in decision making.
Rather than restating the NGDPs in this article, I would encourage every citizen of this beautiful nation to get on the internet and look up the Constitution of the Independent State of Papua New Guinea, as I have done this week. And having done so, I realized how far we have strayed as a
nation, and in particular how far the leadership of this nation has strayed from what is true, right, noble, upright, honest, fair and dignifying of every citizen, and for this nation.
It is a grave mistake that successive Prime Ministers have made in failing to take into account the NGDPs in their governmental decision making process. This failure has landed us right where we are today, economically.
3. LEADERSHIP AND THE EXAMPLE OF BERNARD MULLUL NARAKOBI
Let me harken this nation to just one of many examples of good leaders this nation has produced. He is a man who had a major input in drafting the NGDPs. Bernard Mullul Narakobi may have had his faults and foibles, as all humanity do, but in his essential person and character, as a lawyer, jurist, diplomat, Christian, father, grandfather, and leader of this nation, he sought to live the very principles of absolute honesty, humility, love and unselfishness. Sir Frank Buchman of the Ox-Bridge Club,
who founded the Moral Re-Armament Army in 1938 would have been proud of our Bernard. These are principles Bernard embraced as a young Catholic, and advocated all throughout his life, both as a lawyer and a leader. His compassion and higher sense of justice led him to offer his legal services
for our people saddled with insurmountable injustices, sometimes for very little or no monetary reward. In the result, he never garnered great personal material wealth, but nevertheless remains a shining example of what true leadership is about for this nation.
I recall that this man’s greatness was in his simplicity. His heart was for the people of this nation. He served his various posts as member of the Constitutional Planning Committee, Member of Parliament, Leader of a Political Party, Judge of National Court, High Commissioner, Chairman of
various committees, Chairman of Law Reform Commission, Private Lawyer, family man, (etc…) with great fear and trembling for the honor that the people of this nation had bestowed upon him. Whenever he argued in court or in Parliament, it was for what was right, what was true and what was
noble. He never strayed from his Catholic Christian principles, and he had genuine love for the common man, the village people, the mamas and papas throughout this country, and the buai sellers (Oh yes, the buai sellers, they were his best friends, because he was a very accomplished chewer).
Many people did not understand why this legal eagle, the first PNG graduate of Sydney University Law School, a resident of St Paul’s College, always had buai stained lips whenever he addressed a public gathering. Somehow I think Bernard Mullul Narakobi, this mammoth incisive legal brain, one of the finest this nation has ever produced, in his own mind, kept the buai as his way of keeping his feet on the ground, and to stay true to the timeless principle of our Melanesian forefathers, and to stay true to himself. For all his years in public life, I never saw him drive a V8 Land Cruiser, or wear Armani suits, or buy properties in Australia and other parts of the world. He never drove a fancy car in Port Moresby. For many years he drove an old blue van (I am sure his family will correct me on this). He drove his children to and from school in that blue van, and he went to work in that same van.
He never allowed material things to define his greatness. His greatness was about being true, to himself and his fellow man, before God, and the universe. This is the man who had a huge hand in designing the NGDPs, and the Leadership Code provisions of the Constitution.
Bernard Narakobi was a true Leader and one of the unsung heroes of this nation, one of our national treasures of whom test books, examining his life and principles, ought to be written about. Every Leader of this nation should read about Bernard Mullul Narakobi and what principles guided and
drove this humble and gracious Leader, and architect of our Constitution. For he epitomizes what leadership is about in modern PNG politics, as well as in contemporary society, at home, and as a father. I certainly salute this man whom I was privileged to have met his acquaintance. He always came across as a gracious congenial friend and older brother, but clearly he was always much more than that.
When he passed on to higher service, a moving service was held at St Joseph’s Catholic Church at East Boroko. There was no pomp or ceremony. We all knew a great man and a great leader of this nation had just passed. The valuable contributions he made to this nation in the law, in Parliament are mostly there in the laws, the Constitution, the Law Reports, and the Parliamentary Hansard, for all to read. These, along with the family he raised, will always serve to remind us that here was once a great leader of extraordinary note. He left his wife and children with just one property, his small home in Gerehu, where he had raised his family, and very little money. But his wealth was not in a huge bank account or large portfolio of properties, or stock. His wealth was held in the timeless values and principles he instilled in our laws, and in his family and extended family, and those he came in contact with.
