What happened to the PNG dream? How did paradise go wrong? by Jackson Kiakari
By APR editor – April 3, 2021
COMMENT: By Jackson Kiakari in Port Moresby
I am from the Papua New Guinea generation that was born in the 1980s, raised in the 1990s but neglected, cheated and robbed in 2000s.
We were sent to school to be educated. They told us if you work hard and do well in school, you will get a good job. That all will be well.
So with juvenile enthusiasm and youthful vigour, we went out to conquer academia. But at the turn of the last corner, a different destination awaited.
Jobs were few. Nepotism had become entrenched. The economy wasn’t doing well. Tax was among the highest. Rent, utilities and cost of living had passed through the stratosphere!
Where is the promise? What happened to the dream? How did paradise go wrong?
Questions leading to more questions. We are told to just appreciate life, wake up at 6am, be at the office before 8am, give 40 hours of your life weekly for 50 weeks in a year, contribute to Nasfund, customary Obligations, “hevi” Pay Tax (which falls into a blackhole mostly) and die a sad miserable death after the struggle.
We’ve argued. We’ve protested. We’ve rallied. We’ve spoken out. On the streets. At private gatherings. On social media. But there is no change. It only gets worse.
More scandals… More abuse
More scandals. More deals. More abuse. More theft. A grim reality and a bleak future.
Papua New Guinea belongs to 9+ million people. Not only 111 home grown princes and kings (there are a few good men).
All lives should matter. Both in the Christian Context and our Melanesian Culture. Yet the system has been mutated to favor the haves. The elites. The connected. While sons and daughters of ordinary folks are left to scavenge and get by.
We fight for little contracts, compete for tea boy roles. While foreigners get mega kina contracts. The fishing, logging and mining permits. No downstream processing. It’s good for us but bad for them. So it must not happen.
Those connected get the top jobs. Get the good land while we live with mosquitoes in settlements and villages. We get by on minimum wage and high tax. Blackouts, POTHOLES, crowded classrooms and closed aid posts. Em normal ah?
When will this change? Who will change it? Our fathers came from the colonial era. Schooled by “masters” and disciplined by the “cane” to accept whatever treatment dished out by the powers that be.
Subconsciously, they passed this onto us. Unfortunate but inherent. Do we go on accepting all this? Are we spectators in another man’s land? Is this what we want the children we love and raise today to inherit tomorrow?
Change must come
Nay! No! Never! It must change. Change must come. Not through peaceful rallies and patriotic speeches. No! It must come through something more powerful and potent.
Change must come through the ballots. Yes. That’s how rubbish gets in. That’s how disaster is voted in. That’s how the status quo is maintained. And that’s how change must come!
I spent 17 years of my life to be a telecommunications engineer. I started out as a graduate engineer and worked hard because that is what I loved. Not to go sit in Parliament. But the way things are going, Parliament needs a complete overhaul. Because it affects everything that happens to us.
We are travelling in a bus on the journey of life. With our families and kantrimen. And the driver is drunk and careless. We cannot pretend all is well. Our families’ and our nation’s welfare is in the balance. We must act or crash! We must take back the driver’s seat!
Church, sports, work, farming, marketing, fishing and everything else will work well if the driver is sober and sound. Responsible and accountable. Parliament matters. It’s not a politician’s sport. It’s a country’s life.
But no. They come every 5 years and sponsor sports, donate to church groups, ground breaking and sky breaking ceremonies, lamb flaps, sips kola na 6 packs wantaim liklik koble and boom! We sell out future!
Issau, Jacob and the bowl of soup every 5 years. Then they go and deal with the foreigners, miners, loggers etc and sell our life, land and the future. And tax us heavily to redeem their carelessness and greed.
We are Melanesians
We are Melanesians. Our forefathers fought, killed and were killed protecting their land and families? Education was supposed to empower us. Not cage us. We pray for healing and deliverance.
While the enemy is actioning his faith by using money and getting results. No surprise there. Faith without action is dead. Israel left Egypt for their Promised Land. But they had to fight, die and struggle for that dream.
Not just pray for healing. Isn’t that our Christianity? Faith and action working in tandem to produce results?
There is work to be done. And it requires all of us. Not Highlanders, Coastals or Islanders. It requires All ye sons to Arise. We are not our own enemies. It’s not about you or me. No! Can’t we see what’s happening? They sponsor division and infighting to distract our attention while they help themselves to our resources and land.
Enough of our in-house issues. Let’s rise as Papua New Guineans. United in the effort to rescue, protect and preserve our land for us today and our children tomorrow.
While we still have the strength. My generation has to rise and take lead. Or tomorrow, our sons will complete college and clean a Chinese kaibar for minimum wage!
Politics affects everything. Look no further than the current covid-19 lockdown. You can say it’s fake. No to vaccines. Whatever. But 111 men sitting in an air-conditioned building driving fancy cars and living the dream decide for 9+ million. So, which is it?
Arise for #PNG4PNG
Young men and women must arise from all 4 corners of Papua New Guinea and unite with a single theme – PNG 4 PNG.
Government matters. It’s not for the wealthy and bigshots. It is where our land is protected or sold. Where our future is destroyed or preserved. We must complain less and start educating our families and communities. Get involved. It’s our land.
While soldiers are patrolling our borders from Vanimo to Daru, the real enemy is here with us. They don’t wear a uniform. They don’t carry guns. They use money to control elections and politicians.
We eat their money during elections and sell our land and future to their proxies. Their agents. Who come and promise to fight corruption and build a school. To alleviate our problems and give us the dream.
But they go in and serve the enemy. Why? Because they’re owned. Bought off and paid for. How gullible we are. Fighting for crumbs while they sit in restaurants and cut the biggest deals.
This has to stop. Good men still live here. My Land, My Future, My Vote – Not for Sale!
Jackson Kiakari is young Engan man who grew up in Gerehu. He is an engineering graduate from Unitech and held a senior middle management position at ANZ Bank. He is widely regarded as representing the next generation of leaders in Papua New Guinea, and he is contesting the Moresby North-West By-election in the capital.
With thanks to the Asia Pacific Report.