An Unbreakable Bond, PNG and the Pacific Islands Forum
Posted Aug 5, 2010 12:08 PM
As the Pacific Islands Forum gets underway in Port Vila, it reminded me of the first time I attended the various preparatory meetings. From the lead ups to the special sessions, I saw a sea of men and women conveying their government positions since they were independent. From poverty reduction, climate change, sea level rise and the occasional security issue. Fancy cocktails followed where a host of Technicolor island tapestry filled the Fale. From bright bula shirts, to elegant Pulitasis, the men and women of the region continued there indulgence on regional integration. Of course been PNGn, wed naturally gravitated to the liquor section where merrier subject was the order of the evening. Rugby, Fijis suspension and taking the piss out of the Polynesian delegates that think their **** doesnt stink.
In retrospect, I couldnt help asking the same question perhaps Australia and New Zealand officials were asking that evening as well, what are we doing in this region? I mean its got loads of salt water, pretty faces and cocoanuts, but thats it. None of the economies arent worth the trade as the opportunity costs will be sky high and many of their capitals are like district headquarters so why would any of us want to go live there.
Since the liquor was running well that evening, I broached this question to an old dog thats been doing this stuff for a while and he looked back at me and said its fueling the chiefs ego. We engage with these guys because this is where he still holds high standing. To many chiefs in Africa, to many kings in Asia, to many professors doctors in the Caribbean but there is only one Grand Chief. He ranted on, as long as this nation claims to be a Christian country, we will be seeing the pacific. But remember, missionaries of Buddha, Mohammad and Capitalism are already here and converting our people. They too would want to pay homage to their masters and with all the glitter and glamour they bring, will the righteous pacific virtue prevail?
It seems the answer is no. We are polygamously married to Australia, having an affair with Asia, pimp it off with the EU and US on occasions and when the Grand Chief likes it, give and get freebees in the pacific. He than glared back at me and laughed, I know when Im long gone from the public service; itll be men like you that will forget this region.
I thought about his remarks for a long time and it is possible that this may in fact occur. Apart from engaging pacific islanders for work, I truly dont have any other reference point and it occurred to me that many folks in my generation may be in the same boat. After all, at one point or another, we get educated by our own people for most of our lives, when we get sick our people treat us and by the grace of the good lord, we may venture out of our borders to further develop our skills and its usually Australia or somewhere in Asia.
So we have signed up to the Pacific Plan and trade agreements but this is truly superficial. They dont feature in our national development priorities and our private sectors are not using the concessions of these trade arrangements. More so, the Pacific Islands Forum is a genetic engineering lab to develop a Australia New Zealand hegemony. Yep, it seems their value holds a 10 Commandments status and every other view doesnt. But thats what you get when you have a superpower like Australia New Zealand in the house.
On my trip back, I decided to get some spiritual guidance from my grandfather and among other things seek his prayers for my transgressions. But thats another story. He enlightened me PNG has a special relationship with the pacific islands. He told me of men like Ruatoka, Sina Saini, Talatalas that were killed in Daru, New Britian and Milne Bay by cannibals and the countless others that died of starvation.
Touched by these remarks, I believe PNG must play an active role in the Pacific Islands Forum as it is our duty to help our island brothers and sisters. Whether it is developing early warning systems of natural disasters or when they in fact have been decimated by cyclone or tsunamis, their nations disappear because of sea level rise, they are unable to plant their crops because of soil degradation, they are ruled by a tyrannical government or they are bullied by superpowers, PNG must take leadership.
Ok, so we wont make any money and the Grand Chief will parade in his bling, and woe them with his political ventures, but wantoks this is beyond him. It is a special relationship our nation has with the people of the pacific, who through their acts of love, compassion, and sacrifice forged hope for our people. Their legacy run deep in the annuls of our history and the marrows of our persona, PNG needs the Pacific Islands Forum and the Pacific Islands Forum needs PNG.
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