PNG tries to raise funds in a challenging bond market
Kiap days: The ballad of the Wantoat - Leron road

Phil’s had it up to here: it’s time to take action, he says

Ugly Head
Phil Fitzpatrick -  Papua New Guinea, enough is enough


TUMBY BAY - Papua New Guinea is in a great big mess.

It has spiralled down the plughole and is sitting in the u-bend among such smelly companions as EthIopia, Angola, Sudan and Outer Woop Woop ready to be flushed away into oblivion.

Its intention to issue bonds to pay off its enormous debt have been greeted by raucous laughter in the financial capitals of the world.

China is gearing up to buy it, lock stock and barrel, probably as a launching pad for its expansion into the Asia-Pacific and as a convenient stick to shove up Donald Trump’s nose.

Its great mate down south is no help. It’s running around like a chook with its head cut off trying to work out why it keeps tripping over.

What to do?

Well, as Paul Oates keeps pointing out, the first step is to identify the cause.

I think Paul is as aware of the cause as the rest of us.

It is the politicians and the public servants.

They’ve got to go if there’s any chance of saving what’s wedged in that u-bend before it gets flushed away.

They are the people who hive off the money coming in from the desperate aid donors trying to prop the place up.

They are the people who love to atack the workers some of these donors send in to do the job themselves.

They are a pox with no morals, empathy or humanity. They are basically criminals aboard a gravy train to nowhere, too stupid to realise it is going to crash.

Can you run a country without politicians or public servants?

Probably not but you can certainly try. It’s been done before.

Get the United Nations or Darth Vader or whoever is in charge of the planet at the moment to send in an administrator, just like what’s previously been done in some of the provinces.

Get them to shake out all the nasty people and identify the good ones. Set new standards for politicians and public servants. Bring in a law to ban wantokism. Set mandatory education levels for high office.

Jail as many crooks as possible. Find a handy island, build a big fence around it and throw away the key.

Somewhere in the Carterets might be a good spot.

Enough is enough.

It’s time to take action.


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Michael Dom

No revolution and I don't know much about the political kind.

But I guess that revolutions require that there is general dissatisfaction, unmet mutually desirable objectives, with fundamental needs for change which a majority recognize and towards which strong willed and capable people are ready to sacrifice all to achieve.

Paul Oates

Then if one follows the local news maybe the 'revolution' is already underway?

Tingting bilo yu olsem wanem Maikel?

Michael Dom

Misery, suffering, mayhem and killing if need be, these are the pain of birth for nationhood.

We can't go on forever being happy go lucky.

So be it.

Harry Topham

A few years back, Samoa went broke after spending all its cash reserves of a multi million-dollar tourist enterprise.

The lynch pin of this endeavour, namely a “five star hotel”, never got finished and the whole blow out of costs sent the country into bankruptcy.

The prime minister at the time swallowed his pride, went on TV and told his countrymen and women, “ We are broke."

The solution meant the majority of public servants lost their sinecures and the Samoan government employed an Administrator from NZ to sort out the mess.

I wonder how things panned out, is anyone aware whether this rather drastic action had the remedial effect required?

I don’t think this solution would work in PNG due to the big-headed attitude of the players involved and that unfortunate human trait attached that refuses to “swallow its pride”.

Paul Oates

Ah Michael, you are like 'a voice crying in the wilderness'.

Perhaps you are right and there needs to be a complete collapse before a new order emerges. Yet there are two main reasons for fearing that scenario.

The first is the unnecessary but anticipated grief, misery and destruction that occurs when that happens.

The second is who shall emerge and what template will they use to gain power and then to rule?

Both alternatives are not especially beneficial or in the short term even helpful to PNG's current population.

The fact as some of us lapuns regret, is that there was a system in place that worked and worked fairly well at the time. It's not as if any new system has to be reinvented since we have innumerable examples of what works and a locally grown clear and cogent example of what doesn't.

