TUMBY BAY - Paul Oates, in a comment on this blog, has suggested we need to see some good stories coming out of Papua New Guinea for a change.
Daniel Kumbon has countered by saying there are so many bad things happening there's no space to report the good stuff.
There have, in fact, been a few heart-warming stories in PNG Attitude lately but they all seem to relate to dedicated and selfless outsiders coming into the country to provide much-needed help where the government has failed.
These stories are positive in that they refer to good things happening, but bad in that they highlight the PNG government’s indifference and inadequacy.
I think, if they could be lined up, there might be hundreds, if not thousands, of such positive stories that PNG Attitude could report.
And then there are the ‘good news’ stories that the government and its spin doctors hawk. Included in these are APEC and various infrastructure projects happening in Port Moresby.
Of course, these stories have another side, a downside, usually related to massive loans that will never be paid off or obscene profits garnisheed by unscrupulous business people and politicians.
That the ‘good news’ stuff seems to be coming from outside sources seems to indicate that Papua New Guinea is rapidly becoming a mendicant state.
A state is mendicant when it relies on other countries for charity. The word was originally coined to describe certain religious orders dependent upon others for their existence but it is now applied more broadly to include secular institutions including nation states.
To suggest that Papua New Guinea might be becoming mendicant is really playing down the problem. When you think about it, what becomes clear is that it has always been a mendicant state, prior to independence and ever since. It has always relied on outside support to survive.
There are a couple of Australian states that occasionally are labelled as mendicant, notably Tasmania and my own state of South Australia. Both take more money from the national tax kitty than they give back. They do this because they haven’t got the population or resources to keep pace with the rest of Australia.
Where PNG differs from South Australia and Tasmania is that it actually has both the population and resources to support itself and its citizens well. Papua New Guinea is a resource-rich nation where everyone should be enjoying the rewards.
But that’s not the case. Like a spoiled brat, it takes everything it can get, wastes it on fripperies and then cries out for more.
All those dedicated and selfless people from outside are, in fact, supporting a spoiled child that should be able to take care of itself.
What it needs, like any spoiled child, is to be taken into a corner and have its backside firmly slapped. Then it needs to be taught how to look after itself properly.
It just needs a mature adult to do it.
I didn’t think so.