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Murderous politicians and their sins of omission


TUMBY BAY - It makes you wonder, does it not, about people who see other people’s ignorance or misfortunes as opportunities to exploit them and make money?

We tolerate this at a certain level even when the ethics have gone missing. Persuading people to buy things they don’t need or which are harmful to their health. Convincing them to take loans and credit cards they’ll never be able to pay off.

Those sorts of things are regarded as good business or clever marketing. Being convincing and persuasive enough to make a profit is regarded as a virtue by many people. In business, there’s often a very thin line between a salesman and a shyster.

It was the American journalist, Daniel Schorr, who famously said of sincerity that “if you can fake it, you've got it made”.

Then there’s out and out greed with no attempt to fake or hide anything.

In the United States, Martin Shkreli earned the nickname of the "most hated man on the internet" after he bought the rights to Daraprim, a drug used to treat those with weakened immune systems caused by illnesses like HIV.

Shkreli then hiked the price of the drug by 5,000% from $13.50 per pill to $750. He’s now in jail after being convicted of securities fraud over another matter.

That’s a pretty extreme example of the worst kind of human behaviour in a supposedly civilised context, but how does it stack up against other examples – say, among politicians and their cronies?

Is there any real difference between a politician who awards a tender at an inflated price to a kickback-paying wantok (who, if he does anything, makes sure it’s cheap and nasty) and someone like Martin Shkreli?

What that politician is basically doing is using taxpayers’ money (or aid money) to rob ordinary people of their due. I would argue that building an inferior rural road that falls to pieces after a year is immoral in exactly the same sense that Shkreli was immoral.

And making money by taking bribes from shonky drug suppliers who provide inferior products is also immoral.

We now hear rumours that relief funds for earthquake victims in Hela Province are being diverted into the pockets of politicians and suppliers who are charging inflated prices. That is a special kind of immorality. How low can these fraudsters go?

On a more general level, it’s also immoral to fail to pay rent on the building that houses PNG’s disaster relief agency, forcing it to shut down. And what did happen to that money allocated for rent?

A government that complacently allows its cronies to suck blood out of a dire situation is not only immoral but obscene.

By its inaction and complacency, it allows people to suffer and die. Some people may regard that as tantamount to state-sponsored murder.

If people die in Hela because stolen money or supplies mean there is no one to treat their injuries or provide food relief, is that not murder?

In Catholic teaching, an omission is a failure of a person to do something they can and ought to do. If an omission happens deliberately and freely, it is considered a sin.

But I guess if you are a politician in Mosbi dining at the Grand Papua or The Stanley, what goes on in far-flung Hela is of little consequence.

Distance and ignorance are a great panacea for the curse of immorality. And if that’s not enough, perhaps a quick trip to church or confession will do the trick.


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John K Kamasua

It has been revealed in the local papers that bogus claims and invoices with inflated figures have reached the Disaster Coordinating Team...people trying to profit from the sufferings of others!

Bernard Corden

It would also be interesting to see how the families of the victims in the Rabaul Queen disaster have been treated.

Bernard Corden

After Aberfan, the incumbent Labour government established a disaster fund for the bereaved families, who had to fight to obtain money from the fund to pay for their children's gravestones.

Meanwhile, the government plundered money from the fund to have the remaining slag heaps moved from around the valley.

Death certificates were issued from the fish and chip shop down the road from the ramshackle chapel, which was used as a makeshift mortuary.

The Blair government later reimbursed the kismet but only at the 1966 value and purely because Aberfan was in a marginal electorate.

Hillsborough was even more inhumane. Police officers tucked into a fast food dinner of fried chicken and chips during the interrogation of bereaved families as the victims lay nearby in zipped up body bags.
The coroner ordered blood alcohol tests to be conducted on the victims, many of whom were teenagers. Meanwhile, senior offices retreated to the local Niagara sports and social club and got plastered. The fourth estate were scavenging like hyenas and a scoop soon emerged of embattled police officers attempting to control a tanked up Scouse rabble......A lie gets half way around the world before the truth has a chance to get it pants on.

Government and disasters, give me a break they are socially autistic mercenaries.

The only person who ever went into the UK Houses of Parliament with good intent was Guy Fawkes.

William Dunlop

The Power and Water Authority in the Northern Territory was formed in 1975 by the former boss of what is now PNG Power I can't for the life of me remember his name. One of his offsiders was that great character, the late Eddie Collins, a former Royal Navy submariner.

William Dunlop

Disasters. Here in the Northern Territory last Saturday we experienced a Category 2 Cyclone, nothing like the Ferocity of Tracey in 1974 when 'Santa didn't make it to Darwin'.

However there was extensive damage to around 25,000 homes which lost power, considerable damage to feeder power lines being the main cause of power outages.

