Corruption in Papua New Guinea is out of control! There is no doubt about it.
Corruption is “Systemic” and “Systematic” to use the words of Sir Mekere Morauta, former Prime Minister of PNG. It is so embedded in the majority, if not all the public service departments and it has become the norm, the culture and the ‘way of doing things here’ so to speak. While every educated PNGeans is talking about it, the disease of corruption continues to grow and erode our the very fabric and the public service machinery of PNG. The private sector appears to be free of this disease. Or is it?
The little ‘gifts’, ‘tips’ or ‘bus fare money’ or ‘lunch money’ that is given to public service employees amounts to bribery in my opinion. However, from a PNG cultural perspective, it is a normal and accepted form of behavior. In most, if not all parts of PNG, it is normal practice to bring gifts of food or something of valuable to someone when you visit them for the first time and would like them to assist you in doing something, say building house, a garden, contribution towards a funeral or bride price ceremony etc. From my experience in living and studying in Japan, giving of gifts to business associates, colleagues or VIP personal in government departments when visiting for a first time is a normal behavior pattern. Unfortunately, PNG decided long time ago during and after independence, that giving and receiving ‘gifts’ by public service employees amounts to bribery and corruption.
And it is perfectly understandable. Why should I ‘pay’ someone for doing something that is supposedly outlined in their job description?
The thing that is frightening in PNG, in my opinion, is that the systems and procedures of doing things, particularly when it comes large sums of money is in itself designed to siphon public money to serve interest of influential public figures or corrupt individuals doing business in PNG. It appears, everyone is in on it! From the janitor up to the ministers. Everyone gets a cut for turning a blind eye and keeping their mouth shut.
To date no corrupt official has been brought to trial and convicted! Despite numerous commission of enquiries.
I am now beginning to wonder if the whole cycle of doing a corrupt deal, cancel the deal, set up a commission of enquiry is a systemic pre-designed way of siphoning public money. After all, large sums of money are spent in setting up an enquiry and writing a report. The bill run into the millions! Maybe there are people out there in PNG who are making millions by being members of a commission of enquiry.
In PNG, no one is likely to rat on another person involved in a corrupt deal because of fear for their safety and job security concerns. People generally see and know what is happening but why would they report the matter? Everyone in PNG is related to someone and before you realise, everyone is related to everyone else, either by blood or marriage. That is the extended network of the infamous “Wantok System” in PNG.
Unless whistle blowers are protected, the safety of their families guaranteed and if it means being relocated to a different country, you wont get whistle blowers in PNG.
What is the effect of all these on PNG professionals like doctors?
You know the common saying: “if you can’t beat them, join them’. Or leave PNG and migrate to another country such as New Zealand or Australia so your family grow up in a stable country. It’s now about serving and protecting the interest of your own family. Not national interest!