Frankly Speaking

Are things really that bad?

A look at the overall feelings of uncertainty among the populace

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By FRANKLIN KOLMA

The word on the street and everywhere else for that matter is that the country is going to ruin. Statesmen and senior civil workers alike are being found guilty of various ill doings. The country’s economy is booming say politicians while economists will have you know that the tangible outlook of growth is only a mirage that blinds us from the rise in oil prices and continued unregulated depletion of the country’s natural resources. Indeed, the country has seen better days.

Did you know our beloved nation is currently ranked 157th of 187 countries in terms of human development according to the United Nations; that is how much the government cares about you as an individual and as a people. On that note, let us not shy away from the paradox that exists in our “fastest growing economy” that is serving only a few investors and wealthy entities most of whom have interests abroad. The country still suffers from a chronic case of poverty with 2.8 million people still living below the poverty line and education although improved is still lacking the ferocity and mind transforming criterion that all parents hope for. Above all is the ever worrisome issue of our country’s Prime Minster and the political and judicial anomalies that surrounds him.

Without a doubt, one can write a detailed and lengthy novel on the things that have gone wrong in Papua New Guinean society today. Sceptics will have you delve further and further into these facts and assumptions that act only to destroy the productive and innovative mind-sets of potential nation changers such as yourself.

Are things really that bad?

Roads and basic services are now being made available to the people of the remote Jimi Valley; one of the most isolated and neglected places in the country prior to the O’Neill regime. The country’s number one TB and basic service delivery problem site Western Province is now the envy of the rest of the country thanks to a government backed Youth with a Mission (YWAM) presence all throughout the year. Police and military funding has increased substantially and security both on the domestic front and in our international dealings is significantly better.

A farmer in remote Krokopa, East Sepik Province is now able to call his son studying in Australia and computers are being made available for use in Kudjip in the Western Highlands. How about the record high minimum wage of K281 per fortnight as projected by the Bank of PNG and the ever increasing variety of consumables that are being made available at varying prices. Transparency is becoming normality as more prominent members of society see the error in their predecessors’ ways and law enforcement is tougher than ever before with a 78 per cent conviction rate.

Needless to say, there is plenty of good evident in society also.

But why this feeling of dread? Why are university students boycotting classes and working class professionals speaking of the country “Going to the dogs?”

I will not presume to have the answer as the answer is multifaceted and relative to every individuals point of view and belief systems. What I can say from a neutral standpoint is that the burdensome uneasiness is self-inflicted. What I mean by this is that there should not be any feelings of despair or emotional dismemberment at the hands of current events. This is not to say you should not care, everyone should have an interest in the affairs of the country as they are part of what makes it a whole. What should not happen is ‘emotional discourse’.

In between a bus ride to work or school, a lunch break and an afternoon stroll down the street, you are constantly if not consistently reminded of the dreadful state of our economy. A respectable looking elderly fellow on a PMV with a newspaper in hand says something like “Why is our budget in deficit during a time of record high economic activities”, the janitors at work are overheard talking about the futility of work if the country is heading into a deeper trench of debt and your son tells you that school fees will now be doubled in 2017; all examples of encounters that occur every day.

These dialogues only serve to heighten the negativity being wrought in an individual and feeds the ever hungry part of every human that begs for more. The selfish part of humans that asks for more even when given a gift.

For harmony and productive outcomes to come about even and especially during these times of uncertainty, each individual must make a decision to maintain his or her integrity and work toward improving his or her own affairs. If you are a teacher, go about educating your students in business economics and all other subjects diverting from the instinctive need to talk about a particular politician or state of affairs. For the buai seller, be grateful that you live in a country that allows you to practice the wonderful art of chewing and selling that which you love (betelnut). I do not see why private sector professionals are a miss when you are in a place capable of directly or indirectly impacting your surroundings with plenty of work pouring in by the hour.

We should leave the matters of state in the hands of those empowered to take action, in this case being the judicial powers. It is healthy to discuss about matters of state interest but not to a point that it eludes us from productive activities. As said best by the great human rights activist Dr Martin Luther King, “Idle talk creates idle men.”

At the end of the day and in a nutshell so to speak, the point being made is that we as individuals must find it in ourselves to be objective in our outlook on societal discourse and not go about becoming emotional and taking irrational actions. There is no war or civil threat that is cause for extremism. Be aware or what is happening and better yourself in your respective everyday endeavors so as to eventually cause a mutually beneficial outcome for the nation.