As a young man, how do you feel about your future going forward in PNG?
I’m pretty sure that the PNG’s current trend will have major impact on me as well as this current generation. As Papua New Guineans, you know what I mean by current trends: the problems of service delivery by the government and the issues you see daily in media. Unless we, this upcoming lot of intellectuals take a different proactive approach towards the way things are done in Papua New Guinea, and get a larger portion of our population educated, we will be of no difference than those who existed before us. The environment is just a reflection of the kind of people living in it. Therefore, let us all be the advocate for change and create a better PNG for our future generations.
Coming back to my own future, I feel I have a responsibility to educate my fellow villagers and help them realise their potential and many things they are missing out on. I’d like to give back something to my people, who in one way or the other, invested greatly in me and brought me this far.
What part of PNG do you come from? When you think about your community, how would you describe the presence or absence of the national goals in their lives?
I hail from Mekeo in Kairuku-Hiri District in Central Province, PNG. Frankly speaking National Goals are not having any impact on the villages or simply, it’s not present in the lives of the people at all. They need people like us to impart these ideas to them and I think the translated Tok Pisin version can help. As there is high rate of illiteracy in the community, an average villager does not have any idea what the National Goals are all about. Others might have a different perception towards this but as for myself, I see that most uneducated or semi-educated people do not really care about whatever is happening in the Parliament or where our country is heading to. Like they say, you’ll only have a say when you understand something and can respond.
One thing that I noticed is that the government has created a mind-sets in people like: ‘em wok blo Gavaman, em bai kam wokim’ (‘it’s the government’s responsibility, they’ll come and do it’). People concentrate on their daily endeavours without thinking of helping themselves. They only rely on hand-outs by the government. Another problem is that when some educated villagers attempt to do something worthwhile, the lengthy and complicated processes and unresponsiveness of the public servants just compel them to abandon it again.
What can the government, bureaucrats and local people do to improve the future in Papua New Guinea?
PNG’s development policy contradicts the proper role of the government as facilitator and regulator of the economy. The state disempowers people from realising their potential and so people depend heavily on ‘hand-outs’ and expect the government to do everything. In other words, it makes people become lazy. Thus, the government’s role in the economy should be merely to help the people to help themselves. For example, it should be helping parents engage in agriculture, by building better road networks and infrastructure and marketing channels to help the parents generate income by themselves.
Rather than concentrating too much on foreign investment to run the economy, the government should recognise the potentials of our local entrepreneurs and support them. The best that any government can do to promote broad-based growth and development is to promote equal opportunities for its citizens to engage in income generation.
In relation to the role of people, we should have in us a sense of responsibility. I believe that the reason behind PNG not progressing is our attitude. I’m sure everybody is talking about this. The kind of attitude that we have hinders the nation from moving forward. People blaming the government, government blaming people and we won’t even go anywhere. We can say poverty is the cause but we are not in a desert country in Africa. We are in PNG, the country renowned for its abundant resources. Let us not allow laziness to make us poor. Let us help ourselves to develop our country. I therefore appeal to every citizen to be responsible and do whatever it takes at your own level to improve the future in Papua New Guinea.