Archive for the ‘National Goals and Directive Principles’ Category

Lucy Kioso started raising cattle a few years ago, after leaving her husband. She had to find a way to provide for her children. Today, Lucy owns 38 cows on her property in Kopafo, in Ungai Bena District outside Goroka.

Each cow sells for around K2,500 (over AUD$1,000) each – the cow in the photo below is ready for selling and Lucy is confident it will fetch that price.

Lucy’s cows are sought after and she has keen buyers from around the district. Her income supports her family and contributes to her local community.

Lucy doesn’t ride a horse – so to round up her cows, she has trained them to respond to her call. When she sings out, the cows come to her. It’s an astonishing sight.

“I don’t need a man to help me,” she told us proudly. “I’m a woman and I am very capable of looking after cows. And I’m doing it.”

Zavis Pupune is building her own guesthouse on her land at Fanayufa, Goroka. Her story is one of gentle determination.

“I started selling flowers to make a little money,” she explained to Our Pacific Ways when we visited her place last week. “I thought I could use that to start a chicken farm.

“From starting with one box of chickens I went to three and then four boxes. Then I started a piggery too. I can get K1,500 for one pig.”From those earnings, Zavis is building a guesthouse, and has dreams of also building a conference room on her property. Through her hard work and vision, her children now have the opportunity to go to school in Australia.

“Working little by little, we can improve our lives,” she says. “I believe that I can do something, with the few skills that God has given me, to do something to improve my life. I have land. I can use it to do something for myself.”

When PNG achieves the above, then it is becoming self-reliant. If we are able to create that, we will truly have a reason to celebrate Independence every year on September 16. National sovereignty and self-reliance are very, very important. As John Momis, one of the Constitutional Planning Committee members, said earlier this year:

“National sovereignty calls on leaders not to sell their people’s rights. Not to allow this country to be ripped up and raped by foreign investors. National sovereignty calls on leaders to reject bribery. National sovereignty calls on leaders not to use public funding to make investments overseas while their constituents are barely making enough money to buy medicine, school fees, and so on. Self-reliance means embarking on a massive program of empowering people to get involved in small scale socio-economic activities. Activities that would take into full account the Melanesian way”.

While PNG is officially Independent, we are in fact still dependent, both economically and politically. In simple terms, it is the agenda of white-men to keep the black men poor his entire life and for that they have influenced us with their western ways of doing things. It’s obvious that everything we do is in their interest. They have brought a system in which we do the work and they get all the benefits and profit and the only thing left for us is deteriorated social indicators and people living below poverty lines and political disputes which accompanies instability in the government system.

Inap lo yumi kamap developed country pinis. It’s time we shift away from imperialist control and colonialist and neo-colonialist exploitation, and approach full independence on the basis of our very own National Goals and Directive Principles, our goals, founded upon the values of Papua New Guinea. If we keep on holding onto a foreign model of development and keep neglecting our PNG ways, we will remain like this for the next 100 years.

 

 

 

Third Goal: National Sovereignty and Self-Reliance

 

Introduction

Papua New Guinea’s National Goals and Directive principles are our home-grown set of objectives and aspirations founded upon the traditional customs of our peoples and incorporated into the Constitution of PNG. The National Goals were set as a sense of direction and a guide for every PNG citizen in pursuing and achieving their aims.  Importantly, it captured our very own traditional diverse cultures, beliefs and values, and identified proper and applicable mechanisms to promote them. This paper is produced to review and evaluate PNG in terms of National Goal number 3, National Sovereignty and Self-reliance.  It asks if PNG is fully exercising its power as an independent state or is still partly independent.

Despite this goal’s inscription in the preamble of the Constitution, it is yet to be realised. It is just another paper plan, decorating our Mama Lo (Constitution). I argue that we are Papua New Guineans and in order to see change and progress, we have to go back and realise this National Goal along with the other four National Goals.

Political Independence

Political Independence is when a government has the full authority and power in making decisions for the nation, which are more or less free of foreign influence and control. Apparently, the National Parliament and Constitution are the benchmark and authority for this. However, the main meaningful measurement of how independently the government is exercising its power is whether it operates in the interest and will of its citizens, rather than serving a handful of elites and private and multinational organisations (foreign investment). Serving such interests keeps our government under the control of foreigners in one way or the other, which in turn sees government neglecting its own people.

