The National, Wednesday February 3rd, 2016
IT is refreshing to note that God has taken centre stage at the beginning of things this year. The month of February is usually when we get down to serious business and open the cheque books and make the first entries in the ledgers and receipt books.
Schools are opening, the public service offices are opening, the legal year is opening, the military and other agents of justice and the rule of law begin the year after shaking of the holiday mood of December-January.
To walk in the fear of the Lord is the central message of the dedications at all institutions which have opened their doors for business and dedicated themselves to God.
The Education Department has directed that all schools commence the academic year with dedication services following. Of course, some school administrations need not have to be told to do so.
Even the hardened solider acknowledges God.
The dedication service for the PNG Defence Force hierarchy was held at a Port Moresby church.
Commander Brigadier General Gilbert challenged his men and women to align themselves and walk before God in their career.
The traditional opening of the legal year was held this week in major centres throughout the country.
In Port Moresby, the dedication service was held at the Kaugere Four Square Church in which Chief Justice Sir Salamo Injia urged the members of the legal fraternity, the judiciary and the disciplined forces to “return to basics.”
Similar dedication services were held in Alotau, Mendi. Other centres will have held the legal year opening before the week is up.
Speaking at the dedication service in Alotau, resident judge Justice Peter Toliken acknowledged that the reputation of the police force has been tarnished by the conduct of some rogue members and so it must be rebuilt and improved.
He also urged lawyers to be careful in their conducts while always focusing first on the constitution and the laws and then on their clients.
“There is a difference between a criminal lawyer and a criminals’ lawyer,” said Justice Toliken. That is a sobering thought from the judge.
And given that the legal fraternity, like the police force, has had its fair share of criticism and even contempt from the public, this should be a timely call for the men and women in black robes.
Some of the public’s mistrust of lawyers is surely misplaced and based on misinformation but there have been many instances where lawyers themselves are to be blamed for the negative public perception.
Even from a layman’s perspective there are real challenges for a lawyer to protect the interest of his paying client while at the same time remain true to the law of the land.
It is therefore fitting that a judge should remind the learned men and women of the legal fraternity to remain focused on the law.
A lawyer worth his salt would fight tenaciously for his client within the constraints of the laws of the land but there is a greater law under which that lawyer’s case may be found deficient and wanting.
There is the danger and that is where the Alotau resident judge’s words should be borne in mind.
To begin the legal year with prayers before the Almighty is an acknowledgement that there is that higher law all of must subject themselves to.
In the face of growing secularism and the intrusion of man-centred belief systems of the world, practicing law under that divine law could be a real challenge.
It is good thing that the organs of state are still holding onto the Bible and
submitting themselves to God.
Like Brigadier General Toropo said at the PNGDF dedication service, Papua New Guinea is where it is today because of the word of God and the work of the pioneer missionaries.
It is therefore fitting that in modern day Papua New Guinea, God should remain the centre in the conduct of national affairs.
By dedicating the year to God, the various institutions have openly acknowledged that they need and would rely on counsel from a higher source.
The challenge for all is to sincerely allow God to direct the nation’s affairs. What a difference that would make if it were so.