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What has PNG become and how to describe it?

Phil Fitzpatrick recent
Phil Fitzpatrick


TUMBY BAY - Finding words to describe how I feel about the current state of Papua New Guinea is proving particularly difficult.

I guess the first word that comes to mind is frustration. How can a country with so much promise and so many natural assets end up the way it has?

Writing as someone involved in launching the new nation to independence, albeit in a tiny way, this turn of events somehow needs a much stronger word.

Perhaps an adjective or two needs to be added. How about ‘extremely frustrated’ or ‘totally frustrated’?

Nope, that doesn’t cut it by a long shot.

Part of the problem I think is that the whole sorry show is ongoing. When you think it can’t get any worse, some stupid politician will up the ante with another atrocity.

This adds another aspect - anger. Sometimes intense anger. If he was within reach the temptation to grab him by the throat and strangle him would be overwhelming.

But there are so many of these politicians. How can you strangle almost a whole parliament? They really need a solid cement wall and barred cells.

And I’m a self-avowed pacifist and vegetarian. How must other people feel?

If you read the articles and comments on PNG Attitude they are replete with disappointment and words that convey that anger and disappointment.

“It is with dismay I note….” “It saddens me to read.…” “Can’t stand up against a greedy system….” “My response to this story was a combination of dismay and anger….”  And on it goes.

It’s all so depressing.

Then there is the hopeful optimism, a lot of it from Papua New Guinean commentators who blithely set out what needs to be done to fix the problems. “The government needs to do this” or “we need to change this” or the ubiquitous “they must.…”

Who the hell is “they”? Does anyone know? If we knew maybe someone could pay them to get stuck into it. No one else seems to want to bite the bullet.

“There are lots of good people in Papua New Guinea”. That’s a comment you see frequently.

If they are so good why don’t they do something about the state of their country and its people? What actually does it take to motivate them?

After a while the only resort is cynicism. When you read the comments of the ancient fraternity of kiaps, this seems to be the overriding emotion.

No matter how good the news is out of Papua New Guinea this cynicism now invariably kicks in. “What is this bloke really up to?” “What’s in it for him?” “Is this just another scam dressed up in fancy words?”

And when the scam is exposed we nod our heads and descend deeper into our cynicism.

It appears that multi-billion kina circus APEC forum was just a big scam. If the politicians can pull off a swindle of that magnitude, and it seems they’ve got away with it such is the apathy, what other gigantic atrocity are they now contemplating?

Coal mining it seems. Or another big loan to be creamed off. Or a new gas deal that benefits the few and further impoverishes the many.

If the country’s leaders can rig a general election and get away with it (indeed get applause from the Australian government), what hope is there for the poor mug in the street or up in the mountains eking out a living without infrastructure or support?

How do you describe the people who perpetuate these scams and atrocities? It’s a whole new word game. “Suckholes, fuckwits, monsters.…” I can’t think of a word offensive enough.

Words, words and more words. The pen is mightier than the sword. Not in Papua New Guinea I’m afraid.

It needs a lot more than words.

In Papua New Guinea words have become an excuse for doing nothing.


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Lindsay F Bond

So many topics, all are important.

As a downer, Alotau has no magistrate, says one news report.
See: https://www.thenational.com.pg/alotau-has-no-magistrate-to-deal-with-cases-says-pokanis/

As a lifter, Charlie Lynn and friends reportedly helped 'Iarowari High School in Sogeri', in part with a fish farm.
See: https://www.thenational.com.pg/new-partnership-to-help-improve-school-facilities/

As a source of hope, PNG Attitude has stirrings to revive the ailing Pukpuk prize.

Not one item is sufficient, all cling to each other, a 'drystone' wall lacking (what shall we say?) mortar.
Thanks to Bernard and Phil, the societal equivalent is no longer anonymous, it is recognisably of 'anomie'.

Far different from a state of 'anarchy', and be-saddled with anomalies of its National Constitution, with citizens in National anthem of being free, PNG folk have a bind of proximity and (as it might be said), a kind of unboundedness, no matter that older folk might be 'mortified'.

Philip Fitzpatrick

Anomie means the lack of normal ethical or social standards in an individual or a society. Where this lack of purpose and ideals occurs in a society there is eventually a system breakdown.

Bernard Corden

Anomie is a word that springs to mind.

Lindsay F Bond

‘On yah’, Phil, in there, boots and drawl, patrolling to new heights, heaven bent.

Yet as Gary Juffa wants clear air for a Pacific share, so too there will be a great many folk who would wish they were not encumbered by the word ‘they’.

As to encumbrance by urges of compulsion that 'they' must do something, perhaps some will wish the urging fades away, as mountain mist evaporates.

How can their heaven be derived from or equated with heaving?

Paul Oates

Perhaps we're missing the point Phil. Maybe PNG represents the norm as far as human societies are concerned. After all, just look how many other countries are in a similar state.

Maybe it's time to look at what nations are worth holding up as an example and why.

Sorry! We just got to an interesting point of conjecture and now there's another inane add break about mobile smart phones, fit bit watches or some other useless junk that you just have to have in order to be someone.

Soap powder ads were supposed to be aimed at a sub optimal IQ of 75. I wonder what level of IQ the ads these days are targeting?

Are we, as suggested a few years ago in the PNG parliament, actually progressing, but backwards?

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