risation of people into individual ethnicities is rife in Papua New Guinea.
On the national scale, people from the Highlands form one ethnic group to differ from the coastal or “nambis” people.
Then you have the regional segmentation of the Islands, Momase, Southern and Highlands.
Each region is then broken down into the 22 provinces with boundaries drawn by colonial leaders and the more recent government based on again, ethnicity.
Each province is then divided into electorates; electorate to LLGs, LLGs into wards, and wards into “rest houses”.
Whew, now isn’t that a lot to take in?
I will list some of the obvious effects this segregation has done to our country.
- Lack of patriotism: PNG has over the past two decades seen a decline in level of patriotism citizens have for our country.
It is visible during the Independence Day celebrations when people celebrate in the provincial colours instead of the valiant red, black and gold.
- High levels of nepotism: Nepotism or what we call “wantok” system is now a norm in society. It’s basically ‘whom you know’ these days. In job searching, one’s university degree is rendered impotent.
- Unequal distribution of services: Belden Namah proudly declared when he won the Vanimo Green seat in the 2012 general elections that the local level government areas he had not received any votes would not see any form of service during his term as MP. Such is the case with other known MPs.
- Corruption: The ultimate result is of course corruption.
According to TIPNG, PNG has dropped down 3 places in the ranks of the corrupt countries in the world.
Since the election period is drawing nigh, let’s reflect on what can be done to at least change our mindset. In this age, I think one’s choice of leader should not be based solely on their ethnicity of origin.
Ethnicity should never be used as a criteria in one’s choice of a leader. Rather the integrity and the known capabilities of a person should be two of the paramount characteristics one should use when voting for their leader of choice.
It is time we look beyond our clan, our tribe, and our LLG.
Let’s see past the segregation in our electorates and our provinces.
Let’s not categorise ourselves into “hailans” and “nambis”.
It’s time we define ourselves as Papua New Guineans.
I wish you all a safe and happy election 2017.