Goal 3 declares it is a fundamental goal of the people that PNG should make its own decisions, and that its sovereignty should not be reduced by external political, economic or military dependence; that national leaders should always be free to make national decisions.

Now we want these words to be actions to lead us towards realising and achieving National Sovereignty and Self-reliance. But to do so, our governance must differentiate itself from the colonial manner of administration, which is better termed as the western Model of Development. This model of development is inducing our government to be dependent or serving the interest of foreigners and not becoming the true representative of the people who voted them in. PNG blogger Martyn Namorong has identified this so called western model of development as the root cause of all evil in PNG.

I see that if our government preserves this foreign imposed model, it is likely our elected representatives will function perpetually in the interest of foreigners and elites without worrying about the National Goals set for Papua New Guineans to realise development on our own terms. The current model, a colonial legacy, is deliberately designed by westerners in a way that it will induce our government to function in their interest, even though we have been given the opportunity to govern ourselves. Moreover, this model of development disempowers indigenous people, and leads to law and order problems and political instability. This model is not in the interest of PNG citizens and contradicts with our traditionally established values. It seriously ignores the directive principles integrated into our Constitution.

Therefore, political independence to me means that we should go back to the eight directive principles inscribed under the National Sovereignty and Self-Reliance goal, and put them into tangible practice. Political independence will only occur if our political system is reformed on the basis of PNG values. Achieving stronger government decentralisation and devolution would be of great benefit towards this. As former Constitutional Planning Committee member John Momis said recently, “We must not be afraid to make a detour from wayward ways and go back to the past that the National Goals and Directive Principles of our Constitution prescribe for us.”

Another area undermining PNG’s political independence is foreign influence. It is stated in principle eight that PNG’s sovereignty

“must not be undermined by dependence on foreign assistance of any sort, and in particular for no investment, military or foreign-aid agreement or understanding to be entered into that imperils our self-reliance and self-respect, or our commitment to these National Goals and Directive Principles, or that may lead to substantial dependence upon or influence by any country, investor, lender or donor”.

One on-going problem that triggers foreign dependence is debt.The government always branches out to international agencies such as International Monetary Fund (IMF) and World Bank for assistance, which allows these international ‘aid’ agencies to implement a range of strict economic and administrative policies without the people’s say. Furthermore, even churches and other non-governmental organizations undermine political independence.

Thus, the Goal of Sovereignty and Self-reliance means to me that our government must be reformed in a way that really reflects the wills and values of PNG. Instead of operating in accordance with the flawed system left behind by the whiteman, and with less foreign assistance of any sort. This requires, critically, decentralisation. Government agencies and the public service should be fully functional and efficient.

In addition, it also means that people should have much more power to execute decisions about the destiny of their lives. When our government becomes the true representative for our people, then we might well see real political independence.

 

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.

The National Goals are in our Constitution so that people can abide by them and become true citizens living in our Pacific ways. The Pacific or Melanesian ways of living in this contextrefers to our ways of sharing things, how we communicate and socialise, how we solve problems, how we do business, and so on.

Our first National Goal, Integral Human Development, declares the goal “for every person to be dynamically involved in the process of freeing himself or herself from every form of domination or oppression so that each man or woman will have the opportunity to develop as a whole person in relationship with others”.
This goal emphasises that development of Papua New Guineans should come about through collective efforts as well as the efforts of individuals seeking fulfilment through his or her contribution to the common good.

Development through collective efforts means that everyone must work together as a family, a community and as nation to accomplish what we want to satisfy our needs. To develop ourselves, other people and our country as a whole. Working together as a group is important rather than working in isolation, because people are unequal physically, intellectually and economically. Collective effort in which people are supporting each other for the common good must be encouraged in PNG.

At the same time, individual effort is important. This simply means that each person has to work and contribute in one way or another to help develop herself or himself, other people, and the country. Each individual should promote peace, harmony and respect so that no-one else is oppressed or limited from doing something to help build their society. Male or female, young or old, married or unmarried it doesn’t matter. Each and everyone has to work to sustain and develop himself or herself first. And individuals must see themselves as important and equal to all others.

