Thursday, December 18, 2008

Constantinou's Murder Shows the Ugly Side of Us

Constantinou’s Murder Shows the Ugly Side of Us


George Constantinou’s death is truly tragic for a man who spent his life loving this country. No amount of words, belated actions or reactions and consolations is going to bring this hard working Papua New Guinean back to life. I have never met him or know him personally, but hearing and looking at what he has done, speaks of a humble, hardworking, and self-believing and self-made man. My ideal idol.
Mr. Constantinou’s tragedy is a result of allot of issues allowed to fester by society as a whole and highlights the fundamental problems that awaits all our fate in this country. Now we are told they were going to close this settlement four years ago – sadly it was promised back then that they would close it, only after one more life would be taken, and it was just a matter of time. Why did they not close it when 10 lives were taken back then? This attitude of ‘waiting until a similar worse tragedy hits again to be compelled to do something’ is prevalent in all things we have come to accept in PNG.
In the court rooms offenders are warned, ‘let this be the last time’ and let loose. In the workplace we give a number of warnings to repeat offenders with deficient work ethics. Repeatedly Police do this habitually, ‘neks time, lukaut ah’. Even we ordinary folks casually look the other way on many issues that confront us or that happen right in front of us with a, ‘larim’, no ken bisi’, attitude on incidences that may require our input to resolve or even save a life.
Mother Teresa once said, when posed by a reporter that she was doing a wonderful job bringing people out of slums, that only she physically brought ‘people’ out of the slums but it was God that brought the ‘slums’ out of the people. Conversely, in PNG it seems we bring ourselves out of our villages and clans into towns and cities, but sadly with it, our village and clan ways come with us. Education was supposed to educate us out of our village and clan ways, but not to be. Police, law and justice systems were supposed to acculturate us into a newer modern way of coexistence, but not to be. A modern cash economy with all its flushes and promises was supposed to meet all our needs and expectations for a better, brighter life, the modern livelihood promised, but not to be. Christianity was to liberate and enlighten us into a much better ‘next life’ if we keep ourselves in check in this life by doing the right things including giving up a lot of evil old ways of doing things like killing innocent fellow human beings, but not to be. Then of course modern Politics, the way it works elsewhere, was introduced to make laws to protect the ‘law makers’ from the ‘wrong makers’, and the ‘haves’ from the ‘have not’s’, the ‘schooled’ from the ‘unschooled’, the employed from the unemployed, the good from the bad, females from the males, etc, but not to be.
Mr. Constantinou’s killing has now taken us years back to our Stone Age days of ‘if he is not from my line then he is enemy’ and highlights the depth of backwardness we have come as a people and nation, in a world where the rest of the human race is rapidly moving up in life. I see us going more backward even in the future, when I see young kids (future leaders?!) who are supposed to be in school, directing parking lots in downtown Moresby during the day, while others elsewhere throughout PNG selling wares on the streets, and still others aimlessly walking the streets and highways. It is no consolation when you see youths to grown-up adults aimlessly walking around, congregating on markets and buai stalls whole day just ‘wasting away’. Even a worse trend I notice in Lae and Port Moresby is that there are families, literally living off the street – yes no house, not even a settlement to call home!
I belong to a movement called ‘Leadership PNG’ and our guiding principle is ‘As I am so is my family, clan, organisation and country’. Another word a family, community, clan, district, organisation, province or country is only as good as the people in it. In terms of leadership, ’our community, organisation or country is only as good as the leaders in it’. To put it aptly, where good people and leaders exist, the society is good. On a country level, where good leaders exist, the country is progressive and its people prosperous and live in harmony. Here, by leaders, I am not only referring to Politicians, but to all of us who have someone looking up to us; that are right from a simple responsible father or mother to the Prime Minister – we are all leaders, hence, responsible!
I sincerely do hope (and this is very big hope) and pray that Mr. Constantinou’s fatal tragedy results in our Police being more proactive to prevent similar tragedies form recurring; for our justice system to ensure justice is done to those responsible for this despicable atrocity; for responsible leaders to address the root causes of urban drift which results in ugly and fatal incidences such as this; for all of us to feel compelled to act out of human instinct and care towards those that fall victim to even petty things like hooligans who show lack of humanity to others like pulling their bags, mobile phones, or even pull out a dagger to hurt another human – even if s/he does not come from our village or clan.
When other Papua New Guineans have chosen to invest overseas, thereby create employment elsewhere and erode much needed cash and wealth out of this country, this great man had chosen to stay right here. Many thanks to Mr. Constantinou for his immense contribution to this country he believed in and loved. This is indeed a sad Christmas for a lot of us; even those, such as I, who do not know or have met him. May God grant him eternal peace and rest!


George Bopi
Lae. Morobe Province


  1. Well articulated. I couldn't have said it better!

  2. George.

    Well said. I don't have better words to express my frustration. It is indeed a sad Christmas for me.

    Mathew Yakai