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Let your poppies Grow tall

Commentary by Hon. Governor Powes Parkop

“You cannot strengthen one by weakening the other. You cannot add to the stature of a dwarf by cutting off the leg of a giant” Benjamin Franklin Fearless President of the US Steel Corporation in 1950.

It is called the “Tall Poppy” syndrome! A worldwide phenomenon but particularly so in Papua New Guinea where envy and jealousy keeps many communities and people thinking small and staying in our comfort zone. A sure strategy to keep everyone failing.

It is practiced everywhere in PNG but worse in some parts of our country like Morobe Province particularly around Markham Valley, Central Province, Madang Province and some parts of the Eastern Highlands Province.

It’s a phenomenon where no one dares to dream and grow big. Everyone think and stay small because they are afraid of criticism and attack. Those who dare to break this cycle are thrown upon and brought down directly or indirectly until they relent and give up their dreams and join everyone else in playing small and being mediocre.

Late Prime Minister of United Kingdom Margaret Thatcher when asked to comment on this when visiting the US before she became Prime Minister said “Let your poppies grow tall”! An assertion she made to acknowledge that it was a big problem in the UK and the only way to treat or counter this syndrome was to focus on success strategies and greatness and not to succumb to envy and jealousy with the aim to make people fail and cause problem to everyone around.

The tall poppy syndrome has taken a new height on social media and applied by some members of the opposition is clearly, no matter how you look at it, is intended to bring failures, destruction and chaos for our people and our country.

Whether this is a conscious plan or not, the approach that is currently being taken to shoot each other down by subjective and unrelenting criticism with negativity and name calling just to pull our leaders down into smallness or if possible give up altogether will not work in the long run. Is our purpose just to shoot each other down? What are we fighting? We are not fighting corruption we are fighting ourselves!

Today the elected members on the Government side are coping the flank and the onslaught. Those who are mounting the attack will attract the same type of low level onslaught and attack if somehow they find themselves in Government or decision making situations.

And time and time again it is proven when the attacked strikes back it might be merciless or worsened. What you do to others you invite others to do the same to you! And the cycles starts all over again. Who wins at the end? Who pays the price at the end? When will this cycle end? When will our people learn to support, come together as one people, one country and give time for your elected leaders to do their job and deliver?

Four years from now if some members from the Opposition maintains this strategy of knocking and rubbishing everything Government does and denigrating everyone in Government they will only remain in Opposition! Nothing will change and any fault or under achievement that is committed by the Government will not be corrected.

I hope, Government Ministers and the Government themselves will not succumb to the negative onslaught of this tall poppy syndrome and think and play small, play safe and please everyone.

I urge all Government MP’s, Opposition MP’s and everyone who has been subjected to these attacks including women who have also been subjected to mean sexist comments to remain steadfast, dare to push the boundary and be strong to think and act with courage and self-belief. We don’t have to be subjected to these unfounded rumours and adjust our life because we are afraid of what people will say. Be proud of who you are as an individual, as a family, a community, a city and as a country.

Constructive criticism is good for all and should be welcomed. It can act as a good feedback on how we can grow and learn to be better.

In politics, criticism should be based on alternative policies and strategies. It is better if it was offering solutions rather then merely denigrating, rubbishing and criticising with an intention to bringing a person down and the issues downplayed.

A responsible and credible Opposition is very important to maintain checks and balances of the Government. It would be good if issues are discussed and MP’s from both sides engages in a debate and convince everyone that they have a better policy, a better plan and strategy.

Inciting public to boycott or to strike without a clear alternative of what will happen next is the height of irresponsibility that does no good to a country, its people and it’s future generation. Why are we choosing a failure strategy? Are we morons? Are we not thinking about our children? No one wins and no one gains. We all lose as a nation.

Let’s us stay strong on the eve of our country hosting a major event. This is the time we must come together with pride to showcase who we are as a nation. Bring all issues into parliament so it can be effectively addressed and all matters brought to question in an appropriate manner.

The Time is NOW Papua New Guinea. Put our differences aside and stand strong as One People, One Country. One Nation.

May God Bless our beloved Papua New Guinea and may we have have a successful Asia Pacific Economic Corporation leaders summit.

Commentary by Hon. Governor Powes Parkop, National Capital District
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