Re: Thoughts on ChangeSeptember 23 2003 at 10:58 PM
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|Mangi Nating |
Response to Thoughts on Change
I have read your posting through again and now realize that we are both on the same wavelength, as they say. Although academic rigor is desirable, its absence should not prevent our discussions which I believe shall bear fruit. It is only once we have determined what we think the path ahead should be that we (or others) can rigorously examine the whole issue and prescribe changes to our existing system.
Our (in)glorious past
"However when the elements of our past become a liability and an impediment to our advancement as a nation we should quickly jettison it”
We should be careful not to quickly abandon ideas that have sustained us for so long. In our efforts to modernize our nation, we must take into account those things in our past that continue to still work. What I believe is one mistake that many of our educated compatriots make is to try and force western ways of doing things down our people’s throats. This misguided approach makes the assumption that our people do not know what is best for them and therefore require indoctrination which will make them conform to the right way. We do not consult our elders in the villages about how we can modify these western practices to fit our rural settings; instead we immediately place a western structure into a rural system and then are surprised when it does not have the intended results.
“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.”
As I stated above, we must be careful that we do not ‘throw the baby out with the bathwater’ when we try to ‘cull those less than best aspects’ from our psyche. There is the difficulty in determining what these less than best aspects of our culture are. Many practices are not clearly good or bad, take the wantok system for example. Many people rightly argue that it prevents the best people in society from getting the right jobs; however it is also a system of welfare that is better than the current Government welfare schemes in the U.S or Australia. In your old age would you rather be cared for by your own relatives or by people in a nursing home. Would anyone in PNG prefer to collect food stamps to get assistance from the government or askim wantok blong yu long sampela rais na tinpis? I think our system is preferable in that it maintains human dignity, where it becomes an ‘impediment’ is in the formal sector, and perhaps it was this sector that you were referring to.
Another issue I have is with the idea of the ruthless culling. How exactly do we go about such a program? I’m sure we have similar ideas on this; mine is based on the re-education of our people and it is here that the federal system shines. I shall hopefully have time later on to develop this idea further, but basically what I think is that the education of our very young needs to be in accordance with some ideal society that we have.
Industry AND agriculture
Your ideas about the development of agriculture are exciting to say the least, and I think that part of the failure of our modern educated youth is this belief that working the land is somehow not in keeping with their education. This abhorrence, if you will, of anything rural is developed in our youth when the education system places greater emphasis on the ‘core subjects’ while downplaying agriculture, practical skills etc…. If there was a greater emphasis on learning as a whole rather than the current “compartmentalization” which leads to a myopic vision, maybe the graduates would be able to think outside of the “office job in Moresby” square.
“The nucleus estate approach is that being taken by the likes of NBPOL, Ramu Sugar, Zenag chicken and the Barramundi farming in Madang.”
I totally agree with that concept and if it is actually being implemented at the present time then I commend those who are in charge of it. A greater involvement is necessary from our people in extending their own production. There are so many people out there who want to do something with their land, but they either lack the expertise or the financial ability. The government could provide more people who can meet these demands for agricultural knowledge. As to the lack of financial ability, I think our capital markets should definitely be developed, and here I am on shaky ground since I am not as informed as I should be about the workings of our current markets. This may seem naïve, and I present these ideas only so that someone else may correct any misconceptions I have. If there was a system where the ordinary Papua New Guinean could invest in some shares of a co-operative, which in turn invested this capital in the building of a facility(ies) to produce goods for either our domestic markets or export, then the involvement of our people in nation-building would be increased. Because they have a real interest (i.e their capital) in the facility they have more of an incentive to make sure it works, and that it doesn’t get damaged.
This is a way out of the dependency-mindset. Our people are naturally entrepreneurs and this trait should be encouraged, both through the formal education system and also through the provision of those services that enable them to be entrepreneurs, e.g. transportation, capital markets, provision of financial and technical experts etc…
“As for your other suggestion about biotechnology”
Actually this was a suggestion by Clement Waine.
"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."
Definitely. I agree with you also that we should prevent our forests from logging by these unscrupulous companies that come in and take what they can, without any thought for the future generations. The problem is also on our part where our people want fast money and think that this is the way out. I know of people in my area who are cutting down their trees for only a few thousand kina. The danger with this is that not only does this prevent those possibilities you mentioned, it also has detrimental effects for the flora and fauna in the area; much of the streams in the area have dried up due to excessive and in-discriminatory felling of trees in the area. The social problems that are a result of this are also bad for these villages, for example the disputes over land titles to see who owns these trees.
States or Provinces
"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."
I had similar thoughts to yours about redrawing the borders. The major problem with this is where do you determine where one province (state) ends and another one begins? Especially when it comes to areas that are rich in certain resources this would be quite problematic. In order to overcome this, perhaps we should stick with the current borders and use the regional groupings instead. Although personally I prefer the idea of autonomous provinces, but perhaps the regional groupings may be more economical.
As to differences in the resources of states, this is also the case in nations. Even with the current system there is uneven economic development. I had hoped to continue with the ideas that I mentioned earlier but this is lengthy enough. I hope to hear some more insights on this issue.
“trying to come together to work under one PNG CULTURE but that has obviously been an impossible mission as indicated by our results of the past 28 years.”
It is an impossible task under the current system because there is no such thing as a “PNG culture”, there are so many different cultures within PNG that clash with each other that there cannot be a distinctive PNG culture, any practice that claims to be universal is not PNG culture but some mixture of both foreign and local cultures. I will write more on this issue later.
Of those traits you listed, I think collectively we fail when it comes to commitment, whether it is to a job, or to changes we want to make in our lives. I hate to be a hypocrite so I will not try to tell others what I myself cannot do, but I have heard that will power is one of those ways to overcome this ‘handicap’. The nike slogan sums it up nicely: Just do it!.
As to accountability, this has to be to the people and not to some other organization, because as the saying goes, “who shall guard the guardians?” We are our guardians, we are the ones who are best able to look after our interest and that is why the leaders have to be accountable to us; the people.