Avoid past election mistakes


THE 2022 national general election is for parliamentarians who will usher in the country’s golden jubilee.
In Sept 2025, the country will be celebrating 50 years of political independence.
Those elected in the 2022 election will be the leaders who will celebrate this milestone with the nation.
What is 50 years – just a number?
What should it look and feel like as a 50-year-old democratic nation endowed with natural resources and possibly the envy of some on the planet?
Would MPs be fighting election petitions in court still?
Would a number of them be dragged to court over petitions and be spending a chunk of their time fighting for their survival instead of the progress of their constituencies or would the 2022 election be done in a truly free and fair manner so that those who get voted are devoted to their role and lead the country into the next 50 years?
In a sense, the coming election is a crucial one.
The success of it depends chiefly on a reliable common roll from the PNG Electoral Commission and the full cooperation of all voters and candidates.
Everything else is supplementary to having these two factors right from the start.
If the Electoral Commission can get an accurate and credible list of all electors done and everyone is allowed to vote freely without inducement or coercion of any sort, we can be assured of a successful election.
Elections in the country have been quite costly and unnecessarily mainly due the high security risks involved.
The security cost alone for the 2022 election is projected at about K194 million.
Whether the police force and its allied institutions will actually get that money for their operations depends on how much is available for all other election-related costs.
Security may not be allocated all the millions requested and therefore, adjustments would have to be made in the crucial moments leading up to, during and after the elections.
The constabulary, the PNG Defence Force the Correctional Services will again be engaged in all polling stations around the country and the main cost items in such operations include transport, allowances and travel.
While it is good to see that planning for security operations is in place and a funding estimate attached to it, the real overall cost of the election will be not known until its completion next July.
Many right-thinking people would not want a repeat of some of the bad mistakes in the past elections.
Voter identification is crucial in elections and hopes that National Identity cards and even biometrics would help prevent voter fraud at the polls in the 2022 election are just that – faint hopes.
It now appears there is none of that in place so voters will have to be content with turning up to enrol so the Electoral Commission compiles a credible list of all eligible voters and have it scrutinised in time before the polls.
The Coronavirus pandemic has caused untold damages and drastically affected many things that would have been done to ensure that the country enters the election better prepared.
It is not the best of times to call an election.
It is quite reasonably to call for a deferral of the election.
However, that is not possible, except when nothing short of an amendment to the Constitution gives the okay.
It is therefore incumbent on all to ensure that mistakes of the past are avoided.
This election should be different from the past elections and a lot better.
Simply put, it must reflect PNG’s coming of age.