Wednesday, 8 August 2018

Who is Paias Wingti and what is his vision for Papua New Guinea?

IT was never a surprise for one of Papua New Guinea’s Prime Ministers, the youngest, Paias Wingti, to lead the country.

He was always a leader in his own right. Growing up, Paias was also very independent and a business-minded young man.

Paias was born on February 2, 1951, and has always been a Papua New Guinean political figure.

His mother, Mary Maria Punda, of the Munjika tribe, became the fifth wife of his father, Wingti Wimb. She is the only surviving wife of Wingti Wimb’s wives.

Maria Punda was born is about 1916 and had a total of five children: two boys and three girls. Only three females are still alive. She is 101 years old. Dent Wingti became the sixth and the last wife married. She had a total of nine children, of which three are male and six female. One male and four females died.

Wingti Wimb had a total of six wives and 31 children.

Out of these 17 boys and 14 girls, 10 boys died and seven are living now. Eight girls died and six still alive.

The total number of Wingti Wimb’s descendants are not known, but must be in the hundreds.

Asked about Wingti’s childhood, Punda said he was a very well-disciplined kid growing up among 32 of his siblings in a village setting. He was always the smart one among the rest.

Wingti served as the third Prime Minister between 1985 and 1988, and again from 1992 to 1994.

Wingti is a member of the Jika Tribe of the Western Highlands Province and was born in Moika village, near Mount Hagen. He did not go to school until the age of 10 but was later educated at Mount Hagen High School. He enrolled at the University of Papua New Guinea in Port Moresby in 1974, and first visited Australia as an Australian Union of Students delegate for the UPNG Student Representative Council. 

While doing his final year in economics at university, he contested the 1977 election and won the Hagen Open seat, joining Michael Somare’s Pangu Pati.

He served as Minister for Civil Aviation from 1978 until the defeat of the first Somare government in 1980, and when Somare returned to power in 1982, became Deputy Prime Minister. He split with the Pangu Pati in 1985 and formed the People’s Democratic Movement, becoming Leader of the Opposition.

In November 1985, he moved a successful no-confidence vote against the Somare government and became the third Prime Minister of Papua New Guinea, aged 34. Julius Chan, the second Prime Minister, served as Wingti’s deputy. He was made a privy councillor in 1987.

He remained in power after the 1987 election after corralling a slender majority of three votes. He announced a more independent foreign policy, attempting to enhance relations with the Soviet Union, US, Japan and China. He lost a motion of no-confidence in July 1988 with changes in the shifting coalition and was succeeded by Rabbie Namaliu, the new leader of the Pangu Pati.

But Wingti returned for a further two-year stint in 1992. His second term was marked by an escalation of unrest in Bougainville, and he was ousted by Julius Chan in August 1994. Wingti continued to represent the Western Highlands in the National Parliament of Papua New Guinea, although he switched from the local Hagen constituency to the provincial-level electorate in 1995.

Wingti served as the governor of Western Highlands Province from 1995 to 1997, when he was defeated for re-election by Father Robert Lak. He returned to parliament in 2002, defeating Lak to regain his seat and the governorship. He subsequently won back the leadership of the People’s Democratic Movement from Sir Mekere Morauta, who had taken over after his defeat, in 2007.

However, he was defeated in his bid for re-election at the 2007 election, losing to former student activist, Tom Olga, largely as a result of the new preferential voting system.[1]. Wingti, along with fellow former Prime Minister Rabbie Namaliu, were the most high-profile losers of the election.

Additionally, Wingti lost the governorship of Western Highlands Province to Olga. The People’s Democratic Movement also suffered a major defeat in the election, losing several seats. He nominated to contest the July 2012 National Elections and defeated Tom Olga by 112,640 votes to 89,195, a difference of 23,445 votes and was elected Governor of Western Highlands Province.

He was one of the three former prime Ministers who backed Peter O’Neill to be retained as Prime Minister of Papua New Guinea at Parliament House on August 3, 2012.

In the current O-Neill-Abel Government, Mr. Wingti is pushing for China’s ‘Super Highway’ to connect PNG.

The former Prime Minister Paias Wingti has suggested that PNG put up its future mineral, oil and gas resources as collateral and invite China to build a network of ‘super highways’ to connect the country.

The Western Highlands Governor suggested that ‘we give five or 10 per cent of the mining resources that are going to come’ to China and ‘give it to them and tell them to open up this country’.

He said China, the emerging global superpower has the energy, drive, technology and funding under its ‘One Belt Policy’ to unite Papua New Guinea by connecting its fractured and fragmented road system.

Mr Wingti, a two time former Prime Minister, said: “The next resources, tie straight to opening our road projects, from West Sepik to Western Province, the road from Sandaun to East Sepik and to Madang, Lae has got to be built, Trans Island Highway to be built, the road from Madang to Hagen onto Kikori has to be built, we have to build that and how can you do that?

“It’s very simple – Prime Minister, just do a deal with them, give five or 10 per cent of the mining resources that are going to come, give it to them and tell them to open up this country.

“China is a country, you can’t beat China, they have to come on your terms but deal with China using the one belt policy, of the present President – he is changing Europe and its come this way, seize the moment and tie up with them and when they come for the APEC meeting, Prime Minister, do a deal with them.

“Because if you don’t do that, you know what is going to happen? Nothing will happen, we will still sit here and watch each other here, nothing will happen. I know you can do it Prime Minister, the government can do it.

“Opportunity comes once, and you seize the moment or loose that opportunity,” he said.
Mr Wingti, speaking during Grievance Debate in Parliament yesterday, suggested that former governments had lost the opportunity when times were good during the Kutubu years.

“The last 10 years, and I am not criticizing anyone, when the Chief was Prime Minister, you had this golden opportunity of huge money – but I was wondering why they didn’t tie that, when the resource was going to explode in Kutubu, should insist that the highway from Lae to Komo must be made before I signed that agreement – we missed that opportunity, of the Americans building us a superhighway. We missed that opportunity,” he said.

“Today the country has changed, the resource base is much bigger now, exhaustible resource base is much bigger and the budget is much, much bigger. At the end of the day you must realise what is the big picture for this country, so that in future the country is stable – education of our people, the next is health but next but the most important one is transportation and infrastructure in this country.

“When this is emerging, what do you do with the windfall of money – you see the system of bureaucracy is one but when the money comes in, the system itself eludes and somehow you don’t see the major opportunity of the resource that’s coming.

“Today Prime Minister, you see, fear itself is a fear that will make you not take the risk, you must take color-plated risk, if you don’t take risk, you will never change this country.
“Today, the tax regime is the best tax regime and the investors are making a lot of money Prime Minister, you compare that with Norway, Denmark and Indonesia so those train resources,” he said.


  1. I heard him challenging the Electoral Commission, when will this country run an election that is free and fair. He said everyone has lost integrity. There is no integrity in this country. Daddy Boss ya

  2. I heard him challenging the Electoral Commission, when will this country run an election that is free and fair. He said everyone has lost integrity. There is no integrity in this country. Daddy Boss ya

  3. Daddy boss you a the man with caliber and respect you.