Welcome to this week’s editorial,
The election is in full swing and there are promises pouring forth with offers of manna from heaven to fix roads, bypass towns, improve education and fix health. All very admirable. Funnily the ones making the biggest promises are the crew currently in power. You might wonder why they hadn’t done anything to date and it takes an election for them to actually engage and act.
But are they acting or are they only promising to act?
When you boil it down we are simple creatures. Not everyone can be a leader, nor do most folks want to be leaders. As a kid we formed groups. There were the leaders, the next rung down of would be leaders who I would always recognise and an unelected committee that was usually determined by a Captains Pick depending on degree of favouritism at the time.
Below the committee were the followers who were swore allegiance to the group. They were part of the US and everyone else was THEM. Every playground in the country has its groups, its gangs, its huddles that share secrets, experiences and ideas. And every group believed that they were better than the others.
As a transient kid going from one school to the next I learnt that you needed to consider what group you might choose. I was a wild child, far too wild and far to different to most of the kids I encountered at school. The term “Run with the hare and hunt with the hounds” described me fairly well in that I was accepted in all camps but held allegiance to none. In PNG, at the time, I was a Territorian child. A rare breed that did not belong to any tribe yet was accepted by all tribes sharing a mutual distrust of kiaps and authority.
When Independence arrived there was an additional level of distrust added. The politician. Politics in PNG is a poetry in motion that borders on chaos from one day to the next. The corruption is stellar and the bribery for votes legendary. In Tok Pisin a politician is called a Gris Man. That translates as a Grease Man. Elections in PNG are a time for maximum “gris” with gifts of betel nut and beer to buy votes. Usually the one with the most “gris” wins. There is also a term called used for politicians of “maus warra” that translates as Mouth Water, again for a politician who speaks too much, as compared with another politician who has “Pekpek maus warra” being verbal diarrhoea.
The next Papua New Guinea elections are in June 2022. Electioneering in PNG is well underway and the promises being made to gain votes grow by the day. Much as we are now seeing in our own election.
Every day we are delivered more and more promises. Like in PNG the biggest promises are coming from the “head men” of the main tribes. The voters are being coerced, seduced, and bribed with promises of the equivalent of shell necklaces and axes with claims of “Vote for me and I will bring riches to the region”. Voters remember that, in the past, the necklaces ended up being plastic and that the axe heads were poor quality and lost their edge in a matter of hours. But they live in hope that the promises made might one day be delivered. And they accept the spin as if it is true, aware that most of it has never been delivered before, and probably can’t be delivered in the future.
At some point though people stop believing all the spin and they see the leaders for what they really are. They then decide to vote for someone else, but once again, and most often, for the one who effectively promises to deliver more ‘gris’ sooner. Unless you are a leader or a favourite you miss out. That is the way of the playground and that is the way of politics.
Maybe the Solomons became sick and tired of our politicians, the supposed ‘big men’ of the region, failing in their promises and delivering little more than “pekpek warra”.
Who knows, maybe we too might finally see through the electioneering ever increasing promises being declared everyday as little more than “pekpek warra” and finally vote for someone who doesn’t ’gris’ , doesn’t ‘gamman’ (lie), and simply wants to get the job done. Our needs are simple and there are enough riches in the land girt by sea for everyone to have a decent life, from birth to death. If only politics, ego and greed wasn’t in the way.
Until next lei