‘Media Freedom Day ‘ address at Divine World University, May 4, 2012
My name is Awayang Namorong. I am a writer and street vendor.
I am here to tell you what you already know.
I am here because you believe in the dignity of all human persons.
You believe that all human beings are born with inalienable rights and that governments are created by the People for the purposes of protecting those natural rights.
You believe that all Melanesians have certain inalienable rights conferred upon them by Nature and kastom at birth.
I am here because you believe in the defense of those rights.
I am here because you believe that in defending those rights we contend upon the fundamental questions of governance and the use of land and resources for the benefit of Our People and the preservation of Our Papua New Guinean Ways.
If we are to talk about media freedom, we are to talk about creating enabling mechanisms for the purposes of defending Our People and promoting and preserving Our Papua New Guinean Ways.
With the deregulation of the telecommunications industry in recent times, the Information Superhighway has been opened up to millions of our fellow citizens.
It is imperative that all Papua New Guineans to seize this opportunity to articulate our hopes and dreams. A national conversation has began online and must continue to happen. However, conversations can invariably become just noise if people do not know the parameters of the discussion.
Indeed, what’s the point of having media freedom if we end up just viewing the same commercials viewed in totalitarian states?
The parameters of a National Conversation should be defined around achievement and adherence to the Five National Goals and Directive Principles.
The free press has a role in ensuring accountability to Our National Goals and Directive Principles.
1. Integral Human Development
The State has become a tool for suppression of women and men in Papua New Guinea through its misguided education system, its exploitation of workers and the distortion of national wealth. The writers of the Constitution wanted the State to be an enabling mechanism for the empowerment of all citizens such that they would be free from oppression and would have opportunities for self improvement and fulfillment.
We see today, all around us a disempowered people exploited by foreigners and attracted to the Darkness of Neon Lights.
2. Equality and Participation
The writers of the Constitution wanted every citizen to have the opportunity to participate in and benefit from the development of this nation.
Of course, if the State fails to achieve Goal Number 1 it is inevitable that the citizens become mere spectators in their own land.
Equality and Participation is more than just royalty payments, fortnightly pay, jobs and spin-off benefits. It is about a people being in control of their national economy, national politics, and all other national realities.
It is also about participating in the national conversation about issues that arise.
3. National Sovereignty and Self-reliance
The writers of the Constitution wanted this nation to be economically and politically independent.
The first thing we all need to realize is that for over 50 000 years we were politically and economically Independent.
WE need to realize that Ccolonization was a process of systematically undermining that economic and political system that ensured that prior to that we as a people did not depend on AUSAID funding, international investments, World Bank loans and foreign consultants.
In pursuing foreign investment, foreign loans, foreign trade and foreign ideas we are perpetuating this colonial agenda of undermining our sovereignty and becoming more dependent on foreigners.
4. Natural Resources and the Environment
The mismanagement and plundering of our natural resources that is currently unfolding seems to be going generally unnoticed. Our People are a landed people and as such are dependent on the interactions in the environment for their survival.
If this nation is to survive for perpetuity, its people will need good soil to grow food, clean water to drink and to harvest food, clean air to breath and an environment that sustains Our Papua New Guinean Way of life.
After all our fish, timber, oil & gas and minerals are looted, the only thing we hold to is the knowledge of our ancestors that instructs us as to how we survive on the Island of New Guinea. This is the reality in places where exploitation activities have ceased following the looting of natural wealth.
If we sacrifice, our soil, our clean water, our clean air and our clean environment, how will we survive as a race, when all the looters are gone.
We’ve talking about preventing genocide. We’re talking about addressing the systematic destruction of Our Papua New Guinean heritage and identity.
We’re not trying to save the environment. We’re part of the environment we live in and we’re in effect talking about saving ourselves.
5. Our Papua New Guinean Ways
Most critics of Papua New Guinean Ways say that we’re such a diverse country such that it is impossible to have clearly defined Papua New Guinean Ways. The writers of the Constitution dealt with this issue and they argued that there are common themes that recur in various indigenous societies.
All Our Papua New Guinean Ways are anchored on customary land ownership. We own Land and the connection we have with Land is sacred. Land ownership is Identity and Dignity within Melanesian Society.
The current movement to “free up land” as the AUSAID and World Bank sponsored Government puppets call it is in effect an attempt to “grab land’ and imprison our people.
What good is a job if the pay isn’t enough to take you to next fortnight?
What use is a job if you always have to borrow from the buai seller in order to survive?
What use is a job if you cannot save money and pay for education and healthcare?
Ladies and Gentlemen, after 36 years of Independence, surely we have to change course in our nation’s Development Path. We need to recognize also that what has unfolded in the past years of so called freedom from colonial rule is indeed the perpetuation of colonialism. Colonisation has a Black Face and black leaders whose very corrupt existence in ensured by the systems and structures left behind by colonial rule.
The National Goals and Directive Principles are undermined by the very own Constitution within which they are written. Section 25 of the Constitution makes them redundant.