Thoughts on Change

Thoughts on Change

Mangi Nating
Mangi Nating

August 16th, 2003, 10:50 am #1

Thoughts on change

I will endeavor in this short piece to bring to the fore those problems that are most pressing in our nation and will suggest possible remedies to these. A grand task no doubt and one that in general tends to be beyond the means of any one man or woman. What qualifies me then for this task? Nothing, save a desire to use that which I have been endowed with for the advancement of my people. I am your compatriot, one that finds our current state of affairs utterly disgraceful, a shame upon us and upon our progeny. I long for that day when we can hold our heads up high in this world and be on an equal footing with those of other races. Until we get our house in order, our individual triumphs are meaningless, and our striving for self-advancement will always be held in check by the stagnation of the masses.

As with any other nation-state, no event in the present is the result of a discontinuity of events, by that I mean we did not just arrive at the present state of affairs unexpectedly; past events have had a cumulative effect, the result of which is our present situation. It is imperative therefore that any understanding of the present must include some study of the past. This I will do very briefly in order to set the stage for the next part, which is the introduction and development of the new paradigm, or the new way of viewing our nation-state. I will present what I consider the best way forward, and will dwell upon this idea before recognizing the limitations to this approach. Finally, I conclude with some thoughts on proposed changes.

Current state of affairs
-------------------------

It does not require much effort to recognize the problems that are currently plaguing us. Problems which appear to be so intractable that many have unfortunately resigned themselves to surviving rather than living. This sad state of affairs must be remedied and it must be remedied by those whom it affects the most, because as Adam Smith said, "…it is vain for him to expect it [help] from their benevolence only ". This assumption is true not only within but also between economies. Our help does not come from without; it must necessarily come from within; from us. This is not to say that our generous donors have not had any positive effects on us: it is a realization that national interests will be foremost in any transaction between nations, whether it is trade or aid, and we must be truly independent if we are to progress.

Problems that we face currently are firstly a high level of crime throughout the nation, secondly the problem of ethnic conflicts in several areas. Thirdly a leadership that appears to be quite powerless against these problems, either because it is riddled by corruption, as many allege, or because it takes time for policies to bear fruit, and finally what appears to be the lack of national ownership of businesses and a reliance on aid to prop up our economy. There are doubtless many other problems but many of those can be classed under the four listed above.

Now that we have listed some of the more important problems that plague us, we have to ask ourselves why we have them and the immediate answer that springs to mind is that it is human nature. Some would say these problems have existed since the dawn of humanity and will always be present with us. No doubt an important and true assertion, but for our purposes to rely on platitudes is self defeating, we cannot understand the root of our present problems if we leave it as just a condition of human nature, surely there must be some explanation within our history.

Through countless millennia, our people have co-existed with their environment in a state of natural harmony. However, this state of natural harmony is not the romantic ideal of the ‘noble savage’ that was propagated by many of these western explorers. Papua New Guinea was never an Eden, though we may have lived in harmony with nature, we did not live in a natural state of harmony with each other, our people were involved in internecine conflict on numerous occasions, either for the possession of lands or the settlement of disagreements. Given our diversity, there were no ‘nation-states’ of the form that emerged in Africa, Asia and Europe, rather there were tribal groups linked by kinship ties. This set the stage for our domination by those who were more united and organized, in our case, the Europeans. They exploited our lack of industry and co-ordination and used our lack of administrative ability to their advantage. We became pawns in their ‘game’ of empire building. However it is not all doom and gloom because they did bequeath to us a system of government and education which otherwise might have taken us some time to develop, if at all given our isolation and lack of need for alternative systems.

With the rapid development of the modern nation-state, spurred on no doubt by similar nationalist movements in Africa and Asia there arose in our nation a class that was more educated in the western ways than the rest of the population. It was these people, who took over the reins of government and who benefited directly from such a system. For example the ‘mixed race club’ in Port Moresby that Sir John Guise belonged to which the Australians hoped they could use to their advantage (fortunately Sir John Guise did not become their pawn). This and other ‘urban elites’ became the new chiefs in our nation.

The idea of a unified Papua New Guinea and the emergence of the nation-state created an artificial union that failed to realize that it did not represent the interests of all the indigenous people of the land. Any nation-state should ideally be the embodiment of the aspirations of its people. Ours is an external foreign entity that forces obedience on an independent people. Is it any wonder then that people rebel against a nation-state that they feel does not represent them? In my opinion what the nation-state then becomes is the milking cow for those adept enough to find its udder. It ceases at that stage to be the representative of the people and becomes an illegitimate force that extracts labor and capital from the people in order to feed the ‘udder-finder’ and his or her clique.

Fantastic imagery perhaps but it contains a lot of truth and this is evidenced by the common belief of the ordinary man and woman on the streets and in the gardens that the nation-state and those in power are only there for their own benefit.

So what does one do when the nation-state becomes illegitimate in the eyes of the people, start a revolution? The answer is anything but as ‘exciting’ as that. In fact the answer may be the ultimate anticlimax. Revolutions have a tendency for replacing people while leaving the same inadequate systems in place. The answer may lie in the realization that the administration of a people by a select group who may have their own motivations is not in the interest of the general population. This means that the development of East Sepik may not be high on the agenda of a politician from Manus who may reside in Port Moresby. With limited finances, all provinces cannot get everything that they require, so then it becomes a struggle to win as much of the national pie as possible.

Please note I am not referring to any particular members, I do not know of a member of parliment from Manus who lives in Port Moresby and was a governor for either of the Sepik Provinces.

It is this fight for personal prestige and benefit that makes the nation-state ineffective, no longer is it the people’s voice, it instead becomes the tool of the few in power. Centralized power has no relation to the ordinary man in his food gardens; his needs are secondary to the politicking and jostling for self advancement of the urban elite. The only way the ordinary man’s needs can be met is if government becomes representative, and how better to do this than along ethnic lines. Given the difficulty of representing all ethnic groups in government, the closest substitute would be the provinces. Greater autonomy means that the power in Port Moresby becomes diffused throughout the provinces, the needs of the people in the provinces do not become lost in Waigani; they become ever present in the offices of their governors who have final responsibility for the state of the province; for its economic development as well as its social stability.

The proposed system of statehood has some credibility when you look at similar cries in Africa for the realization of the differences in ethnicity and their right to govern themselves [See Nigeria]. We can still have a national agenda and remain politically a union but for administrative purposes, states should be given sufficient autonomy to pursue their own development. By sufficient I mean the greatest amount of autonomy short of independence. This way, there will not be the lopsided development that is currently the case.

I mentioned high crime and ethnic conflict as two of the problems we are currently facing. With the state system these problems should be reduced. Suppose we have the new system in place with laws that prevent the movement of peoples from state to state, then we will find in Madang only the native inhabitants of that land. Furthermore suppose the newly ‘formed’ state of Madang decides that it should develop its tourism industry as one of its main exports, the ‘governor’ may then begin a statewide education program that teaches its people how to be receptive to tourists and how the state can develop from this industry. The people of Madang would presumably respond favorably to such a move since they know that whatever revenues they receive from tourism will benefit them directly because it is coming back to the state. Moreover there is not the fear of urban squatter settlements developing should the state of Madang experience economic growth since there is a restriction on the movement of peoples from other states. The new industry provides a form of income for the people of Madang while simultaneously reducing crime and ethnic conflicts in the towns by removing squatter settlements. This way it can have economic growth, without the usual problems of rural-urban (or in our case provincial) drift.

