Tuesday, May 01, 2007

national elections 2007 : one vote, one chance

Every 5 years the people of Papua New Guinea get ONE CHANCE to vote right and they seem to have fu*ked it up. A lot.

Sadly, it's not the voters that are necessarily to blame. It's the "leaders" that need a massive boot as far as I can see.

To be fair, I was living in Enga during the 2002 elections and what I saw was the development of complex relationships and expectations based on tribal histories but in a very modern economic (the economics of "I" i.e. who is going to get off best) terrain. The result was the development of a hybrid of promises and stories and alliances and double-dealing which, in any given framework, in any given country, would at the very least, muddy the waters of the most clear-minded individuals.

So the result is that people, as extensions of familial and tribal groups, vote in context rather than on perspective and what comes out are unrealistic expectations which appear to have very little to do with the job of political governance (the World Bank defines governance as the exercise of political authority and the use of institutional resources to manage society's problems and affairs), let alone good governance, let alone democratic governance. Vote in Big Man and the Press On Neck.

It's not that there is no hope. There most definitely definitely is!! And I am so excited by that because the next generation of voters have just turned of age and in a country where more than 50% of the population are under the age of 22, you just have to believe that they are the key to a future in which leaders are chosen based on merit and policy and character rather than the opposites of those criterion. Added to that, I suspect there is a general shift happening in the wider population. Technology and communications have shifted tremednously in the last 5 years - we saw the introduction of mobile phones and public internet access - although not widespread, it's created a swell and hopefully the storm will follow. People are becoming armed, every day, with information and this changes their expectations now that they understand their rights - basically that government is here to manage rather than abuse THEIR resources.

I won't rant today. It's obviously a complicated and fascinating and incredibly frustrating subject which goes far beyond these general expressions of discontent. Before I blog off, I just wanted to present 2 other views and I cite this passage from our national daily, the Post Courier which was published almost a year ago on 17 July 2007 and reproduced in this blog by an expat volunteer in Lae, PNG - Outback To Jungle:

"PNG has avoided the man-made catastrophes prevalent in many developing countries. Yet the state seriously underperforms, with reforms usually too little and late. It’s not a poor country in terms of human and natural resources, but is in terms of household income, employment, social indicators and services. Many public servants are striving with great dedication though few resources. These are the ones who merit society’s recognition, including honours and awards, rather than those in plush offices, earning lucrative incomes or providing party favours! Regardless of the effort of many dedicated individuals, the reality is that PNG’s Public Sector as a whole is failing to deliver. While NCD has fine roads and offices, services and public infrastructure, especially in rural areas, have gone backwards over the years and in many areas are non-existent. Whole villages, which hitherto had access to health services and markets, are now isolated, without road, airstrip or shipping service. They’ve effectively been forgotten by the State, (except at election time). In some cases outside contact may continue through missions or NGOs, generally more attuned to community concerns than government.

PAUL BARKER is the director of the Institute of National Affairs"

"WHAT is happening to this country? Men, women and children may be thinking that everything is okay, but I know it is not. Our political leaders are supposed to be managing the country’s affairs. They do not own the country, they are just supposed to be managing your money, your forests, your gold, your oil and your fisheries industries and not putting the money in their pockets. The country belongs to the people of Papua New Guinea who own PNG. Our current leaders are pathetic, and I am disgusted at some of these Members of Parliament. There are countless issues that have to be investigated and explanations made. The owners of Papua New Guinea are the five million people who deserve to know the truth and we demand to know the truth. People of PNG wake up to this, the Prime Minister does not own this country, You and I do. There has to be a revolution to totally eradicate the current political foundation of greed and corruption and build a righteous, honest leadership. Our political management has to change and the coming 2007 general elections is the perfect time to do this.

Richard POM"


Anonymous Carolyn said...


Also in PNG alongside the young people will be the women making a difference to the country: just like in every other developing country, the women of PNG are the most inspiring, hard-working and dedicated members of the community.

I'll be watching everything VERY closely.

(well as closely as I can from Melbourne!)

01 May, 2007 18:19  

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