This goal can also partly be achieved through the assistance of national government by providing the goods and services which people ordinarily cannot provide for themselves. This includes the provision of basic goods and services such as health, education, road and transport links, and other necessities for people to enhance their basic standard of living.

People also demand from government economic development, such as increasing or subsidising local commodity prices so people can earn enough money from their hard work to sustain their living. People demand social development, such as education, religious activities and sports, to socialise and make friends so we can learn from one another and make life interesting. Moreover, people demand legal and political development, because we want to enjoy our rights, freedom and liberty in PNG without discrimination, domination or oppression.

– Belden Makuku is a Business Studies student at Unitech.

Among the five National Goals as laid in our constitution, my essay is based on the fourth Goal: “for Papua New Guinea’s natural resources and environment to be conserved and used for the collective benefit of everyone, and be replenished for future generations’’.

The natural resources in this respect are basically the minerals (such as gold, copper, etc.), gas, oil, fish, trees/logs, and so on that are mainly exploited in the name of money.

Many people have been making comments that our country’s progress, our peoples’ development, is not picking up well despite the natural resources-base that we have in this country. Some are blaming poor governance, that is, the lack of service-delivery regardless of major revenue generating activities that are going on. It is very alarming to see our revenue generating resources are fast depleting to a level of being irreplaceable. Thus, the outcome of these activities which are supposed to be for our collective benefit are mostly benefiting only the top people up the hierarchy, contrary to our fourth national goal. And it also seems that our future generations will be missing out, if this trend continues.

You would also see that there is no proper educational awareness of cons and pros of our natural resources exploitation activities that are going on in this country. Our national goals are just lying idle, collecting dust on the shelf, without proper dissemination of this very important piece of information to every person. I don’t know if our MPs (the chief policy makers of this land) in Parliament realise the importance of our National Goals and Directive Principles? But these national goals are in our constitution as guiding principles towards the management of this nation. Likewise, it also applies to our top bureaucrats of this nation: they should also be considerate of this goal

Villagers throughout the nation should also be made aware of this national goal so that they can help conserve our environment and natural resources, rather than involving themselves in the devastating activities in the name of ‘development’ promised by exploitative mining, logging, oil palm and other companies.

I am very scared of the way our natural resources are being handled. The way these natural resources-devastating activities are going on at this time in our country is very frightening. These money generating natural resources extractive activities and bush-clearing are going on all around the country rapidly and simultaneously. We must all bear in mind that this is an island nation that we need to take extra preventative measures to safeguard our scarce natural resources that we have at the moment. We have to conserve some of it for future generations’ benefit as well, and not extract everything at one go.

We seem to be rushing out things for today’s survival and/or for personal gains only. We don’t seem to be caring about the consequences that will come upon us as a result of.

Just try to think what your home used to be in the past, say just 10 years ago: the forest that you used to see around has now gone and planting and other activities have been substituted on it. At the same time, the population of this nation is booming in every community. We must also bear in mind that we are not a continent state like Australia or USA. We are only an island nation. I strongly believe that one day there is going to be a down-turn of this nation. And that day in question is fast approaching and will collapse this nation. Our good dreams about this nation will all go down the drain, if we are not seriously considering this fourth national goal for the overall good of this nation.

Therefore, we must try to learn from other countries who once were in our shoes but their economy has now collapsed. Like for example, Nauru. History tells that it used to be very rich in phosphate extractions and used to provide donor-funding to other Micronesian nations in need. But what is Nauru like today? Now that all its phosphate is gone, it is back to zero and worse. Now it is solely surviving from receiving donor funds, and has to accept unwanted developments such as an Australian asylum seeker detention centre.

So what lesson is Nauru telling us? It is about time we need to be very careful in exploiting our natural resources because money is not always everything, nor is it the solution to all our problems. We have to think and do things that will last and sustain this nation as a whole now and in years to come.

– Yorine Inove is a Department of Business Studies student at the University of Technology, Lae.

Rita Aroga, Grade 8, Holy Spirit Primary School, Madang

The fourth goal of Papua New Guinea is for its natural resources and environment to be conserved and used for the collective benefit of everyone and be replenished for future generations.

The environment is everything around us including our resources. Papua New Guinea is well known for its land and water resources. A resource is anything that we have the knowledge of using. Banana is a food resource for many Papua New Guineans; kunai grass is a resource traditionally used for building houses and stone is a non-renewable resource used in making tools and axes.