However should someone from another state with the necessary skills in this new industry want to move to Madang, there would be no restrictions for the move, since it is the movement of skilled labor benefiting the state of Madang. This should allay the fear of those who want diversity in the nation. Diversity will be maintained, but it will be diversity in skilled labor, which is what is more beneficial for a state.

The development of Industry
................................

It is necessary for the states within the nation to develop industries in the area of their comparative advantage; however it should not be focused on agriculture alone as some have argued. No nation has ever developed to the state of industrialization through agriculture alone. In fact the term 'industrialized nation' itself is suggestive of what is necessary. Government involvement is heresy in today’s economic literature but it must not be forgotten that the West required heavy doses of government involvement before its current situation where ‘market forces’ take centre stage. {I can provide papers from academic journals that support this view if required}

The state government should use earnings from its exports for the building up of industry and the encouragement of entrepreneurship. The informal sector of the economy is already quite strong and instead of suppressing it, the state should be be its strongest supporter. A case in point is the harassment of those who sell produce at ‘illegal’ markets; it is the state’s responsibility to provide ‘legal’ markets that do not extort the market sellers through relatively expensive and many times unwarranted fees. The state should also concentrate on the provision of transport services that allow those within its boundaries and under its jurisdiction to bring their produce to market.

Earnings from exports should go into education that not only teaches ‘head knowledge’, but also practical knowledge about how to operate businesses, knowledge that is both stimulating and relevant. The school system should also be responsible for helping students appreciate the contributions of our people to their civilization, which is not as erroneously believed, the preserve of Europeans.

Instead of clamoring for foreign investment, we should take the initiative to build those facilities that will help us develop some form of industry. It was suggested by some that biotechnology is an area we could look into, but even those other areas that we have left to foreigners to develop and to flood us with their second grade goods. The logic behind free trade rests on some very simplistic and at times unrealistic assumptions. Although the U.S champions it, they not so long ago were strong advocates against it

“We had suffered quite enough before the Revolution from the policy of Great Britain in checking our industrial and mechanical aspirations and keeping us a buying people instead of a making people”
Abraham Lincoln

Yet they are now the ones that are checking the “industrial and mechanical aspirations” of others. Some argue that it would be better if we specialized in those areas where we have comparative advantage such as agriculture. If you can find one nation in the OECD that has become rich off the back of agriculture alone then you can believe this theory. If we specialized in agriculture the export earnings we receive from our agricultural products would not only be subject to world demand and prices but they would also be swamped by the outflows we would make on manufactured goods from other nations that we ourselves, if given sufficient time could produce. After all, the west did not just develop its manufacturing capacity in less than ten years did it?

I had hoped to develop even stronger arguments in favor of the creation of states which I believe to be the best next step, but this will again have to await freer days, deo volente. But I hope the logic behind it was revealed, and I ask you, the reader to develop these ideas further. I admit my excursion into the development of industry requires more work, in particular the identification of specific examples, but this was never promised to be a thorough work, only 'thoughts on change' to encourage discussion and debate. I must make clear that I was not advocating protectionism or the increase of tariffs to protect our fledgling industries. I think they can develop with minimal protection if we create the environment for them.

Let me gather these disjointed thoughts into a summary which I hope should make the ideas clearer. Development under the current system is difficult because of the numerous ethnic groups and their divergent aspirations; the only way to ensure that development occurs is to recognize these differences and to grant greater autonomy to these various groups so that they will pursue development that is relevant to them. My thoughts are that development should be broadly based, and this requires the involvement of everyone in the state in order for it to occur. The state system is the most suited form of organization for this task because it is the embodiment of the aspirations of the people and not an external entity.

The state should embark on a program to develop industry for which it is naturally endowed both in terms of natural resources but more importantly human capital which is why the education of the province should be the state’s primary objective initially. Education should be relevant to the development of the province, providing the skills required to participate meaningful to economic development and social harmony.

Economic growth should not be pursued by a focus on agriculture as this is bound to keep the state in stagnation. Instead efforts should be directed toward the development of industry and the encouragement of entrepreneurship through the provision of transportation services, the availability of markets and the development of capital markets that will ensure that entrepreneurs with the necessary skill are given the financial ability to carry out their projects.

This I believe will lead to economic development, the reduction of crime, the easing of ethnic conflicts and a brighter Papua New Guinea. Idealistic? Definitely, but were it not for the idealism of the renaissance, the world would not have many of the developments that it now enjoys. This can become a reality, our biggest obstacles at the moment may be the vested interests of those in power and our own fears of failure, but we shall overcome!





Mangi Nating





Quote
Share

kamba
kamba

August 27th, 2003, 10:50 pm #2

mangi yu mek veri good points
Quote
Share

Exile
Exile

September 6th, 2003, 12:18 am #3

Thoughts on change

I will endeavor in this short piece to bring to the fore those problems that are most pressing in our nation and will suggest possible remedies to these. A grand task no doubt and one that in general tends to be beyond the means of any one man or woman. What qualifies me then for this task? Nothing, save a desire to use that which I have been endowed with for the advancement of my people. I am your compatriot, one that finds our current state of affairs utterly disgraceful, a shame upon us and upon our progeny. I long for that day when we can hold our heads up high in this world and be on an equal footing with those of other races. Until we get our house in order, our individual triumphs are meaningless, and our striving for self-advancement will always be held in check by the stagnation of the masses.

As with any other nation-state, no event in the present is the result of a discontinuity of events, by that I mean we did not just arrive at the present state of affairs unexpectedly; past events have had a cumulative effect, the result of which is our present situation. It is imperative therefore that any understanding of the present must include some study of the past. This I will do very briefly in order to set the stage for the next part, which is the introduction and development of the new paradigm, or the new way of viewing our nation-state. I will present what I consider the best way forward, and will dwell upon this idea before recognizing the limitations to this approach. Finally, I conclude with some thoughts on proposed changes.

Current state of affairs
-------------------------

It does not require much effort to recognize the problems that are currently plaguing us. Problems which appear to be so intractable that many have unfortunately resigned themselves to surviving rather than living. This sad state of affairs must be remedied and it must be remedied by those whom it affects the most, because as Adam Smith said, "…it is vain for him to expect it [help] from their benevolence only ". This assumption is true not only within but also between economies. Our help does not come from without; it must necessarily come from within; from us. This is not to say that our generous donors have not had any positive effects on us: it is a realization that national interests will be foremost in any transaction between nations, whether it is trade or aid, and we must be truly independent if we are to progress.

Problems that we face currently are firstly a high level of crime throughout the nation, secondly the problem of ethnic conflicts in several areas. Thirdly a leadership that appears to be quite powerless against these problems, either because it is riddled by corruption, as many allege, or because it takes time for policies to bear fruit, and finally what appears to be the lack of national ownership of businesses and a reliance on aid to prop up our economy. There are doubtless many other problems but many of those can be classed under the four listed above.

Now that we have listed some of the more important problems that plague us, we have to ask ourselves why we have them and the immediate answer that springs to mind is that it is human nature. Some would say these problems have existed since the dawn of humanity and will always be present with us. No doubt an important and true assertion, but for our purposes to rely on platitudes is self defeating, we cannot understand the root of our present problems if we leave it as just a condition of human nature, surely there must be some explanation within our history.

