Corruption is not a human being to be blamed but is caused by the actions of man, particularly those who are in public offices. Therefore, when you look at the corruption problem carefully, there is but one major problem – that is the leadership problem. Everything else rises and falls on leadership. The actions of the leaders in the country have been exhorting corruption since PNG gained independence from Australia in 16th September 1975 while sitting on its solutions. Apart from the leaders, the people in the picture are only the tail following the head which is the leaders to spread the corruption disease among them and accept it as a cultural norm.
Despite the fact that the leadership in the government has been responsible for corruption, we all should know that every government in the world is corrupt but the degree of corruption is a measure of the ignorance of the people to accept and tolerate corruption. Every government should be held accountable for their actions and should fear the people. Not the other way round for the people to fear the government. The leadership has been exploiting the ignorance and silence of the people, even to the most extreme of suppressing the people by using the police force in the country as their first line of defense.
Now for the last 38 years of nationhood, we have been letting corruption to grow systematic and systemic - making our lives difficult, limiting our opportunities, making our systems malfunction, setting back our progresses, creating loopholes for our systems to be manipulated, distorting of our democratic values, depriving and denying us of our basic human rights and trapping millions of our citizens in poverty.
We have forsaken our country and its future by confessing and accepting corruption as a norm, part of our history, cultures, and traditions. We have regarded it is as part of our way of life. For instance; PNG’s so called big men are not punishable by the laws of this land even when they commit serious crimes. We regarded “wantok system” or nepotism as helping one another or returning a favor. Bribery has been regarded as normal and is considered as a gift to facilitate requests in a speedy or timely manner, or a show of appreciation.
Unfortunately, our traditional norms have presided over western norms. We are a nation at confusion and lost between two extreme worlds – one inherited from our ancestors and one inherited from colonial masters during independence.