O’Neill deserves much respect


TYRANT, corrupt and idiot are part of the insolent vocabulary in his never-ending tirade against the prime minister by a little-known keyboard warrior on Facebook.
Like every citizen, this keyboard warrior is entitled to his opinion and can freely express his right but it is also proper that our prime minister is accorded the respect and manner fitting of a national leader and the office he occupies.
Of course, respect is earned and no one is demanding respect here but it is better not to maliciously badmouth and character assassinate someone.
Criticism of governance is a democratic right but not insulting people in positions.
Uncontrolled social media and the rise of the citizen journalists has increasingly raised the scope, reach and spread of scathing attack and cheap innuendo. If the PM was a tyrant, as his critics imply, then that freedom of speech which you and I enjoy now would have been gagged and that right caged.
Prime Minister Peter O’Neill represents the people of Ialibu-Pangia for four straight terms, winning all contest with absolute majority. His accession to power as the leader of leaders is no fluke.
He overthrew the Somare regime in 2011 and formed the O’Neill-Namah government.
Returned in the 2012 national election, he formed the O’Neill-Dion government, which served a full five-year term, even without the assistance of OLIPPAC or any stability mechanism.
He came back for the third time and formed the O’Neill-Abel government. Many of his contemporaries regard him as the man who played his cards right and came out on top.
O’Neill is the second prime minister from the region known as the last frontier. Discovered in 1930s, the Highlands was opened up to the world much later in the 1950s and therefore education was among the few changes to come very late.
At that time most of the pioneer leaders from the hinterlands were illiterate and semi-educated, yet against surmounting odds they exemplified great courage and passion in representing their people and love for the motherland.
It was Kondom Agaundo, among others, who was ridiculed in the early House of Assembly onetime for his broken Tok Pisin and poor command of English by his well-to-do colleagues from the most affluent regions around the country.
He would solemnly say, “Today you make fun of me and my poor English, but tomorrow my son will stand here and speak that language you speak much better than I and you will listen to him.”
While a new copper mine was picking up at Panguna, agriculture continued to sustain the country and was the backbone of our economy. And the hinterlands produced much or almost all of the agricultural export produce.
And today the country’s economy is continuing to be sustained by the oil and gas and LNG from the hinterlands.
This is not to mention other mines and economic-generating activities, but oil and gas alone contribute the largest share of export revenue.
Peter Charles Paire O’Neill is from Ialibu-Pangia, Southern Highlands. Unlike some of his contemporaries, growing up with a silver spoon, Paire grew up as a typical village boy.
He went to primary school and attended all public schools and entered university.
He knows the hardships and challenges as best as any ordinary Papua New Guinean growing up in the village. O’Neill knows very well that on a good infrastructure network the economy will grow and sustained itself by diversifying investment in the renewable sector.
Loans and foreign direct investment is channeled through assisting wharves and jetties, road and bridges, new road access, mega-tidal basins, communications infrastructure and energy and power infrastructure.
To date O’Neill stands tall among the prime ministers as the highest investor in infrastructure development.
And to conclude, Peter O’Neill is one of late Agaundo’s sons and today is his turn to speak.
Criticisms are healthy in democratic governance system, and I have no issue on that, but it must be done respectfully with tact and decency.
Critiques should desist from character assignation and tarnish one’s name and reputation by deceit and innuendo.

David Lepi
Port Moresby, NCD

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