Through countless millennia, our people have co-existed with their environment in a state of natural harmony. However, this state of natural harmony is not the romantic ideal of the ‘noble savage’ that was propagated by many of these western explorers. Papua New Guinea was never an Eden, though we may have lived in harmony with nature, we did not live in a natural state of harmony with each other, our people were involved in internecine conflict on numerous occasions, either for the possession of lands or the settlement of disagreements. Given our diversity, there were no ‘nation-states’ of the form that emerged in Africa, Asia and Europe, rather there were tribal groups linked by kinship ties. This set the stage for our domination by those who were more united and organized, in our case, the Europeans. They exploited our lack of industry and co-ordination and used our lack of administrative ability to their advantage. We became pawns in their ‘game’ of empire building. However it is not all doom and gloom because they did bequeath to us a system of government and education which otherwise might have taken us some time to develop, if at all given our isolation and lack of need for alternative systems.

With the rapid development of the modern nation-state, spurred on no doubt by similar nationalist movements in Africa and Asia there arose in our nation a class that was more educated in the western ways than the rest of the population. It was these people, who took over the reins of government and who benefited directly from such a system. For example the ‘mixed race club’ in Port Moresby that Sir John Guise belonged to which the Australians hoped they could use to their advantage (fortunately Sir John Guise did not become their pawn). This and other ‘urban elites’ became the new chiefs in our nation.

The idea of a unified Papua New Guinea and the emergence of the nation-state created an artificial union that failed to realize that it did not represent the interests of all the indigenous people of the land. Any nation-state should ideally be the embodiment of the aspirations of its people. Ours is an external foreign entity that forces obedience on an independent people. Is it any wonder then that people rebel against a nation-state that they feel does not represent them? In my opinion what the nation-state then becomes is the milking cow for those adept enough to find its udder. It ceases at that stage to be the representative of the people and becomes an illegitimate force that extracts labor and capital from the people in order to feed the ‘udder-finder’ and his or her clique.

Fantastic imagery perhaps but it contains a lot of truth and this is evidenced by the common belief of the ordinary man and woman on the streets and in the gardens that the nation-state and those in power are only there for their own benefit.

So what does one do when the nation-state becomes illegitimate in the eyes of the people, start a revolution? The answer is anything but as ‘exciting’ as that. In fact the answer may be the ultimate anticlimax. Revolutions have a tendency for replacing people while leaving the same inadequate systems in place. The answer may lie in the realization that the administration of a people by a select group who may have their own motivations is not in the interest of the general population. This means that the development of East Sepik may not be high on the agenda of a politician from Manus who may reside in Port Moresby. With limited finances, all provinces cannot get everything that they require, so then it becomes a struggle to win as much of the national pie as possible.

Please note I am not referring to any particular members, I do not know of a member of parliment from Manus who lives in Port Moresby and was a governor for either of the Sepik Provinces.

It is this fight for personal prestige and benefit that makes the nation-state ineffective, no longer is it the people’s voice, it instead becomes the tool of the few in power. Centralized power has no relation to the ordinary man in his food gardens; his needs are secondary to the politicking and jostling for self advancement of the urban elite. The only way the ordinary man’s needs can be met is if government becomes representative, and how better to do this than along ethnic lines. Given the difficulty of representing all ethnic groups in government, the closest substitute would be the provinces. Greater autonomy means that the power in Port Moresby becomes diffused throughout the provinces, the needs of the people in the provinces do not become lost in Waigani; they become ever present in the offices of their governors who have final responsibility for the state of the province; for its economic development as well as its social stability.

The proposed system of statehood has some credibility when you look at similar cries in Africa for the realization of the differences in ethnicity and their right to govern themselves [See Nigeria]. We can still have a national agenda and remain politically a union but for administrative purposes, states should be given sufficient autonomy to pursue their own development. By sufficient I mean the greatest amount of autonomy short of independence. This way, there will not be the lopsided development that is currently the case.

I mentioned high crime and ethnic conflict as two of the problems we are currently facing. With the state system these problems should be reduced. Suppose we have the new system in place with laws that prevent the movement of peoples from state to state, then we will find in Madang only the native inhabitants of that land. Furthermore suppose the newly ‘formed’ state of Madang decides that it should develop its tourism industry as one of its main exports, the ‘governor’ may then begin a statewide education program that teaches its people how to be receptive to tourists and how the state can develop from this industry. The people of Madang would presumably respond favorably to such a move since they know that whatever revenues they receive from tourism will benefit them directly because it is coming back to the state. Moreover there is not the fear of urban squatter settlements developing should the state of Madang experience economic growth since there is a restriction on the movement of peoples from other states. The new industry provides a form of income for the people of Madang while simultaneously reducing crime and ethnic conflicts in the towns by removing squatter settlements. This way it can have economic growth, without the usual problems of rural-urban (or in our case provincial) drift.

However should someone from another state with the necessary skills in this new industry want to move to Madang, there would be no restrictions for the move, since it is the movement of skilled labor benefiting the state of Madang. This should allay the fear of those who want diversity in the nation. Diversity will be maintained, but it will be diversity in skilled labor, which is what is more beneficial for a state.

The development of Industry
................................

It is necessary for the states within the nation to develop industries in the area of their comparative advantage; however it should not be focused on agriculture alone as some have argued. No nation has ever developed to the state of industrialization through agriculture alone. In fact the term 'industrialized nation' itself is suggestive of what is necessary. Government involvement is heresy in today’s economic literature but it must not be forgotten that the West required heavy doses of government involvement before its current situation where ‘market forces’ take centre stage. {I can provide papers from academic journals that support this view if required}

The state government should use earnings from its exports for the building up of industry and the encouragement of entrepreneurship. The informal sector of the economy is already quite strong and instead of suppressing it, the state should be be its strongest supporter. A case in point is the harassment of those who sell produce at ‘illegal’ markets; it is the state’s responsibility to provide ‘legal’ markets that do not extort the market sellers through relatively expensive and many times unwarranted fees. The state should also concentrate on the provision of transport services that allow those within its boundaries and under its jurisdiction to bring their produce to market.

Earnings from exports should go into education that not only teaches ‘head knowledge’, but also practical knowledge about how to operate businesses, knowledge that is both stimulating and relevant. The school system should also be responsible for helping students appreciate the contributions of our people to their civilization, which is not as erroneously believed, the preserve of Europeans.

Instead of clamoring for foreign investment, we should take the initiative to build those facilities that will help us develop some form of industry. It was suggested by some that biotechnology is an area we could look into, but even those other areas that we have left to foreigners to develop and to flood us with their second grade goods. The logic behind free trade rests on some very simplistic and at times unrealistic assumptions. Although the U.S champions it, they not so long ago were strong advocates against it

“We had suffered quite enough before the Revolution from the policy of Great Britain in checking our industrial and mechanical aspirations and keeping us a buying people instead of a making people”
Abraham Lincoln

Yet they are now the ones that are checking the “industrial and mechanical aspirations” of others. Some argue that it would be better if we specialized in those areas where we have comparative advantage such as agriculture. If you can find one nation in the OECD that has become rich off the back of agriculture alone then you can believe this theory. If we specialized in agriculture the export earnings we receive from our agricultural products would not only be subject to world demand and prices but they would also be swamped by the outflows we would make on manufactured goods from other nations that we ourselves, if given sufficient time could produce. After all, the west did not just develop its manufacturing capacity in less than ten years did it?

