Our failure to hold politicians to account is killing PNG
23 April 2017
IT’S during election periods that we see democracy at play in Papua New Guinea as citizens of our beautiful country decide who will represent them on the floor of parliament.
It is at this time that we see candidates come down from their high offices to seek a renewed mandate from ordinary Papua New Guineans, whose lives and opinions often falls deaf on politicians’ ears for most of the five years.
Herein is the challenge to democracy for PNG. Why should people's power, the cornerstone of democracy, last for just few months from the issue to the return of writs?
Media, parliament, courts and other institutions of State are struggling to stem the tide of corruption orchestrated by the very people we elect to represent us in parliament.
Parliamentarians are elected to represent their people, but has this happened since we gained independence?
The few exceptions to the rule pale into insignificance compared to the majority whose actions demonstrate a strong desire to represent their own and not the people’s interests.
So at whose benefit and at whose expense are we participating in the general elections? Is this five-yearly ritual for the mass of the people or the elite few who make it to the echelon of power in Waigani?
Past experience has shown that Papua New Guineans tend to vote enthusiastically and then descend into silence for the rest of the term.
But we suffer the consequences of our decisions in dramatic fashion (most of them a blatant slap in the face) and wait another five years to make a case for change. Is this what democracy should look like in this country? Our patience and failure to hold politicians to account is killing this country.
For the full duration of the full five-year term electors we must ensure that the elected are held accountable for their actions and decisions.
We can never say that as citizens we have fulfilled out democratic obligation just by fronting up at the polling booth to cast our votes.
Our democratic rights are an enduring legacy and our responsibility must be just as durable.
For as long as PNG remains a democratic country with elections held to elect leaders, citizens must demand transparency and accountability from their leaders.
For the sake of our country's future, everyone has a duty to make sure this general election is worthwhile.
PNG must be better than the petty politics of tribalism or wantokism. We need leaders who are willing to serve PNG and not be limited by their ethnicity, culture and tradition when discharging their duties.
Equally important, we need electors who see beyond their huts, mountains, rivers and seas. We all need to put Papua New Guinea first in this election.
Just saw a headline in an online Newspaper.
"A reminder that up to 20 sitting .... MPs are under investigation for electoral fraud."
Newspaper is the UK "Independent",(23rd April 2017) the MPs are "Tory" MPs.
We are not alone!
Posted by: Garry Roche | 23 April 2017 at 03:44 PM
In Australia and a lot of other developed (and developing) countries a corrupt politician eventually gets caught and is disgraced and does jail time.
Not so in PNG.
Papua New Guineans, especially public servants, love process and formulas. They will follow established rules blindly, even if they are really dumb and pointless.
Maybe PNG needs to set up formal processes and formulas for dealing with miscreant public servants and politicians. These processes could be based on existing laws but not necessarily dependent upon them.
And of course the best organisation to do this this would be an independent commission against corruption.
Perhaps this should be a guiding light for PNG voters. Only vote for candidates who support setting up an ICAC immediately after the election.
I know O'Neill promised one and never delivered so it might be a good idea to get the commitment in writing and a promise to resign if it doesn't happen.
But who am I kidding ....?
Posted by: Philip Fitzpatrick | 23 April 2017 at 01:05 PM
I find myself saying, yes, yes, yes, all good points but who is prepared to stand up and make it happen.
The problem is talked about ad infinitum but the answer of how to make it happen seems to elude almost everyone in PNG.
PNG needs a charismatic leader/s and an organisation behind them to actually translate the wishes and desires into practice.
In these circumstances, desperation usually leads to electing yet another version of the same problem. South America and Central America, much of Africa have classic examples of this problem.
Posted by: Paul Oates | 23 April 2017 at 08:53 AM