Reflections on Independence Day, Port Moresby 2013
Replace mindless change with cultural balance

I know when I’ll celebrate, but now isn’t the time…


I DID NOT CELEBRATE INDEPENDENCE DAY here in Tabubil. I started work at 7 and finished at 11 after nightshift.

The reason being that I felt there was nothing much I could celebrate. I’m still paying very high taxes (between K700 and K1,000 every payday depending on overtime). My employer’s contribution to superannuation will also be heavily taxed, leaving me with almost nothing.

The real estate industry in PNG goes unregulated, and thus I’m paying K500 every fortnight for low cost accommodation (it could be in a settlement in Port Moresby or a house in a village on the outskirts of Madang).

The public education system in PNG is not what it used to be when I attended school in my rural Bundi; it has gone to decay in rural areas. That has prompted me to put my kids into private schools which is costing me K22,000 a year.

While on break, I get sick and go to the nearest health centre only to be told the medicine I need for my ailment is unavailable.

I missed the plane back from my last break because the condition of the road was so bad the 10-seater Landcruiser I hired broke down.

Just four weeks ago, criminals held up a colleague in Lae and stole everything from him and a couple of others in a shop in broad daylight.

Just three weeks ago, a colleague's dad was knifed in cold blood in Gerehu in Port Moresby. He was a former top cop and a very likeable fellow, and a stranger to no one.

There is nothing to celebrate. I will start to celebrate when the level of corruption drops. I will start to celebrate when an implicated politician or bureaucrat resigns or steps aside.

When the PM and the MPs take a pay cut. When the government lowers taxes, plane fares, accommodation, and improves rural health and education.

I will start to celebrate when those implicated in numerous commissions of inquiry are prosecuted for their corrupt dealings. I will start to celebrate when urban hospitals are brought up to date with the latest equipment and stocked with medicines. I will celebrate when corrupt public officials are made to account for their actions.

Yes, I will start to celebrate when these things happen. I am not a pessimist. But these are the realities I face every day, and to the point where I have lost total confidence in the country's leadership and bureaucracy.


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Steven Gimbo

The feeling hasn't changed much since I wrote this piece!

Steven Gimbo

Jacinta Koteu and Tony Flynn - I agree this country has gone to the dogs!

Jacinta Koteu

Here at Madang Divine Word University, big celebrations have been taking place but, as you had said, for me there's nothing to celebrate.

Some were saying, let's think positive about our country, but thinking is different from doing.

We want positive actions to be done and not thinking and thinking and thinking positive.

I didn't celebrate any bit of it coz the system is so corrupt from right where I am. Things are not right, so why celebrate.

Tony Flynn

Why not have a horror story section? We all have them.
The government and its servants cannot be moved other than by the application of massive amounts of money or influence; they are like enormous lumps of cement; as an ordinary person, do not try.

This is a reason why many people turn to violence; they cannot afford their day in court, and the Government takes no action even when it has reason to take offence at the misuse of its processes. Lawyers take no issue with this problem; their concern is not with the tree of justice but with the fruit that falls from it.

If anyone falsifies a Government document, such as producing a Land Transfer with a false address and signature of someone who died 10 years previously, Government departments could reasonably expected to take offense and exert the authority of the Government of the people to rectify the insult to its integrity. It happened and they don’t.

The magistrates and judges should be expected to take action in the case of false affidavits undermining the court process; not at all, they are accepted and acted upon as a matter of course.

MRDC, or whatever the Dept. of Mines calls itself, threatens all leaseholders with forfeiture if they so much as move a peg. About 1996 their employed surveyor moved every peg on a lease 60mt South, another lease was increased in width by 30mt and the Department's lawyer will not even discuss the matter.

Australians funded a complete survey of all mining leases, their agent, Arman & Larmer, accepted the relocation of the leases without referring to the old surveys; the Australians paid millions for at least two corrupt surveys.

A divorce case was started in 1994 between an expatriate (initiator) and PNG lady. Not resolved due to the judges lacking confidence to assert their authority. The expat had decided he did not want the divorce; he did not want to pay her a toea.

The judge’s slack attitude allowed the plaintiffs lawyers to make a playground of the court. The expatriate died recently and the legal wife still got nothing and we got the bills for assisting her; my wife’s childhood friend.

The IPA Company office allowed the revocation of our hundreds of thousands of kinas worth of shares in a wealthy gold buying company to take place on authority of a board meeting at which we were not present; nothing in writing from the owners of the shares.

We found out a year or so later and IPA told us there was nothing wrong with this assistance to defraud shareholders. This case has been going since 2004.

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