I had hoped to develop even stronger arguments in favor of the creation of states which I believe to be the best next step, but this will again have to await freer days, deo volente. But I hope the logic behind it was revealed, and I ask you, the reader to develop these ideas further. I admit my excursion into the development of industry requires more work, in particular the identification of specific examples, but this was never promised to be a thorough work, only 'thoughts on change' to encourage discussion and debate. I must make clear that I was not advocating protectionism or the increase of tariffs to protect our fledgling industries. I think they can develop with minimal protection if we create the environment for them.

Let me gather these disjointed thoughts into a summary which I hope should make the ideas clearer. Development under the current system is difficult because of the numerous ethnic groups and their divergent aspirations; the only way to ensure that development occurs is to recognize these differences and to grant greater autonomy to these various groups so that they will pursue development that is relevant to them. My thoughts are that development should be broadly based, and this requires the involvement of everyone in the state in order for it to occur. The state system is the most suited form of organization for this task because it is the embodiment of the aspirations of the people and not an external entity.

The state should embark on a program to develop industry for which it is naturally endowed both in terms of natural resources but more importantly human capital which is why the education of the province should be the state’s primary objective initially. Education should be relevant to the development of the province, providing the skills required to participate meaningful to economic development and social harmony.

Economic growth should not be pursued by a focus on agriculture as this is bound to keep the state in stagnation. Instead efforts should be directed toward the development of industry and the encouragement of entrepreneurship through the provision of transportation services, the availability of markets and the development of capital markets that will ensure that entrepreneurs with the necessary skill are given the financial ability to carry out their projects.

This I believe will lead to economic development, the reduction of crime, the easing of ethnic conflicts and a brighter Papua New Guinea. Idealistic? Definitely, but were it not for the idealism of the renaissance, the world would not have many of the developments that it now enjoys. This can become a reality, our biggest obstacles at the moment may be the vested interests of those in power and our own fears of failure, but we shall overcome!





Mangi Nating




Mi gat tindin wankain olsem yu, tasol I have trouble
articulating it as well as yu did...it felt strangley
familiar for me having to read it, Yeh that was exactly
what I tried to say.
Mi wetim yet next pieces.


PS:There is also another such tindin(if not similar then in the same vein I think) in The USP Beat, Volume 3, Issue 12 August 25, 2003 in the Opinion Section, by a Dr Ropate Qalo: Adjust existing structures to create a unique model of Pacific Governance. It is in the Fijian
context but...

Quote
Share

Mangi Nating
Mangi Nating

September 6th, 2003, 10:03 pm #4

Thank you for taking the time to read it, I was hoping to discuss it with someone who may have had similar thoughts. I'll check out that article you noted. Unfortunately the piece on industry is quite simplistic and I should have concentrated just on the idea of the federation rather than trying to cram everything into one. Can you just list down your thoughts so I know where we agree and where you don't.
Quote
Share

goipex105
goipex105

September 8th, 2003, 3:38 am #5

what new are you pointing out here......? i mean some PNGans have come up with similar ideas, even our MPs. i agree with what you people say about the main components that we (png) require to develop and break free from some of the problems affecting us. but i can't really see these ideas being put into practice. we can't implement what we think and its a sad thing. its sad because we don't have the 'resources'!!!

whatever...........
Quote
Share

Mangi Nating
Mangi Nating

September 8th, 2003, 4:15 am #6

There was no claim anywhere in the article that the ideas were original. It is not really a matter of the unavailability of resources. The main problem lies in the loss of power and prestige for those in the current system. These people will be the ones most opposed to any changes that may upset the status quo.

Could you also tell me which current MPs have similar views to the one's I expressed? I would be most grateful.

To the former poster:

Is there a website for USPBeat? or could you email the article to me, I'll create an email address for you to send it to, if you have it. Thanks.
Quote
Share

Exile
Exile

September 8th, 2003, 4:38 am #7

Brats, mi no ting 'gat but here is the e-address for
the Editor-in-Chief:
SusannahThackray <thackray_s@usp.ac.fj>
She may be able to send you a verbatim copy.

Cheers!
Quote
Share

Mangi Nating
Mangi Nating

September 9th, 2003, 7:03 am #8

Hey Exile,

Thanks alot bro/sis,
I'll write the editor and ask her if I can post the article on this forum. I'm sure it would make interesting reading.

Could you just jot down your thoughts on the federation idea, I haven't met any people on here that have seriously considered it.

Quote
Share

Mangi Nating
Mangi Nating

September 11th, 2003, 10:00 pm #9

Thanks Exile for informing me of this article...

Adjust existing structures to create a unique model of Pacific governance

What is on the ground at the micro level has become part of the ‘life-world’ of the Pacific people, which they regard as traditional. As such, it is regarded as an asset to build on towards a unique model of governance. In this paper, ‘Towards a Unique Pacific Governance Model’, delivered at the Asian Development Bank (ADB) Regional Good Governance Workshop on 29-31 July, Dr Ropate Qalo argues that existing traditional Pacific structures, adjusted correctly at the macro level, can ensure transparency, sustainability, participation, equal opportunity and equity. This will result, he says, in the needs of the grassroots communities and villages being met.


By Dr Ropate Qalo
“There is a strong need for discussion on how governance should be defined and applied within the Pacific, drawing on the structures of governance that already exist ‘on the ground’ in the Pacific. If adjusted correctly and realistically, there is no reason why existing Pacific structures cannot ensure transparency, sustainability, participation, equal opportunity and equity. Most significantly, good governance in the Pacific demands that existing structures must deliver services that address the needs of grassroots villages and settlements.
Since our island countries became independent, between 1962 (Western Samoa) and 1980 (Vanuatu), they have been afflicted with those who determine ‘what ought to be’, as opposed to working with the grass-roots and their Pacific ‘life-world’. Too many inappropriate ideas were introduced instead of facilitating an evolution of Pacific values steeped in equality and equal opportunity. As a result, the economic divide of macro and micro economics has dominated development in a way that is today benefiting only those who can ‘work the system’.
Independence as a pathway to improved living standards is being nullified by the macro views of those in authority. As a result, too many households at the micro level are unable to live with dignity - the rhetoric of independence only really applies to the macro and market savvy groups. In essence, governance is to do with the distribution and proper management of resources. There is no doubt we need appropriate mechanisms for offering employment through small businesses, agriculture and marine harvests. Unqualified political appointees are a major handicap, about which many of our countries remain silent, holding back our development. Increased work opportunities in these areas would, however, lead to reduced unemployment, economic growth and political stability.

From what is understood by the history of the term ‘good governance’, its definition and usage, it is obvious that without it, development cannot be sustainable. It also sits uneasily with democracy and the (un)just coercion of the masses into structural adjustment programs, for example. There is also a false assumption that democracy leads to economic development, as is shown in the debatable case of Singapore, which is always held up as an illustration. In this sense, governance is used interchangeably with government, making it vague in meaning.

