I read with concern the criticisms directed at me by some Sepiks particularly Gai Takua (in my language that means ďples meriĒ). I am very certain you do not live in the village because if you did, you would understand why I did what I did and those people whose lives were impacted by my activities are grateful for the chance to improve their livelihoods.
When a friend pointed me out to this discussion on the net I was quite surprised that some people have such a venomous dislike of me, it is almost as if I had done some wrong to them personally. I will clarify some of the false accusations here, not because I want to win support but because I have built up my personal integrity over many years and am interested in preserving that integrity. I grew up as one of the boys in Sisiak settlement in Madang so to make it as far as I have, I am very keen to maintain my good name for the sake of my children.
2012 is my last election, mostly because I have about 10 years working life left and I really must take care of my familyís needs while I am still able. You see I believe that life is a journey that every individual must take: itís only the road we take that is different. With the decision of the Sepik people to restore Sir Michael pending, I will be the first person to congratulate Sir Michael and the Sepik people on their choice. Sir Michael has done extremely well in this election and I will be the first one to admit that fact. So your criticisms and continued derogatory remarks about me are not really necessary. I am happy to take my medicine and retire from politics.
In 2002, I stood for elections because my people asked me to and I reluctantly did so. When I was rejected by the voters, I felt that as a matter of principle, I should not contest again and to allow others to do so. That was why I did not go again in 2007. In addition, I spent about K600,000 on the elections at the time and that was money my family and I had saved within our vanilla business. It has taken us all this time to recover from the effects of that election. Elections are expensive exercises, unless you have funds, do not contest. No political party will give you a single toea to contest. You have to do it all yourself. My experience in two elections is just that. My fuel bill alone for 2012 is over K60,000. Pocket allowances for my ďvolunteersĒ is around K150,000. My posters cost about K80,000. You have to pay for rallies, food, etc, etc. Donít be naÔve, nothing is free in this world, my friend.
During the counting in 2002, I was actually shot at above the hill heading into Kriminding. It was only the quick action of the Wewak Taskforce under the command of Inspector Kasieng that saved my life. My people wanted to mobilize and come to Wewak so I went home under Police escort and talked everyone into going back home. I left the province after that to protect my family and to allow tensions to subside. I do not believe that elections are worth fighting over. We bought a rundown plantation outside Madang and I spent the next 7 years rehabilitating it. Did you expect me to sit on my hands and wait for the next election? Come on, not everyone is the same. Some of us have to work for a living. Building plantations or building anything for that matter is hard work and takes a lot of time, commitment and resources. I could not just drop that and run back to the province because an election was on.
There was never any K5m paid to me or my family. I first heard the accusations in Lae from a Malaysian, no less. I was deeply upset about it. Last year James Wanjik published an article in the Weekend Post Courier on the same issue and I threatened to take both the PC and Mr Wanjik to court. The late Yehiura Hriehwazi, my good brother was the Editor at the time and he asked me not to sue the paper so I dropped the whole matter. Post Courier published an apology the following week. If anyone continues to believe this lie, you are probably one of those people that believe Santa Claus is real.
It must be made known we did not set out to build a vanilla industry: that was unintentional. My cousins were the holdup kings on the Sepik hiway and I wanted to get them gainfully employed. Thatís how it all started. It was really a poverty alleviation and people empowerment agenda, there was no business strategy. I got the first vanilla export license and we were off. Within 2 years, there were 5,000 vanilla exporters. That is what killed the industry, lack of control and export standards. I have no control over who gets export licenses. You canít blame me for the demise in the vanilla industry Ö I only helped to build it. Everyone else helped to kill it. I was powerless to stop it. I am not superman, I am flesh and blood just like you, one individual.
You can hide behind a pen name and like a coward, criticize the good works of another person. I slept in my car along some of the worst roads imaginable all over Central Sepik to help build this industry for three (3) years. I was a young man then, I left my family to do this, it took another 5 years to re-establish a relationship with my young children because I had been away for so long. I helped build the industry with K10,000 (my finish pay). Instead of criticizing me, I challenge you to leave your comfortable life in the city and come home and do something useful for our people. At its height, vanilla provided more than two billion kina to rural sepiks for 8 years. That is a record I am truly proud of and was worth the personal sacrifice my family had to make. Gai Takua, if you are really a woman, then you are a woman with no human sensitivity at all.
In regards to the 2012 elections, to be honest, I had no plans to contest any elections at all. After what happened to Sir Michael in August 2011, that was when I changed my mind and decided to contest again. Many sepiks had asked me to contest in 2007 and I declined, so being typical sepiks, if you do not contest, you have been bribed and if you do contest, well you are a power and money hungry S.O.B. You canít win either way.
I am sure if the Somares wanted to bribe me they would have made an offer this year, they did no such thing.
What did I want to achieve as governor of East Sepik?
1. I wanted to improve our health service delivery. If you reside here, you will be told donít go the hospital if you want to live.
2. I wanted to improve the education system in the province. Twenty years ago, about 200 sepiks used to qualify for University, today, its less than ten from our province. I felt this was simply unacceptable.
3. I wanted to improve the Public Service, I had done some work on Public Policy and Service Delivery programs as an Ausaid advisor to GoPNG so I felt I had something to offer in this area as well.
4. I wanted to expand the Sepik economy, focusing on primary industry and rural people in order to build a foundation for the future. I was Chair of Wealth Creation for Vision 2050 so I felt I had something to offer in this area. If you want to know about my contribution to this document, you can ask the Chairman of the Taskforce, Professor Kavanamur.
5. I developed a strategic document ready for the province. Within the first 100 days, I had planned to call a development forum and to invite all sepiks from around the planet to come and contribute.
6. In sum, because none of our provinces were working at all, I wanted to build Sepik to become the model for others to follow. That was the kind of leadership I wanted for Sepik. To provide a working province, servicing and empowering the people.
Unfortunately, you have to win elections to do that and I have done poorly in two elections over 10 years. I know I can do the work but I have to admit that I do not have what it takes to win elections and that is just the way it is. I am happy to admit this shortcoming that I have.
I would ask you all to respect my privacy and to not spread lies about me or anyone else. It is very painful when you are the target of such malicious accusations. In fact, there is no need to continue to tarnish my name because I will not be contesting the 2017 elections, as I said earlier. You can work on supporting all your favorite candidates and I sincerely hope that person you support will fix the very chronic socioeconomic problems we have in the province.
I will be living quietly in Wewak and at Seranguandu and you will not hear me criticize another person because that it not my style.
Finally, I think democracy is a great system of government because the voters get the kind of leaders they deserve. No one should complain after the fact, I certainly wonít be complaining. I will have many other things to do.