Reveal information of public figures

Editorial

IN an age where information is mass produced and accessible at the touch of a button, what the public really should have is relevant knowledge.
This information should be available to everyone in order for them to make sound and educated decisions.
When you put this into a political context, it becomes crucial for voters to know who they are trusting with their vote and what that individual, once voted into power, does with the people’s trust.
One of the biggest problems in Papua New Guinea is that there is a lack of information on issues and individuals and/or accessing this information is difficult to the extent of not being worth the effort.
Often, we are told that information on individuals or their conduct is private or of no relevance to our needs, and hence it is kept from us.
But it is that very information that the constituents need to gain a clear picture of the candidate and what they truly stand for that is denied them.
Information on parliamentarians before they were voted into office and on their record while in office is of the utmost importance and should be public knowledge.
When a person chooses to run for office, that person is making a conscious decision to be a public official.
Being a public official, especially one who makes and directs decisions for the good of the community at large, means he or she is in some ways public property.
In the interests of accountability and transparency, it must be compulsory for all MPs to declare their business interests and earnings, qualifications and criminal record if any when they announce their candidacy for any election.
It may be seen as an invasion of privacy by some but it is this kind of full disclosure that separates the wheat from the chaff not just in terms of suitability in education or life experience but in moral character as well.
Parliament should be the first place that is open to all, after all in a democracy the power does rightfully belong to the people.
It should be true in practice, not just in theory.
A Parliamentarian’s voting records should be made public.
People must be aware or at the very least be able to know what their members are doing on the floor.
Are they supporting bills that they campaigned for?
Are they opposing laws that are contradictory to their policies?
These are questions that MPs must be asked every time they set foot in parliament and are called to give their support to whatever proposal that is on the floor.
They have to be judged on how they perform and what they do with their time in power.
MP’s acquittals for their District Services Improvement Programme funds must be done on a timely basis as is the house rule.
That information must be made public in order for the people in the electorates and others around the country to judge for themselves whether an MP’s term has been filled with cost effective and practical spending or if has been period of spending but with little or no tangible results.
As far as accountability goes, not enough information is made available to the public for them to draw their own conclusions.

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