By PNG Echo
There is no bias, just a considered opinion – between the two, there is a vast difference. Here’s where my reflections led me and how I got there.
Criticism and defence.
Firstly, I am not uncritical of the O’Neill government. For instance, I don’t think the Prime Minister is paying nearly enough attention to eradicating violence against women. I have added my voice to this issue and will continue to do so. However, it is not this issue that has drawn the most criticism of him.
More remarked upon is the PMs alleged corruption. During his tenure as Prime Minister, O’Neill has been dogged by rogue members of an undisciplined police force on a witch-hunt started by a government agency (TFS – who has been accused of being politically compromised) that firstly exonerated him and then changed its mind when it looked like the agency would not be recommissioned.
Under the circumstances, that his detractors are expecting the Prime Minister to be subdued and vanquished without a fight is surprising, especially since the prosecution of this case is little more than a blatant attempt to usurp the position of Prime Minister and thrust the nation into turmoil.
Not to submit to vexatious litigation with those sorts of consequences is not an immoral act, but rather, a virtue.
Remember, never has the Prime Minister stepped outside the law in his own defence. Yet, the people who oppose him are very happy to do so – to act ultra vires with scant regard for the consequences.
While the Prime Minister’s detractors are happy to bring down the system to effect their witch hunt, the Prime Minister is acting responsibly, upholding the idea of a liberal democracy and the rule of law – as one would expect of a Prime Minister.
Then there is the handling of the economy: it is so easy to make hay while the sun shines- but PNG is a resource-based economy and the sun isn’t shining on this sector globally. This government has not had a broad-range of alternatives with which to work and they have made their choices – choices that have been severely criticized.
However, it is only in retrospect – with 20/20 hindsight – that it will become apparent whether the choices have been wise ones.
Would another government have made different choices? Maybe. But the upshot is that they would have still had the same unfavourable context in which to operate, the same inherited conditions – many of which forced the hand of this government and would have done the same to any other.
One can predict all one likes but economics and the market do not always act predictably.
On other matters: some criticisms, like the awarding of inflated government contracts to inappropriate contractors, are as old as the nation itself and the practises are steeped in PNG traditional custom. This is not a new invention by the O’Neill government.
My point: The issues for which the Prime Minister has gained the most severe criticism – down to criminal accusations, have all been those that involve money – alleged sins against property.
Never once has O’Neill been accused of brutality against his people.
It is why I am perturbed when people in the social media compare him to leaders such as Idi Amin, Hitler and Ferdinand Marcos.
All these leaders were brutal murders.
Amin murdered an estimated 500,000. He was known as the ‘Butcher of Uganda’. From the military, he was an ambitious soldier, whose arsenal included the frequent use of torture.
Indeed, Ferdinand Marcos of the Philippines employed 88 government torturers to help maintain his dictatorship under martial law.
Hitler committed genocide – arguably the most heinous of crimes against humanity as he sought to obliterate the Jews off the face of the earth. However, I believe that he was a dab hand at handling the German economy –
These men resemble O’Neill NOT AT ALL:
The abovementioned heads of the murderous regimes all maintained power and control by acting extra-legally – just as those opposing the Prime Minister are trying to do – NOT the Prime Minister.
They breached the wall and the pigs ran in…
Papua New Guinea has a Prime Minister who respects the rule of law and is a gentle man – this cannot be said of many of his opponents.
While the government now, as in the past, has often affected lives negatively by omission, with this government it has never been, and I believe never will be, by commission. It’s a decent basis for a country with, admittedly, a long way to go.
I am most persuaded by this.