"Colonisation now has a black face that perpetuates that colonial legacy. You don’t govern your people using a system that was intended to dominate them. You cannot secure a prosperous future unless you address the issue of neo-colonisation."
Saturday, February 25, 2012
Paul Oates and Barbara Short and I talk’n ‘bout PNG
IT’S RAINING AT THE MOMENT, so I’ve quit my mowing and I’m inside at the computer again. I thought I’d tap up Martyn Namorong’s blog site and read his latest post, The uncertain road to Melbourne [see also PNG Attitude, Friday].
Here are a few thoughts that might help Martyn with ideas for the Melbourne conference.
Martyn wrote: ‘We need to recognise that the current systems of government are inherited from our colonial masters.’
Yep! That’s right, but so what? The current systems of government were in turn inherited from earlier systems that were refined and tweaked for hundreds if not thousands of years. They were developed from systems that had been proven to work elsewhere.
When I was travelling through Greece a couple of years ago, I said to our Greek tour guide: “Thank you for looking after our history”. She got somewhat miffed and said: “No, it’s ourhistory, not yours.”
I explained that it depends on how you look at it.
My history, language and culture comes from Australia but before that it evolved from Britain and before that Europe and Ancient Rome and before that Ancient Greece and before that Egypt and Mesopotamia and before that… etc.
“Oh!” she said.
Papua New Guinea’s history, English usage and culture come in part from that long line of antecedents as well as from traditional Melanesian sources.
Martyn wrote: ‘These systems were created for the purposes of taming so called primitive natives and pacifying them.’
Well I guess it depends on what systems you are referring to. If Martyn was talking about the system of Westminster government, then I would have to in part disagree.
It is true that the Australian system of government was bequeathed to PNG by those who in Canberra seemed to think, mistakenly, that they knew better and refused to listen to those who did have some practical experience at the kunai roots level of rural PNG.
If Martyn was perhaps referring to the kiap system of rural administration, then perhaps he might consider a very detailed discussion I had with some PNG mates about how the kiap system worked and why it worked.
I suggested to them that the only reason kiaps were able to manage rural areas and thousands of people was that those people gave the power to the kiap rather than the kiap taking it from the people.
I did however ask why did the people allow this to happen? Was it what the kiap could offer in the way of change and material goods? Was it the education and business opportunities that came after the area was pacified and law and order introduced? ‘No way’, they said.
It was because the kiap system dovetailed neatly into a fundamental and essential part of the traditional PNG village culture, i.e. the ‘big man’.
The village people recognised the kiap as the ‘big man’ and he became culturally acceptable and was easily fitted into the rural scene. In fact, kiaps did very little to change the village culture apart from ending warfare and other anti social practices. That was part of their success.
Only after the kiap system was dismantled by Somare after Independence did things go awry. Nepotism and corruption became rife.
In western government systems, the legislature is responsible for making laws, not enacting the law. That is the province of the public service.
This is the system PNG was left with. It was however changed by the elites who grasped power at Independence and decided to introduce changes to ‘help themselves’.
The fact that some MP’s want ‘the power’ to both make laws and dole out taxpayer money to obtain personal power and prestige is not the system installed prior to Independence.
So there could be a very convincing argument presented that in fact, the systems now currently in place in PNG and that are clearly not working are a direct result of home grown actions and not those externally imposed.
The term ‘neo colonialism’ may well define the problem but the source might also be closer to home.
REPLY BY BARBARRA SHORT
Fully agree with you Paul.
As somebody said recently somewhere on this blog, the parliament scrapped the talented public servants and awarded the Public Works jobs to contractors, probably the Minister's wantoks, who often were not trained for the jobs.
The tender system was scrapped and the jobs went to the Minister's wantoks, with a commission thrown in for him. The job didn't go to the best tender.
the Minister made the decision if the job was done properly or not. The job may not have been completed but he would sign it off and his wantok would be paid, and he would get his commission.
Getting back to the "big man concept". I know that there are some older well educated men and women in PNG, who would be great people to have in charge of development in the provinces.
They may have been Professors at the Universities, got their doctorates from overseas universities, run various Government Agencies etc etc but are now sitting home retired! But they are just in their 50s.
What a waste of good manpower!
They may have come from provinces where the local "big men" are trying to bribe the electorates to elect them to the parliament at the next election so they can grow wealthy in the way mentioned above, pure greed and corruption!
What on earth can PNG do to get the right type of person elected to the Parliament? There are men and women who have the training, the character, the motivation to do the best they can for the country, but they don't fit into a "corrupt scene" described in Simbu!
Let's hope Martyn will come up with some solutions to the current problem.
As Paul points out, this concept of thinking - "These systems were created for the purposes of taming so called primitive natives and pacifying them." - is actually something that has been contrived by recent PNG parliaments and it is not something that they inherited from Australia.
MY RESPONSE TO BOTH VIA PNG ATTITUDE
I believe Paul and Barbara assume I'M putting all the blame on the colonial masters. You will find this paragraph in my article, which explains what the article is on about:
This paragraph basically agrees with Paul and Barbara with respect to how the so called elites have used the machinations of colonialism to subjugate the rest of their fellow Papua New Guineans.
Just in case Paul still believes there is no outside involvement whether direct or indirect; MOST OF OUR ELITE WERE TRAINED BY AUSTRALIANS BEFORE INDEPENDENCE UP UNTIL NOW. Australia has produced and continues to produce the monsters and psychopaths that run PNG.