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PORT MORESBY - I consider myself fortunate. And it is not because I come from a wealthy family or enjoy the privileges of living in a developed nation.

In fact, I live in a developing country that happens to be one of the most corrupt in the world and where there is a general sense of disregard and disrespect for the rule of law.

Police are a law unto themselves. The national procurement system is a cash cow for corrupt politicians. Taxpayers’ money is wasted on unproductive official inquires that never see the light of day.

And we have a dysfunctional public service that is a hallmark of our nation's backwardness.

In saying all that, I acknowledge that we do have hard-working and honest public servants, law enforcers and politicians. But they are like specks in the sand. So few of them make any significant contribution to our nation's future.

I consider myself fortunate because, in spite of all of that, we do manage to get by each day without much catastrophe or mayhem.

Unlike in the past, there are few mass demonstrations. Nowadays there are more keyboard warriors making noise on social media sites rather than actual foot-soldiers rampaging through the streets. The same dissatisfaction and dissent is there but it is channelled through social media and tends to stop there.

The mass of our people are in the dark with not a clue of what is going on in their country.

When the few privileged and educated Papua New Guineans voice concerns over the government's handling of the economy or other issues of national importance, the policy makers simply brush them aside.

To them, the few don’t represent the majority but, in a country where illiteracy is a huge problem, the few makes a great difference when it comes to keeping up the pressure to try to ensure that good governance prevails.

Our democracy may not be what outsiders would expect. In fact democracy in PNG has defied its principles and tenets. It has become accustomed to terms like kleptocracy, theocracy, autocracy and dictatorship being thrown around.

Take for instance the recent general election described by many Papua New Guineans as the worst in our history.

To this day two seats are still to be declared. The prime minister was elected despite five seats not being declared. The election itself was marred by widespread allegations of vote rigging, extra ballot papers, names missing from the common roll, the hijacking of writs, and declarations made in unofficial venues.

And we must never forget the loss of life and destruction of property and public assets.

This all culminated in two purported elected representatives from the same seat entering parliament and sitting on opposing side of the chamber. The national court prevent one of the purported MPs from taking the oath and now the matter is before the court.

PNG has seen a time when it had two purported prime minister and two purported police commissioners and a speaker who broke every standing orders of parliament to protect the government. We have experienced these and many other deviations from democratic principle.

What I describe is the kind of democracy we have been grappling with for years. Democracy has zigzagged through our history as an eccentric and unreliable force.

The catchphrase "Land of the Unexpected" is an apt description of how we have progressed as a young democracy.

What we should be concerned most about is our inability to learn from the mistakes of the past to strengthen our democracy.

What has happened in this year’s general election demonstrated that we have not done so learned.

Our lack of respect and disregard to learn from past mistakes has led us to repeat the same mistake but arguably worse. Every time the mistake gets repeated it increases its magnitude.

We cannot accept this as part of the evolutionary process of our democracy for do so will make us susceptible to practices that undermine our democracy.

Some people may argue we are making progress but I ask if this movement is taking us forward or backwards.

The events that unfolded in our recent election should make all Papua New Guineans think seriously about where this nation is heading.


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Philip Kai Morre

One of the effective means to fight corruption and put our young nation into its perspective is to have a dictator with a right frame of mind with a moral character who can eliminate corrupt system and people who are involved. A classical example is Fiji who have done it without any blood shed and as a result their economy grows three times. People are also happy enjoying life.

Michael Dom

It doesn't matter if the PNG government is one of the most corrupt in the world.

It only matters that they are and that poor people suffer for it.

It's more critical that the corruption is inextricably entrenched within the public service mechanism and is led from the office of the PM.

Political and public service corruption is bad enough that it results in measurable decline across the economy and suffering within the middle class and low income earners and subsistence families. These folks are the bulk of our population.

That social media advocacy has not resulted in mass demonstrations is a real disappointment and something practical that should be worked towards and is one sure way of strengthening our democracy.

Perhaps the audience of social media is disempowered from joining social organisations. This should be remedied.

The farcical election is a clear indication that our political leaders have become arrogant in their corruption, knowing that the public can do little against them.

It does not require a great deal of thought to try to resolve our declining state, rather we need to act more on principle and for mutual benefit, to stop praying and just do right.

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