Friday, March 12, 2010

Papua New Guinea a 'failed' state

This article, author unknown, is circulating on the Internet

Papua New Guinea is on the verge of being a failed State.

The country is facing a very difficult future.

 The economy has grown slowly or come to a stop despite new LNG deals with foreign corporations, the outlook for growth is bleak because of the continued lawlessness and the continued corrupt practices revealed by the media and heavily promoted by the government of Michael Somare and Puka Temu.

Corruption is rife everywhere you look and however you look at it, it’s taken a toll on the lifeblood and development of this country, it’s a disease, it’s spreading in all facets of the government to even the lowest-paid individual in the office.

Law and order have broken down; we have seen in the past eight months an increase in the number of jail breakouts in Papua New Guinea and it is truly unsafe to go out or even visit at night.

Recently 12 hardcore prisoners with the aid of people in authority managed to escape Bomana’s high security prison.

People who are behind this escape have been identified but knowing the weak laws and the laidback culture posed by everyone you will have to bet your life savings if there are people arrested to face justice.

In my mind I know nothing will happen.

The government is very weak in its approach in apprehending people implicated in crises that have started in the country.

 What I am saying here is that there is too much talk about this and that but when it comes to the crunch of arresting and putting criminals behind bars, the people in authority have a weak spot.

 We have had Commissions of Inquiry one after the other yet nothing is happening - no one is arrested; we know very well that Somare is protecting people close to him and himself.

 I thought that Sir Mekere was a renegade PM but at least he was not afraid to speak his mind; he brought much-needed changes to PNG.

The man we have now as PM has leeched this country’s lifeblood and the next generations of Papua New Guineans will pay for his stupid decisions.

The country’s borders are unmanned, an influx of illegal activities is taking place on and across these borders yet there is no stamp of authority or any concerns shown by this government to curtail issues there.

The country has become a safe haven for terrorists from Afghanistan and Pakistan who can easily bribe their way through the PNG/Indonesian border.

Under this current government's watch, high level white collar crime is rampant. Nepotism and wantokism is now taken to an all new levels with the appointments of cohorts that relate one way or another to Somare or the Somare business and political dynasty.

Should this downward trajectory continue, Papua New Guinea could become a "failed state”.

 Just last week the Public Accounts Committee lauded five out of the 1000+ government departments, agencies, provincial governments and statutory organisations on the rather poor and somewhat uncanny approach taken by them in reporting the financial management and administration of these organisations by State funds.

Violent crime rates are escalating, crimes against the family, crimes against humanity like those relating to sorcery are soaring, yet these are not that important to the ruling National Alliance Party -  they are only interested in consolidating their numbers because in the coming months there is likely to be a vote of no-confidence in Parliament.

 Recent rift between party stalwarts from two regions are now not having confidence in the leadership of Somare.

At first glance, such pessimism may seem misplaced.

 Despite the difficulties of governing a geographically scattered and ethnically diverse population of some 800 language groups, Papua New Guinea has remained intact.

 A peace process eventually brought an end to the devastating secessionist war in its province of Bougainville.

 Unlike many postcolonial states, Papua New Guinea has maintained a record of formal democracy since independence from Australia in 1975.

Changes of government have been regular and constitutional.

But the chaos, violence and fraud that marred the 2002 elections and the 2007 elections indicate an emerging crisis of governance and state legitimacy.

Somare’s handpicked Electoral Commissioner and cousin Andrew Trawen made it his business to ensure candidates from the National Alliance Party and those that were from the Highlands provinces of Southern Highlands, Enga, Western Highlands, Simbu, Eastern Highlands won their elections.

Documentary evidence of falsifying totals to propel voting numbers show there was widespread corruption and widespread bribery involved.

Anyone that Andrew Trawen saw as a treat to Somare was dealt with it diligently.

 There is now evidence that Paias Wingti was snubbed and robbed of the Western Highlands Regional seat by Andrew Trawen.

 It is clear, on the eve of being declared, Tom Olga made an SOS plea to Anderson Agiru,  who at that time was declared winner of the Southern Highlands Regional Seat.

MrAgiru was in Mt. Hagen at that time at the Highlander Hotel.

 He was visited by Tom Olga who pleaded with him to ask if Somare could intervene and help him dismantle the big threat.

Mr Agiru called Somare who was in Wewak at that time and updated him on the Western Highlands issue.

After 10 minutes a call from Michael Somare to Andrew Trawen made Tom Olga win the seat.

Clearly Wingti was robbed off his seat because he was a threat to the Government of Somare.

Australia will not be able to quarantine the consequences if its nearest neighbour falls apart.

The two countries are separated at their closest points by a short island hop across the Torres Strait.

Papua New Guinea's population is expected to double to nearly 10 million by 2025. Should internal conditions worsen for its people, Queensland - Australia's northernmost state - could become the front line for a potential flood of illegal migrants and refugees.

They could pose both a health and security risk, given the high rates of AIDS infection in Papua New Guinea.

The fragility of Papua New Guinea also has broader regional security implications.

 Weak states are easy prey for terrorists and transnational criminals.

Although Papua New Guinea has not been identified as a major target for transnational criminal activity, a small but significant firearms-for-marijuana trade across the Torres Strait, then inland to highly populated Highlands provinces by canoe and dingy via the Fly, Kikori and Purari Rivers has already contributed to the corrosive effects of rising crime and violence in Papua New Guinea's major towns and its Highland region.

This increased availability of, and resort to, arms makes conflict more protracted and difficult to resolve, particularly when warlords and criminals outnumber and outgun PNG police and the PNG Defence Force.

 Grim prognoses for the future of Papua New Guinea are growing, but the worst has not yet happened.

It has so far "muddled through" despite severe economic difficulties and political instability.

But several trends suggest that each year of "muddling" ultimately reduces the prospect of getting "through."

Living standards and annual per capita income have barely improved in Papua New Guinea since Independence.

 Mining revenues and generous foreign aid have not been invested in roads, schools and health services.

Infant and maternal mortality rates in Papua New Guinea are closer to those of sub-Saharan African countries than to the rest of the Asia-Pacific region.

 Population growth is high and job creation low.

The rising number of unemployed young people, particularly in urban areas, leads to demoralisation, feeding crime and civil unrest.

The extent of lawlessness scares off investors and tourists, reinforcing a downward spiral in which not enough jobs are created and law and order get worse.

Some doubt about the "muddle through" scenario must also arise from the erosion of the subsistence safety net that has enabled ordinary Papua New Guineans to weather hard times in the past.

Crime has spread to the countryside so that gardens and houses are no longer safe from thieves.

Villagers are robbed taking their coffee to market.

 Impassable roads and broken and unsafe bridges make local trade in goods difficult.

The resulting hardship is taking its toll on traditional village life, fuelling the movement of people into cities and towns.

For the past 28 years Australia has played the role of disinterested donor, respecting the sovereign right of Papua New Guinea to make its own choices by supporting its development since 1975 with more than $12 billion in Australian taxpayer funded aid.

But little development has taken place.

Moreover, the nature of aid makes it part of the problem, not the solution.

 Dependence on donors has enabled Papua New Guinea to live beyond its means; the government postpones the need to tackle problems because it can always be confident that international help will come to the rescue.

A fundamental review of Australian policy toward Papua New Guinea is urgently needed.

 Conditions must be enforced on how aid is used and dispersed.

But even strictly controlled aid is pointless if Papua New Guinea policies do not change. Without progress on basic issues like the economy, civil discipline and official prosecutions for corruption, no outside help, no matter how well-intentioned, will have an impact on the country's entrenched problems.

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