Papua New Guinea: Time to Lead the Pacific
I think it’s about time that Papua New Guinea emerges out of its shell, opens the curtain, stands up, takes a deep breath, makes a stance, and leads the Pacific.
Despite the internal hurdles of a very bureaucratic and complicated political, economical, and social microenvironment, PNG has always managed to keep in tact its international reputation – more so positively than negatively.
By saying that I don’t mean the Moti Affair, the Taiwan Scandal, the Singapore $US40 Million Forestry Scandal, nor the Pacific Register of Ships Limited Controversy or the Sepik Highway Trust Affair – all very real and relevant issues that need to be addressed. By that I mean our ability, as the Independent State of Papua New Guinea, to express our opinions on the international scene based upon logical and righteous decision making in the best interest of the people of PNG – and to stand by it.
The best example is one that I, and many of you, will never forget and that is the speech Dr Kevin Conrad, Executive Director of the Coalition for Rainforest Nations and Ambassador of Papua New Guinea on Climate Change, delivered at the 2008 United Nations Climate Change Conference in Bali.
He became an environmental celebrity overnight and PNG received global media attention for forcing the United States to effectively change its official stance by 180 degrees.
This video still gives me goosebumps:
Another example, and one that may have slightly greater ramifications, at least at this stage, is Sir Michael Somare’s stance regarding the issue of Fiji returning to democratic rule. Fiji has faced constant condemnation from Australia and New Zealand since Cmdr Bainimarama usurped authority in the island nation in late 2006. However, it simultaneously enjoyed support – or the lack of criticism, from its neighbouring Pacific Island nations.
That situation drastically changed at the closing of the 39th Pacific Islands Forum recently held in Niue. The Pacific Island Forum has agreed as an entity to suspend Fiji from the Forum if Cmdr Bainimarama does not deliver on his promises by the end of the year – and the drive behind that decision, apart from Australia and NZ, is the Melanesian Spearhead Group (MSG).
Papua New Guinea’s original position on the issue was not to make any comment or be part of any decision regarding the status of Fiji. However, this is the first time PNG has changed its position, with the idea in place that PNG will be pro-active in making sure that Fiji returns to democratic rule.
And I think that is a great thing – mainly because it certainly shows that Papua New Guinea as a sovereign state is clearly committed to maintaining democracy in the region.
And that has got to be a slap in the face for those pundits who keep on saying that democracy has failed in PNG – which I believe, on a side not, is a view that is fundamentally flawed because Papua New Guineans have been practicing democracy since the stone-age, a long long time before the western concept of democracy was formally introduced to us.
Point to Ponder: How will PNG’s stance affect relations with Fiji, particularly within the Melanesian Spearhead Group (MSG)?
~ by Tavurvur on August 31, 2008.
Posted in PNG International Issues, PNG Politics
Tags: Ambassador, Australia, Bainimarama, Bali, Bureaucracy, Change, Climate, Climate Change, Coalition for Rainforest Nations, Conference, Decision, Democracy, Director, Economic, Environment, Fiji, Forestry, Forum, Goosebumps, International, Island, Kevin Conrad, Melanesian, Melanesian Spearhead Group, Moti Affair, MSG, New Zealand, Niue, Pacific, Pacific Islands, Pacific Islands Forum, Pacific Register of Ships Limited, Papua New Guinea, PNG, Political, PRS, Region, Register, Reputation, Scandal, Sepik, Sepik Highway Trust, Ships, Singapore, Sir Michael Somare, Social, stone-age, Taiwan, United Nations Climate Change Conference, United States