Monday, December 13, 2010

Dictatorship in Papua New Guinea

Recent actions by Prime Minister Somare have set a dangerous precedent. These are not decisions by a mad man. They are cunning calculated moves aimed at propping up a dictatorial regime in the future. History has shown how a single person or a small group of people can change the world. Margret Mead recognised this and her words have been used by motivational speakers to inspire people to do great things.

But just as Gandhi and Mandela brought about positive change so did Hitler and Pol Pot bring about negative change. The principle is simple; create the fear of fear in order to get followers to achieve your objective. The difference between the positive and negative is the moral responsibility of actions. Whereas in bringing positive change the individual feels individual moral responsibility, in negative change the individual doesn't feel moral responsibility for his actions.

The story of the bible illustrates how acts of evil can be committed. When God asked Adam if he had eaten the fruit Adam blamed God for giving the woman who had given him (Adam) the fruit. Of course Eve blamed the Snake. I wonder whom the snake would have blamed. In other words, Hitler's men could gas millions of Jews as long as they felt the responsibility lay with the higher authorities. More recently the PNGDF flew to Munda in Solomon Islands and it's still unclear who was responsible for the little excursion.

It has always been the case that when men have been tried for war crimes, they absolve themselves from individual moral responsibility and pass the buck to the higher power. A typical defense statement would be "I was only following orders."

Over the last decade Prime Minister Somare has manipulated and modified the systems of his own party, the Legislature, Executive and Judiciary to enhance and sustain his grip on power. Many individuals either seeking patronage or simply hypnotized by the privileges of power they enjoy, have worked hard towards perpetuating Somare's grip on Power.

It is at this juncture that I wish to state that many people have the false perception that his recent appointment of Sepik's to top posts is part of his authoritarian motive. Sure, the recent Wewak settlement incident involving the PNGDF might seem like supporting evidence, I believe it isn't because it was a typical Papua New Guinean reaction that any other group of Papua New Guineans would have done. The country may have a Sepik guy as health secretary but if all doctors stop work the guy is pretty powerless to do anything. I therefore believe that it is wrong to have ill feelings towards the appointment of Sepik's.

Politicians and high profile individuals should not exploit public sentiment for individual gain. In doing so they may unwittingly usher in the right crisis or circumstances for the establishment of an authoritarian regime. If the best qualified individuals for the top posts are from a certain region or ethnicity then based on their individual merit they deserve the top posts. To discriminate by ethnicity is a recipe for disaster. Even a power sharing mechanism based on regions will only lead to chaos as is the case with Lebanon. Every individual citizen must have the right to participate in governing the country based on individual merit.

I do not believe Prime Minister Somare is a dictator like Mugabe as recently stated by the opposition on various occasions. There have been protests against his government and vocal opposition to his government by various organizations. Yet the Somare government has not killed protesters as happened under Mekere nor has the government held political prisoners. However, many of the Prime Ministers decisions and actions have been against the principles of good governance.

The Prime Minister, by his actions and inactions has stirred up envy and lust for power by ambitious individuals. The Julian Moti Affair has demonstrated how the military can be used without accountability. This and the Taiwan dollar and Singapore dollar scandals demonstrate the competing global interests for influence and access to natural resources of the country. In failing to address these issues the Prime Minister has sowed the seeds of an authoritarian regime. These affairs demonstrate how a government can be totally unaccountable yet continue exist in power.

Powerful dark forces behind the curtain have tested the waters over the two terms of this government. They have demonstrated how the judiciary can be used to delay leadership investigations and have sought to disempower the Ombudsman Commission legislatively and through budgetary means. That is why the Ombudsman Commission could not investigate MPs as a result of Parliament not meeting the required number of sitting days. They have used the chair of the Speaker of Parliament to stifle debate and prevent the legislature from holding the executive accountable. They have shown how projects such as the Pacific Medical Center can be pushed through cabinet without the knowledge of the relevant Department (Health).

The real danger of authoritarianism comes from the shady power brokers who make decisions affecting the country such as the decision to build Pacific Medical Center or sell B Mobile. These are nations, individuals and multinational corporations intent on profiting from the vast natural resources of Papua New Guinea. Do not fear a Police Commissioner from the Sepik because his not as powerful as the man with a brown envelope who can pay 'allowances' to rogue police officers. It is sad to see how the Sepik's have been demonized by everyone when in fact our oceans, our forests, our minerals, and our oil and gas are being looted by foreign interests and their Papua New Guinean accomplices. While we are busy throwing mud at each other over trivial matters, the country is being looted.

The danger to freedom and democracy in Papua New Guinea comes from the Men Behind the Curtain. They have the money to put people in to power and to topple them. They have the money to hire state forces to suppress the people. They have the money to deceive the population through the media. The fact of the matter is foreign interests are self-serving and have no interest in the development of Papua New Guinea. It is difficult to identify these foreign interests because they speak with a Papua New Guinean Voice. He that has ears let him hear…