Wednesday, September 23, 2009

WHICH WAY BIG MEN?
The Opposition should focus on winning the next election and not the next vote of no-confidence. While I do agree that issues such as Motigate, Taiwan Dollar and Singapore Logging Account etc… need to be addressed I believe the Opposition aren’t doing anyone any favors by creating uncertainty. I understand that the executive arm of government aka the Law and Justice Sector is meant to be dealing with these issues independently. These theoretically independent institutions therefore make decisions concerning any such matter without fear or favour. The impression I get therefore is that these issues are being highlighted by the Opposition due to perceived lack of action be the relevant Authorities. Perhaps much of what is being demonstrated highlights deep seated weaknesses of the organs of the State.
The general perception is that the public service or the executive arm of government has been weakened by decades of political interference. Our politicians on the other hand have weakened the political system by the uncertainties they themselves create as they jockey for positions in parliament. Thus the receipe for a weak state is a good mixture of political hotheads stirring up instability and a flock of lame-duck ministers ordering /appointing public servants to do their bidding. What is cooked up is a litany of mismanagement, fraud and ad hoc policy/decision making.
The voting public is also party to the problem. For decades political leaders were elected by the minority. Francis Fukuyama1 when describing our electoral process stated that “…. Elections resembled a lottery in which politicians [needed only] a small chance … [to walk] off with 100% of the winnings...” In the previous first-past-the-post electoral system MPs were elected by a minority thus were not held accountable during elections. As long as the MP could secure the vote of his supporters the rest of the population were unable to unseat him if their votes were split between different candidates. Of course this may not have been the case in some places but it does explain to some extent why some of our current/past politicians are/were corrupt and arrogant.
The opposition has the opportunity to change the previous trend now that we have the Limited Preferential Voting (LPV) system which is supposed to ensure that an elected Member of Parliament is voted in by a simple majority. The opposition has on several occasions presented its case to the public via the media but it needs to reach the rural population through other means as many of them do not have access to conventional media sources. This is critical as the results of the last election clearly show that many well informed urban voters voted in MPs who formed the Opposition because they felt that issues such as Motigate were important, while the ill-informed rural majority voted in the MPs who initially formed the Government in Kokopo.
It would be better for the Opposition to get a fresh mandate than to be associated with hot-heads that stir up instability. To my mind, if some of the former Government MPs were men of any substance or principles, they would have sided with the Opposition initially. Why now?
If the Opposition truly believes in Good Governance, it has to communicate the values of Good Governance to the grassroots. This can then be translated into voting of good leaders who in turn will strengthen the organs of the State. This is the way forward in strengthening and institutionalizing democracy and good governance in Papua New Guinea.

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