Fiji’s Minister of Finance, in his 2003 Budget Speech, tried not to be vague. He said: “good governance is about being fully accountable to the people in an honest and transparent manner. Government has therefore seen the need to adequately resource our public institutions that serve to scrutinise the activities of Government and its impact on the public”. He went on to say that Government was putting more funds into the Auditor General and Ombudsman’s offices. Funds were also expended on the review of the Fijian Administration by Pricewaterhouse Coopers. Their report was reviewed by Government, which appointed another review team to review the first report. The Minister also reported the establishment of the Fijian Trust Fund, to which it allocated $20 million, which the trust invested on behalf of ethnic Fijians. While most Fijians would accept the investment on their behalf, some will question the ethics of investing $3 million in Fijian Holdings Limited. Good governance in this sense is questionable because it highlights the allocation of funds to the elite and an army of loyal followers who feed from them.

While the presentation by the Minister sounds rational, it is also institutional and macro in nature. At the micro level, even if it is televised, the meaning of the budget is vague and meaningless to the majority of the people. Our challenge, therefore, is to make governance meaningful at the micro level. In this respect we have to begin good governance at the level of local institutions, which are understood by the majority. In the case of Fiji, we have the municipalities, the Fijian Administration and the Advisory Council for non-ethnic Fijians. These institutions are to be targeted for strengthening in the case of Fiji. The same must be done in all South Pacific island states. It is at this level that good governance will consolidate the efforts of development through agriculture, business and marine harvests to improve education, health and living standards.

Earlier it was stated that the meaning of independence is to improve the living standards of individual households. This is being continuously nullified by perhaps the macro views of those in authority. Most infrastructure is limited to urban areas and this is followed by the continuing urban migration. In the meantime, many of our households at the micro level are not able to live with dignity because the rhetoric of independence is mostly about the macro. In the case of Fiji, it has been mentioned that 50 to 60 per cent of the population is close to, or below, the poverty line (earning less than $7,500 annually).

The poor are increasing in number at the micro level and yet there are people in the Pacific who deny this fact.

The structure and functions of governance is still heavily dominated by a bureaucratic system that was defined by the work of Max Weber almost a century ago. Embedded in that structural construct are Adam Smith’s division of labour, specialisation and the fragmentation of work (The Wealth of Nations, 1776). The evolution of these structures and functions remain largely a mystery to Pacific people. In the case of Fiji, apart from the implications of our 2003 budget, this naivety was revealed in the collapse of the National Bank, with doubtful debts of up to FJD$220 million. The Commodity Framework Agricultural grants of $65 million and the latest scam of $16 million in the Ministry of Agriculture in 2000-01 are further examples. In these cases the total losses exceed FJD$300 million. Hypothetically, if $300 million was granted to small businesses of up to $300,000, creating a turnover at $100,000 each, this would facilitate 3,000 small businesses. If each business were able to employ another 10-15 workers on average, at the present wage level, another 30,000 to 45,000 people would be employed. This would increase paid employment by about 45 per cent. The ripple effect would be enormous.

It is obvious that our leaders are instead swayed more by narrow political considerations than market realities in relation to governance. In their decision-making and daily work, what appears to be missing is an appreciation of “what is” on the ground. The Pacific needs leaders who understand the socio-economic pre-conditions of the market economy, to establish a sense of responsibility and accountability pursued in good governance.

Traditional authority in Fiji is encompassed in the Fijian Affairs Act Cap 120, Laws of Fiji, under the Ministry of Fijian Affairs and the Fijian Affairs Board (FAB). A review of the structure and functions of the Ministry by an international accounting firm has been presented to government. A group of indigenous Fijians was subsequently selected and employed by the FAB with the blessings of the Great Council of Chiefs (GCC) to ‘improve’ the review. The final report is yet to be publicised. The GCC-FAB team is taking a long time to reach a consensus. It is becoming increasingly difficult for ethnic Fijians to agree to anything because more rational and legal knowledge, upon which our structures are predicated, is required. The great majority of Fijians are oblivious of this technicality, hence the looseness of decision-making, responsibility, accountability, transparency and, of course, equity.

In development terms, chiefs must look at themselves and their participation at the local level, rather than at the macro view. Chiefs must consult their own people and make them participate in decision-making. The current system appears to be cast in concrete and is sometimes used with limited understanding of the positive dynamics of societies today. Worst still is reference to the Biblical vernacular translation of certain sections of the Bible to justify rent seeking, nepotism and corruption.

The transition from a communalistic society to an individualistic market culture inevitably imposes a cognitive transformation. In the process we witness change, the emergence of new norms through hybridised or invented traditions and ultra right groups who demand preservation of the status quo. This view has not really been given the attention it deserves, but it holds the key to understanding the work that has to be done to stabilise governance in the Pacific Islands.

Social and economic aspiration assumes a type of good governance that ignores the Pacific ‘life-world’. It assumes a system of globalised market economy, but not the pre-conditions. These pre-conditions need to be understood in the Pacific context, by developing a ‘pathway’ that can guide interested people to learn and carry out financial and market activities properly through hands-on experience. This relates to the traditional authority where ethnic Fijians are always apologetic for everything they do and in the process rely on someone else to demonstrate and supervise them closely.

Many Pacific Island people see only the form and not the details. This is argued, erroneously, to be traditional. Much of what we do today follows traditional forms but adds market economic details, from traditions for birth, initiation, marriage and death to religion. These in themselves are part of the subsistence mindset of former times that are largely part of our socialisation. This mindset needs to change. One way to do this is through education. Another is through business. The very nature of business will help Pacific people modify their habits and take the best of their traditions to fit into development in a spectacular and impressive way.

A case study of a small business in Fiji that I have documented as an Action Researcher for the past twenty years has shown this. The small business is now in difficulty because of the cumulative effects of the coups, the Army mutiny, bad debt court cases and the ensuing depressed building market. The number of employees working at the business has dropped from thirty to fifteen. The remaining workers have been able to hold up for twenty years. Family members involved in the business improved their living standards and sent their children to university, seeing them take professional jobs, develop a farm, own houses and so on. Losing their court cases will probably mean the loss of twenty years of corporate memory from the only indigenous business in that sector. In this sense, the policy of Affirmative Action, or the Blue Print, has lifted their hopes and they have been putting proposals to Government with no success for the past two years.

As more extended families around the Pacific move from the traditional subsistence mindset to the hybridisation process with the market economy, good governance should facilitate their development, if careful attention is given to locating that element of trust and the ingredients of the pathway mentioned. Business, as well as education, is increasingly becoming the driving force to development of an appreciation of good governance, as business people demand predictability, transparency, accountability, participation and equity.

Adaptation, or hybridisation, is a research area that has not yet been delved into adequately, yet it is a process that the grassroots people of the Pacific have been engaged in, and will engage in perpetually, because it falls into their life-world. Ever since contact with the outside world, adaptation has been taking place. Obvious examples include education, language, religion and sport. These will continue because we live in a world that modifies traditions, producing a culture that is sensitive to globalisation because of its ‘globalised’ emphasis. This could be viewed as being intellectually simplistic, but it needs to be engaged politically, socially, economically, managerially and operationally to properly govern an ethnically diverse community. It poses a challenge that we must face: some of our culture needs to be changed to suit our time.

Let me explain with an example. Embracing our culture and building houses at exorbitant prices of more than $50,000 in villages around Fiji is common. Assuming there are 10,000 houses at this price around the country, the total value is half a billion dollars. Because this investment sits on communal land, however, it loses its financial value. By our rule of thumb on housing investment, there will be an annual loss of 10 per cent on that value, or $50 million. From the illustration above it is clear that building expensive homes in villages is rationally questionable in market terms. This is especially so when one’s life saving is poured into a house in the village, although because of that location, its potential dollar value is unacceptable to banks as collateral. Logic tells us that a steady flow of investment return will enable someone eventually to build in the village. This makes this issue one of good governance of individuals and of their hard-earned cash. Prudence at this level is the foundation of good governance, in any reasonable view.

