Trusting one’s own handiwork

Editorial, Normal

A CERTAIN builder was asked by the frightened occupant of an apartment in a highrise building if the all-round glass windows would suffice to hold her naughty children.
“I like the excellent view and all that, and I don’t like to criticise your workmanship, but they are very naughty sometimes, you know, in the way of children. They might run at the window or throw something at it and break the glass. I just want some assurance …”
She turned and gasped in horror as the huge man turned without a word and ran towards the window at full speed and threw himself at it. There was a terrifying thud but the windows held.
“I think it will hold ma’am,” he told the shocked mother and walked out without another word.
And, that is how it is. You must be sufficiently confident of your handiwork that you are able to stake your life on it.
Of course, this is not always the case in PNG in the critical areas of health and education.
Most of PNG’s political and bureaucratic leaders could not even vouch for the quality of the standards of instruction and care in education and health, never mind the state of the infrastructure or availability of materials and essential services.
Year after year, they send their children to schools in Australia or elsewhere and go for healthcare treatment themselves in those far off places.
There must be something seriously wrong when the very people responsible for making policy decisions affecting the health and education welfare of the country would themselves not trust the quality of these services. How then can we expect the very same people to improve on the education and health care standards in-country when it does not affect them personally, anyway?
So long as they have the means to seek quality educational and medical services abroad, there is really no great drive to improve the same services within the country, is there?
Self-interest is the greatest driver in establishing something. Remove that and there remain only flowery and glory-seeking words but little, or no, action. That would appear to be PNG’s lot over the years.
Laws must be introduced by man like NCD Governor Powes Parkop preventing his colleague leaders from sending their children to schools abroad. Parkop is one leader who sends his children to public schools in the capital and seeks medical treatment for himself and his family from the facilities here.
Policies or laws must be introduced which specifically bar those who are on the public purse, in particular ministers of state, members of parliament, constitutional office holders and heads of departments and statutory institutions from sending their children for education abroad – particularly for basic primary and tertiary education.
While the argument might run that everybody has a right and the freedom to send their children for the best education or seek the best medical treatment for themselves if they can afford it, the counter argument is that there are a million others who have the same wish, who do not share the same privilege or position.
Since the public office holders are also beneficiaries of the public purse, it stands to reason that their primary job should be to establish decent education and medical facilities in-country and to trust those services enough to stake their own and their family lives and livelihood on them.
It is all very well for every parent who can afford it to want the best education for his or her child abroad.
It is not good enough if such a parent happens to also wield the power to ensure every other child can afford the same type of education or medical treatment in this nation.
Every member of parliament has that type of power when he or she votes on the budget or when he or she is deliberating laws on the floor of parliament. Every minister of state has that kind of power when he or she is deliberating executive policies pertaining to health and education.
Every departmental head and his or her senior managers have that kind of power when they are preparing to implement policies of government pertaining to service delivery.
We all know the great spirit of the free enterprise: There is no greater incentive than personal interest. The opposite is, of course, that there can be no greater disincentive than disinterest when your personal interests can be secured elsewhere – such as abroad.
No leader worth his or her salt should claim to represent his or her electorate’s interest while sending their own immediate kin or themselves abroad for decent education and health services.