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Other side of the field is not always greener


ACCORDING TO the Minister for Planning and Monitoring and District Development, Paul Tiensten, “PNG can become the China of the Pacific”.

Exactly what was the Minister referring to?

“Past PNG governments had only looked at their survival,” he said, making the point that the country must align itself with short and long term government strategies and, if it does, “that this may well result in PNG becoming the China of the Pacific.”

With a booming economy and aspirations of becoming the leading world power, China is an easy example to laud when so called developing countries wish to align and emulate their own development strategies.

But exactly what would it mean if PNG did adopt Chinese methods and strategies? If one were to look beneath the rhetoric and hyperbole, might not this concept create some problems for Mr Tiensten's own government?

What methodologies for example, does the Chinese government use to curb corruption? Is Chinese culture readily able to be assimilated by the PNG people? Do they want to emulate the Chinese way of doing things?

Those with some experience of PNG culture and customs might point out that a similar notion used to be bandied around some decades ago about PNG adopting western culture and ethics.

How successful was that concept in creating a society and government that eradicated corruption and enabled PNG to use its resources to build up a modern nation and allow its people to prosper?

It seems that the idea of further fields always being greener hasn't changed in four decades.

Why not start looking at the mirror and working out what is going wrong at home rather than chasing the illusion of a rainbow elsewhere?


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Paul Oates

Hi Benjamin,

Unfortunately, many smart PNG students seem to travel overseas and then stay there. If your prognosis is correct, other PNG students stay at home and once they are elected, then seem to travel overseas continually.

When people stop voting for those 'would be' politicians that hand out 'sweenteners' just before an election and start voting for candidates that have a record of actually telling the truth and achieving positive results for other people will the situation start to change.

PNG's future is in your hands.

Benjamin Pura

What utter nonsense our Dishonourable Tientsen spouts.

Do these people have any idea what a "China of the Pacific" means, much less how it is achieved?

I'm constantly embarrassed at the stupid statements of our pollies.

It's quite clear that our stupidest students end up as politicians. I'm unclear where the smart ones go.

Barbara Short

Alex Harris pointed out that my story on Newcrest’s Cadia gold and copper mine near Orange NSW shows “mining conducted with a conscience.”

On my recent trip over this mine I heard how they have “saved all the topsoil” and that at the end of the life of the mine, when the site is turned back to hills and valleys, then they can be covered with this retained topsoil.

I also saw where they had relocated the graves from a cemetery that used to be in the mine area. Also, amazingly, the original stream still flows through this huge complex in a man-made canal that winds its way around the many hillocks of excavated rock.

I feel sorry for people such as the Mauri clan who have had to move off their traditional garden land while the Ramu NiCo nickel mine is being built. I hope that this mining company will also show some “conscience” and respect for the land and its traditional owners.

In PNG Attitude we have heard from many about the loss of their land. The Rev Baru Arua has spoken about the Motu-Koitabus whose land has been used for the building of Port Moresby. He says “we are like passengers in our own land.”

But as a minister of a Christian church he feels he must preach meaningfully to his people about workable plans and actions.

Father John Koram has written how the people of Bougainville have to go through a kind of transformation, a paradigm shift, to gain a new vision for Bougainville. They have suffered extreme hardship in their struggle for their land.

I read in the Post-Courier this week about the idea of gaining thermal power from the area around Rabaul harbour.

Many people, who have lost their home lands through the devastation caused by the volcanic eruptions, have been resettled.

But they still treasure their devastated village area and would like a say in any development plans.

Whether it is due to mining, the building of towns and cities or volcanic eruptions, people who have had to move off their traditional lands are distraught. But it is to be hoped that the government of PNG will “have a conscience” and see that these people are well looked after.

The government must also check to see if the mining companies also “have a conscience” are looking after the environment so that, after the end of the life of the mine, the land can be returned to a state where it can be used again.

Laurie Meintjes

When I read Maureen Santana's report of what the Minister said, I come away with the unshakeable view that what he said was actually nothing at all. He was simply juggling half-baked ideas and catching none of them.

Yes, Paul, it is absoloodly time for PNG to collectively look into the mirror and work out what the problems really are.

Hopefully, if such collective self-appraisal takes place it will see the emerging of a critical mass of new thinking, led by a fresh breed of men and women (many of whom contribute to this forum) who are not beholden to vested interests or agendas, but who are welded solid to PNG's national interests.

If they can carry the people (and this is a big IF), they might effect a peaceful people's revolution that ushers PNG into a new era of wise and culturally appropriate government that serves the interests of all.

Can this happen? I certainly hope so, but it will almost certainly attract fierce opposition from those who are the chief beneficiaries of those vested interests.

And out of that mix might well come a revolution of a distinctly different kind, or a dictatorship.

Is the future already here? Will PNG continue to lurch to the whims of a corrupt leadership?

I hope not.

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