Reflecting on all of this, it should not be difficult to understand that adaptations or hybridisation must take place to ensure better returns on investment. The structure of the koro/village, tikina/district and yasana/province is interesting to revisit. Good governance in this model is very much determined by good leadership, if we are to realise the values of traditions and those assumed in the market economy.
Good leadership in the Pacific is, however, still very much based on charismatic authority. Politicians complicate the issue with promises or statements that mean something else to the untrained ears and minds of the voters. A good leader will see that the legal-rational authority is adopted and strictly used. In essence, it means that the councils make decisions only after carefully examining the agenda in discussions, possibly with experts’ involvement. Some might argue that this is already happening. If so, it is only in form and not in the details that would ensure proper examination and better results. The case of the National Bank of Fiji and the failure of various Ministries and government departments in public money use testifies to this fact. However, leadership is vital in this model and so it is in any other model. Those who use the model only for political reasons are reckless and insensitive to the mounting poor of the country.

To digress slightly, the number of people in villages now on welfare is increasing. The recipients see the money as gifts from government, subsidising the unsteady remittances from urban relatives. In addition, the homogeneous romanticised village is becoming more and more individualistic, as it always really was. Fijians only become communal in rituals, as is the case in any other society. While Fijians are communal only on occasions of traditions, by and large they are individualistic. It is this reality that must be examined, harnessing the positives and turning them into the dynamics of their traditions. The lack of primary research in this area is a concern, just as the cut and paste consultancy reports that are referred to by some as research are a cause for concern. It is clear that good leadership using the rational-legal authority will allow adaptation or hybridisation that will allow Pacific Island structures to develop. These processes will be unique as each society inputs what is judged valuable in their life-world.

The structure and functions in Fiji can be observed in all the countries of the South Pacific. They are colonial constructs, tempered by our forefathers’ life-world. They used them as it suited them in their lifetime, even with the added task of appeasing their colonial masters. In the case of Fiji, other institutions like the FAB, the Native Land Trust Board (NLTB) and what was known as the Fijian Development Fund Board (FDFB) were established. All these institutions were known in villages, districts/islands, provincial and national levels.

A more detailed study is found in the book, ‘Decentralisation in the South Pacific’ (Larmour, P. & Qalo, R. et al 1985). The revisiting of the decentralisation policies could now be viewed along with good governance, twenty years after that publication. The finding then shows not only similarities in structure in Micronesia, Melanesia and Polynesia but right across these Pacific life-worlds. The Pacific Worlds website www.pacificworlds.com illustrates these similarities more vividly with the Northern Pacific: with Hawai’i, Federated States of Micronesia (FSM), Republic of Palau, Northern Marianas and the Marshalls. Their life-worlds, with ours in the South Pacific, are generally similar in that the people are very protective of what they deem to be their culture as a group. In addition, their structure includes the traditional value of equity and equal opportunity.

Individually, a person may be entitled to his or her human rights, but institutionally, the lines are drawn and in clear traditional terms. This may be termed as their social capital, which not only underpins the societies in the Pacific, but is the glue that holds them together. Those who overstep it are criticised and looked down upon or even banished.
In the Fijian world of today, the word beci is used. Fijian societies are careful that they are not perceived as beci. To be associated with a misdemeanour is a subject of being beci, causing guilt, embarrassment and shame. But the ambivalence or confusion between the traditions and so-called modernity has deculturised some to encourage them to dismantle by ignoring our evolving unique institutions of governance. The repulsive impact of the three coups in Fiji shook our governance to its foundations. What emerged was the surety provided by our traditional governance model that prevented a civil war on three occasions. It is fortunate that our forefathers have built enough traditions into our hybridised institutions to give them stability when attacked by the nefarious forces of ignorance or camouflaged greed. In this sense, the hybrid model of governance in the Pacific is unique. Until such time as Pacific islanders accept the rational-legal culture of their governance in our local institutions, our development will be inertial but unique. The evolution of the same structures with fine-tuning through adjustments that have been mentioned in passing will make it more efficient and sustainable. In this way, our unique Pacific Governance Model will be passed on to the future for more adjustments and fine-tuning to suit their time.”

Dr Ropate Qalo is the Head of the University of the South Pacific’s School of Social and Economic Development. He can be contacted at qalo_r@usp.ac.fj.
Quote
Share

Inmate Long Bay Jail
Inmate Long Bay Jail

September 22nd, 2003, 2:47 am #10

Thoughts on change

I will endeavor in this short piece to bring to the fore those problems that are most pressing in our nation and will suggest possible remedies to these. A grand task no doubt and one that in general tends to be beyond the means of any one man or woman. What qualifies me then for this task? Nothing, save a desire to use that which I have been endowed with for the advancement of my people. I am your compatriot, one that finds our current state of affairs utterly disgraceful, a shame upon us and upon our progeny. I long for that day when we can hold our heads up high in this world and be on an equal footing with those of other races. Until we get our house in order, our individual triumphs are meaningless, and our striving for self-advancement will always be held in check by the stagnation of the masses.

As with any other nation-state, no event in the present is the result of a discontinuity of events, by that I mean we did not just arrive at the present state of affairs unexpectedly; past events have had a cumulative effect, the result of which is our present situation. It is imperative therefore that any understanding of the present must include some study of the past. This I will do very briefly in order to set the stage for the next part, which is the introduction and development of the new paradigm, or the new way of viewing our nation-state. I will present what I consider the best way forward, and will dwell upon this idea before recognizing the limitations to this approach. Finally, I conclude with some thoughts on proposed changes.

Current state of affairs
-------------------------

It does not require much effort to recognize the problems that are currently plaguing us. Problems which appear to be so intractable that many have unfortunately resigned themselves to surviving rather than living. This sad state of affairs must be remedied and it must be remedied by those whom it affects the most, because as Adam Smith said, "…it is vain for him to expect it [help] from their benevolence only ". This assumption is true not only within but also between economies. Our help does not come from without; it must necessarily come from within; from us. This is not to say that our generous donors have not had any positive effects on us: it is a realization that national interests will be foremost in any transaction between nations, whether it is trade or aid, and we must be truly independent if we are to progress.

Problems that we face currently are firstly a high level of crime throughout the nation, secondly the problem of ethnic conflicts in several areas. Thirdly a leadership that appears to be quite powerless against these problems, either because it is riddled by corruption, as many allege, or because it takes time for policies to bear fruit, and finally what appears to be the lack of national ownership of businesses and a reliance on aid to prop up our economy. There are doubtless many other problems but many of those can be classed under the four listed above.

Now that we have listed some of the more important problems that plague us, we have to ask ourselves why we have them and the immediate answer that springs to mind is that it is human nature. Some would say these problems have existed since the dawn of humanity and will always be present with us. No doubt an important and true assertion, but for our purposes to rely on platitudes is self defeating, we cannot understand the root of our present problems if we leave it as just a condition of human nature, surely there must be some explanation within our history.

