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Sir Mek highlights 6 challenges as he contemplates electoral future


THE result of June's national election will determine the future of Papua New Guinea and it is important that voters are well informed about the issues that are critical to the nation through informed, open public debate.

It is also important to ensure that the conduct of the election itself is free and fair and that electoral systems and processes are transparent and subject to international and domestic public scrutiny.

The adoption of appropriate policies is the key to getting Papua New Guinea back on track, not grandiose schemes, vote-buying and sweet-talk.

The latter is what has brought the nation to its knees, coupled with unprecedented levels of corruption, waste and mismanagement.

I am concerned about the level of gutter politics exhibited in the election debate so far. There has been a tendency on the part of puppets of the current regime to engage in slanging matches and personal attacks.

Such self-preserving behaviour is counter-productive and clouds the real issues.

As I consider whether to nominate for election, I see six main issues that should be discussed widely and openly.

There are extraordinary levels of corruption, waste and mismanagement, which have brought Papua New Guinea to the brink and into international disrepute

There are grave threats to parliamentary democracy, human rights, freedom of speech and freedom of association. The election itself is under threat from the Government’s stranglehold over the institutions that influence election outcomes

Unprecedented economic and financial mismanagement, which are shaking the foundations of the nation. If allowed to continue, the task of rescuing and restoring the economy and public finances will be extremely difficult

The stalling of the machinery of government and consequent failure of service delivery, resulting in declining living standards. Essential sectors such as health and education have been so badly funded and managed that Papua New Guinea is begging Australia to fund them by way of direct budget support, as well as to underwrite the lavish APEC exercise

The collapse of law and order with growing social dislocation because of poverty, unemployment and rising prices caused by the government’s recklessness. The Royal Papua New Guinea Constabulary, once a proud and effective institution, is struggling to cope because it is under-funded, under-manned, fractured and politicised

Politicisation, misuse and abuse of important institutions of state such as the Central Bank and the Treasury. State-owned enterprises have been used as personal piggy banks and slush funds. Watchdog bodies have been undermined and perverted.

These are the issues that need to be debated, in a rational and productive way. Only through informed public debate can we understand the nature of our problems, identify solutions and implement rescue plans.

At present we are hearing too few voices because there is an air of fear and intimidation across all sections of society. People need to speak out - silence serves to encourage thieves and wreckers.

I call for public vigilance and debate over the conduct of the elections - the nation cannot afford for the Electoral Commission’s systems to be bypassed or manipulated.

The first step should be for people to check the electoral roll – this can be done easily and quickly on the internet at this website. Any omissions, mistakes or inconsistencies should be immediately reported to the Electoral Commission.

Free and fair elections are the cornerstone of parliamentary democracy, and part of that is faith in and support for the Electoral Commission and electoral processes.


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Lindsay F Bond

Making it in happiness among the worldly…
A search engine gives access to a facet of scoping human existence, namely:
…feature national country happiness rankings, ... of happiness in the world today and show how the new science of happiness ...
Missing: papua ‎guinea”

Yes, the Independent State of Papua New Guinea is missing from that list. It seems that 155 nations are listed because evidence-based data is available for researchers.

Shrouding peoples of PNG are mysteriousness to outsiders and unknowingness by peoples within.

Clouding lifts occasionally, affording glimpses of morass, misleading and misadventure, yet also of leavenings of happiness hidden, heartwarming, harmless, but not unharmed.

Elevating election discourse is encouraging. PNG politic clouds, yet unhappily in reigns.

Paul Oates

Trevor, you and I know the nub of the problem is directly attributable to PNG tribalism and regional and clan loyalties.

Only when a leader can transcend this stumbling block and lead a united PNG will there be a real chance of moving forward.

Trevor Freestone

Sir Mekere Morauta has certainly expressed his view of the current situation accurately. Many Australians are concerned with these issues particularly those who spent many years working in PNG. Sir Mekere I wish that you do choose to stand for election or at least that you are able to find a leader who has the same aims as you. Surely there are enough good honest citizens in PNG to support and fight for a better PNG and use their votes wisely.

