PNG second independence

By Fr Giorgio Licini

In his first letter to the Corinthians, read today in Catholic churches, St Paul reminds the divisive leadership of the community that “one body does not consist of one member but of many”. Indeed this also applies to a nation; especially when as large and diverse as Papua New Guinea.

We may think that the destiny of a country lies on its basic law and the institutions of the state. Actually it lies on personal responsibility and what each member (citizen) is willing to contribute to the common good. Taking care of each other cannot be enforced by law. Many countries that achieved independence from foreign masters soon descended into a vicious circle of internal strife and civil war which brought upon them more misery than centuries of colonization.

Papua New Guinea was spared that horrific fate, but we frequently point at a few weaknesses which are still keeping us slave almost forty years after the mild Australian colonization came to an end. They are easily mentioned: corruption, sorcery, family violence and alcoholism. These ancestral weaknesses seem to have been aggravated by the difficult cultural transition brought about by the world becoming one interconnected reality. Back we do not go; forward only with the new generations achieving a deeper degree of moral and spiritual independence.

We can only suppose that the widow of Nain, whose story is also read today in Catholic churches, was carrying to the cemetery the young victim of sickness or something even more evil. How many young victims of alcohol, drugs, neglect, violence, sorcery and poverty are we still carrying each year to our own Nine Mile cemetery in Port Moresby and elsewhere in the country?

In his short life Jesus refused to violently attack the colonizing Romans. He preferred to point at the change of heart as the condition of true and lasting freedom. The same did the people of Papua New Guinea with the Germans, the British and the Australians. Independence came about in a peaceful, orderly and constructive manner in 1975. Our fathers and grandfathers thought us to have only friends and no enemies; to dialogue rather than to kill.

What a responsibility for today’s generation to eventually defeat at the roots the internal and local causes of slavery and poverty! For a second and lasting independence struggle! (16 September 2014)


Dawn of the new PNG

By Fr Giorgio Licini – Catholic Reporter PNG

We leave it up to the courts to determine if presumed legal services by Paul Paraka Lawyers were really met with illegal payments by Prime Minister Peter O’Neill and others. We also stay out of the political wrangling that inevitably accompanies inquiries into government officials and politicians. Neither, we do care much about political careers that may end or blossom according to court rulings.

We just note the fact that the soul searching exercise the country is undergoing these days reveals a deep yearning for a new beginning. Since independence Papua New Guinea has been marred in poor governance and corruption. Now people had enough.

They had enough of dubious payments; uncompleted projects; political consent and votes captured every five years with unfulfilled promises.

O’Neill and colleagues always repeat the same refrain: You will judge us at election in 2017. But what if by then the country is financially, socially and morally bankrupt. Outgoing ministers and Members of Parliament are not going to pay any price for it, while common people will suffer.

There is something missing in a democracy when Constitutional changes become too easy and Parliamentary opposition almost nil. Thank God the judiciary appears to be vibrant and independent in PNG. But still government and politicians should not blame the media when they prove to be the last bulwark of democracy. Who else is going to expose bad or wrong decisions when Parliament is an accomplice and the judiciary cannot acquire necessary proof?

The dream for a clean and honest running of the public affairs is palpable at the grassroots. There is a third post-independence generation of Papua New Guineans fast emerging after the Somares and the O’Neills. They want a more mature democratic process and a totally transparent management of public wealth and funds. They are preparing for it. Please, don’t stand on their way!