Through countless millennia, our people have co-existed with their environment in a state of natural harmony. However, this state of natural harmony is not the romantic ideal of the ‘noble savage’ that was propagated by many of these western explorers. Papua New Guinea was never an Eden, though we may have lived in harmony with nature, we did not live in a natural state of harmony with each other, our people were involved in internecine conflict on numerous occasions, either for the possession of lands or the settlement of disagreements. Given our diversity, there were no ‘nation-states’ of the form that emerged in Africa, Asia and Europe, rather there were tribal groups linked by kinship ties. This set the stage for our domination by those who were more united and organized, in our case, the Europeans. They exploited our lack of industry and co-ordination and used our lack of administrative ability to their advantage. We became pawns in their ‘game’ of empire building. However it is not all doom and gloom because they did bequeath to us a system of government and education which otherwise might have taken us some time to develop, if at all given our isolation and lack of need for alternative systems.

With the rapid development of the modern nation-state, spurred on no doubt by similar nationalist movements in Africa and Asia there arose in our nation a class that was more educated in the western ways than the rest of the population. It was these people, who took over the reins of government and who benefited directly from such a system. For example the ‘mixed race club’ in Port Moresby that Sir John Guise belonged to which the Australians hoped they could use to their advantage (fortunately Sir John Guise did not become their pawn). This and other ‘urban elites’ became the new chiefs in our nation.

The idea of a unified Papua New Guinea and the emergence of the nation-state created an artificial union that failed to realize that it did not represent the interests of all the indigenous people of the land. Any nation-state should ideally be the embodiment of the aspirations of its people. Ours is an external foreign entity that forces obedience on an independent people. Is it any wonder then that people rebel against a nation-state that they feel does not represent them? In my opinion what the nation-state then becomes is the milking cow for those adept enough to find its udder. It ceases at that stage to be the representative of the people and becomes an illegitimate force that extracts labor and capital from the people in order to feed the ‘udder-finder’ and his or her clique.

Fantastic imagery perhaps but it contains a lot of truth and this is evidenced by the common belief of the ordinary man and woman on the streets and in the gardens that the nation-state and those in power are only there for their own benefit.

So what does one do when the nation-state becomes illegitimate in the eyes of the people, start a revolution? The answer is anything but as ‘exciting’ as that. In fact the answer may be the ultimate anticlimax. Revolutions have a tendency for replacing people while leaving the same inadequate systems in place. The answer may lie in the realization that the administration of a people by a select group who may have their own motivations is not in the interest of the general population. This means that the development of East Sepik may not be high on the agenda of a politician from Manus who may reside in Port Moresby. With limited finances, all provinces cannot get everything that they require, so then it becomes a struggle to win as much of the national pie as possible.

Please note I am not referring to any particular members, I do not know of a member of parliment from Manus who lives in Port Moresby and was a governor for either of the Sepik Provinces.

It is this fight for personal prestige and benefit that makes the nation-state ineffective, no longer is it the people’s voice, it instead becomes the tool of the few in power. Centralized power has no relation to the ordinary man in his food gardens; his needs are secondary to the politicking and jostling for self advancement of the urban elite. The only way the ordinary man’s needs can be met is if government becomes representative, and how better to do this than along ethnic lines. Given the difficulty of representing all ethnic groups in government, the closest substitute would be the provinces. Greater autonomy means that the power in Port Moresby becomes diffused throughout the provinces, the needs of the people in the provinces do not become lost in Waigani; they become ever present in the offices of their governors who have final responsibility for the state of the province; for its economic development as well as its social stability.

The proposed system of statehood has some credibility when you look at similar cries in Africa for the realization of the differences in ethnicity and their right to govern themselves [See Nigeria]. We can still have a national agenda and remain politically a union but for administrative purposes, states should be given sufficient autonomy to pursue their own development. By sufficient I mean the greatest amount of autonomy short of independence. This way, there will not be the lopsided development that is currently the case.

I mentioned high crime and ethnic conflict as two of the problems we are currently facing. With the state system these problems should be reduced. Suppose we have the new system in place with laws that prevent the movement of peoples from state to state, then we will find in Madang only the native inhabitants of that land. Furthermore suppose the newly ‘formed’ state of Madang decides that it should develop its tourism industry as one of its main exports, the ‘governor’ may then begin a statewide education program that teaches its people how to be receptive to tourists and how the state can develop from this industry. The people of Madang would presumably respond favorably to such a move since they know that whatever revenues they receive from tourism will benefit them directly because it is coming back to the state. Moreover there is not the fear of urban squatter settlements developing should the state of Madang experience economic growth since there is a restriction on the movement of peoples from other states. The new industry provides a form of income for the people of Madang while simultaneously reducing crime and ethnic conflicts in the towns by removing squatter settlements. This way it can have economic growth, without the usual problems of rural-urban (or in our case provincial) drift.

However should someone from another state with the necessary skills in this new industry want to move to Madang, there would be no restrictions for the move, since it is the movement of skilled labor benefiting the state of Madang. This should allay the fear of those who want diversity in the nation. Diversity will be maintained, but it will be diversity in skilled labor, which is what is more beneficial for a state.

The development of Industry
................................

It is necessary for the states within the nation to develop industries in the area of their comparative advantage; however it should not be focused on agriculture alone as some have argued. No nation has ever developed to the state of industrialization through agriculture alone. In fact the term 'industrialized nation' itself is suggestive of what is necessary. Government involvement is heresy in today’s economic literature but it must not be forgotten that the West required heavy doses of government involvement before its current situation where ‘market forces’ take centre stage. {I can provide papers from academic journals that support this view if required}

The state government should use earnings from its exports for the building up of industry and the encouragement of entrepreneurship. The informal sector of the economy is already quite strong and instead of suppressing it, the state should be be its strongest supporter. A case in point is the harassment of those who sell produce at ‘illegal’ markets; it is the state’s responsibility to provide ‘legal’ markets that do not extort the market sellers through relatively expensive and many times unwarranted fees. The state should also concentrate on the provision of transport services that allow those within its boundaries and under its jurisdiction to bring their produce to market.

Earnings from exports should go into education that not only teaches ‘head knowledge’, but also practical knowledge about how to operate businesses, knowledge that is both stimulating and relevant. The school system should also be responsible for helping students appreciate the contributions of our people to their civilization, which is not as erroneously believed, the preserve of Europeans.

Instead of clamoring for foreign investment, we should take the initiative to build those facilities that will help us develop some form of industry. It was suggested by some that biotechnology is an area we could look into, but even those other areas that we have left to foreigners to develop and to flood us with their second grade goods. The logic behind free trade rests on some very simplistic and at times unrealistic assumptions. Although the U.S champions it, they not so long ago were strong advocates against it

“We had suffered quite enough before the Revolution from the policy of Great Britain in checking our industrial and mechanical aspirations and keeping us a buying people instead of a making people”
Abraham Lincoln

Yet they are now the ones that are checking the “industrial and mechanical aspirations” of others. Some argue that it would be better if we specialized in those areas where we have comparative advantage such as agriculture. If you can find one nation in the OECD that has become rich off the back of agriculture alone then you can believe this theory. If we specialized in agriculture the export earnings we receive from our agricultural products would not only be subject to world demand and prices but they would also be swamped by the outflows we would make on manufactured goods from other nations that we ourselves, if given sufficient time could produce. After all, the west did not just develop its manufacturing capacity in less than ten years did it?