Papua New Guinea has traditional subsistence lifestyles. We have plenty of natural resources and we use these for food, medicine and building houses and canoes.

  • Land resources include plants, soil, domestic animals, wildlife, minerals, forest, swamps and wetlands. They meet our basic human needs.
  • Water resources come in different forms: oceans, rivers, mangroves, marine life etc.

All of these land and water resources are for personal use or for an income. However, as population increases the consumption of these resources is becoming unsustainable. This is because of poor management and the selfish attitude of people.

The use of land and water resources must be managed wisely if we are to provide for the needs of people now and in the future. There is a need for appropriate ways of managing resources. Some of these include: conservation, reforestation, sustainable fishing/hunting/gathering, coral reef protection, protection of the natural environment, water conservation, wildlife management etc. If these resources are mismanaged, human life is in danger.

Sustainability and conservation methods are needed in order to preserve these resources for the next generation.

The exploiting or taking away of resources is happening in both land and water resources. In our country today, exploitation is taking place in three main areas; that is in the sea, on the land, and under the ground.

  • In the sea, fishing is the common purpose of exploitation. We have big fishing companies who use illegal fishing methods. For example, a large fishing boat from RD canners is using a large trawling net to catch tuna. The boat pulls the net very slowly while it swallows anything passing by including young breeding stock and their habitat. The entire marine environment is destroyed at that time. The boat makes one harvest and all the tunas are gone in that particular fishing zone. They take certain sizes and quantity and the rest (already dead) are thrown back into the sea. This then creates major problems such as a decrease in the endangered species and water pollution. This type of fishing should be banned by the government and the companies should find a more safe method of fishing.
  • On the land, forest environments are becoming scarce because people clear the land for agricultural purposes, infrastructure development and the introduction of logging companies Forest areas must be conserved because most of our basic needs come from it. For instance, a man living along the [Gogol] River wanted to make canoes for his family. He selected a few mature trees and cut them. He made the canoes but according to an awareness of future generations, he replanted young new ones so his sons and their children may be able to make canoes in the future.
  • When exploitation takes place under the earth’s surface, we know that it is generally mining of minerals. We have a lot of operating and possible mine-sites in our country but the question is: minerals are non-renewable resources which means nature does not replace them, so if all of them are exploited today, what will our future generations benefit from? This question should be reconsidered by the government very carefully before allowing mining companies to advance onto our local areas. They must think of sustainable ways and how to manage these resources so that they won’t run out very quickly. One solution could be to only allow four major operating mines, one in each of the four regions. The other mines can be closed and re-opened when the fixed time is up. In that way, we can save some of the minerals for future generations.

The environment as a whole must be protected and conservation law enforced if we are to provide for the needs of people now and in the future. In addition to that, sustainability and conservation practices depend on our positive actions as well as positive attitudes.

Conservation has always been important in the traditional life of Papua New Guinea. There are many ways that our natural resources and environment can be conserved. The wise use of resources depends on our attitudes towards the environment. We should reuse, recycle and replant, use traditional and safe methods and good practices. In this way, our needs are satisfied while safeguarding resources for the next generation.

Conserving is an appropriate way of managing resources. By conserving resources people can use the same garden land without cutting down more forest. Reforestation – that is, repantin young trees after old ones have been cut down, is another way. Sustainable fishing, hunting and gathering are good sustainable practices that involve taking only what you need for useful purposes.

Community leaders must educate people so that they use the reef wisely to meet their needs as well as sustain it for future generations. Wildlife management is needed in order to preserve our beautiful birds, butterflies and animals. If they are not protected, they will be in danger of extinction. Good management can allow wildlife to flourish in their natural environment.

There are many ways to protect our environment and natural resource, both modern and traditional, but traditional methods are the best when it comes to conservation of resources.

Papua New Guinea is a mountainous, rainforest covered country located on the western edge of the Pacific Ocean. It is a country richly blessed with natural resources. This essay is based on my thoughts on the fourth national goal of Papua New Guinea which calls for wise use of natural resources and the environment for current and future generations.

Underground resource exploitation

In Papua New Guinea, underground resource exploitation is a major income resource and has dominated the economy since the 1970s. Unfortunately, these activities can cause widespread and diverse damage to the environment, including destruction to vegetation and wildlife around the mine areas.