He gave the best of his intellectual wealth, wisdom, and the prowess of his youth in his prime as a lawyer, as a gift to us as a nation. Bernard Narakobi still speaks to this nation through the guiding principles he left behind for us. They ought to be compulsory reading and made into seminars, and made mandatory rite of passage for every national leader. These are the blue prints to guide every Prime Minister in the hardest and strategic economic decisions they have to make on dealing with the resources of this nation, on dealing with landowners, on the resources laws, on land, on forests, on fisheries and marine resources, on human resources and education, on provision of universal healthcare for our people, etc. It is all there in the NGDPs.
I write of Bernard Narakobi, and his work and his example, because frankly, the Leadership of this nation has lost its way. We have gotten ourselves drunk and lost in the excitement and euphoria of money, power and materialism. The love of (people’s) money, (people’s) power, (people’s) properties, and (people’s) opportunities has waylaid our Leadership. We are not unlike a rudderless ship cast upon the vagaries of political expediency and economic brinkmanship, putting at risk the very lives of our eight million people.
I also write because in this nation we hardly (or never) celebrate our national heroes, our great leaders, our great athletes etc. We are like a nation bereft of principles, or a notion of our own history, to guide us into a future that is unknown and uncertain. What can we hold on to that is like a beacon of light that can guide and show us the way, in these uncertain times, if we do not have the examples of our past leaders acting in sacrifice, nobility and integrity to follow? Thankfully, we can embrace
the NGDPs, the very principles of equity and fairness, greater participation, integral human development, fair distribution participation in politics and business, and development of natural resources, and the fine examples set by men like Bernard Narakobi.
For a nation that fails to embrace its origins, its heroes and its history, is lost, or likely to make the same mistakes over and over again. For without a past, there is no future.
4. LEADERSHIP AND PERSONAL INTEREST.
Leaders like Kondom Agaundo, Sir Tei Abal, Donatus Mola, John Poe, Bruce Jephcott, Kaibel Diria, John Guise, Thomas Kavali, Paul Pora, Oala Rarua, Josephine Abaijah, Paul Lapun, Mathias Toliman, Glaime Warena, Vincent Eri, Galewa Kwarara, Tim Ward, Albert Maori Kiki, Ebia Olewale, Michael Somare, Ron Neville, Pita Lus, Alkan Tololo, Gabriel Gris, Reuben Taureka, Matiabe Yuwi, to name but some, and later Ignatus Kilage and Bernard Narakobi, had all the opportunities to use their positions to line their pockets with public funds and public opportunities of the people of Papua New Guinea, but they didn’t.
They drew a very clear line between government money, public property, public opportunities, and private money, private property and private opportunities. They stayed clear of touching what belonged to the people of Papua New Guinea. They were an honest and upright group of leaders.
Have you ever wondered why they were honest and upright? It is not that they had lesser or no desire for personal gain. It is not that they had lesser or no need for money or material wealth. It is not that they did not know how to spend money or enjoy life. It is not that they were extraordinary saints sent down from heaven. [Mind you, one or two did try to misappropriate public funds, and they ended up being guests of the Queen at Bomana and various other places courtesy of the Ombudsman Commission.] So it is not an issue about those Leaders being total saints, or plebs at stealing public funds, or making decisions that would result in feathering their own nests.
What is it that actually caused our earlier Independence leaders to take their positions seriously as custodians of public moneys, public property and public opportunities of our people? Why were they honest, upright or of higher moral integrity, than the current crop of political leaders at National as well as all other levels of government?
The reasons for the proliferation of corruption, dishonesty, abuse of public office, making decisions for the wrong reasons, breakdown of law and order, and disintegration of discipline in law enforcement agencies, etc, may be manifold. It is easy to be dismissive of other people’s opinions, or
other world views, but it is not always easy to actually pin point the epicenter of what really went wrong since the time of these leaders. The reason for their honest service to the people had something to do with who they perceived themselves to be, and their roles, as leaders of that time. As leaders they had clear, innocent and unadulterated hearts to serve the people.
I would like to advance the view that the highest point in this country’s sense of self and national consciousness was at Independence. That was also the highest pinnacle of hope for every Papua New Guinean for a new, fair and equal society with a bright future for everyone, whether you were
Highlander, Tolai, Sepik, Bougainvillean or Kerema. We were all Papua New Guineans, we all had a bright future because this was our very own country. At Independence, the air was so thick with nationalism you could almost slice it with a butter knife. We had high hopes of a bright and beautiful Papua New Guinea for all of us, and our children. Our leaders were the embodiment of our highest hopes and aspirations for a bright future.
