MOST Papua New Guineans like me, who dream of a transparent, fair and equitable nation were wondering if the recent Police fraud squad’s arrests of high profile individuals was the light at the end of this abyss called corruption.
The events of this recent weekend – with the head of the Police fraud directorate being suspended and his forced to step aside – may mean what appeared as a light was only a shadow.
Considering the magnitude of corruption in PNG, honest hardworking Papua New Guineans across both rural and urban areas feel entrapped in a system that sucks the life out of honesty and leaves behind hopelessness and frustration. We are under siege.
It is common knowledge that the 10% commission fee is a way of “getting things done” in PNG. If we choose to go through the proper processes it is “a walk to no way”.
Both government and private sectors are littered with the 10% cowboys. A humble taxi driver can’t get a permit to operate without going through the back door. Government contracts increasingly fall victim to what is euphemistically termed a “self-imposed inflated price”. Police are being bribed to smuggle the green gold of betel nut into Port Moresby.
Meanwhile, on the streets, thousands of impoverished mothers and fathers braving the harsh tropical heat to earn a few kina must be on constant look-out for pickpockets and other petty thieves who care nothing about their wellbeing.
And this is just the tip of the iceberg. Things have become atrocious in our country. We’re a people who have earned all sorts of titles, good and bad. “Land of the Unexpected” was always a fitting description of the chameleon life in PNG. And now we have a corruption, in the words of Sir Mekere Morauta, so pervasive that it would take a miracle to extricate PNG from its tentacles.
Of late I have noticed that many educated Papua New Guineans are losing interest in issues of national interest. They don’t bother buying newspapers or watching the evening news. Even on social media only a handful of are making noise about issues of national importance. Most prefer to lie low, opting to suffer in silence with the rest of the kanakas.
We all see corruption everywhere and the logic is simple and sickening. Don’t worry about something you can’t stop.
I have friends who think that way. They are part of a growing number of Papua New Guineans who operate in mute mode. PNG to them is Gotham in real life where chaos and lawlessness are the rule of law.
While corrupt groupies may delight in this orgiastic reality, concerned people need to wake from their hibernation before it’s too late and peaceful recovery is impossible. Ignorance of evil is not an option. We have a nation to save.
Yet we should listen to their silence and understand that it is a symptom of institutions falling apart due to rampant corruption; it is a sign of a system that is skewed towards pursuing the interests of the few at the expense of the majority.
Our judiciary, seen as one of the last bastions holding out against the oppressors, is constantly bombarded by desperados hell bent on preserving their positions only at the cost of what is truly a silent majority of Papua New Guineans. Yet the silent majority cops the full force of the law even if a can of tin fish or one kilo bag of rice is pilfered because it is needed.
Most of us remain silent in our own world of powerlessness against a corrupted system that is entrenched into the core of our nation. It is no solace that our friends, wantoks, relatives and families may be part of it. Our silence also makes us part of the problem.
This nation needs one good conviction to raise its hopes; one good judgment to bring it back from oblivion. When silence finally speaks, its voice will herald a new era and a new dawn for our beloved Papua New Guinea.
All our eyes are now on the courts. Make us live again for a great Papua New Guinea.