PEACEFUL PORT MORESBY PROTEST MADE ITS MARK

Editorial

PNG Post-Courier PORT MORESBY, Papua New Guinea (May 5, 2010) - Like the Maladina amendments or not, the protest march to make a show against the legislation was a resounding success for democracy.

Many fear any such public show regardless of the rights or wrongs of the cause.

This is with good reason because the history of such street displays in the National Capital District is blotted with outbreaks of violence, during and after the protests.

Rulers, police and law-abiding citizens genuinely fear mobs taking over the streets and using the protest cause as an excuse to wreak harm on innocent people.

However yesterday’s events in Port Moresby and Lae went peacefully and with shows of conviction and sincerity. People decided to show their feelings against legislation designed to alter provisions of the laws governing the activities of the independent watchdog, the Ombudsman Commission.

We believe it was helped by the decision of police to allow the march and to co-ordinate with the protest organizers.

It was also aided by the involvement of respected organizations, Transparency International (PNG) and the Community Coalition Against Corruption. These groups have members from all sectors of the community, including people in business and the professions.

This should be a blueprint for such expressions of discontent. Not to say that we should have weekly demonstrations, but that such events when sanctioned by authority and organized with safeguards, can be conducted as a way of letting people have their opportunity to express their feelings.

It is not good for the bulk of the people to feel ignored or left out of decision-making on major issues. If they distrust their leaders, they should have ways to express their dislike without taking up violence as a solution. Our leaders should take serious consideration from this example. Regardless of the rights or wrongs of a cause, the leaders must make room for the people to voice their feelings.

The educated have their access to blogs and discussion groups on the internet. Not so the rest of the people, the ones with poor housing, lack of water and menial incomes.

This should be studied carefully by the leaders and taken note of.

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