How our country is run: A government that lies to the people
21 July 2016
MY POSITION on the current political situation is very simple, and very firm. I stand for the good of the nation. I stand for the good of my province. And above all; I stand for the good of the people.
I support good government. I support the opposition. I support the people. I ask all other members of parliament to do the same.
For the last few years, I have seen governments mad for power, spending their money buying support but forgetting the needs of the people.
The Constitution says, “All power belongs to the people.” It says “our national wealth, won by honest, hard work, shall be shared equitably by all.”
We must never betray the Constitution or crave for power. Whether the government or the opposition wins this filthy battle, we must see change.
The words of our leaders cannot be trusted. In 2009, Vision 2050 was launched with great promises - “By 2050 PNG will be in the top 50 countries of the world in the UN Human Development Index.”
But just seven years later PNG has dropped from 145th in the world to 158th, from the medium human development category to the low human development category. We are on the same level with basket cases like Rwanda and Burkina Faso.
The national government never keeps its promises. Just look at New Ireland. In the 1995 Lihir memorandum of agreement, the government promised a Kavieng international airport, a Kavieng international wharf and a fully sealed Boluminski Highway.
They promised Namatanai Power, Namatanai Water, Kavieng Power, Kavieng Water and 18 other projects. In 20 years not one was delivered. Not one!
The entire nation was promised tuition fee free education, but the money is always too little, too late. Education in PNG is in chaos.
We were promised free primary and subsidised secondary health care. Where is it? Government cannot even pay the DSIP and PSIP on time. Districts and provinces have no funds for services and infrastructure.
Meanwhile our resources continue to be stolen, enriching foreign companies, filling the pockets of politicians, but bleeding the people.
Our royalties are among the lowest in the world. Billions of kina flow out, but only liklik toea comes back to the province, to the people.
And look at our forests. A 2013 commission of inquiry on special agriculture and business leases (SABLs) reported fraudulent contracts to companies who clear-felled our forests, undercounted and underpriced the logs to avoid tax, and never developed a single agricultural project.
The commission of inquiry recommended most SABLs be revoked. Cabinet agreed in 2014. The prime minister then said the revocations would be done. What has happened since? Nothing!
This is how our country is run. The national government simply lies to the people and spends their money. The bureaucracy sucks up money but has no idea what is happening on the ground.
Meanwhile in the provinces we try our best. In New Ireland we have spent hundreds of millions on services and infrastructure the State promised but failed to provide. Other provinces have done the same.
So you ask what is my position? My position is clear.
I support honest government, not one for sale to the highest bidder.
I want to give the people a fair share of the wealth from their ground. Increase royalties, special support grants, tax credits and other benefits.
The mining provinces will share the wealth with the entire country. We only ask that when our minerals are gone that other provinces share with us.
I want to give provinces freedom to take care of themselves once they show the capacity to do so. We have shown that capacity in New Ireland, as have others. Let us plot our own course.
I want to say one more thing. If the government wins, the prime minister should step aside. Act with honour. Think of the country, not personal power.
If the opposition wins, I say this. Do not cast aside all those across the aisle. Instead, declare formation of a government of national unity, a government of national honour.
Bring the best people from both sides. Commit yourself to truly open, transparent government. And take real steps to keep those promises worth keeping made by past governments.
I ask all those who give a damn about our country to join me in these demands, whether you be in government or opposition.
So let us join together for change. It is time for us all to become Papua New Guineans once again.
I think you'll find that Julius Chan has been agitating about the sorry state in PNG for quite some time now Paul. His recent book, Playing the Game, certainly sets out what he thinks is wrong with PNG politics and offers some solutions. I think he is and was an honest politician.
On the other hand I'm not so sure about Sir Michael Somare. he is a master strategist and pragmatist. Ironically, he may have taught O'Neill some of the tricks he is now using.
Either way I can't see things getting much better for a long time even if the opposition gets the numbers. There is not a statesman among them.
Posted by: Philip Fitzpatrick | 21 July 2016 at 08:53 PM
Do government MP's understand just how close the nation is to having Parliamentary rule collapse? Do they really know how important their vote tomorrow will be?
Have they been 'allowed' to read the news and listen to the TV and radio or have they been 'revved' up by the PM and ministers who merely want to keep the power in their hands.
If the 'No' vote is not carried tomorrow it will surely be the last nail in the coffin. The last stitch in the torn laplap before it totally rips apart. The last cut of the axe before the tree falls. The last rope to snap and bring down the sail.
Will enough MP's sell their nation down the tube for a mere 3 million Kina or bring their nation back from the abyss? Clearly the PM and his ministers believe they know how to buy the votes they need.
Repeating a Limerick in Tokpisin:
Pastaim igat wanpla lida,
Itok 'Nau mi lukim ples klia,
Bai mi baim ol lain,
Na stap longpla taim',
Tasol husat igiamon yumi a?
Posted by: Paul Oates | 21 July 2016 at 06:14 PM
Sir Julius entitled his Memoir "Playing the Game". Both he and I loved Rugby Union before we started playing the PNG Parliamentary Game together in 1968.
Perhaps the two of us were some of the few among our elected colleagues, who really knew that, no matter how hard the game had to be played in order to win it, it had to be Played According to the Rules.
More than that it, it is not sufficient merely for "our" side to play by the rules, it is even more important that "our" side insists that "their" side also play by the same rules.
This unfortunately this seems to have been too hard to do in PNG Parliaments during most of the past three decades.
If it is not done in our Parliament this Friday, and every day thereafter, holding elections next year will be a pointless exercise, and PNG will continue to be ruled by the oligarchs, until the historically inevitable revolt of the people.
Let us sincerely hope that Sir Julius is not the only true sportsman in our present Parliament!
Posted by: Warren Dutton | 21 July 2016 at 05:25 PM
The essence of this collection of motherhood statements and platitudes appears to be having a bet each way on the outcome of tomorrow's vote, that is if it takes place at all?
Since nothing has really changed except perhaps that the situation has now become dire, why has it taken so long for Sir Julius to apparently declare he is for good government?
If, as he postulates, the Opposition win, then he takes the view that there should be a government of national unity. Exactly what does that mean in a Westminster system? If the intention is to have everyone on the government's side then who will lead this huge array of disparate elements and in what direction, given that presumably the same MP's who have supported O'Neill will now be reinstated in the government benches without any opposition.
The classic Melanesian proposal is not to have anyone feel denigrated and to be fully inclusive in any decision. In the village, that might be possible given that a strong 'bikman' might lead everyone in the same direction.
In regard to a multi cultural tapestry that is PNG, it could be a recipe for chaos and disaster.
The Chief Secretary has already formed a united and uniformed national policing force that whoever might decide to take over could very easily use as a weapon against their own people.
Gary Juffa has already confirmed the foreign influencers at play in PNG and one only has to look at how that has played out elsewhere.
Can the traditional Melanesian longing for consensus lead PNG astray again? Recent past history would suggest the answer is 'Yes!'
Peter O'Neill has been trying to form a government of national unity for a long time since he first proposed it while he was Opposition Leader under Somare some years ago. It didn't work then and it hasn't worked recently.
Why would this concept therefore work in the future? A National government made up of many different tribes and cultures, each with a totally parochial viewpoint.
Is there a potential national leader in today's PNG Parliament who could make it work?
Posted by: Paul Oates | 21 July 2016 at 10:59 AM