‘Pretender policy’ needs to stop

Editorial, Normal

The National, Friday June 12th, 2015

 WHEN Prince Charles and wife Camilla came for a very brief visit in 2012, the Government ordered the Sir John Guise Drive in Port Moresby, a perfectly useable road, torn up and resealed in less than two weeks.

A young street seller of our newspaper who witnessed the entire rushed exercise once coined this expression, “pretender policy”.

How apt and how pathetic we appear each time we engage this “policy”.

One wonders whether or not the fact of a smooth ride was noted by His 

Royal Highness or his good wife, the Duchess of Cornwall. 

Most probably not and neither would they have noted a not so smooth ride were the road left in its original state.

As it turned out, tens of thousands of kina was expanded on the exercise.

And before six months had expired, the road had to be torn up at great expense and done up again because of the poor workmanship engaged during the previous rushed effort.

When former Australian Prime Minister Julia Gillard visited last, one of the 

places she was to visit was the new-look Gerehu Market. 

Two days before the visit, the whole place was turned upside down and swept clean and all street vendors with their unsightly wares were sent packing literally at gun point. 

Gillard visited a dusty but a rather clean suburb and market unusually devoid of its ragtag population. 

Of course the Australian mission here would have advised her closely of the dangers apparent in this particular suburb and told her of what was being hid from her. 

Courtesy and respect for important personages aside, no amount of pretence will hide the truth from people like that.

It reminds one of that story of how former Philippines dictator Ferdinand Marcos boarded up the shanty slums of 

Manila which were on the route of the Pope who visited this predominantly Catholic nation. The Pope would rather have seen the poor and the needy of that nation and in any case he would have known what lay behind the boarded up places anyway.

We are doing it again in anticipation for the visit to our capital city by sportsmen and women from our Pacific neighbours. 

The 2015 Pacific Games will be the biggest sporting extravaganza to take place in Papua New Guinea since the 1991 South Pacific Games.

There is nothing wrong with tidying up Port Moresby city. 

The question is: Why not do it all the time for our people who live and work here rather than for visitors, however special. If we want to get rid of razor wires, or get rid of corrugated iron fencing or anything else that is unsightly, do it for ourselves first. 

Then we do not have to mobilise ourselves into a flurry of last minute activity to pretend to some visitor that this is how neat and tidy our city is all the time.

The Government exists to serve the people using public funds to provide goods and services. 

If a road needs patching, why wait for a royal visit before we get into road patching mode. 

Most normally the money is not there for maintenance but when a special visit is on the calendar, money is always found. 

Money would normally be transferred from some other vote to the maintenance vote or something of that order. 

We do not need to sweep up a suburb of both rubbish and unsightly people for a visit. 

We need to do it all the time for our own citizens who work hard to pay taxes to the Government to maintain services in the capital city.

If razor wires are unsightly and must be done away with, lay out the law and do it for ourselves who are here every hour of the day, rather than for the sake of some visitor’s fleeting memory of our city or country.

It is time we did away with the pretender policy and get in with the “This-is-us, warts-and-all” policy.