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We get what we deserve, not what we want

Commentary by : Hon Powers Parkop 

As we prepare for the forthcoming National General Elections, many candidates and Parties are coming out of the wood works ready to take our people again on a journey that we assume to be like a date with destiny. Our people are being led and hyped to believe that the 21st of April when the writs of the National Elections are issued, will be a count down as if some dramatic things will happen in our country and to our people’s lives.

Yes come 21st April a carnival like atmosphere will grip our nation and our people. Singsing groups will be abounded and pigs aplenty will be slaughtered. A lot of pronouncements, declarations and promises will be made. A lot of tension and allegations will be flying around and we might even witness some violence judging from our past experiences. All in the name of electing Members of Parliament whom we are looking forward to represent us and provide leadership. However, will these changes result in some dramatic change in our lives or will we have another round of vicious circle in which another group of critics start accusing the new incumbent of corruption and failures and start campaigning to remove him or her from Parliament in the next election?

An indication from the previous elections suggests the chances that the vicious circle of denigrating and accusing the new MPs in the 10th Parliament will be the norm again are evident. Whatever the new MP does, will never be good enough and believe me, no dramatic change will occur in our lives or in our country. And even if there are some changes, the few exceptional achievers will still be branded to be a part of a corrupt regime and he or she will need to be replaced. This has been the mode of operation, the same story since independence.

If there are to be real significant changes in our lives and that of our country and in the performance of our elected leaders, it really starts with us changing and holding ourselves to high values and morals. The elected representatives are only an image of us. As the saying goes, in life you get what you deserve, not what you want. So we all might prefer or want our elected representatives to be exceptional and perform to high standards but yet we ourselves don't hold us to high standards. We simply just elect those who make empty promises, who are just like us or worst. Usually their own personal lives do not represent the changes they promise so how are they going to lead a city, their people or a nation?

I have said many times over, in the arena of politics, each MP, as an elected leader has a duty to uphold the mandate of the people who elected him/her, including having clear success and achievements to show how the people and his constituency have developed and changed during his/her tenure. It is as simple as that. Even if it is only 5% change, he or she must be able to account for it. That’s what we MP’s are elected for. The task is not easy and I know many do not hold up to it for the various reasons that we have seen over the years. And a lot of times, the very people who demand change are the very people who first need to change.

We all know, change does not happen overnight. We cannot summon change and think that after the elections, things will be different, health care will be improved, agriculture will be mainstream, economy will sky rocket, only Papua New Guineans will hold all jobs, all Chinese stores will need to be shut down and every Papua New Guinean will live a better life. All is possible and can only happen unless we change, unless we believe in ourselves and in our people and in our leaders, no matter who we are and where we come from. Change requires a deeper calling and a willingness and an ability to work with what we got and with the people and systems in place.

As we all prepare for the coming elections, I would like to ask us all, Papua New Guineans to remove our negative mindset, that is sabotaging the change that we wish to see in our nation. We have been wired to negatively believe that we are doing the right thing and not realising we are achieving the opposite result. Change in politics requires change in people. Politics will not be better, or different, economies will not improve and people will not enjoy a better quality of life, Papua New Guinea will be not be happier or better just because we elect in a new crop of MPs and elected a new Government or a new Prime Minister.

The elections is a great time for us to choose leaders who have performed, whose words match their actions, whose lives are coherent to their speeches and have displayed integrity, transparency and proven track record of success.

People make a lot of promises for change but making promises and actually doing it are two different things. As a result the will power we assume when we set a goal rarely measures up to the will power we display when achieving the goal. Something always comes up to sink the boat.

Overestimation and overconfidence without structure and strategy of real action plans can be a tragedy to a nation. We make excuses for a grand hope of difference because we have nothing better to focus on like our own self development, our family, our job, the little differences we can make to make our individual and collective lives better. After the elections, our lives will be back to normal. We wake up only to realize, nothing has changed in our lives. We still hold the same job, same lifestyle, same home, same health conditions, and same habits. Then we hunt down the faults and blame the very same people who promised change. If we really want to make a change, we cannot self-exempt ourselves on just a date on a calendar. Successful change doesn’t happen overnight! The politics in PNG is a deeper quagmire, requires a deeper process, experience, tenacity and a capacity to be able to perform and carry out the duties of running a nation. It hasn’t been an easy call and its not all a bed of roses.

Papua New Guinea, I ask you to release all dysfunctional beliefs you may have about your country or your leaders or your own people and do not believe all that you read or hear. We, individually and collectively have to power to change our lives to be better beyond politics. We as a culture have lost all of our humility and living on unfounded faith that our leaders will save us.

Elections are just around the corner. Many people will create unfounded rumours, instability and spread malicious gossips about everyone. These are cheap campaigning on social media and unwarranted blogs to create scare tactics and to brainwash. To those of you campaigning by digging dirt on others on social media, you are not reaching everyone. There are real people out there not just those sitting behind some computer or phone. You will not be successful that way.

We have a big problem in PNG too that we place all our hopes and emphasis on politics. We blame our failures on the leadership of the day and on personalities. We don't blame or examine our own inabilities or failures. Corrupt leaders, or government, or foreigners or Chinese or Australians, everyone except us. We need to shift from blaming others, blaming leaders, blaming foreigners to taking responsibilities for our own shortcomings, under achievements or failures. We also need to look beyond political personalities to examine their policies and performance. Not to be swayed too easily by oratory skills and critics but performance record. The best and ultimate test is how did a politician perform when in power. Not when in opposition or outside criticizing but when they had the power and the opportunity, what did they do with it. Only when PNG take responsibility for their own lives and start to choose based on deeds rather than words will we have better leadership, better economy and also better lives. Otherwise Peter O’Neill or Polye or Micah or Namah or whomever we put out there will not be qualitative and will not create sustainable changes in our lives. We will not be able to take back PNG this way!

Lastly I urge all of us Papua New Guineans to wake up. Stop making excuses for Change. Change begins with each one of us. So let us take a deep look at ourselves in the mirror, that’s where Change begins. Choose wisely come 2017 for wise leaders with proven track records of change so that our beloved country Papua New Guinea will retain its glory and we will leave a positive legacy to our children and to our future generation.
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