As a result, Darwin city's unsuitable mahogany trees amongst others planted after Cyclone Tracey were uprooted - the Greenies of the great concrete jungles have a lot to answer for.

There has also been a lack of positive political willpower to get the feeder power lines underground. Pollies of all parties full of the usual El Bull Shita Double Speak.

Well by Tuesday afternoon something like 22,500 homes had been reconnected/powered up by the NT Power and Water Authority. These men and women are to be lauded to the highest. An example of what can be done by so few in such a short time.

I suspect they had little political interference due to communications being out.

Philip Fitzpatrick

David Miner posted this on the exkiap website today:

Controller of the Emergency Disaster Restoration Team Dr William Hamblin has accused a number of suppliers and government agencies of “disaster profiteering”.

Dr Hamblin said yesterday that he had received a number of inflated financial claims from suppliers and service providers as well as a “mysterious batch of supplies” which his restoration team had never ordered (or even received for that matter) and were now being asked to pay for.

“We had some supplies which we are investigating at the moment, which were ordered and we’ve never had anything to do with the order or the receipt of these goods,” he said.

Speaking to reporters yesterday, Dr Hamblin said that the restoration team was however taking a proactive approach towards efficiently managing the resources at their disposal and would be investigating all claims thoroughly before payments are being made.

He said that some of these claims included “compensation for trees and all sorts of things at ridiculous amounts,” and that his office simply refused many of these invoices.

“This is not a time to try and get rich! It’s a time to assist our fellow Papua New Guineans and that’s what is being lost on some people in this country. They see it as a chance to grab money and we’ve had this right across the spectrum, not just in one area, where people consider it their right to make something out of the misery of others,” Dr Hamblin said.

“There were some invoices for PNG Power Limited which I referred back to them today. We think the invoices are inflated. So again, we’re not approving that at this stage. It had lots of compensation type items in them and we rejected those. So we’re not about to just accept invoices whether they come from government agencies or not,” he said.

Dr Hamblin also warned suppliers and service providers to refuse to supply anyone who went around using the name of the Emergency Disaster Restoration Team, without a purchase order or direct contact with EDRT staff.

“It’s an unnecessary distraction when you’re trying to run a relief exercise and then you’ve got to keep rushing back to check all these things that are occurring behind your back,” he added.

Philip Fitzpatrick

You'd be stupid not to William.

How many times have we heard companies that have been ripping off people and the government say, "we've done nothing illegal"?

What would the clever lawyers and shonky accountants do without them?

It would be nice if our laws mirrored our ethics a bit more though.

Bernard Corden

Following disasters and industrial diseases the victims and their dependents often discover that the theatre of law has little to do with the quest for truth or realisation of justice and the only parole for the bereaved is death or dementia.

Aberfan, Hillsborough, Piper Alpha, The Radium Girls, Upper Big Branch and more recently Grenfell Tower provide ample substantive evidence along with the victims of asbestosis and coal workers pneumoconiosis.

The former Massey Energy CEO who spent 12 months in the slammer following the Upper Big Branch disaster in West Virginia is hoping to win a seat in the US senate:

These socially autistic mercenaries are even worse than Soso who is alleged to have used the aphorism... one death is a tragedy and a million is a statistic.

Robert Wilson

It takes a disaster such as the recent earthquake to highlight the degree of effectiveness and capability of a government and its numerous departments to deal with extraordinary events.

The abysmal performance to date as clearly described in the above comments is an indictment on the continuing decline of government services to the people for the past 30 plus years.

My last visit to PNG (Goroka/Madang) in January 2017 was a look through the window at a country in steep decline from what I remembered as vibrant and all inclusive with remote villagers as well as small medium and large towns all having access to government services. Not any more though!

I am not surprised at all with this result and as more disasters occur,continued decay and decline in road transport systems,(eg., highlands highway, law and order etc. It's only going to get worse.

William Dunlop

Philip - Bear in mind that the late Lord Justice Denning, when Master of the Rolls, stated it's every citizen's right to so order their affairs as to minimise their tax liability.

I throughout my life have vigorously followed his Lordship's advice.

Daniel Kumbon

It relieves me to discuss such issues here because of a fellow public servant who came to Enga Province to work with kiaps many years ago as a young man who retired two years ago.

But he is still waiting to get his entitlements before he goes back to Manus Province. He told me he wanted to build a home with his retirement benefits. But I am worried now.

Many other public servants have died while waiting to get their entitlements. Nambawan Super wouldn't pay them because the government didn't pay the employer contributions which have accumulated to nearly K2.5 billion.

Now, with all the corruption, poor governance, APEC and natural disasters, I wonder if my friend from Manus will ever build himself a home in his village to spend the rest of his days satisfied that he had served his country to nationhood and content to sit in a rocking chair till he dozes off in a big sleep.