An example is the Ramu nickel mine in Madang Province. The locals near the mining area have an ongoing battle with the mine management over the company dumping 100 million tonnes of mine waste into the Basamuk Bay over a period of 20 years. This will damage the marine ecosystem in the bay, reducing critical sources of food and income for the local people. In April, it was reported that several ships carrying Ramu mine processing plants spilled chemicals into the Basamuk Bay, causing bleaching to the coral reefs. It was also reported that people have been removed forcefully from their homes to make way for the mine. This also led to the destruction of sites that are culturally significant to the local people.

Environments around minesites cannot be easily restored to their original richness in diverse fauna, flora and animal life. Traditional medicine, plants for body paints, wild edible fruits, greens, roots and native animal habitat are destroyed for good.  Destruction to river life and ocean life occurs when mine waste are dumped in them.

All underground resource exploitation causes environmental damage. Even though mining brings revenue into a country and creates job opportunities, it damages the land, river systems and oceans. People affected by mining lose food sources from the forest, rivers and sea through contamination from mine waste. The fish, animals and birds which feed in such habitats move away or die in large numbers. Therefore people who depend on food from the forest, rivers and seas are left with reduced vegetables, fruits, nuts, fish, animals and birds to hunt, catch or collect for food.

After the life of the exploitation of mineral resources, the local people may be left with nothing but a mining ghost town, if they have not invested well their royalty benefits during the life of the mine.  Our country must seriously consider the advantages and disadvantages of exploitation of its mineral resources and make a decision on whether it should allow the large scale exploitation of its mineral resources in future.

Logging Industry

PNG is reported to have the largest area of rainforest left in the Asia- Pacific region. Forestry in Papua New Guinea contributes 4% of GDP and is dominated by Malaysian logging companies. However, between 70-90% of all timber exports derive from illegal logging – one of the highest rates in the world. In areas where illegal logging occurs, there is generally minimal monitoring of tree harvesting. In such cases, all kinds of trees are harvested whether they are mature or not, the right size or not, or the right type of wood or not. The loggers are also not generally concerned with the practice of reforestation. They harvest and leave, and do little or nothing to replant new native trees of the same species of trees that have been harvested.

This can lead to the loss of habitat of many animal and plant species. Native plant species will die out and animal species will move to other similar habitats which may be long distances away from the people’s villages. The migration of the animals and the death of plants will affect the people who depend so much on them for their survival.  If the responsible authorities monitor the logging companies’ activities and demand reforestation through appropriate legislation, there may be enough trees left for future generations to use. Animals and birds will also remain in the forest for the people to hunt for food in future.

Fishing Industry

PNG’s seas are full of valuable marine resources and have the largest fisheries zone in the South Pacific, measuring 2.4 million to 3.1 million square kilometres. The fisheries sector in PNG contributes only 1% of the GDP but is extensive and ranges from inland fisheries, aquaculture, coastal beche-de-mer and reef fisheries, to the prawn trawl and large-scale tuna fisheries. However, having a large fisheries zone presents an enormous challenge for monitoring and controlling fishing vessels in PNG’s EEZ (Exclusive Economic Zone).

In recent months, groups of people have been arrested for illegal fishing in PNG waters. The use of nets and dynamite fishing for commercial purposes can lead to overfishing especially when fishing activities are not monitored well by the responsible authorities. It is a common practice in some parts of PNG to use explosives to stun or kill marine life. Dynamite fishing is used to harvest large quantities of fish for commercial purposes. This is an illegal and very dangerous practice and it kills all marine life in areas that are dynamited. Meanwhile, in net fishing, nets are cast into the ocean/ rivers and are pulled along by boats trapping not only fish but other marine life as well. A lot of other marine life is killed during this process.

If large quantities of marine and freshwater stock are destroyed through regular use of these methods of fishing, there will be reduced or no marine life left for future generations. Unfortunately, traditional ways of sustainable fishing, such as restrictions on fishing at certain times of year to allow for regeneration marine life, is no longer observed and practiced by many PNG communities because of the influence of commercial fishing. To ensure that there is sufficient fish and marine food for future generations, communities in coastal areas have to revive traditional sustainable practices such as sea farming of fish, clams, seaweed and prawns and marine regeneration practices.

