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PNG’s body a bit under the weather but better days ahead

Sam-Koim (Business Advantage PNG)SAM KOIM

You can read here the complete speech from which this article was extracted

TOWNSVILLE – Here’s a medical question which requires some form of scientific explanation.

There’s a body that is 42 years old, sitting on a plate of gold, floating on a sea of oil, powered by natural gas, got all the enablers to grow and still struggling to get on its feet and continuing to receive $500 million in aid annually.


I mean, if a body is 42 years old and still yet to get its footing in the rudiments of life, the chemistry is not working well, is it?

In Papua New Guinea, I was confronted with this burning question so decided to take some time off from the hustle and bustle of politics to search for answers.

For the last three and half months, I have been conducting a diagnosis of this 42-year-old body.

Believe it or not, I have discovered that the body had the symptoms of diabetes. Much of it is overweight, dysfunctional and, most importantly, losing its sight. It has developed a Type 2, insulin-resistant diabetes.

I have identified a number of potential causes.

In its infancy, this body was not treated by real doctors but by copycats. Although the copycats meant well, they were not trained to understand the body. So they experimented on the body in the best way they could.

When one of the organs got dysfunctional, the watchmen started feeding it sweets to gety it to work. The glucose started to seep into the body. Before we realised it, the body was overweight and very unhealthy. It needed trimming. I mean a lot of trimming and weight loss.

That is the body that is celebrating its 42nd birthday.

I have painted a rather gloomy picture of our beloved country and you might be depressed. I am showing you that, until that body is healed and regains its sight, it will never be able to see and help others who are sick.

The good news is that our best days are still ahead of us.

I am convinced that the strength of our country is its people. I have seen on social media that, despite our shortcomings and economic turmoil, our people took time out in colours to honour independence day.

If we all start doing our bit, however incremental it may be, we can change the course of our destiny. The people who cause change are never extraordinary people. They are ordinary people, doing ordinary things extraordinarily well.

The display of our collective consciousness defines who we are - a communal people, interacting with an individualistic society.

Yes, it is a competitive world and we run our individual races, yet we value others. We adapt to modernity, change our lifestyle, assimilate into this multicultural society, yet preserve our morality and our sense of belonging.

Just because we live our private lives doesn’t mean that we can’t have public concerns. Our people see us leaders as the hope for a better future. They depend on us to stand in the gap where they cannot.

So if you count our blessings and discount our problems, you will agree with me that what binds us is far greater than that which divides us.

We are Papua New Guinea. God bless us all.


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Jeremy Thomas

Barbara rightly suggests sticking a needle into PNG's ailing body politic.

Could this be considered a "Short and sharp" solution?

Daniel Kumbon

People in leadership roles in any organisation like churches, government departments, politicians etc are indeed seen by ordinary people as their hope for a better future.

Leaders must bear in mind that the people are the strength of any nation.

The youth are the future.

A free, literate, knowledgeable, happy population will always be the key for a country like PNG’s future success.

Often, it will be simple ordinary people who will express their feelings how the leaders conducted their public lives in eulogies, letters, radio and television documentaries, autobiographies, books and poetry.

I wish to share a poem written in the first decade of PNG’s independence.

It was dedicated to the Vice Chancellor of the University of Papua New Guinea, Dr Gabriel Gris, who died on 14 March 1982.

Because it was dedicated to a university administrator I wish to pose a question why we see so many recurring student strikes in some of our country's higher learning institutions?

‘He Will Miss’ is the title of the poem by Sorariba Nash Gegera who published it in PNG’s Literary Magazine, 'Ondobondo' Issue No 7 (1985–86).

We heard it-
Loud and clear,

He was a man-
Our Doctor,
Father of our University
A figure of dignity-
In our nation-
And people,
His people.

Spent four decades-
Among us,
Growing in mind and body
Without reservations-
He took and gave,
Then he fell,
In a foreign soil

National tune played-
After mid-day
Last prayer said-
And silence-
For his name,
To live,
In our memories

There he lay-
Far away-
From his garamut sounds,
Of Manus
The sounds of winds,
The smell of rotting seaweed
Music of the crashing waves,
He will miss

His mother’s people-
His father’s people-
Warm sunshine of the islands
Caressing stings from the rains
Loving breeze from the Oceans
And from the mountains
He will miss

Songs of late fisherman
Mother’s chant of praises
Father’s secret message
His woman’s voice
Children’s voice
Smell of home-
He will miss

Barbara Short

Wonderful, Sam Koim. Yes, the people from the various tribes are now all mixed up, and are celebrating Independence Day, dressed in their brightly coloured clothes,and the Sepiks in Simbu are feeding traditional Sepik food to Simbus.
Amongst the members of this 42 year old body are healthy human beings who know right from wrong and who want to make changes for the better so the whole country can be more healthy. I just hope the "sick" members of this body will start to listen to the new "doctors" who can see the problems and are right now trying to work out how to solve them and heal the nation.

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