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The cost of our democracy

H&SJOHN M GLYNN OL | Transparency International PNG

PORT MORESBY - Sometimes in warfare innocent people are killed. This is called collateral damage.

When it happens everyone is very upset and sorry. Apologies are made by those who admit accountability, and hopefully compensation is paid to those who have lost their homes and family members.

Who is accountable for the collateral damage resulting from our national elections of 2017?

Who will give us an explanation and an apology for all that happened? Who will compensate those individuals, families and businesses who were so terribly hurt by the murder and mayhem that accompanied the election process?

Some 30 people have been murdered, including the police officers who were ambushed and assassinated; many mobile phone towers were destroyed, and the cost of their replacement will eventually be paid for by us, the users of mobile services; families dispersed by the fighting have fled to the cities and even now parents are trudging from school to school in Port Moresby looking for places where their children can continue their education; homes and businesses have been destroyed ... incomes lost ... bribery, lying and cheating ... hatred and envy stirred up ...

How do we count the cost of all this? Who is accountable? Is anyone?

There are so many good people living amongst us - honest and hard-working citizens, caring and loving of their families, concerned and supportive of their communities - yet deeply disturbed and fearful for what they see happening in our society.

I feel that there are many in Papua New Guinea who are beginning to despair that nothing can be done to save our country from a downward slide into chaos and collapse.

We keep our heads down. We try not to see what is happening. We blame other people, who live in other provinces, and we say we are different.

We do not want to face up to reality and admit that we are all Papua New Guineans no matter where we come from, no matter what we look like.

All of us share a common responsibility for everything that happens in our country, but we really don't want to admit this. 

And so we cower down in fearful denial, trying ourselves to lead good lives while hoping and praying that others, not ourselves, will take up the challenge, face the risks and dangers, and act to save our failing nation.

It is now two months since voting began in these elections and we expect that the final seat in parliament will be declared in a week or so.

As our newly elected honourable members sit there in their comfortable seats I wonder how many of them give any serious thought to what it cost to put them there in terms of blood spilled, lives lost, homes destroyed, families dispersed, businesses disrupted ... and, when Election 2022 comes along, will it be any better?

God help Papua New Guinea!


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