Conclusion

I have discussed three types of natural resources exploitation in Papua New Guinea. These are underground resource exploitation, logging and fishing. Here are some of my recommendations for sustainability of natural resources:

  • The government should reinforce the Environment and Conservation act and ALLOW the people to challenge deals concerning the extraction of resources from their land;
  • Appropriate authorities must regularly monitor all land and marine exploitation activities in the country to ensure environmental damage is minimal;
  • Conduct awareness programs for the communities affected about the different types of exploitation of lands and their effects on their food and income resources.

-Stephanie Paraide, Grade 9, St. Joseph’s International Catholic College Port Moresby

As the pre-independence Papua New Guinea Constitutional Planning Committee rummaged the length and breadth of what was soon to be the new PNG, the many thoughts of the citizens were given. These were all compiled into what we call the National Goals and Directive Principles.

The very first goal outlines what the Constitutional Planning Committee wanted every citizen Papua New Guinea to reach, in order to unify and strengthen the state.

In simplified terms, Integral Human Development is the ‘creation of a person that is ‘whole’ or a ‘complete being’ within the state of Papua New Guinea. In the Constitutional Planning Committee Report (1974) it is written:

This means that we use the term development to mean nothing less than the unending process of improvement of every man and woman as a whole person. We take our stand on the dignity and worth of each Papua New Guinean man, woman and child.

‘Dignity’ and ‘worth’ of every Papua New Guinean is what the citizens wanted as the very first goal of Papua New Guinea as a nation as from 1975. The people wanted the independent state of Papua New Guinea to be the catalyst towards citizens respecting each other. Through citizens seeing value in each other, development should flow freely for all, the First Goal argues.

When the lawmakers tapped into Integral Human Development, they addressed the human person as a ‘whole’. For in the ‘whole’ human person, we connote the three main parts of a person: a man is made up of the spiritual, physical and mental components. Manifestation into these parts meant the Constitution was truly holistic. It was dedicating itself into getting every PNG citizen to be free spiritually, physically and mentally.

In the spiritual aspect of life, for example, the National Constitution was to uphold the Melanesian traditions, cultures or norms that connect the man to his environment. I say this because Melanesians were spiritual beings long before Western colonisation of our islands.

In terms of physical well-being, by enshrining Integral Human Development as priority number one, the government was telling the world that it would provide for its citizens. Equality, fairness and justice in the political, economic and social spheres was its obligation. This would imply, for example, that poverty would be eradicated for every citizen. In terms of mental well-being, the first goal implies the state is to provide easy access to services such as education and health care, without discrimination.

To the Constitutional Planning Committee, providing these things were the new nation’s top duty. It recognised that by a total commitment to the people, the newly independent nation could create a stable and viable state where every person was free to access and benefit from every development in Papua New Guinea.

To me, positive change for Papua New Guinea’s progress was well catered for on paper. The National Goals provide a nice foundation for any nation builder’s strategizing. But the leadership, on the other hand, were already engaged in denying citizens from seeing his or her fellow countryman or woman as having his or her own ‘dignity and worth’.

Inequality and injustice was what the colonial administration blessed the government of Papua New Guinea with to start off as an independent country, directly contradicting its written laws including National Goal number one.

A classic case in this regard is my Solomon island of Bougainville. The Government of Papua New Guinea was not willing to respect our ‘dignity and worth’ as non-Papua New Guineans. It was not willing to allow us to develop with our own values, despite goal number one, and despite being a member of the United Nations that protects minorities or marginalised peoples against all forms of genocide, exploitation and suppression.

At the cost of Bougainvillean land and people’s ‘dignity and worth’, Papua New Guinea was trying to get the new state up and running economically. Our dignity and worth was nothing to the state, which was built to sustain the bicycle tyre called Papua New Guinea and not those spokes that strengthen that tyre to carry the country.

And today, despite our very first goal being ‘Integral Human Development’, we still witness Papua New Guineans denying each others’ dignity and worth.

In summary, Integral Human Development is for the state to empower each individual citizen’s dignity and worth in its own unique setting for a harmonious national sustenance and developmental progress. But, for Papua New Guinea, the respect for its citizen’s dignity and worth has been neglected in the name of national progress, at the expense of the development of each citizen as a whole person.