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.