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Thunder without rain not our preferred MP

| Academia Nomad

PORT MORESBY - Among the things to be mastered in Papua New Guinean politics are the subtleties and allusions of conversation, figurative speech, presentation and present-giving.

It’s a form of speech known as ‘tok-bokis’ – to speak in metaphors.

On one occasion, villagers gave a provincial governor, since retired, a traditional bilum (bag) full of corn and a tied green lizard during a ceremony he had been invited to witness.

The ignorant governor took the present believing the electorate was happy with his performance.

But the gifts had a meaning beyond the obvious.

The corn (kon in Tok Pisin) signified lies or unfulfilled promises.

The lizard has a tongue that splits in two at the tip.

It signified something similar to kon, a promise not kept.

Best not to be like the green lizard (kundu palai) in PNG. Don’t have a double tongue.

Say what you mean. And mean what you say.

The presents offered to the governor were a way of the villagers saying he had failed to keep promises made during election and that he had changed positions on issues he campaigned on when they became convenient to him.

There’s another popular tok-bokis you hear around this election time: thunder without rain.

This is used to associate a politician who is very vocal in speaking out on national issues while his electorate suffers from a lack of basic necessities.

Note to non-Papua New Guinean readers: PNG voters see the primary role of their MPs as service delivery, not law making.

This means MPs can be vocal on important national issues and still lose voters’ trust if they do not deliver tangible assets like roads, ports, hospitals, schools and suchlike.

The voters cannot be blamed for prioritising service delivery over national issues.

The 1995 reform that abolished provincial representatives brought with it the responsibility of national MPs also running the province and bearing the dual responsibility of service delivery at the grassroots as well as duties to the nation.

If an MP focuses on national issues but fails to deliver services, he is referred to as ‘Thunder Without Rain’ (klaut i pairap nogat ren) or ‘Lighting Without Showers’ (lait bilong klaut nogat ren).

You can see Lightning on television and his name may be frequently in the newspapers, but he never delivers services.

You can see Thunder in the bar, drinking and laughing with his wantoks, but you’ll never see the road he promised.

We’ve had few vocal members in this tenth national parliament of Papua New Guinea who are accused of being a Thunder.

It will be interesting to see how they go in the election scheduled for 11-24 June.

Maybe the pairap na lait will be seen among the voters.


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Kindin Ongugo

Typical provinces are with prolonged drought despite so much thunder are:
New Ireland

Stephen Charteris

Michael, em nau. Yu tok stret na tru.

This brilliant piece of prose sums it up so beautifully.

But it applies to more than just the local member.

It describes anyone in authority who is NOT related to you.

And therein lies the challenge for top down models of service delivery.

To would be development partners. Think about that.

Michael Dom

Em ia, a reprise of my poem of 4 September 2015:


Mi songan na yu sipsip
Mi sanap na yu sindaun
Mi toktok na yu mauspas
Mi grisim na yu tanim
Mi giaman na yu daunim
Mi karai na yu wara nating

Mi kisim na yu givim
Mi laikim na yu salim
Mi kaikai na yu hanger
Mi pulap na yu painim
Mi paulim na yu pilim
Mi dinau na yu bekim

Mi kamap na yu pundaun
Mi igo pas na yu igo lus
Mi saveman na yu kanaka
Mi bikman na yu pipiaman
Mi stap long kot na yu kam sapot
Mi stap antap na yu sutim graun

Mi raunraun na yu longlong
Mi ronim kar na yu brukim bus
Mi stap long opis na yu stap long bus
Mi slip long hotel na yu slip long rot
Mi kam long balus na yu ken lukim
Mi stap long Mosbi na yu stap long Moro

Mi igat kago na yu laikim kago
Mi dring kola na yu dring kol wara
Mi baim bia na yu spak tulait
Mi laikim meri na yu kisim kam
Mi holim moni na yu pasim han
Mi mekim save na yu stap nating

Mi nogat wari na yu bel hevi
Mi nogat sori na yu pilim pen
Mi nogat hevi na yu silip wari
Mi save long yu na yu save long mi
Mi no tingim yu na yu lusim tingting
Mi fit man tru na yu ia ino wanpela man tu!

Tempus fugit - KJ

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