The people of PNG must now see justice delivered not denied
A spineless Australia is no good for anyone

Grotesque comedy as PNG elects a debt-ridden kleptocracy

Chris OverlandCHRIS OVERLAND

THE return of the O'Neill government means that, notwithstanding the incompetence and outright fraud that reduced the electoral process to a grotesque comedy, enough Papua New Guineans were persuaded to elect what amounts to a kleptocracy.

This will ensure that PNG's remorseless slide into poverty and squalor will continue unabated. There are many precedents for this in Africa and elsewhere.

As someone who cares what happens to PNG and its people, it saddens me deeply to think that the place I knew, full of bright promise, should be reduced to this state.

In a wider context, what is happening in PNG is reflective of the slow death of representative democracy across the world.

The evidence for this mounts daily, such as in Turkey, which is falling into the hands of an authoritarian president, many of its people blinded and bedazzled by his nationalist rhetoric. So too is Venezuela, where its hideous President and his cronies are subverting the democratic process to entrench themselves in power.

Even Europe itself is in peril. It is slipping almost without complaint into the control of an unelected European bureaucracy, with the powers of national governments being relentless eroded with each new regulation imposed upon their unwitting citizenry.

Only the much reviled and put upon British seem to have understood the true nature of the European Union which, for all its apparent attractions, calls upon the citizens of member nations to submit to the power of the super bureaucrats now ensconced in Brussels. 

Russia's brief and tumultuous democratic awakening has already faltered and it has fallen into the authoritarian abyss, this time ruled by an intelligent, adept, cunning and politically ruthless modern Tsar.

Worst of all, the USA, once the mighty bastion of democracy and defender of freedom across the globe, has fallen into the clutches of all that is worst within itself. A coalition of the mad, the bad and the sad has elected a Mad King as their President.

The USA is suffering a slow and remorseless political death by Tweet. Those of us in other countries have the dubious privilege of watching our formerly great and powerful friend withering into a deformed and lesser version of what once was the world's foremost democracy.

As an historian, it causes me genuine distress to see us collectively once more plodding down the path towards war. For most assuredly, this is always what follows the rise of non-representative and authoritarian regimes. As their manifest failures become increasingly apparent, they turn upon an external enemy in a vain effort to maintain national discipline and unity.

Just think about Kim Jong-In and his increasingly bellicose and erratic behaviour or Putin's annexation of the Crimea and threatening behaviour towards The Ukraine and the Baltic states. What about China and its increasingly belligerent behaviour in the South China Seas.

Eventually, someone, somehow, is going to make a major error in judgement and precipitate a crisis that spirals out of control before the politicians even understand what has happened. This is how Europe managed to blunder into full scale warfare twice in the last century.

Of course, Peter O'Neill and his fellow travellers know or care nothing of all this. Neither does the average Papua New Guinean, who is too busy trying to scrabble a living. But, whether they know it or not, they have just knocked another brick out of the wall that once stood between all of us and eventual disaster.

Of course, I can be dismissed as a grumpy old man who cannot accept the "new reality" of the modern world. If this means that I do not accept rule by mealy mouthed, self-serving party apparatchiks or self-aggrandising, megalomaniac, posturing fools, then it is a charge I wear as a badge of honour.

Comments

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Barbara Short

Malcolm Turnbull and Julie Bishop obviously have had very little experience in PNG. They do not appear to have met the people with integrity that I have been privileged to know during my time in PNG.

I would say they probably have very little interest in PNG and the problems associated with developing good government in PNG.

It would appear that only men and women who have actually worked in PNG for awhile have the ability to understand what is going on.

O'Neill is in the news this morning for condemning the behaviour of the Alliance members at the opening of parliament while we know at the time of their outburst, for all the world to see on Facebook, he was laughing at them. Ha,ha ha... I tricked them all!

He has possibly tricked Malcolm and Julie too, which says something about their lack of discernment!

William Dunlop

The late Laurie Doolan recommended to me in late 1969 in Chimbu to read Nickolas Montserrat's Book 'Richer than all his Tribe'.

Little did I know then that it described to a tee Ali Baba Peter O'Neill and his band of thieves. My oh my, how the wheel turns.