I had hoped to develop even stronger arguments in favor of the creation of states which I believe to be the best next step, but this will again have to await freer days, deo volente. But I hope the logic behind it was revealed, and I ask you, the reader to develop these ideas further. I admit my excursion into the development of industry requires more work, in particular the identification of specific examples, but this was never promised to be a thorough work, only 'thoughts on change' to encourage discussion and debate. I must make clear that I was not advocating protectionism or the increase of tariffs to protect our fledgling industries. I think they can develop with minimal protection if we create the environment for them.

Let me gather these disjointed thoughts into a summary which I hope should make the ideas clearer. Development under the current system is difficult because of the numerous ethnic groups and their divergent aspirations; the only way to ensure that development occurs is to recognize these differences and to grant greater autonomy to these various groups so that they will pursue development that is relevant to them. My thoughts are that development should be broadly based, and this requires the involvement of everyone in the state in order for it to occur. The state system is the most suited form of organization for this task because it is the embodiment of the aspirations of the people and not an external entity.

The state should embark on a program to develop industry for which it is naturally endowed both in terms of natural resources but more importantly human capital which is why the education of the province should be the state’s primary objective initially. Education should be relevant to the development of the province, providing the skills required to participate meaningful to economic development and social harmony.

Economic growth should not be pursued by a focus on agriculture as this is bound to keep the state in stagnation. Instead efforts should be directed toward the development of industry and the encouragement of entrepreneurship through the provision of transportation services, the availability of markets and the development of capital markets that will ensure that entrepreneurs with the necessary skill are given the financial ability to carry out their projects.

This I believe will lead to economic development, the reduction of crime, the easing of ethnic conflicts and a brighter Papua New Guinea. Idealistic? Definitely, but were it not for the idealism of the renaissance, the world would not have many of the developments that it now enjoys. This can become a reality, our biggest obstacles at the moment may be the vested interests of those in power and our own fears of failure, but we shall overcome!





Mangi Nating




I read with interest your descriptions as well as some prescriptions for a new order in Papua New Guinea. As we both readily admit, we need to move from the theoretical to the practical, from romantic to realistic. While I do not qualify as someone with the academic rigour to provide a well argued critique of some of your very good points; I would like to make some observations, if only to get others who might be better qualified to weigh in on the discussion.

The need to cut loose from our past

You are right about the need to look back ,to gain some lessons from our past but recent history. But it should be just that- a reference point only. If necessary we should incorporate elements and aspects of that past which is positive. However when the elements of our past become a liability and an impediment to our advancement as a nation we should quickly jettison it. A good example of this is so-called Melanesian way. Proponents like Mr. Narakobi would argue that it is the best way to reach consensus; by accommodating all the varying points of view. This is the way many PNG governments have conducted their business whether it is in the formation of a government or allocation of ministries to appointment of top level bureaucrats; and most recently may I add, the appointment of the GG elect. All of this smacks of nepotism and behind the scenes cynical manoeuvring which in the end robs Papua New Guineans of having the best possible candidates for public office. I think it’s time to be ‘hardnosed’ about much of our culture, history and our Papua New Guinean way of doing things. I suggest a ruthless culling of those less than the best aspects of our cultural, historical and ethnic identity from our collective and individual psyche is pretty much in order. I take a very dim view to suggestions that put too much stock here (in our culture, history ethnicity). I could easily cite other examples but that will suffice for now.

Industry or Agriculture?

Again these are just observations and could be faulted by experts. While I am stating the obvious, I think agriculture would and should still be the plank for development because it is the only sector that has a potential for maximum or near maximum participation by the grass roots in the cash economy. However I do not subscribe to the view that our development should follow the same developmental path taken by the so-called first world countries. Be that as it may this agricultural strategy should take two approaches:

&#61623; Food production concerns itself with the production, collection, distribution and marketing to population centres (Pom, Lae etc ) of major PNG staples as well as introduced fruit and vegetables in such quantities and at a prices and such variety which are affordable so that the lowliest public servant or grass roots in urban centres eats well. This not only makes for a healthy population but it frees up a significant proportion of national food import bill and household food purchases bill. These savings could be deployed elsewhere by the National government and for households, a savings strategy could lead to funds being available for lending for investment and wealth creation. The grassroots producer have cash in hand, the urban public servant eats well and saves while the Government keeps foreign currency at home for useful purpose. PNG has the agro-climate to produce a diversity of both tropical and temperate crops and I am privy to a plan that has been conceived which seeks to implement this to a limited degree while harnessing and using the resources already in place.
One only need to see choices available to the Australian consumer in their supermarket to appreciate what I mean and to see the imperatives for this emphasis.

&#61623; The nucleus estate approach is that being taken by the likes of NBPOL, Ramu Sugar, Zenag chicken and the Barramundi farming in Madang. However the nucleus estate concept must meet three key criteria: high export value , greatest involvement of simple village folks in the production and sustainibility. Here large investment in infrastructure is made by a firm or individual with the financial capability. This company is also responsible for major part of production as well as processing, packing, transport and marketing; while some of the production is farmed out to smaller producers in the surrounding districts around the central estate. Careful selection of agro-industry matching the agro-eco-climatic zones of the country while having high value in terms of export potential, and the number of grass root involvement is essential to it’s success. These should not be confined to just oil palm chicken, rubber and sugar cane as has been demonstrated by the fledgling barramundi industry. There are number of potential but smaller industry waiting for something like that to happen.

As for your other suggestion about biotechnology, there is just one major drawback; educated manpower and high tech research facilities. Still, we might be able to take a leaf out of Thailand’s book as I heard from a reliable source that some things they do are pretty much low tech. And talking about Thailand brings me to a subject which could be the driver for PNG’s growth and which to my mind meets the key criterion I have set previously ie high value, maximum involvement and sustainability. I am firmly of the view that Papua New Guinea is home to unique plant and animal life capable of providing answers for some of mankind’s medical and scientific riddles. I think we are a home to plants that would cure cancer, HIV/Aids, and a whole host of other maladies afflicting man. I propose that Papua New Guinea is sitting on a potentially vast gold mine whose value would be computed in billions rather than a few hundred million.
With such an imperative, now is the time to save our forest from logging, now is the time to preserve our indigenous knowledge of traditional medicine, now is the time to set up Bio-prospecting companies and an office for policing our patent and copyright laws. The pharmaceutical companies spend between US$ 4 – 10billion annually for new drug development. The reason why I mentioned Thailand is because it is basically doing something like this; building up a database of indigenous knowledge and setting up research facilities to investigate these knowledge using rigorous scientific methods which in turn give these knowledge medical and scientific credibility.

State or Provinces?

It would appear that while the federal system is the way to go, the present provincial government concept has several drawbacks:
&#61623; They are too small, too many and lack the critical mass in terms of population. The system soaks up too much resource in their administration and creates an introspective (insular) less tolerant population, which is usually suspicious of anything different to their small-world view. I maintain that diversity is still our strength, even in regional grouping within country.
&#61623; Resource are inequitably distributed with others having more than others which would form the basis for uneven development. By redrawing the borders or perhaps by a combination of several provinces like your present regional groupings, you achieve some level of equality in resource distribution.

Anyway these are just some thoughts and pretty simplistic I might add, but hopefully others with more ‘save’ might be prompted respond.

Inmate –Longbay jail

Quote
Share