This is slow torture, isn't it?

Bernard Corden

People in power despise democracy and it's worth reiterating Tony Benns five questions:

What power have you got ?
Where did you get it from?
In whose interests do you exercise it?
To whom are you accountable?
How can we get rid of you?

Only democracy gives us that right and it is why me must struggle to win it and keep it.

'No legacy is so rich as honesty' - Shakespeare

Philip Fitzpatrick

I suspect that the ill preparedness for disasters, in a disaster-prone part of the world, was a combination of both "blythe indifference to humanity" and rank incompetence Lindsay.

While it's pretty clear that Peter O'Neill doesn't give a stuff about the people of PNG he's not alone in that regard. Politicians worldwide regard their constituents more as pawns in their power games than real people with needs and feelings.

Lindsay F Bond

Phil, as to omission, is it not worth finding whether there existed, following the most recent election and swearing in of officeholders, any intention of provision or support for that which is alleged of omission?

Anecdotes from Barbara and a helicopter pilot indicate ad hoc events, hardly the outcome of a management system for handing aftermath of 'natural' disasters. Was the now-apparent lack, from omission following deficient administrative choices or from blythe indifference to humanity, husbandry and humility?

Simon Davidson

Phil.I think the pollies who commit the sin of omission, should have their heads fried, because they never seem to learn from their mistakes. They are deluded souls, duped by power and greed,and often ignore the flight of people who are more needier than themselves.

Philip Fitzpatrick

I agree that Barbara has made an interesting point.

"Oh, look, a disaster, people are dying, we'd better set up a committee and schedule some meetings".

When I left the public service in 1994 and found myself looking at it from the outside I was amazed at how ineffective it was and how it was preoccupied with pointless bureaucratic activity.

One of the main reasons I left was because I'd become sick of all the pointless meetings and reorganisations. The department where I worked used to have regular meetings about rearranging the office furniture.

We were supposed to be administering a heritage Act that the government had passed but had no intention of honouring. I finally twigged that their main game was to keep us busy with pointless crap so we couldn't enforce the Act.

This whole modus operandi seems to be inbred into the PNG public service. This is strange because, by and large, the colonial public service was very efficient with its shoestring budgets and didn't have time for extraneous garbage like endless planning.

Michael Dom

Barbara has hit on an interesting thought for which I believe there is more to be dissected.

Whenever well intending, motivated, energetic, educated PNG public servants return from overseas they are often bumped up the ladder or provided with the 'most impossible/impractical tasks' so that they are set up to fail or at least to be kept as busy as possible and away from the most important and potentially productive tasks.

This is part of the strategy of the old guard to secure their positions, maintain their power and protect the network of thieves operating inside the public service and political offices.

Barbara Short

Thank God for Christians who care.. for Missionary Aviation Fellowship who have worked tirelessly to help co-ordinate all the ADF planes with the Australian aid.

And the SDA planes and their aid and all the other church groups working in the devastated areas. For Sally Lloyd and Anton the pilot..

Also thank God for all the Australian aid and the New Zealand Government aid and the US aid helping the UN IOM who were still working in the area probably since the drought!

The PNG students in Sydney at the moment came to my house to discuss how we could help. One young man told me that he had been sent to the earthquake zone to assess the Health needs. He is doing a M.Eng at UTS so just why he was sent to do the Health Department assessment is beyond me.

I see one of the leading doctors is off to explore the area today. He is so overweight I hope he doesn't die in the process.

I have come to realise that so many PNG men who have been given a good education and end up in "top jobs" in government departments spend their whole lives going to meeting after meeting in posh hotels in PNG and in many other countries around the world.

There is plenty of money in PNG to do this. Just imagine if these people knew how to do a decent days work and the money was put to good use!

It is so sad that so many educated people in PNG have wasted their lives sitting in meeting after meeting... and not really doing anything useful at all.

Philip Fitzpatrick

I tracked the "sincerity" quote right back to the Greeks.

It appears there were numerous versions of it all through time.

Apart from whoever was the original author it appears to have been a well-known tactic used by carpetbaggers and shysters ever since Adam was a lad.

I think God may have actually been the first to fake sincerity when he turfed Adam and Eve out of the beer garden.

Apart from salesmen the people who make the most use of it seem to be politicians.

How often have you sat and watched them tell a perfectly obvious lie with a straight face or deliberately misconstrue the facts to suit a lie?

Peter O'Neill and Malcolm Turnbull are masters of lying and our Treasurer, Scott Morrison, is a master of subverting the truth.

A classic example of Scomo at work is his line that Labor's plan to end cash payments for franked credits will effect "low income" pensioners.

He fails to mention that said pensioners are those with smart accountants able to reduce their declared incomes to a paltry amount while they sit on assets of millions.

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