Arriving in Sydney two weeks ago, I wondered if urbanization was inevitable in PNG. My major concern was how customary land tenure would be undermined by it. This may of course be an idealistic position but it does raise concerns based on the experiences of the ‘landless’ urban villagers whose land was alienated under colonial administration.
Sydney was massive. I was drowning in the enormity of its scale and grandeur and somehow managed to keep my head above water. Perhaps, I was energized by the Italian bread and filling you bought at Subway for my first fast food experience.
I guess in thinking about relationships between our two countries, our political elite have tended to forget the human faces of the friendship between our two nations. They fail to realize that it isn’t just about kiaps and Kokoda but the present links that the built by ordinary people who do not necessarily are driven by political ideology and geopolitical interest but by human values of kindness, friendship and empathy.
It is these values that drive groups like the Kokoda Foundation, whom I was privileged to have had a meeting with. They have perhaps done more good and any other organization in the area of their interest. It was therefore fitting that we would later meet the face of the Kokoda Foundation, 91 year old digger Captain Bede Tongs, later in Canberra.
I certainly would have had trouble surviving in the cold in Sydney had it not been for your warm gestures. It is when we begin to deal with everyone around us as an extension of us that we treat them right. When nations see other people the way they see their own citizens, perhaps the world would be a better place for all.
In all of Papua New Guinea’s natural disasters, we have had no better friend to count on then Australia. This is perhaps the only time that Papua New Guinean lives are valued by the political elite of both our countries. The rest of the story has pretty much been an exploitative one exemplified by the destruction of Papua New Guinean lives and livelihood by Australian mining interests.
I hope that as Papua New Guinea’s out of touch elite continue to squabble for power and control of national wealth, the people of Papua New Guinea can count on the friendship of Australia to deal with these traitors in PNG. As I’ve told you and many others including Julie Bishop and Bob Carr’s advisor, the out of touch elite of PNG are exposed to Australia. Australia can exert pressure on these power hungry elite by imposing sanctions targeted at their physical and financial assets and those of their relatives and associates.
As I sit back here at the buai market in Port Moresby, I hope Australia be a good friend. You certainly did not leave me out in the cold in Sydney. I hope Australians do not leave the people of PNG at the mercy of PNG’s out of touch elite.
It is important that Canberra understands this significant role it can play against the elite of Papua New Guinea who squander PNG’s wealth in Australia. The elections will not solve PNG’s political angst. As my hero Che Guevarra once stated, “Cruel leaders are replaced only to have new leaders turn cruel.”