“The National” Editorial 13/03/08

March 14, 2008 at 4:43 am (Commentary) ()

  

This fulsome piece on Michael Thomas Somare is the more remarkable for what it does not say.

 To my mind a more realistic assessment of the Somare era would be along these lines: In pre-independence PNG Michael Somare was just what the politicians in Canberra wanted – a young man with a reasonably high national profile screaming out for independence. It was obvious that Australia wanted to unload PNG as soon as possible. The more enlightened PNG leaders at the time, like Tei Abal, realized this. He knew that the country was not ready for independence. Somare on the other hand in demanding independence was not being an inspired leader but only playing into the hands of the powers-to-be in Canberra.

The general state of the country today proclaims the wisdom of the likes of Tei Abal. The nation is riddled with corruption and inefficiency. Many officials and politicians are tainted. Recently Somare was accused of holding government shares in his personal name. He is supposed to have said for safe keeping. I ask you what is going on?

Ineptitude and inefficiency are apparent even in Somare’s local area. Wewak has all the signs of disorderliness: litter around the streets, pot holes in the roads, buildings in disrepair. Angoram, the main Sepik River town, is all but dysfunctional. At village level health services provided by the government are nonexistent. NGOs are doing what they can and in areas where they don’t operate it’s just hard luck for the villagers. There are immense problems with malaria and HIV/AIDS. Overpopulation is a problem all over the country. The population has more than doubled since independence.

The devastation and ruin caused by logging in the Kaup area makes one wonder who granted the logging lease. The natural mangrove mud-flats between Kis and Kaup have dried up. One can only wonder what the long-term environmental effects are especially for the Murik Lakes, incidently where Somare’s home village is.

The people in Angoram are especially concerned with the proposed construction of a sago factory which they think will threaten their dietary staple. They informed me that when questions about so called development projects are raised with Sir Michael he becomes very arrogant and aggressive and calls them bush kanakas who know nothing. I’ve always known that Sir Michael has been rather precious with a low tolerance for criticism but in his younger days this characteristic was less jarring as he was essentially idealistic, which I don’t think he is now.

A number of people said that they wondered about the unidentified Asian people seen around Wewak. Someone suggested to me that visas might be up for sale in the country. An accusation of this nature should certainly be investigated. If this practice exists it was not implied that Somare necessarily knows about it.

 Forty years of political life is perhaps “a remarkable occasion” but longevity is not in itself a cause for celebration. On the other hand with Sir Michael he is the devil you know and goodness knows who will follow, and for me, his most redeeming attribute is that he is the son of his father and mother, Ludwig Somare Sana and Kambe Somare. They were two admirable and remarkable people. Whatever the hints of unlawful behaviour leveled against him, nothing to my knowledge has been proven against him in any judicial procedure, but, I do think, it’s time for him to retire.

Interesting websites: http://www.masalai-i-tokaut.com/Masalai%2043%20-%20%20Somare%20Clan%20dives%20into%20Illegal%20Logging.pdf 

http://www.theaustralian.news.com.au/story/0,20867,21935660-2703,00.html

http://www.missionandjustice.org/somare-admits-interest-in-logging-%e2%80%93-png-environment/

http://au.news.yahoo.com/080509/2/16sh4.html

http://www.radioaustralia.net.au/news/stories/200805/s2243795.htm?tab=pacific

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1 Comment

  1. The Wisdom of Tei Abal | Stories by David Wall said,

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