by GARY JUFFA
TODAY was a demonstration of how much the PNC Government is NOT for PNG.
It was also a demonstration of how democracy should not work.
For instance the majority of Popondetta Urban voting age citizens have NOT voted because the current roll does not have their names.
Many citizens claim they had made the effort to update their details and still were turned away.
Meanwhile EC Commissioner Gamato has advised all that the 2012 Roll can be used. This means that he indirectly agrees that the EC failed to effectively update the 2017 Roll. This instruction was obviously not made known to Electoral Commission officials managing the polling at the Independence Oval today. Many were turned away angry and anxious. They will have to come back tomorrow, the last day, but the slowness will probably ensure that a large group will not have been processed by the end of the polling day...4pm.
This will mean that democracy certainly did not prevail in this instance, in fact, many will probably agree that come the end of these elections, democracy was hardly a reality EVERYWHERE in PNG. This should hardly be a surprise given that we have actually endured a covert dictatorship and hardly realized it.
Meanwhile not a few of the learned are saying that everyone should have made their own effort to ensure they were registered.
A true statement we all would like to agree in the first instance. I was tempted to think this way too. Then I thought of my people in rural PNG. My uncles and aunts who do not read or write and are at once the greatest selfless humans I know and despite whatever people think, are equal shareholders of this great nation PNG. They too deserve to vote. They too deserve to be informed. They too have the right to be given the opportunity to decide whether they wanted to update their details on the common role or not.
May I just say to all my learned friends making such statements as "its your fault if you are not on the roll! Stop whinging", that this would be true if the awareness had been done sufficiently AND it would be true in a society which is totally literate and where means of communication are available to all, society that say had more then just 40 some years as an independent nation of 1000 tribes with their won language groupings and cultural peculiarities.
Such statements are also spiteful of our people my friends. Yes OUR people! Many who live in rural PNG and do not have access to the benefits of technology and modern services and goods that you may have had an may have now. Yes, our people, remember them? Well some of these are the people who will adore you and feed you and love you selflessly when or should you ever go home for a visit from time to time.
It would also be a safe statement to make IF PNG were governed by a Government which allowed information access and made it possible for all. A Government that mad funding available for Provincial Governments and relevant information dissemination entities like NBC.
Of course that would have to be a Government of the people, by the people, for the people...which this Government clearly is NOT if any of its decisions made in the last 5 years are anything to go by - i.e. next to NONE were in the interests of the people or the nation.
Back to Elections 2017....it is clear that the Electoral Commission failed. But they are NOT entirely to be blamed because, the buck stops at the top...and thats the PNC O'Neill Government.
They totally failed in the last 5 years to ensure that everyone was on the roll.
For instance, the awareness was an abysmal failure. Rural PNG especially had virtually no knowledge of this. Thats 85% of PNG.
For those who state that it is the fault of the voter, let us consider our voters first before making such statements.
Who are they?
Well, they are our people.
And most of them are illiterate.
And most of them are in rural PNG.
Thats 85% of PNG at last credible recording.
So lets say how can it be the fault of a substance farmer in Manau, Sohe, Oro Province where it takes a whole day to travel to Popondetta by dinghy if one wanted to access any services. A farmer who never had an education because the school there was closed for an entire decade? How is it his fault if he didn't have access to radio because NBC is the only radio service and that has been so underfunded that it is barely functioning in most of rural PNG? He is one of a population of about 4000 people of voting age in Manau.
Thats an example.
These are the stories length and breadth of PNG for the vast majority of Papua New Guineans.
Were our people adequately informed?
They were not.
The Electoral Commission had 5 years to do this.
Just as they did the K200m NID Project.
This Government failed.
Peter O'Neill failed
The 2017 Elections are looking very much like a failure.
A planned failure perhaps...it has to be.
In stark contrast, preparations for APEC seem to be going on very well. Surprise, surprise. Funding is abundantly available and preparatory meetings, plans, strategies and training and capacity testing efforts are well in progress. Not a few MPS whose companies will be involved in various services needed have already picked up hefty contracts.
So obviously the Government can do a great job.
BUT only IF it suits them.
Because when it suits the people...the effort is minuscule if at all...because, well they hardly care. Theres nothing in it for them.
So the people are all told that this one off event, APEC 2018, which the country can barely afford will be "beneficial" for them and the country.
Yes, thats right APEC...an event that will cost far more then the 2017 Elections and benefit PNG next to nothing.
Ask yourself, is APEC more important then the democratic rights of a people to elect their leaders to represent their interests in parliament?
I don't think so. But of course not a few learned experts will disagree and be outraged by my lack of interest in international trade.
But who am I but just one of millions of Papua New Guineans who are obviously of no consequence or concern to this PNC Government...
This just shows how much the PNC Government cares for its people...
In my measure it was so weak and poor an effort, so pathetic that it was "Zilch".