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Corruption is a real issue – but how can we change things?

Corruption is a real issuePETER S KINJAP

LIKE in many societies around the world, corruption in Papua New Guinea has become necessary for the conduct of business.

In very many government departments, schools, hospitals and in the legal system corruption is the mode for easing the pathway for commerce.

Public institutions have become the domain of ‘fat cows’ which the private domain is feeding and milking.

The feeders and milkers include politicians, pastors, community leaders, the educated elite and business people.

Without a bit of bribery – or often a lot - progress in business is slow, or maybe doesn’t happen at all. Like they say in gambling, you’ve got to be in it to win it.

In 2011, towards the end of the Somare regime, several politicians sought to tarnish the image of what they termed a ‘crooked’ government and later forcefully took over that government while the grand chief was offshore for medical treatment.

Many media articles called this move a ‘cold coup’. It is a piece of history that the future will ponder and pronounce on.

In August 2011, the cold coup was the master stroke of Peter O’Neill, Paias Wingti, Don Polye, Belden Namah, Sam Basil, Ben Micah and William Duma to name some of the main players. Many of those same names are now spanking Peter O’Neill for what they see as his inadequate stance on corruption.

If Polye, Namah and Basil were serious about fighting corruption, they would have known who Peter O’Neill was. But unfortunately, they didn’t seem to, even though the saga of the National Provident Fund was before their eyes.

In a recent appearance before the PNG press club, Don Polye promised PNG that, if he gets the chance to form the next government after June’s election, he will reinstate the anti-corruption body, Task Force Sweep, that O’Neill dismantled.

Will he really going to do it? Will he investigate the Paraka saga? After all, these questions concern many citizens.

If we don’t want to forget our recent past, we had better stand up and fight against corruption. But here in PNG we have a tendency to forget or let things slide away and no real action eventuates.

If we really want to fight corruption, we cannot forget the past. If we forget the past, we forget who we are and we might as well forget to fight corruption too.

Corruption is making our people suffer and hastening their deaths. Just about every politician today is corrupted, compromising their role to submit to the bribes and inducements.

Until and unless we get in fresh people who have no connection to corruption, we will see no change. If we don’t change them, nothing will change.


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Bernard Corden

The following link provides access to a blog, which reveals how vile and despicable it is in Queensland:

The recent ABC 4 Corners program on The Moonlight State revisited the Fitzgerald Inquiry. Like many Royal Commissions, it is much like ditching on a light in a large room at night and watching the cockroaches scatter. Then they start creeping back. Exactly the same is happening in Queensland..

Irrespective of their political persuasion it reveals how money and power corrupts.

Philip Fitzpatrick

Following on from my last comment here is what they do about corruption in New Zealand:

It looks pretty good to me.

Philip Fitzpatrick

According to the 2016 Corruption Perception Index put out by Transparency International PNG is 'mostly corrupt'. It sits way down on the list alongside dictatorships and countries with basket-case economies.

Australia sits at number 13 of the least corrupt countries i.e. not much help in advising PNG how to fix the corruption problem.

The least corrupt country is Denmark, closely followed by a rapidly improving New Zealand.

That's where the answer lies for PNG.

Whatever New Zealand is doing PNG should do too.

(Maybe Australia needs to look across the ditch too).

Bernard Corden

More laws less justice- Marcus Tullius Cicero

Peter Sandery

Something suggested to me years ago in relation to tweeking the government tender process springs to mind as a possible starting spot. The idea presumes, of course that all major government projects do go out for public tender. The idea was that once the tender winner was announced, not only would the winning tenderers' bid be publically published but so would all the others. I was not overly taken with the idea at first but on more reflection saw the many advantages of it - of course the Establishment at the time firmly jumped on it from a great height, claiming commercial confidence matters, which gave me a bit of a laugh.

Paul Oates

Peter has highlighted the problem. Phil has fingered some but not all of the culprits. Where is the solution?

Surely in order to have a corrupt free environment there has to be more than what is now on offer.

There is already sufficient legislation and law to set the benchmark on what is right and what is wrong. Therefore more laws aren't the answer.

We have any number of potential politicians or those who have already been elected and almost everyone seems to be saying or have previously said they are against corruption?

So if everyone knows what is right and what is wrong, what is the problem?

Some commentators have pointed out that PNG isn't alone and official corruption exists almost everywhere. That's absolutely true. Some nations have even worse histories of official and unofficial corruption.

So what is the answer, especially for PNG?

Will no one come up with a Charter of Honesty that requires all potential and existing politicians and public servants to sign as legally accepting what they already aught to practice. If they then ask for a six pack or 'gris moni' after they sign they could then be held accountable and summarily dismissed.

It will never work you say? Yet isn't that what politicians undertake in their oath of office and public servants agree to when they sign their contracts with the government who represents their people?

So what is missing? Simply the intestinal fortitude for someone to follow up and make it happen. Why? Virtually all the problems can be traced back to one aspect. No one wants to be first to challenge the system. It's always got to be someone else.

When the going gets tough, the tough get going.

Bernard Corden

The University of Pennsylvania has a good blog entitled which highlights Stigler's concept of regulatory capture:

Coming from the land of the free and home of the brave they know all about corruption and leave PNG for dead.

Philip Fitzpatrick

Talking about corruption and looking at the photograph accompanying your article Peter is most interesting.

The photographer obviously avoided including the trough in the shot and they must have cleaned themselves up a bit before it was taken.

Please don't re-elect any of that lot PNG!

Garry Roche

Peter, two quotes come to mind when speaking of the problem of corruption. They are:-
“The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing.” ― Edmund Burke.(1770)
“Yet is it far better to light the candle than to curse the darkness.” William Lonsdale Watkinson. 1907. (Apparently this is also an old Chinese proverb).

Perhaps we begin the fight against corruption by trying to ensure that we ourselves avoid corruption. Light a candle in our own corner.

Churches should speak out against corruption, yet at times the mainline Churches seem to be caught between their reliance on Government funding for health and education, and their obligation to speak against corruption. Some Church leaders may feel that they can act more effectively person-to-person rather than speaking out publicly against an individual.

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