PORT MORESBY - Great leaders have vision. They dream of a better future.
An Engan leader who had a great vision was the later Malipu Balakau. He has a grand vision to change Enga Province.
His vision of change was embedded in his captivating political speeches. He is said to have uttered his spellbinding speeches during his numerous campaigns.
“Poh mende ailyah lo epesamo ongo, namabame poh lo ono lo pena laro.” The wind that is blowing upwards, I will make the wind blow backwards.
Both the old and the young folks re-echoed his words and it spread like wild fire to the farther reaches of Enga Province.
In an oral culture where people hang on the words of the orator, thousands of voters were captivated by his political rhetoric.
Through the power of his magnetic personality and political rhetoric’s, he gained a land slide victory and was elected to parliament in 1987.
In 1989, Malipu Balakau was gunned down in Mt Hagen. He was at his house when an unknown assailant assassinated him.
Since his demise, many young leaders have risen in the political landscape of Enga. After a short reign in the governor’s seat by his brother, Peter Ipatas, a council rose to power and he remained in the hotly contested seat for 25 years.
Many political aspirants contested the five open seats of Enga’s five districts. Some won; others lost.
The longest serving members are Don Pomb Polye and John Pundari in the Kandep and Kompiam Ambum seats respectively.
During more than 20 years, Enga’s progress has been steady but there is nothing of the radical change contained in Malipu Balakau’s vision.
In retrospect, Malipu Balakau was truly a visionary leader like Martin Luther King. Dr King dreamed of a country where his children would be treated with dignity based on the content of their character not the colour of their skin.
Dr King was a forward thinker like Dubai’s Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, who transformed an arid desert into an international tourism hub using the nation’s oil wealth.
He was an indomitable soul with great intellect - like Nelson Mandela, who dreamed to transform a racial divided South Africa into a democratic nation.
Mandela was a great political leader with grand ambitions like Pericles of Greek, who ushered his nation into the golden age.
When compared with the current crop of Engan leaders, these leaders are miles ahead.
Peter Ipatas is egocentric, solely interested to build his Irelaya empire. Don Polye, John Pundari, Maso Kirape and Mike Kaeok love political show biz, but have no concrete development taking place in their electorates.
Only Dr Lino Tom is the visionary leader in Enga now. He is bringing concrete and life changing development in his electorate. He became the first leader to connect Maramuni to civilisation, a region neglected for half a century.
If Malipu Balakau was not murdered and served the full five years as a member of parliament, what he would have accomplished if he executed his vision is beggars the imagination because he died with his dream.
But if he had lived and was given the opportunity to make his dream come true, he would have taken Enga Province to great heights. Given his status as minister of telecommunications, his charisma and intellect, his friendly and magnetic personality, he would also have done much for the nation.
If a nation’s rise and greatness is predicated on the dream of the leader, Enga’s dream of greatness died when the dreamer of Enga’s greatness died.
Not only did Malipu had a dream to change the direction of the wind, but he was well placed in the political engine room of power and had the political will to bring his dream to fruition.
Like Balakau, our leaders in the current twelfth parliament need to have a clear vision to bring change.
Like Lee Kuan Yew; who transformed Singapore from a third world, economic backwater to the first world.
Leaders with vision must hate corruption, because corruption will take a country down to a fearful descend into a dismal abyss.
They must avoid aligning with Somare’s kitchen cabinet, O’Neill’s yes men and Marape’s sweet talk which delivers little and condones corruption.
Papua New Guinea is not poor like Singapore or arid like Israel but super wealthy with a rich array of natural resources.
It is corruption that is eating away our nation’s wealth and we are becoming shameful beggars.
Our leaders must dream big like Malipu Balakau, become reformists like Sir Mekere Morauta and avoid corruption and lead our country to the sunlit uplands dreamed by great leaders.