Philip Fitzpatrick

Some people in PNG may disagree but I think Paul is right to say that there are no leaders currently evident in the country capable of dragging it out of the muck.

In that case the logical thing to do is opt for the best of the bunch available, hoping that that might spur the gestation of a true leader(s).

At this stage I think Sir Mek represents PNG's best option after the election.

As far as I can see he's not tainted by corruption and he is reasonably efficient and competent.

No one else fits the bill.

Paul Oates

The essence of the problem is that everyone is human and it is a human trait that we tend to defer the hard things in life and concentrate of the easy. That ultimately leads to an insurmountable collection of hard things that causes most people to throw their hands in the air, wail and claim it’s just not possible for them to do anything about fixing the problems. It’s someone else’s responsibility.

In order to understand how we have arrived at this pivotal point in the history of PNG, you have only to read through the posts on this site over the last decade and a half it has been running. In fact, Keith and his friends have, by their very posts, created an historical record of the political, economic and social history of modern PNG.

But it’s one thing to have a written history available to study and quite another to have the ability to understand what a recorded history tells us and act on this knowledge.

Firstly, before you can understand what you are reading and form ideas and views on what works and what doesn’t, you have to know where your perspective is and actually how what allows you to see?
My contributions over the last 10 years on this blog and in articles and submissions on PNG have naturally been modified and arguably become more informed by the interaction with other commentators and contributors.

I started out in what I now see as a time warped mind set. I knew where PNG had departed from the game plan Australia provided and commenced to find her own way ahead. That was my first perspective. I can see now how easy it was to have the benchmark of my culture, education and training and how this affects my perspective on what is ethical in government and what is not. I can now see that this perspective provided a basis for determining my comments on where PNG was departing from a known and well recognised track.

I can now see how those who hadn’t had my opportunities but were the products of a different regimen won’t necessarily either see or agree with my views. I can now see more clearly how a culture, and especially one that has not been essentially maintained for hundreds if not thousands of years, will undoubtedly determine what a person and therefore a people will revert back to the familiar when things aren’t going so well.

Over the last decades, a few commentators on this site have suggested that PNG is still evolving through what we can see as progression of stages that many other civilisations have either progressed through or collapsed upon. It is clear that no amount of postulating and prophesising can change a culture in one generation.

Either the majority wants to change or they can be made to change but the process of change cannot occur quickly without some huge costs to the community.

Throughout history, various leaders have recognised that changes must be made, yet put them off until the last moment hoping they will not have to make them themselves. "Après nous, le déluge" (After us the flood!) has been attributed to a number of French Kings who were keen to enjoy the pleasures of their reign but recognised that it wouldn’t and couldn’t last. The French revolution finally saw to that and the last King ended up a head shorter.

And so it seems that while the many talk about how PNG must change nothing really changes. Those who achieve some education and experience often then decide they can’t go back and therefore try to emigrate to a society that they aspire to yet can’t achieve for their own communities. They long for the benefits of traditional life yet recognise this culture is unable to cope with modern influences.

With respect to all those PNG commentators who make some excellent points, there does not appear to be anyone emerging who can and will lead PNG in the near future and has enough, forceful leadership to change the country’s direction after the coming election.

However, I will be delighted to be proven wrong.

Philip Fitzpatrick

That's a succinct collection of points that need addressing. The only one missing is the failure of the PNG parliament to achieve gender equality. That's not unique to PNG however.

At the same time it is a succinct summary of the failures of the O'Neill government. Sometimes I wonder whether these 'failures' are actually deliberate Robert Mugabe style policies - he is famously quoted as saying that the best way to rule is to keep the general population frightened, hungry and in poverty.

With respect to Sir Mek's wavering about standing, perhaps if a non-standing Sir Michael Somare came in behind him with his personal support he might be more inclined to commit. Somare has achieved his fame and fortune and would have nothing to lose in ensuring PNG was governed by a competent prime minister before he passes on.

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