Bougainville considers next steps in response to Rio abdication
Vote of confidence in O’Neill is a victory for corruption in PNG

It is time to heal and build a better Papua New Guinea

Martyn Namorong 2015MARTYN NAMORONG

YESTERDAY I was disappointed. Not because the opposition didn’t win the vote of no confidence, but because of the lack of a better alternative to the status quo. 

I’ve noted how some have demonised the speaker of parliament for quelling debate but let’s be realistic - the opposition did not have the numbers on the floor.

Many commentators may have their opinions on why the status quo wasn’t changed. To my mind, change did not occur because there was no better alternative. Change did not happen because the whole of Papua New Guinea wasn’t inspired by a better alternative, to move for change.

The challenge presented to the opposition and critics of the current government is to articulate a better alternative that everyone (including the crooks) can believe in.

The default attitude that some may take following the failure of the vote of no confidence may be to create further obstacles. Whilst this may generate headlines and cause disruptions, as we have seen from previous experience, such efforts have been futile. Indeed, ordinary Papua New Guineans have paid are high price without a single dent on the current regime.

Now is not the time to further polarise the country but to heal the wounds and build bridges. Now is the time for more moderate voices articulating a better alternative? One cannot bring about change using the same methods that have failed previously.

Our people want change but it’s not just the change of personalities but a holistic change that improves their livelihoods and wellbeing. Such change does not just come from removing a prime minister but from redefining Papua New Guinea’s model of development.

It’s about social, economic, political and cultural reforms that create an inclusive and just society.

Critics of the current regime have been experts at highlighting its sins but have yet to convince the people of Papua New Guinea how they can lead the country into a brighter future.

Sure we have overcrowding in classrooms but how do we address the issue without borrowing to build more infrastructure? Do we increase government spending by building more hospitals and buying more medicines or do we empower our people to prevent themselves from getting ill?

To replace some individuals with other individuals without redefining the underlying model of development is a band aid solution.  Wholesale changes to the philosophy of government, investments in human capital and institutional reforms are needed alongside changes to faces.

Yes we can talk about the abuses and terrible things our nation is going through but we must also give our people hope about the future. We must empower our people so that they themselves are capable of participating meaningfully in all aspects of national development so as to maintain national sovereignty and promote self-reliance.

Our people don’t just need stories about how bad things are in PNG but also empowering stories about Papua New Guinean ways of achieving sustainable human development and creating a nation of which they can be proud.


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Bernard Corden

But first we have to cut the head off the snake

Michael Dom

Martyn I think your stand is the most affirmative action that can be taken.

What about a linking of like-minded people in the social media to further purvey this message?

There was an equally valuable suggestion made by David Kitchnoge on Paitim Garamut - he suggests that the five founding fathers band together to support a united front in the next elections.

With fire brand politician Gary Juffa and other senior figures (e.g. Sam Koim, Lucas Kiap, Dr Tony Deklin, Act Now PNG) sharing these sentiments it may be a good time to start a lobby group.

One of the benefits of taking a stand during conflict is to learn more about those who stand with you and those who are against you.

Conflict can be edifying in that way - and "anger the truth will out".

Martyn Namorong

The Opposition needs to rebrand itself around common uniting themes and present itself as a credible alternative to the people of PNG. Likewise, the vocal middle class voice need to be better aligned as a collective force for good.

Philip Fitzpatrick

I wonder what the end game is Mathias.

What does the man want?

Is he just power hungry. Is he salting billions away in overseas accounts for his ultimate escape?

Is he the devil incarnate?

Mathias Kin

We have come 40 plus years and in these years we have heard all this rhetoric of good governance, accountability, fair, free and safe elections, etc etc.

My worry now is the future. In 2017 O'Neill will use all the resources at his disposal to rig the general election (in his favour).

We have seen enough to know that this man is very dangerous and very desperate.

Lindsay F Bond

Begin by accounting; be not shy of realities of profligate PNG stealing. Take account of each PNG government cheque made and paid and mislaid.

Make a count of every trade of PNG sovereign wealth that is stealth. Rake over counting losses, supplant cropping, meet with measuring. Be accountably better, factual, truth revealing.

Attract to Wilhelm heights, leaders to love, not those who heist.

Philip Fitzpatrick

There is now a reasonably large core of opposition members but as Martyn points out they look and sound exactly like the rabble in the government. It's hardly a promising either/or choice for the average Papua New Guinean.

What the opposition could do now is take a leaf out of the Federal Labor Party in Australia. They worked hard and came up with a set of policies setting out what they proposed to do if they won government.

They nearly knocked off a first-term government that way. And they think the government won't last the term and are gearing up for an early election with even better refined policies. If Australians vote them in next time they know exactly what they are getting.

That's what was missing in the vote of no confidence. No one, including the opposition members, knew what they were going to do if they won. The general assumption was that there would simply be a swap in the pigs at the trough.

Robin Lillicrapp

One issue which needs addressing, and probably was somewhat by the aftermath of the student protests, is the nationwide recognition and understanding of the roots and results arising from the state of governance till date.
Perhaps that will excite a move away from bikman politics toward proactive nationalism.

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