The task of bringing home the dead continues
Investigate Somare over Moti, says Ombudsman

PNG today – too many dreams without meaning


WHERE IS PNG heading? Sure, liquefied natural gas looks like it will be the major pillar of the country's economy.

But will the so-called leaders and bureaucrats manage revenues from this project with the mindset of developing this nation?

We gained independence from Australia in 1975. Since then, the country has remained stagnant in terms of development for 35 years.

I often ask myself whether the much talked of multi-billion kina LNG project in the Southern Highlands will really change the lives of the people.

Much of the infrastructure we see today was built before independence, including schools, hospitals, health centres, roads and bridges.

These facilities are in critical condition as they have not been maintained. Most of our people are living in remote places where there are no basic services such as aid posts, schools or even roads.

Goods and services are not distributed equally to the people. About two-thirds of the population is living in poverty. Another thing affecting Papua New Guineans is the constant increase in the price of goods and services. Basic items like rice, tinned fish, fuel and school fees have spiked dramatically in recent months. I doubt people earning less than K500 a fortnight can survive for a fortnight in such an environment.

The people of PNG know that we have a big problem with our economy and the development of this country, but the government keeps mentioning things like “National Alliance stability”, “kina stability”, “economic boom”, “full of hope” and “PNG on the right track”.

These are positive statements but we do not know what they really mean and how our lives can be improved. We are rich in natural resources compared to Singapore, New Zealand and many other countries. Yet, they are highly developed, and we are not.

If they can achieve such development status, what is happening in PNG? What are we going to do when non-renewable resources such as gold, copper, nickel and natural gas run out?

And what do we do if major overseas aid contributors stop helping us after hearing of so much corruption in the country?

We have too many dreams without meaning. We shouldn’t expect miracles of LNG. If we can’t manage the revenue from these resources and continue the current system of bribery and corruption, there won’t be anything for us enjoy.

Poor people will continue to live poorly and politicians and bureaucrats will live luxuriously in mansions. The leaders and the people of PNG must now stand up to put an end to corruption and bribery. Otherwise, we have no one but ourselves to blame for ruining what could have been a great and wonderful country.


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Shane Clark

I agree. Education is the only way forward. All these other projects will continue to fail until there are enough of us with good educations to make things function.

Phil Fitzpatrick

Just an addendum. When you think "kiap", and hear the stories about how they ran the government in the bush, you should also think "Polis".

Without the police the kiap was nothing and vice versa. They went hand in hand, like two parts of a whole. If you think the kiaps did a good job it was because of the police. I would stand alongside any of those old coppers anyday.

Phil Fitzpatrick

One of the ideas bandied about in Port Moresby prior to independence was the need to establish an "elite" class, meaning people with good education, business skills etc.

The idea was part of the colonial system and was seen as a necessary precursor for any emerging nation to manage it's own affairs. It went hand in hand with establishing viable institutions like a good police force and judiciary.

Australia picked up on this idea late in the piece and when Gough Whitlam announced he was fast tracking independence everyone was caught with their pants down. Australia should have been pouring money into education from the very early days.

I've been re-reading Dr Kituai's book on the RPNGC and one thing that comes across from his informants is the regret that they didn't receive better intellectual training along with their schooling in how to use a gun etc.

To me this points to the fact that education in Papua New Guinea prior to independence was sadly ignored until the last moment. There were some elites in the country prior to 1975, but they were few and far between.

In their place you got a bunch of ratbags intent upon screwing the system for a fast buck.

If you want to get the country back on track you should pour as many resources as possible into education. People like Aboriginal academic Noel Pearson in Australia recognises that education is the key to getting his people off the devastating welfare teat.

You might also think about the police. Pre-independence they were a magnificent group of men, virtually incorruptible and dedicated to PNG's welfare.

They need to be reinstated with good training, resources and remuneration so they can regain their honour. They weren't called "Royal" for nothing.

Some of those old sergeants would have yanked Somare and his cohorts back into line quicksmart.

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