Move forward with past in mind

Editorial, Normal

The National, Wednesday 25th July, 2012

IT is an attractive proposition indeed, a government that leans on the experience of the old and the energy and drive of the young.The atmosphere for reconciliation, for collective will to change the errors of the immediate past and for turning over a new leaf was palpable at the press conference yesterday at the Bacchus Restaurant of the Airways Hotel.Present were four prime ministers, three former and one current.
Grand Chief Sir Michael Somare, Sir Julius Chan, Paias Wingti and Peter O’Neill. They were there to declare a common desire to form a new coalition government.
NCD Governor Powes Parkop spoke of a need to stabilise the nation, to bring back hope and integrity.
Former prime minister Wingti called for a return to seeing parliament and the other institutions of government operating properly.
He wanted to see the law obeyed to the letter and for young leaders to operate with restraint and discipline.Aitape-Lumi MP Patrick Pruaitch said: “We have been the beneficiary of the law twice.
“It is clear that PNC is the largest party after these elections. We will also support it to form the government.”Sir Michael spoke of the wisdom of the elders and the energy and drive of the youth driving the work of development forward.Many leaders speaking one message: Forget the past, let us move forward. But can we? More especially should they?
The immediate past has seen laws broken, processes abused and traditions abandoned.
Listening to them yesterday, one would not have thought these are the same group of people who were fighting each other tooth and nail; who called each other names; who wished for one or the other of them to end up in jail with the keys thrown away not more than four months back.
This is politics, of course, politics PNG style.
We all desire to turn over a new leaf but we simply cannot forget what has happened in the past.
Indeed, remembrance of the past is especially important to prevent future serious mishaps.
We can state confidently that Sir Michael’s National Alliance camp and that of O’Neill’s PNC and governing coalition partners did know that certain actions they took earlier were less than savoury, extra-legal even but did it anyhow.
It is almost as if it could be predicted at the time that a time would arise in the not too distant future when a reconciliation could be made, when attempts could be made to re-right the wrongs of the past.
The attitude seems to be: “Well, let us break a few laws here and here or stretch the rules or pass a few faulty legislations because there will come a time when we can turn around and amend them all again to read the right way.”That is just the wrong attitude and must never be allowed.
Never again must this nation see a repeat of that ugly period.
Never again must we see two prime ministers attempting to gain legitimacy by storming the gates of Government House, or of there being two commissioners of police, two commanders of the defence forces or two first legislative counsel.Papua New Guineans are a forgiving lot but they must draw a line at certain things. The rule of law is one. Respect for institutions and systems and processes is another.