God was certainly there at the Sir Hubert Murray Stadium as the new Red Black and Gold flag of our nation was raised. We went from God save our gracious Queen, to O Arise all ye sons of this land! As we lowered the Union Jack many people wept openly, tears of trepidation mingled with that of great hope for a brighter future. And as our new flag was raised, shouts of jubilation went up like a roar of thunder! It was euphoric! Even Prince Charles shed a tear or two.
Similar flag raising Independence celebrations took place all over the country.
It was our Constitution that birthed our nation at Independence. We are therefore a constitutional democracy, as opposed to a parliamentary democracy. Narakobi, in particular, being a key member of our Constitutional Planning Committee, travelled the length and breadth of this country and consulted village people, village leaders, business leaders and civic society in every town of this country in long public meetings. The Committee provided two main Reports, which distilled the will desires hopes
and aspirations of our people, based on which the Constitution of our country was debated, drafted, self-promulgated, and thereby birthed our nation. The people’s hopes, aspirations and fears were crystalized in the NGDPs.
5. LEADERSHIP AND THE FUNCTION OF NGDPs
The Constitution itself is a work of art. It is unlike any other Constitution of the World. It is very unique in many respects; suffice to say that it has a Bill of Rights enshrined in it which gives it a
Jeffersonian resonance. What will not fail to catch any reader’s eyes is the National Goals and Directive Principles. One thing I point out is that you cannot take a leader to court and jail them because they failed to comply with the NGDPs. If we cannot enforce these principles why did they
bother to put them in at all?
The answer is very simple: The NGDPs are there to guide our Leaders and public servants to plan properly the affairs of the nation, to weigh and obtain best qualitative outcomes for our nation when negotiating large resource and economic impact projects, when they are faced with difficult decisions to make, and do not know which way to turn, or they are faced
with competing interests and do not know which to uphold.
You see our Independence and post-Independence Leaders were not saints. They were not born so high minded and deficient of self-interest. They were as human as any of our current crop of leaders and civil servants. The difference is that they took the NGDPs very seriously. They were aware that
by the Constitution we have made a social contract or a sacred pact, as it were, to be one people, one country and one nation. As such they were careful of their role, and, so as not to steal from the people who had placed their sacred trust in them.
At that time, in September 1975, we had only a handful of University graduates, if that. We had no more than 5 law graduates, 5 medical doctors (qualified out of Fiji), no accountants, no pilots, no mid management type professionals. Most of our people were clerks, and plantation laborers. Our Leaders at that time realized that they had a very under developed country of 97% illiterate population living in rural areas to run. They had little by way of resources and skilled man power, and they had to be accountable for every kina and toea. As such they acquitted every ILPOC, Purchase Order, and expenditure, with invoices and receipts. These leaders realized that they had to be absolutely honest if they were to run the affairs of this nation and fulfill the hopes and aspirations of our people. Above all else, they loved our people, and they cared for them. To be honest, act with integrity and possess a clear conscience, was a matter of honor, as opposed to obligation.
To guide themselves as well as those who come after them, the fathers and architects of our Independence inserted the NGDPs in the front of the Constitution so that every other Clause or Section of the Constitution must be read in the full flavor and contextual aroma of the NGDPs.
The NGDPs are the basis on which both NEC and Parliament ought to be holding debates, whether a resource development proposal is consistent or augers well with these guiding principles or not. We ought to be asking ourselves as public servants whether a major project or aspects of its
operations are in line (or out of line) with our guiding principles. Our current Leaders ought to be standing up and be in there fighting for our rights and our interest as per the foundational guiding principles of this nation.
It seems that what has happened in the last 30 or so years is that we as a nation have been walking away from the NGDPs. It’s like the further you go from the sun, the colder it gets. Our Leaders have certainly progressively walked away from the NGDPs, and lost their way. Successive subsequent
Leaders have based their decision making on self-interest more than our national interest (of everybody) as provided in the NGDPs. That is the difference between the two distinct classes of national leaders of immediate pre- and post-Independence years and say leaders since the mid-1980s to date.
The turn away from the NGDPs led to a downward economic slide which began during the reigns of Paias Wingti and Sir Julius Chan as Prime Ministers, when they enigmatically failed to secure any equity participation for this country in the Porgera, Lihir and Misima gold mines. They also enigmatically overlooked suporting Monticello (a company owned by Papua New Guinean entrepreneurs) who bid to build and own the strategic pipeline for Chevron’s crude oil to the Kumul Terminal. They also enigmatically failed to secure equity participation in PDL (Hides), and floated our currency.
