Whatever happened to a proud and successful nation?
22 June 2016
WE JUST celebrated Father's Day in the United Kingdom and, as I looked out at the drizzle of a typical British summer and ate my Kelloggs, I thought I'd cheer myself up a bit by reading a witty yarn on the ex-kiap website by the excellent tale teller, Gary Luhrs.
That was my first mistake. Luhrs too was worried about what had gone on with the university students’ protests. So I thought better check out PNG Attitude.
Wow, Papas Dei! Surely it could only get better after the sad prophetic writings on this blog by Chris Overland about the PNG prime minister’s project.
In 1975, I believed Papua New Guinea could become a proud independent and successful nation. How wrong I was, perhaps because at that time I had lived only among coastal people, who seemed quite able to run their own lives.
A nation blessed with such an abundance of natural wealth surely should have become a beacon for developing nations in the United Nations. But no, greedy MPs, subverted by the carpetbaggers who Gary Juffa speaks of in his articles, have run amok for many years.
I would place the start of rampant corruption to when the Look North policy kicked in. Perhaps it was too early or too pre-digital for a grassroots rebellion against some of the scams that the big men of Waigani were starting to inflict on their people.
Things grew progressively worse until we now have a fugitive from Indonesian justice, Joe Chan a.k.a. Tjandra, in bed with the slime of Waigani and so able to secure the gift of citizenship even though failing to have a residential qualification.
Similarly Tjandra has secured huge building contracts, been allowed a multi-million kina rice project and more including clear log felling.
Talking about timber, we should not forget the terribly unjust and overwhelmingly illegal SABL leases mainly given to shady companies which could prove to be shadows of the giant caterpillar of Rimbunan Hijau.
Citizens are ignored by the mafioso, tongs and multinational spivs who leech onto the bigmen to suck out the wealth of the nation. And let’s not forget the multinational corporate exploiters.
A second LNG project is being allowed in the desperately impoverished Gulf Province as if the land was terra nullius. The prime minister and his ministers make grandiose speeches in many forums as if there were no people living in Baimuru, Kikori, Ihu.
These people have clearly expressed their voices that the refinery must be in the host province so there can be tangible improvements in their muddy creeks and swamps, not another pipeline to foster yet more five-star hotels and high rise developments for Port Moresby.
Perhaps people do not know of the rip-offs of the oil companies, the seven sisters as they once were known. Nations worldwide can bear witness to the failure of the extravagant political promises of the benefits oil would bring.
The Total company, now about to partner with Oil Search in acquiring InterOil, has a record around the world that augurs badly for PNG and especially the vulnerable ecosystems of the Gulf.
Among cases heard or pending involving Total are the bribery and corruption of Iranian officials during sanctions, likewise with the oil-for food corruption in Iraq, bribery of Italian officials to obtain a contract, use of civilian slave labour in Myanmar and a huge oil spill at La Rochelle in France. In 2000, with French government connivance, Total got Elf Oil out of France's biggest ever fraud case.
Our esteemed leaders know all this yet are happy to get their snouts into the trough with such multinationals even offering tax holidays, land tax exemptions and import duty exemptions to join Tjandra’s rice import quotas to protect his project in Papua.
The solution? Oh how I wish I had the answer. Sadly, there seems not much hope of a change at the ballot box, assuming an underfunded election actually happens.
I am saddened by the almost complete silence from most politicians who appear gagged and blinded by their allegiance to O'Neill.
I only hope it won't take PNG four decades as is case with Zimbabwe for it to regain its rightful place as an example of how government can be conducted for the benefit of the people.
I do not want my daughters and grandchildren to become beggars in their homeland. I want them to enjoy life as free people, not merely existing but living fulfilling lives.
God bless not only the fathers of PNG but all of its people as they hope for a brighter future free from the evil corruptors of the nation.
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