Just look at an historical example. The French Kingdom became so top heavy and incapable of managing anything more than the excesses of the nobility who had expanded in number at the expense of the poor.

The subsequent French revolution was messy and violent and descended into innumerable wars until a strong man who initially turned his cannon on the people rose to power and dominated through terror and secret police. Napoleon eventually met his Waterloo but only after millions died and misery prevailed over most of Europe.

Is that what PNG must endure before she is able 'To Arise'?

Wantok. Kain olsem na mi bel hevi lo dispela rot. Planti narapla rot istap sapos ol pipol iet ibung wantaim na opim ai bilo ol na girapim gutpla lida na lain bilo en iken kamap pinis ya.

Michael Dom

Regardless of doomsayers Phil, ex-kiaps have a right to feel offended.

Pngians have, through intimate knowledge and willful ignorance managed to fuck up a perfectly good system of governance.

When trying to take a middle path, through political action, some of us are hamstrung on both sides.

On one side by those educated enough to call their opinions democratic, but too stupid to realise that the objective of argument is to find the best solution: it's win-win, not mi win.

On the other side are the devious players who capitalize on ignorance, greed, envy, and the rest of their magnificent seven, to counteract any worthy endeavor.

While trying to save PNG its not feasible to work with all but three politicians or with 99% of our own people,they are the intimately knowledgeable or the willfully ignorant.

We have been assuming that the way that politics, society and now the nations economy is devolving was against our wishes.

But is that assumption sound?

Clearly what PNG people wish for is not in the countries best interests.

The two remain mutually exclusive.

Until they are we're wasting our breath.

Unfortunately I now believe that we will have to hit rock bottom.

And if we rise again then that might make our national anthem worth singing.

Paul Oates

Therein lies the true incomprehensible conundrum Phil. I've been rocking on about how to fix the problems for years but all that happens is a continuing saga of PNG people describing the issues but never actually promoting the solutions and acting on them.

It seems like there is a cultural barrier to standing up and promoting what's needed to fix what everyone knows are the problems.

In reality, only those of us who worked in the bush with the PNG people really understood what was going to happen and even now, only have an inkling of why it just gets worse and worse.

Australian politicians come and go in a veritable vacuum of understanding about PNG and the Canberra mandarins, who these days are hopelessly caught up in politically correct appointments, aren't apparently able to come up with any real solutions to the obvious problems.

The only way forward that would work is to rule off and start again.

But who has the guts, gumption and get up an go to do that?

Philip Fitzpatrick

I'm not sure about you guys (Paul & Dave) but I'm getting past the frustration stage and into the deeply offended stage.

I find it deeply offensive that Papua New Guineans has taken a functional system of governance and administration left to them in 1975 and thoroughly trashed it.

This especially galls me because I have been making excuses for them for 43 years.

Now I've run out of excuses and have to concede that the doomsayers leading up to independence might have been right after all.

Paul Oates

I totally agree with you Dave. I reckon a few of us with the right backing could still make a difference.

Still, given the ABC's fixation on inferring a well known media baron had something to do with the recent re organisation of the Titannic's deck chairs, doesn't that same person own the Guria?

Perhaps a gentle word or two, seemingly wafted about by those PNG people who know and understand the problem but feel hamstrung as to how to fix it might have some value?

Dave Ekins

Phil’s frustration is palpable and some of it must stem from having been a kiap where nothing seemed impossible and we could always find a solution to any problem, not always the best solution but a solution none the less.

We would relish the challenge and attack the task with gusto and good intentions. This trait also held most of us in good stead when we moved on with our lives.

It is unbearably frustrating to see a problem that might be solved one way or another, even with unorthodox methods, but not be in any position to be able to do anything about it.

It’s quite heartrending as well to read the comments of PNGeans such as Mathias Kin and Michael Dom, who have a much better perspective of the problems but are similarly hamstrung when trying to find solutions.

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