6. LEADERSHIP AND THE ADVENT OF CORRUPTION
The other factor to bear in mind is that going toward the mid-1980s we were seeing more and more university graduate leaders emerging in Parliament. Gone were the village Chief type leaders, Kiaps, Patrol Officers and school teachers of the 1960s, 1970s and early 1980s era. It was a period of rapid
change in the political landscape. We began witnessing clever debates and a higher level of smartness, and political savviness at play. The increased level of knowledge and confidence came with its own pitfalls of slyness and an eye to private interest instead of public interest.
It was at this time that the Malaysian Timber Companies from places like Sarawak entered the scene, along with Asian Fishing companies, and they brought their own culture of doing business. That culture was to corrupt the political leaders personally so that decisions can be made (not in the
national interest) but in the interests of these Asian businessmen. At the heels of the Timber merchants and Fishing companies came the new Asian traders, who would live on one bowl of rice and a chicken wing (with plenty of sauce) to gain the whole world and run the more established businesses out of town.
Thus, we began our national slide on this slippery slope into the abyss of corruption. The nation lost its age of innocence. Several Commissions of Inquiry were held into the Timber Industry and Aviation Companies that revealed the early seeds of corruption and rot had already set in.
Today, much of State land in Port Moresby is in the hands of Asian businessmen. How they gained these ahead of citizens of this country is something numerous successive Lands Ministers, Land Board Chairmen, and Lands Department Secretaries and Senior Lands Officers need to explain.
How many tracks of large forest areas of this country is tied up with one or two major companies in terms of logging permits and licenses is something various successive Prime Ministers, Forest Ministers, Managing Directors of National Forest Authority, Chairmen of NFA Board, need to
explain to this nation, the criteria used to assess those applications and if those check lists were consistent with the KPIs inherent in the NGDPs.
Similarly for the Fishing Industry, the decisions made by Political and bureaucratic Leaders have resulted in more fish and marine resources going out or unaccounted for in this country.
This nation is a very rich nation with natural resources unlike any country in the world. There are only a few countries in the world that would rival Papua New Guinea in natural beauty and natural resources. No country of similar land mass in Africa, Europe or Asia is as rich as Papua New Guinea. Only the Provinces of Papua and West Papua, on the other side of our own landmass, may rival us.
We are the luckiest people in the world, with some of the largest gold, copper, oil and gas, timber and fisheries projects in the world, and yet we are the poorest. We are a living contradiction.
How did we become a living contradiction? The answer lies in poor decision making, poor choices, and mismanagement by successive Prime Ministers, Ministers, and top public servants since the mid-1980s. Put simply, poor leadership.
We therefore have a leadership crisis in this country that is long in making. We have not had honest leadership of high integrity in this country for a long time since we lost our age of innocence. The results are now telling upon this nation. Our mistakes have caught up with us.
The Australians tried to keep things on the table and above board and tried to insist that decisions were to be made according to the rule of law through institutional strengthening programs. At least the rule of law, with open and transparent rules provide a level playing field in a nation for everyone to do business and earn a living. However they too realized that they could not compete with the aggressive under the table dealings of Asian businessmen corrupting our leaders directly.
Even the Queen’s own Steamships Trading Company, for instance, could not remain in the retail business because small Asian Traders were bringing in their container of goods at under declared values and paying less (or not paying) import duty on them. Some of Steamships containers periodically got cleared but never arrived at their warehouse. They realized they couldn’t win so they got out of the business. And so we saw a change in our towns where the civic society (of RSL, Lions, Rotary and Apex Club) minded persons leaving, replaced by hawkers of cheap merchandise of Asian
factories dumped on us, with streets littered with garbage and no interest in participating or building a civic society for a better Papua New Guinea.
While their numbers increased in our cities, towns and rural areas, so have their acumen and morals for doing business, dispossessing our people of every opportunity in their own lands. They are more self-funded and financially more organized, single minded in pursuit of profit, which leaves our people little or no room to move or breath, always eyeing our resources as a quick money making opportunity for them, from sea cucumber to eagle wood, to name but few. Even the Commercial banks have joined the band wagon and bank rolling them to further displace us from our own streets and suburbs.
7. LEADERSHIP: A NEW HONEST, SAVVY AND COMPASSIONATE BRAND IS NEEDED
The Leadership crisis we have is serious because almost all our major political party leaders and major political parties are supported by Asian businessmen and the Logging Industry. They use our logs and resources to further embed and ingrain themselves into the very fabric of our economy,
to the prejudice of our people’s future. From our timber they build shopping malls and luxury hotels, and even charge us for parking our cars in their car park, when we have gone there to spend our money on their very own super market and shops. We have been effectively disenfranchised, with
the long held Reserve Businesses for citizens only under the old NIDA rules, thrown out the window by politicians collecting graft and protection money from Asians.
