Tuesday, March 10, 2009

40 years of darkness for Papua New Guinea

By Dr Kristoffa Ninkama

South Simbu


SIR Michael Somare led PNG to self-government in 1973 and independence in 1975.

Since then, he has served continuously in various capacities either as Prime Minister or Opposition leader for 40 years.

The question I would like to pose is: “Is PNG better off now than it was 40 years ago?”

The simple answer is: “No.”

In the 40 years that Sir Michael has been in politics in PNG, the following occurred:

1. The people of PNG continued to rely on the infrastructure left behind by the Australian administration. Roads, bridges, administrative headquarters, schools and aid posts have fallen into disrepair. Successive governments failed to carry out infrastructure development projects. It is the Government’s fiduciary responsibility to maintain and continue infrastructure development. So for 40 years, roads, bridges, schools, health services, administrative buildings, transport and communications have fallen into ruins. Is this something to be proud of?

2. The general health and well-being of the people have steadily declined. Many Papua New Guineans are dying of preventable and treatable diseases and HIV/AIDS is threatening to decimate a generation. Malaria, TB and sexually transmitted diseases are on the rise as all the health centres and aid posts built in the colonial days are no longer functioning. The provincial and referral hospitals are grossly underfunded, understaffed, poorly equipped and lacking basic medicines. The health services are so primitive that PNG politicians have been flying to Australia with their families to seek medical treatment. So for 40 years, the people of PNG had been deprived of their very basic right to decent health services.

3. The education system in PNG has been on the downward spiral. Schools lack basic essentials like decent classrooms, chairs, desks, library books, audio-visual aids, books, pencils and other essential learning aids to give a child an opportunity and a fighting chance to attain a decent start to attaining knowledge and literacy. The majority of school-aged children are not attending schools and the literacy levels of the average Papua New Guinean is on the decline.

4. The citizens of PNG are resorting to cargo cultism, sorcery, sanguma, etc, because the level of ignorance in our societies is on the increase. An ignorant society spells disaster for a nation.

5, Law and order problems are escalating. Port Moresby is a virtual prison. The citizens of PNG’s major towns live in constant fear of something awful happening to them. Can you imagine living in fear in your own house in your own country every day of your life?

6. For 40 years, successive politicians and their families have done very well for themselves at the expense of the people they represent. Our politicians can afford to own expensive vehicles, buy properties in Australia, educate their kids in private schools and overseas, seek private hospital treatment overseas, etc. Are all these possible from a mere politician’s salary?

7. More than 85% of the people are struggling on a daily basis with malnutrition; hook worm infestation, rotting teeth, swollen tummies, chronic malaria infestation, unclean water sources, no access to decent health services, roads, bridges, communications, electricity, etc. These basic services had been denied to our own people.

8. Government institutions are failing at an alarming rate and millions of dollars have been swindled from the Finance Department under Sir Michael’s watch. Yet, he has remained quiet.

9. I am sick and tired of hearing our politicians say PNG is a rich country. I have not seen one toea of these proclaimed riches filtering to my people in the villages. Is this something to be proud of?

Oh, the poor Engans. All those cassowaries and pigs ready to be slaughtered to celebrate 40 years of what?

Forty years of being in the dark ages?


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