I wonder who is the genius in Canberra who ordered the Australian Defence Force to distribute ballot boxes in PNG, thus leaving our nation open to being accused of
collusion in this the most shonky PNG election ever.

Bernard Corden

Much of the Newsreel commentary in USA by John dos Passos is reminiscent of Twitter.

Philip Kai Morre

When elected leaders don't listen to the cries and suffering of the people by supporting a corrupt prime minister, the last resort is people's power.

We will walk the streets demanding the MPs and prime minister step down like Philippines did to President Marcos.

Philip Fitzpatrick

I think we in Australia now need to be asking questions about our own federal government's role in this farcical election.

It seems that the officials from Foreign Affairs might have been complicit in the preparation of the disastrous 2017 electoral roll, that needs to be investigated.

Our election observers, including some of our MPs, appear to have accepted the result of the election without question. That is of major concern. It is hard to believe that they could be that naive.

And the issue of the utter silence of Malcolm Turnbull and Julie Bishop during what was obviously a corrupt process in progress needs to be explained.

These are important issues because they pertain directly to Australia's international reputation and its influence in the region. As a result of this inaction we could be perceived as a paper tiger and a nation that is easily coerced.

Lindsay F Bond

Of a day memorable of lighting dimmed in that Haus, and (yet again) unfortunate outpour of the capital’s waste effluence, and (coincidentally) sorrowfully of demise of one awarded lasting respect in handling electoral credibility, recourse to brighten expectation came with prim priming words of ‘circumstance circumvention circumscription’.
T’was a bit of a trip on steps to a nation’s hope for cohesion and expectancy.

Paul Oates

Spot on Chris. I for one will not dismiss your account of where the world is and where it is going. Having recently traveled in Europe and Britain your synopses is entirely accurate.

There is however one more aspect that should also be noted.

Malcolm Turnbull and Julie Bishop have intentionally stood silently by and allowed this travesty to happen without a word. It's like Pontious Pilate washing his hands of the consequences of his inaction knowing full well what will happen. It's not as if they weren't warned or informed.

When Neville Chamberlain held a piece of paper aloft in 1938 and claimed 'Peace in our time' he directly contributed to World War 2.

By remaining silent and unsupportive of all that is ethical and honest in PNG, Turnbull has effectively destroyed any useful influence Australia now has with our next door neighbours and any standing with the rest of the world community.

PNG's role as the leading and most populous nation in the South Pacific nation has now been totally ignored.

Australia's standing as a middle power and influence in our ever more troubled region is effectively trashed. Why bother about Australia our neighbours will now say? They are just paper tigers.

Like the proverbial Nero playing his harp as Rome burned, Turnbull and Bishop have now presided over one of the the worst foreign affairs fiasco ever to have been allowed to happen.

Not only are they misdirecting our nation and clogging its arteries with trivial pursuits, they have now effectively reduced us and our friends to an an ever more isolated outpost. Timidity and Isolationism has effectively destroyed any hope that the PNG people will enjoy a better life in the near future.

What will history say about them as leaders? They were put in the breach and found grossly wanting.

`Daniel Kumbon

Who hasn’t seen birds break their wings when they smash into windows believing they can fly right through when they see reflections of open space?

Or insects and lizards burn in the flames when they fly or walk straight into a fire?

After all the anti-PNC campaigns, I thought many of our elected members would not flock to the ‘islands of love’ to sign the second Alotau Accord. But they did.

There wasn’t much anybody could do when Hon John Kaupa member-elect for Moresby North East joined the PNC-led camp in Alotau after defeating a PNC sitting member.

I can only hope and wish the new government led by Prime Minister Peter O’Neil will learn from mistakes and steer our country clear of the consuming fire.

Lindsay F Bond

Vessels shipping with Chris’s convoy, with heed to his helm and in benefit of his admirable cartography, bear to perils of squalls and waives, each tacking to pitch, sway, heave, surge and yaw, reactively (history) or in anticipation (forecast).

Convoy is disciplined movement, of convenience and some expediency, affording assistance to a less able awhile some restraint of a more able, as each with another ‘speak’, to adhere to perceived objective. So oft a constraint is pace.

Of ‘ship of state’ and ‘folk with citizenship’ afloat if now awash, prayers are for all, awhile eyeing hands at the till.

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