The National

PORT MORESBY, Papua New Guinea (Nov. 3) – Once again, Papua New Guinea is being subjected to the mindless plotting and counter-plotting that has come to epitomize the political life of this nation.

Each time Parliament meets, we are greeted with politicians out to gain what they can by changing their support for leaders, and by undertaking barely legal actions generally designed to feather their own nests.

In all of this, the people and their concerns come a resounding last.

So isolated are these superior beings from the rest of us that many appear totally unaware of the cynical contempt in which they are held by our people.

We wish that we could still claim that all our people want is an honest and transparent government.

Increasingly, we cannot.

We cannot because this constant background of sly and devious behavior by the very people elected to represent us, long ago began to have a predictable effect.

Instead of demonstrating the positive aspects of leadership, many of those whom the people have elected give a continuing object lesson of how the laws can be manipulated, how the courts can be outwitted, and how the Constitution can be warped to suit particular ends.

It would take a remarkably resilient people to remain aloof from all this negativity.

This lack of morality skews even the best intentions of those men and women of honor who still struggle to achieve acceptable goals.

It does not appear to occur to some of our politicians that the people of PNG are over-exposed to corruption, swamped with double-speak, daily confronted with dishonesty posing as circumspection, and with the winning of mob support as a substitute for genuine leadership.

Too many of our elected leaders fail to realize that those who still hold a vision for PNG in their hearts have no interest in arguments over party leadership, over attendance in the House, or over the Standing Orders that can be used to achieve ends never intended by those who created them.

Do any of these plotters stop to ask why a politician such as Lady Carol Kidu enjoys such widespread support?

Her stature in the PNG political world is made secure not by travelling the sleazy political by-roads beloved of many of her colleagues, but by living her leadership role, and not reserving it for public occasions when the cameras are whirring.

Yes -- there are other shining examples of politicians who have transcended the petty cut-and-thrust of daily political skirmishing.

But are their enough of them?

As we view the beginnings of another session of this Parliament, it is hard to believe that there are.

Complaints, some spurious and some genuine, flood in from all sides.

The PNG Parliament once again assumes the characteristics of an ill-run school, where bully-boys call the tune, and are challenged by others of the same stamp who are temporarily lacking in power and sway.

The voices of the dedicated few, those who genuinely try to respond to the challenges of leadership and serve their people, are lost in the noise of the fray.

It is hard to credit that this is the Budget session of the National Parliament.

Instead of sober consideration of the 2005 Budget, and of the state of the nation, many politicians are submerged in a sea of number-crunching.

Others pound the carpeted corridors of Parliament House to try and assure themselves that yet another vote of no confidence is indeed viable, and has a chance of success.

In the face of this, the best elements of the current Government battle to re-direct the focus upon the urgent realities of the day.

There seems at least some prospect of a vote of no confidence during this session.

The basis for any vote of no-confidence remains as obscure as it was some months ago.

The nation continues, inch by inch, to struggle out of the mire created by previous administrations.

But this is apparently not the concern of those forces intent upon toppling the Government.

It is difficult not to believe that their sole pre-occupation is to change the government so that power comes into their own hands.

For how much longer will our people be content to silently observe this demeaning scenario?

Parliament must put the people first.

November 4, 2004

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