With the rise of China as a super power, the level of geopolitical pulls and stresses upon this nation is telling. Look no further than what happened at APEC. At APEC we saw clearly how very real the power struggle is in our region for control by the super powers.
Today, this nation needs Leadership that is of very high personal integrity, upholding highest moral principles, of honesty, with a clear vision that is consistent with the NGDPs on how to mobilize the government machinery and direct this nation back to economic prosperity. We need educated savvy leadership, and by that I don’t mean a long meaningless string of initials of MBAs or PhDs behind a name. I also don’t mean key board warrior types who love the sound of their own voices. We need the honesty and integrity of our pre-and immediate post-Independence Leaders.
We are Pacific people, but we are also Asian people, with our landmass provides us a unique foothold and connectivity to the tiger economies of Asia. We need compassionate clever leadership to mobilize our resources and our people to propel us forward to be at par, at least, in terms of the UN
Millennium Goals, with those economies of our Asian neighbors. Our Asian neighbors doing business in this country are only able to do so because we allow them. They are also human, and they need to be controlled and directed where to sensibly invest their money to earn a fair return.
Properly cultivated and controlled by effective regulation, they may open doors for our shared economic prosperity, provided we control their propensity for corrupting our leaders and bureaucratic decision makers. Our people need to be given back the Reserve Business list under IPA for them to work and survive in their own country.
Our Leaders must stop the corruption of their positions. They must respect themselves and place a high value on the lives of the eight million people of this country, and on the offices they occupy like the early Independence Leaders did. I am sick and tired of Public servants asking for cash to do
what they are paid to do. Those public servants should be reported and dismissed summarily. Any Leader asking for bribes should be reported, shamed, jailed and dismissed in a summary manner. Laws must be passed to summarily dismiss Leaders and public servants involved in graft. Let them go to court and prove their innocence, and prove how they amassed the wealth they hold.
8. LEADERSHIP BY THE PEOPLE: AFFIRMATIVE ACTION NEEDED AGAINST CORRUPTION
The leadership (or lack thereof) of this nation has reached crisis point because the people have not stood up and held their leaders accountable. To start with we are to be blamed for electing bad quality people to Parliament who do not deserve the trust of the public. Our Leaders have also made wrong decisions for wrong reasons. Coupled with our Melanesian nature of apathy and complacency, we have given our leaders an open cheque book to run all the way to the bank. We know something is wrong and we can see it but we do not care enough to stand up and speak out as a people.
The other reason why this cancer of corruption and mismanagement has set in to derail our leaders is because the Church has not spoken up and held up the standards (of moral) conduct and values acceptable in a Christian country. The churches have, by their silence, or compromise, failed their
important role of upholding the Christian standards acceptable in leadership. Gone are the booming voices of Catholic Arch Bishops and Rev Sioni Kami, who were not afraid to rule a line in the sand and demand the executive leadership to choose which side of the line they chose to stay on.
The Seventh Day Adventist Church has a disproportionate number of leaders in senior positions in Parliament, but it too has failed to censure its church member leaders and bring them into line with proper biblical codes of moral conduct. Somehow it has allowed itself to be compromised and corrupted by the contemporary politics of money, power and materialism. Like Aaron these leaders have been led aside by the popular voices of social media to make of themselves molten substitutes for the truth, thus, sliding down Horeb’s quick sands of debauchery and relativity. The purity
of the gospel has been all but sadly cast in the rubbish bin by Adventists who have unfortunately chosen power, personalities and politics over the God who brought His people out of Egypt, and His timeless principles.
We cannot now blame anyone else, even Asians or Australians or other foreigners for the parlous state of our national leadership and our nation. We have become both morally and financially bankrupt of our own making.
To address this, and to start a new journey back to where we started, to where we took the wrong turn, we need to as Papua New Guineans begin a serious conversation of introspection, self-correction and discipline. This must happen both at individual levels, as well as community of people in churches and various groupings. Individuals speaking out the truth have been put at risk of their lives. Churches must bear the burden of the people, hold up the light of the gospel of truth and must lead the way without fear or favor.
