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Could people power be looming in PNG?


‘PEOPLE POWER’ is the label the media has placed on popular grassroots revolutions. The Arab world is currently experiencing this phenomenon – with Egypt already succumbing to the force of the popular will.

While the tag first came to prominence when the Marcos regime in the Philippines was toppled in 1986, it could just as easily have been applied to the French Revolution in the late 18th Century.

A dramatic change in government occurs with ‘People Power’ when the majority of people - disenfranchised from controlling their own destiny and marginalised from a fair share in their country’s wealth and resources – restore democracy by essentially peaceful means.

Initially, those in charge try to resist a rising tide of frustration. They do this by manipulating their country’s law and order system to help keep them in power for as long as possible.

They have come to enjoy the life to which they and their sycophants have become accustomed and don’t want to give it up. Such crackdowns, however, haves the effect of further constraining normal safety valves that might help prevent the gathering storm. Ultimately, there comes a time when the pressure cooker of public sentiment explodes into revolution.

The beginnings of PNG ‘People Power’ emerged recently with significant public demonstrations and marches. Since then silence has reigned as those in power manipulate their country’s law and order system to suit themselves.

Three assiduously avoided parliamentary votes of no confidence; a justice system that seems to dither when determining charges involving the PM and his entourage; and an expose that half their country’s national wealth is being stolen under people’s very noses seeming just to slide away as if of no moment.

The silence from government can only mean one of two things. Either they do not wish to act, or they have no idea how to act. Either way, the government is morally corrupt and should be replaced. Yet apart from a few lone voices, like Sam Basil MP, no one seems to be able to do anything about the problem.

In effect, no one in PNG is being held to account for the country’s current problems. One wonders what might happen, when the election of the new Governor General is rubber stamped, if those MPs who want to discuss they country’s problems meet publicly at another venue, considering they have been effectively denied their right to a full debate under the PNG Constitution in the ‘People’s House’.

Comments by on PNG Attitude by Paulus Ripa about the rural health system being virtually non existent, together with rural education that is fast evaporating, are pertinent and timely. Where are the public statements by responsible government ministers saying they will do something about this disastrous situation?

The origin of recent events in the Arab states should be heeded by the PNG government lest chickens come home to roost in Waigani.


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Trevor Freestone.

Sorry, Barbara, but all things are not rosy up Vanimo way.

Google 'Amoi Village PNG' and you will see a community destroyed by a logging company that has ignored the conditions of its lease and destroyed the people's drinking water and Sago resources.

I taught the children of Amoi village in 1966.

Harry Topham

'The outlook is dark and gloomy because the sky is full of chickens coming home to roost' ... Gerard Minac

Lydia Kailap

Sadly the traditional subsistence lifestyle is being destroyed by the influx of multinational mining and logging companies.

Over 400 men, women and children were evicted from their own land to make way for the MCC and Highlands Pacific Ramu mine in Madang. They were not paid anything for their land and given no place to relocate to.

Whilst the legitimate landowners were forcibly removed by MCC officials and the PNG Police, and their gardens and hunting grounds stolen, a huge housing development has been established in Madang for foreign workers who have come to work at the Ramu mine.

And how many Papua New Guineans will lose their subsistence fishing if MCC is allowed to destroy the marine environment in Madang?

What will happen to the tuna breeding grounds and the growing tourism industry in Madang?

This is only one instance of the trend that is sweeping across PNG.

It is very clear that Somare and the National Alliance are taking over control of what are supposed to be neutral institutions. The Governor-General, Ombudsman, Attorney General, Defence Force, Police and now the Chief Justice and Public Prosecutor are all positions that have been politicised and are under the direct control of National Alliance.

As the gap between the rich and the poor widens, the people will have no choice but to rebel; and they will.

Whilst Papua New Guineans appear to be very placid, one cannot forget that PNG was not so long ago a nation of fierce warriors. They will rise up when backed into a corner and all hell will break loose.

That is when the government and those foreigners who have invaded the country and stolen from the people will all be looking for somewhere to hide.

Barbara Short

Perhaps People Power will not happen in PNG as the bulk of the population live in their villages.

They still live in a traditional subsistence economy, have little in the way of western manufactured goods but are happy. They are able to grow their own vegetables, catch fish and have a surplus for sale to raise some cash.

I enjoyed reading the two recent articles on the Vanimo region. They both tell of the people of that area being happy.

There is some cash coming in through forestry, they are looking forward to the surfing championships, and they can make money out of the Port Moresby people coming up to do some shopping in Irian Jaya.

The visiting Australian students enjoyed experiencing the Vanimo way of life with few material goods and few worries.

PNG people can still teach materialistic Australians a lot about "the good life". It may be a shorter life but I would say it is a happier life with fewer worries.

I wonder what will happen to these text books when they arrive. Will they be appropriate, will anybody read them?

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