PNG authors readying for role at Brisbane writers festival

All men have equal rights; MPs are not above the law


THERE is an urgent need to re-order our value system in upholding democracy and the rule of law in Papua New Guinea.

We have a constitution that applies to every single citizen in this country. But unfortunately this constitution is now divided: one for the “no profile” populace and another for the “high profile”.

It is a sad case for democracy to witness how individuals try to influence state institutions to corrupt and manipulate the system.

Everyone - prime minister Peter O’Neill, police commissioner Gary Baki, his police force, the Ombudsman Commission and other government authorities - must wake up to their duties as citizens.

It is encouraging in our society that there are several mechanisms that can both promote well-being and minimise ill-being.

The big man culture thrives on ill-being. Once ill-being is minimised, "bigmanism" as a philosophy of suppression will choke.

It is my view that O’Neill plays a bigmanism with Baki and their associates to choke the independence of state institutions, which tend to be controlled by the big man syndrome and money power.

State institutions were supposedly established to be independent, uphold the democratic values and apply the rule of law. But bigmanism sees no value in these precepts.

The big man triumphs and can afford mansions in a country like ours where countless people are homeless, sick and naked.

There is no form of social security to cater for unemployment, old age or ill health.

A caring prime minister could do so much by creating an enabling environment and melting the gap between the uncaring rich and the fettered poor.

The rule of law is a powerful cure to the extremes of the conscienceless rich. If we can strengthen our governance, legal and judicial systems we will be doing much for PNG's development.

We need to demonstrate on a consistent basis that one's wealth or social status mean nothing to the law.

In PNG today, many people are in real doubt about whether mother justice is not faking blindness. The rich display confidence that the law can always be silenced somehow. All Papua New Guineans should know their rights and know how to engage the legal process.

If you are a big man, let us know by your commitment and your sacrifices to the collective vision, Let us know by your handiwork and work ethic, by your integrity; selflessness and demonstrated love for your country. In the absence of these values, your bigmanism means nothing.

Bigmanism and political power are a hot romance. But curiously the big man does not believe in the institution of government.  Neither does he believe in the rule of the law. For him, the wealthy individual is a government unto himself. He builds empires and compels the poor to owe loyalty to him as they would to the government.

The PNG big man culture promotes human rights abuses, constitutional crises and corruption at the highest level.

The rich and liberated who find themselves in positions of trust have made feast of the commonwealth in order to maintain their status. Politics for them has become a do-or-die affair. This is the main reason for election violence and malpractice.

The ballot, which should be used to elect people to occupy positions of trust, has been hijacked by the rich. The votes of the fettered poor no longer matter. That is, if they are allowed to vote at all.

The big man has come up with new ballot system that prevents voting; yet results emerge. This distorted big man's notion of electoral democracy was demonstrated at the last elections, when "the devil came to the polls".

Another evil effect of this culture is that it confuses the greatness in all of us. We devalue people because they look poor or because they are not rich. By doing this we deplete the development energy in our country and raise serious question about our understanding of citizenship.

This uncalled-for divide between the liberated rich and the fettered poor has made some people to believe that we do not have equal stake in the country – not even elections. This is dangerous.

"All human beings are born equal and instilled by the creator with unchallenged rights". Our constitution reaffirms this equality. We should be seen to be acting this out.

PNG has experienced abuse and assault of journalists in recent weeks because of the bigman syndrome, which is creeping into every crevice of society and eating away at our values.

Papua New Guinea needs to put bigmanism in its place as an old not a modern practice and thoroughly overhaul our value system.


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