Can we all as Papua New Guineans now unite to say no to shameful acts of corruption and duplicity, of ourselves and our leaders? And can we public servants perform our salaried functions without asking or expecting anything in return? Can the Policeman do his job without asking for reward? Oh please stop, in the middle of performing your job, to tell your customer about your personal financial crisis, or the death of your mother in-law. That has nothing to do with performing your job, or the person you are serving, for goodness sake!
We must take a strong stand on corruption that sells our national interest out and cheats us and our children of a brighter future. Each and every one of us now must allow the leader in us to arise. This is called Leadership by the people. The MPs are only leaders because we gave them our leadership
power. Now we need to exercise that same power of choice to take leadership on affirmative action against corruption in this country.
As a nation we have been far too silent for far too long. If we needed to run out of money and have a deadly virus knocking on our front door to take affirmative action, then this is the moment, and so be it.
In this sense, our current leaders must clean their own respective back yards. Giving contracts to their own relatives, influencing oil and gas companies, DOW and others to give tax credit contracts to their own associated companies and friends must be discouraged as it smells like effluence. The little midnight raids of the national coffers must stop too. Department of Finance is not your fathers’ trade store my dear Prime Minister! Follow the Budget passed last November, as a sign of respect for
the Office you hold, and for the rest of us eight Million people.
James Marape’s foot prints must also sing the same tune as his words. He cannot afford to let his foot slip, whilst he speaks of higher moral principles and wants to take back this Black Country and make it a rich Christian nation. His words resonate of religious bigotry on one hand and drip with racism on the other. If he wants to be Prime Minister of this country for a little while longer, his body soul and spirit must function harmoniously as one. He cannot be two or three separate persons, or leave his body in some hotel room, while his mind is busy face booking during a State Dinner. To whom much is given, much is expected, and God is not blind.
Judging from the recent stunt with the Hela Landowners, waiting 3 full days at the stadium for him, while he played golf; Marape needs to go and read the NGDPs and let them guide and shape his mindset so he can deal properly and professionally with our people, their hopes, dreams and aspirations.
The whole Leadership of this nation needs to revisit the NGDPs and its relevance to the various offices and portfolios they hold. The NGDPs need to be reconciled with the MTDP and VISION 2050. This nation must not be allowed to keep sliding down the slippery slope into the abyss of
9. CONCLUSION: MARAPE MUST FIND SOME MONEY, AND FIND IT FAST.
AS PRIME MINISTER, JAMES MARAPE MUST FIND SOME MONEY FOR THIS NATION VERY QUICKLY. THE URGENCY OF THE NEED FOR GRANT TYPE FUNDS (as opposed to
onerous and capricious loans that Marape’s Treasurer keeps harping on about) IS ALREADY HERE, AS IS THE C19 VIRUS, KNOCKING ON OUR DOORS.
We have no money to fight this deadly virus in an internationally declared pandemic. Praying to God is not good enough, when God already created us and placed us in a resource rich paradise! Surely there is a point of difference in theology between Gods responsibility, and mankind’s response,
which some theologian needs to expound to enlighten our leaders. Nero must stop his fiddling at some point in time, if he is to stop Rome burning to ashes. Must Marape be reminded of the desperately plaintiff voices on a boat in peril calling out, “Master, Master, carest thou not that we drown?”
Marape must take some responsibility for management of this country’s economy for the last 10 years, when he has served as Finance Minister under O’Neill and as of last May as Prime Minister. In his other capacities he was also member of the Ministerial Economic Committee, as well as Leader of Government business in Parliament under Somare, and O’Neill. Some of the seeds of disaster for this country’s economy leading up to the current financial crisis were sowed under his watch in above mentioned capacities. Certainly, the UBS deal was done under his watch as Finance Minister.
Today, while this deadly pandemic is breathing down this nation’s throat, Marape has to find the money, and find it like yesterday!
In these matters, we the people, cannot afford to take sides for sake of taking sides because a Leader is from our area or is a relative. That’s plain dumb and stupid. We also cannot afford to be apathetic or callous, or play parochial politics here. Every Papua New Guinean citizen must now stand up and demand of our leaders’ higher standards of honesty, integrity and principled decision making, guided by the NGDPs and the Constitution of all things. We have the NGDPs and the truth of the gospel to hold our leaders accountable, and we need to do it far more regularly than we have so far.
Our Leaders have for personal gain given so much away and we need to now start clawing our rights and opportunities back by holding them and public servants accountable, and report them to the Ombudsman, Police and ICAC, or expose them on social media. We need to take affirmative action now against our public enemy number one - corruption. We have to take our beautiful nation back by ourselves.