Why PNG needs to stand on its own feet

Focus, Normal

The National, Tuesday July 30th, 2013


Australia has dictated and controlled the development of PNG for the past 40 years. 

Through AusAID packages that run into billions of kina, many of our people have been led to ‘believe’ that Australia is the ‘only’ country we can “depend” on. 

Many Australians who worked in the colonial government such as the kiaps and policemen have written accounts or made verbal recordings of how life was like in the past in PNG. Some have labeled  Papua New Guineans as ‘kanakas’, ‘heathens’, ‘primitives’, ‘cannibals’ and so on. 

Many people say the real beneficiaries of AusAID are Australian consultants and companies.

Many of our AusAID scholars, (I was one of them) were led to believe that life in Australia was best.

Many of our scholars returned and promoted Australia to those who had no opportunities to move out of their communities.

In the PNG education system, major reforms were largely spearheaded by those who gained education overseas and comparisons were made based on Australian standards. 

I still hold that our old education system was working well prior to the introduction of Outcome Based Education (OBE).

English is the international and business language and therefore everyone is obliged to learn it at the initial stages of schooling. 

OBE was really an ill-conceived foreign method of learning because there was no need to acquire vernaculars and tok pisin in childhood schooling – we spoke it at home after all.

My view is that language is power and for us to be able to read, write and speak English gives us the power to interact with people from all walks of life around the globe. 

With the advent of the internet and the information revolution,  everything we do and say is now accessed through the fingertips.

My hope is for everyone to be educated enough to read, write and comprehend basic English so that they can be able to make informed decisions about the future of this country. 

When Prime Minister Peter O’Neill signed the agreement to resettle Australia’s boat people in PNG, many of our senior ministers and government coalition partners were asleep in the first week afterwards – a clear demonstration of their lack of understanding of international treaties and agreements or foreign diplomacy. 

This is also a result of ‘yes master’ politicians giving the prime minister the red carpet treatment.

Becoming a politician means serving the interests of the constituents and the nation and not ‘self-interest’ as this can lead to corruption.

Many people are asking whether a lot of our MPs do speak up for the interests of the country or otherwise. 

For this reason, some people suggest we should assemble former leaders such as Sir Pita Lus, Sir Michael Somare, Sir John Kaputin,  to speak to the new generation of politicians on what it means to live and die for Papua New Guinea. 

Sir John and Sir Michael have said that what O’Neill did in accepting Kevin Rudd’s solution for the boat people  was wrong. 

The argument continues. 

We cannot compromise the future of PNG for the benefit of the few.

The simple rule is we act for the benefit of the greater number of people.


Christopher Papiali is a former information technology lecturer at Divine Word University, Madang