FR GARRETT ROCHE SVD
MAYNOOTH, IRELAND - My initial response to Jim Moore’s item, ‘Thoughts of Then, Now & Cultural Variance’, was to try to figure out which road Jim was referring to and what clans were involved.
Then Jim continued to discuss the appropriateness of the Western parliamentary system for an independent Papua New Guinea. So will I.
Between Mt Hagen and Togoba there are at least two roads heading towards Bukapena.
One branches off the highway near Keluagi and goes through Moika and on towards Bukapena.
Another branches off near the primary schools at Keltiga and also heads towards Bukapena.
Both go through an area inhabited by the Jika Mukuka clan.
Pena Au, a former member of the House of Assembly, was from the Jika Mukuka.
And the current member, and former prime minister, Paias Wingti is also from that clan.
Perhaps Jim was referring to the road near Pena Au’s area.
Then Jim went on to discuss the appropriateness of the Western parliamentary system for an independent PNG.
In my experience in the Hagen area, the pre-independence system of local government councillors was quite effective, and in many ways it linked in well with the local culture and customs.
The local government councillors were generally close to their people and did not become a separate elite group.
Councillors such as Komp De, Minimbi Ken, Wamp Wan, Jika Rumints, Ulga Ugl, Truga Kuri and others were well respected.
In my opinion it was not independence itself but the later introduction of provincial government that caused the local government councils to lose their power and influence.
And provincial government itself later lost power to the centralising national government.
Provincial government may have been an attempt to bring politics to the grassroots level.
But, to my thinking, by weakening the existing local government councils it ultimately led to a more centralised civil service.
After spending 47 years in Papua New Guinea as a missionary priest and university administrator, Dr Roche is now a canonical consultant to Divine Word Missionaries. He lives in Maynooth, County Kildare, Ireland