Use sports to bring forces together

Editorial, Normal

The National, Thursday December 3rd, 2015

 IN light of the shameful events of the recent past, heads of the PNG Defence Force and Royal Papua New Guinea Constabulary should allow more social interaction between and among their members.  

More events such as a recent walkathon led by NCD Governor Powes Parkop which attracted soldiers and police officers should be organised.

Sports has and will always be a great catalyst for social advancement and should be one of the obvious choices for bringing the disciplined forces together.

The forces may consider a sporting competition, be it a single sport or multi-code event wherein police and PNGDF personnel get together regularly to do battle on the field. 

Perhaps they could also invite the Correctional Service to make it a three-way challenge.

Other regular social gatherings, such as barbeques or picnics among the members of the forces and their families, would help in breaking down whatever barriers that exist.

We might be amazed that after a while, the positive impact of the friendly rivalry, the camaraderie and the pursuit of common ideals would rub off on the personnel themselves, their families and the rest of the community. 

Incidents of open confrontation between members of the police force and the military are similar to what happened in Fiji many years ago until someone decided to introduce a rugby competition so the rivalry on the street could be taken to the field.  

That worked for the members of the country’s disciplined forces who have become a lot more professional in their conduct and friendlier to each other.

May last week’s clash between members of the PNG Defence Force and policemen be the last such incident. 

This is therefore another impassioned plea to the men in the blue and green berets to desist from further confrontation between themselves and against civilians.

When you raised your hand to enter the months of rigorous training at Bomana and Goldie, you sent a clear message to all that you were prepared to rise above the ordinary in your physical and mental aptitude.

Your conviction was that you would not allow fickle little emotions to cloud your judgement but be prepared to always abide by the rule of law. 

You determined that though born into a tribe, you were prepared to let go of the shackles of the parochial for the ideals of a nation-state. 

No, you’re not merely human. You’re cops and soldiers.

Cops don’t bash wives or girlfriends, they defend women and take wife beaters to court. 

Cops don’t drag vulnerable detainees out of holding cells in the pretext of interviewing them but molest them instead. 

Cops don’t brandish guns at civilians and threaten them because of some imagined tribal affiliation.

Cops are born into tribes but are inducted into national service so they are Papua New Guinean in their outlook till retirement or death.

Soldiers are not cowards who resort to mob mayhem.  

Soldiers are disciplined, almost stoic, and single-minded in confronting the enemy. 

Soldiers raise their bayonet and rifle only at the order of the commander.

Soldiers and cops drink or take in a bit of alcohol at the officer’s mess or at a cocktail party among civilians and enjoy the out-of-barracks company. 

But they are not to be seen and acting drunk and when, at the least of civilian provocation, unleash some pent-up frustration with boot, baton and fist.

Soldiers and cops, agents of justice and are therefore the eyes, ears and arms of the king (government) in executing that justice.  

So the words of the sage in the good book are not only to the king but also the soldier and police officer:  “It is not for kings (read soldiers and policemen), to guzzle wine.

“Rulers (administrators of the rule of law) should not crave alcohol.

“For if they drink, they may forget the law and not give justice to the oppressed.”

The confrontations between the police and soldiers and the cases of abuse of civilians that have made public discussion over the past few years are largely linked to the abuse of alcohol.