Revolution: face of the new generation?
PNG national broadcast network revives

It's been 40 years of darkness for PNG

Dr Kristoffa Ninkama in South Simbu

Sir Michael Somare led PNG to self-government in 1973 and independence in 1975. Since then, he has served continuously in various capacities either as Prime Minister or Opposition leader for 40 years.

The question I would like to pose is: “Is PNG better off now than it was 40 years ago?” The simple answer is: “No.”

In the 40 years that Sir Michael has been in politics in PNG, the following occurred:

1. The people of PNG continued to rely on the infrastructure left behind by the Australian administration. Roads, bridges, administrative headquarters, schools and aid posts have fallen into disrepair. Successive governments failed to carry out infrastructure development projects. It is the Government’s fiduciary responsibility to maintain and continue infrastructure development. So for 40 years, roads, bridges, schools, health services, administrative buildings, transport and communications have fallen into ruins. Is this something to be proud of?

2. The general health and well-being of the people have steadily declined. Many Papua New Guineans are dying of preventable and treatable diseases and HIV/AIDS is threatening to decimate a generation. Malaria, TB and sexually transmitted diseases are on the rise as all the health centres and aid posts built in the colonial days are no longer functioning. The provincial and referral hospitals are grossly underfunded, understaffed, poorly equipped and lacking basic medicines. The health services are so primitive that PNG politicians have been flying to Australia with their families to seek medical treatment. So for 40 years, the people of PNG had been deprived of their very basic right to decent health services.

3. The education system in PNG has been on the downward spiral. Schools lack basic essentials like decent classrooms, chairs, desks, library books, audio-visual aids, books, pencils and other essential learning aids to give a child an opportunity and a fighting chance to attain a decent start to attaining knowledge and literacy. The majority of school-aged children are not attending schools and the literacy levels of the average Papua New Guinean is on the decline.

4. The citizens of PNG are resorting to cargo cultism, sorcery, sanguma, etc, because the level of ignorance in our societies is on the increase. An ignorant society spells disaster for a nation.

5, Law and order problems are escalating. Port Moresby is a virtual prison. The citizens of PNG’s major towns live in constant fear of something awful happening to them. Can you imagine living in fear in your own house in your own country every day of your life?

6. For 40 years, successive politicians and their families have done very well for themselves at the expense of the people they represent. Our politicians can afford to own expensive vehicles, buy properties in Australia, educate their kids in private schools and overseas, seek private hospital treatment overseas, etc. Are all these possible from a mere politician’s salary?

7. More than 85% of the people are struggling on a daily basis with malnutrition; hook worm infestation, rotting teeth, swollen tummies, chronic malaria infestation, unclean water sources, no access to decent health services, roads, bridges, communications, electricity, etc. These basic services had been denied to our own people.

8. Government institutions are failing at an alarming rate and millions of dollars have been swindled from the Finance Department under Sir Michael’s watch. Yet, he has remained quiet.

9. I am sick and tired of hearing our politicians say PNG is a rich country. I have not seen one toea of these proclaimed riches filtering to my people in the villages. Is this something to be proud of?

Oh, the poor Engans. All those cassowaries and pigs ready to be slaughtered to celebrate 40 years of what?

Forty years of being in the dark ages?

Source: PNG National, 10 March 2009


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Bob Curtis

I support the statements of Messrs Huggins and Wilkinson and agree that we can't afford to be seen to support violent radicalism, although on the face of it we support rampant corruption by continuing to fund it.
To me the whole issue is a terrible tragedy and I can see no resolution because any solution must come from within. I surveyed the site for the Pindiu Airstrip in 1954 and often flew into it with Crowley Airways 10 years later. I was led to believe that a system of roads through the Hube later opened the area up to economic development, and to see this system collapse makes my heart ache.
I have no doubt that poor Government is the cause of the problems, and I sense that it will be the young educated now emerging on the scene who will bring about change. Unfortunately the message left by Gelab will probably predict the immediate future, and the Australian Government will be caught between a rock and a hard place. If we continue to support The Somare regime where will we stand with the New Order?

Colin Huggins

Mr Johnston - Normally I would not belittle myself responding to what you have written. Only friends refer to me as "Huggie and you are not in that category! So it's Mr Huggins from you. Mr Oates can answer for himself - which I am sure he will do.

Yes, it is a mess - why make it a bigger mess for you to gain some satisfaction? I know from previous students of mine - sister and brother. The sister, now an Australian citizen, lives north of Cairns. The brother, highly qualified, lives in Manakato, Minnesota, and is now a US citizen. He has more degrees than most who contribute to this blog.

These two fine people were students of mine at my last posting in Pindiu.

Actually you have posed the question to us and you have first bite of the cherry; what do you propose to do re the situation?

I look forward to your reply!

Ross Wilkinson

I suppose too that I am sitting back and watching the comments before committing myself to print, but, what the hell! Some of the roads, airstrips and other service projects that I had a direct hand in surveying, designing, building and maintaining are no longer operational now that I and my ilk are no lomger there.

I despair that any assistance we may wish to render will be wasted away either through misdirection or fraudulent or corrupt behaviour.

I welcome comments like these from the good doctor, but am concerned at the tenor of those from the previous correspondent, Gelab, as being appropriate for this column. I would hate to think that we may be linked to and support, violent radicalism because they were reported in full here without apparent source attribution.

Another group I belong to with historical links to PNG, have gathered cash donations at the request of our former president at his funeral, to ensure a particular community service remains viable even though PNG government cash has all but dried up to enable buying of basic support goods and service provision. The cash is making its way to PNG in a way that ensures it will go direct to the service and not be bled dry.

It is refreshing to see these observations being made but I suggest some editorial discretion is required.

Chris Johnston

It is interesting that there is a deafening silence which I cannot understand,normally we are espoused with expert opinion from Huggie,Mr Oates and Mr Jackson on various postings, I look forward to their comments.

Bob Curtis

This is not a rumour, or if you like "Idle Gossip", it is a serious wake up call straight from the horses mouth. No amount of spin can conceal the facts, and I feel the day of reckoning is fast approaching. Dianne asked the awkward question, and the answer is YES. Of course elements of our work remain, but we should not be blind to the facts.

Gelab Piak

Yes, thats the truth. It's so plain. After 34 years of Independence and Australian aid, the rest of PNG is still in the dark.

Infrastructure falling apart, ineffective mechanism of service delivery, and funding procedures that make funds prone to misappropriation. Thats how your money is been used.

So you decide, does PNG really need aid?

Diane Bohlen

Does this mean that the work we all did there was a waste of time?

Does this mean the millions of dollars of taxpayers money the Australian government send to PNG is being squandered by the politicians?

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