On his way to work yesterday, Marape stopped his car at Hohola, walked to a disabled man, gently raising him to his feet and hugging him. The man, Thomas Pori Helo, was said to be a ‘diehard’ supporter. Even more now. This was not an unusual act of compassion by Marape
PORT MORESBY - Following James Marape’s election as prime minister, on Sunday he issued a declaration on Facebook that soon had the foreign media (and social media) agitating over just one phrase.
“Work with me,” he wrote, “to make PNG the Richest Black Christian Nation on earth.”
True, they were rather provocative words, and they were repeated in his statement, but there was more – much more – that Marape had to say.
And in that more was plenty for the rest of us, and indeed for the world beyond Papua New Guinea, to chew on.
But before I move to that, let me pause for a moment and be a bit grateful that PNG now has a prime minister willing to commit his thoughts, values and aspirations to social media.
Marape promises to continue to “communicate with the nation using this medium.”
I guess it’s inevitable he will attract the usual low life trolling, mocking, attacking and denigrating, but let’s hope he does manage to find the time and patience to communicate in this way.
It will make a big difference to both the governors and the governed to know what the prime minister has on his mind.
So what were the most significant ideas and issues Marape decided to open with?
First of all, he said he is up for change. There is no indication in the statement that he sees his role as anything other than a disconnect from the O’Neill era.
And in handing down a number of explicit commitments, he offered the PNG people a checklist by which he and his administration – now being formed - can be judged in the coming weeks and months.