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Contributed papers presented at Papua New Guinea Mini-Conference on National Youth Service - Youth In National Development:  conference proceedings

Misty Baloloi
Vice Chancellor, Papua New Guinea University of Technology, &
Chairman, National Planning Committee For the 21st Century

About this time last year, I was at the Papuan Leaders Conference at Travelodge downtown and I was asked to comment on Sir Mekere Morauta's statement when he was arguing the Papuan Region's contribution to the National Purse.

I paid an observation on the discussion that centred around regional governments. My observation was that we where discussing what I call the form of Government. But we did not define the function of Government that we were talking about.

And I referred to my own background as a designer. Before I set out to design the form of a structure, I must first define what is it's function, role and responsibility. And once I have define what it's purpose and function then I can go on and create its form to the functions that I think it should perform. I said at the forum that the problem I have with all this observations was that we are putting form before the function.

I believe the function must come before the form. If you are designing a building to perform the role of a factory, it's form must perform the function of a factory. If you want a form developed into a chicken house, it must be a chicken house. The function must come before the form. I said I had great difficulties with the discussions because we are discussing the forms before the function. We are putting the cart before the horse.

I believe the reason why we get confuse and speak all kinds of languages and our thoughts are disorganised in this manner is because we lack direction and vision. Mr. Avei was listening at that time and nine (9) months later asked me to help him develop the National Vision for Papua New Guinea.

When Mr. Avei asked us to perform this role, one of the conditions we told the Minister was that we did not want to be seen as another political instrument set up primarily for political purposes to achieve political objectives. We believe that this task of casting and planning ahead was too important. We cannot mess around with it politically. And so the Minister agreed that the committee was to be set up as apolitical. That means the committee must be independent; made up of people who are not politicians; the people who know what it means to start from scratch and know what it means to sweat and know what it means to work hard. Therefore the members of the committee I introduce you this afternoon are people who come from this type of background. People who are not politicians, people who are not interested in grand planning but people who all the way from the foot hills of Mt. Whillem and know how to survive the hard road of life.

I am extremely delighted that you have invited us to come today and I hope that what I share with you this afternoon will give you all a better insight into the kind of work we are doing. I hope that we will be able to impart to you the vision and the passion we have of our country.

Many people expect the committee to be full of high flyers - Corporate Managers and Political Leaders and so forth, but I must say I am very privileged to be working with men and women such as this, because their simplicity of thought and the reality of their expression to me has great meaning and depth.

But I think the topic I want discussed this afternoon, deals with issues and concerns you have. They are the same kind of issues you are visualising, planning ahead and exploring other possibilities and avenues, about the young generation that we have. The young people of our nation can either be a great asset that can bring us prosperity or it can be a very destructive force that will spoil our society. It is definitely a very important consideration for the destiny of our nation. So we must get up and wake up to the worries and issues of our young people. In our discussion of our young people and our future, we must ask ourselves this questions. What is the future of our young people? or indeed do they have any future if there is such a thing? But if there is a future for me, where is the future made and where are they heading to.

I think many people today as I move around and speak to members of the community ask: where is Papua New Guinea heading to, our nation, our country, our society, where is it heading to or what kind of Papua New Guinea are we developing, and building up? Are we really satisfied that the country we are building is the kind of country we want our children to grow up to inherit when we are gone. Sometimes I ask myself and I wonder in fifty years from now my son will turn around and say to me, father-you have been so careless and see the mess you left me. This is what you've left me - a messed up society, messed completely.

So in my opinion this is a very, very important question one must think about. This questions in my opinion are most central to any dream or any aspiration we intend to have. This is central because any organisations or in fact any country is only as good as the people that are in them. It cannot be any better. The way people perceive, the way people dream, the way people can vision in an organisation or in our families in my opinion is totally dependent on what they perceive and what they make you see.

Four years from today our country like many other countries, will be going through a major change in our history. We will be moving from the 20th Century into the 21st Century. We will be moving into a new millennium. And you know my friends, not many people have this opportunity to feel this transitional change. Moving from one century to another, or moving to another millennium. And you know, as we move into the next century over the next four years, I think of it as a person sitting on the last week of December of any year just before new year. We reflect on the things that have gone by in the year that have gone by. As is a period of festivity, a lot of people will celebrate in all sort of ways. But customarily, lot of people spent those last few days thinking about what has gone by and what is ahead of us. Where are we going to be next. Many go through a time of recollecting the days spent in the eleven months and they sit down and play around with their resolutions for the new year.

So today is a very important period. We will look back and regret our mistakes, the lost opportunities we have let go without grabbing them. We even dwell on the pains that we have come through in the last 20 years of the country. We probably will celebrate the success or the achievement we had. But at the same time, there is an excitement about the new years that will dawn. We don't know what will happen ahead. But there is a certain excitement in our feelings.

Globally today, other countries, people, institutions, companies and government are going towards this new millennium and are asking themselves this same kind of questions as though they are sitting on the last week of December before new year and reflecting on all they have done over the last 99 years. And I am of the opinion, that the timing is more crucial now then ever before. As we stand on the shores of the new millennium and the new century, we have to ask ourselves some very serious questions.

Where is this country getting to and that which we are creating. Is it really the kind of country our children must inherit. You see folks, I don't have to bore you or be rhetoric about it. I think we have gone through a lot of pain, we have gone through a time of running around in circles, if I can use that description. Law and order problems in our country today are the discussion of the day over betelnut, a glass of beer or whatever.

There is a clear lack of cohesion in the proper planning of our country. The government took out the National Planning Office and after a decade put back the NPO again. There is a definite lack of political cohesion in the way we are doing things. There is major unemployment in the country. The unemployment problem that is growing is the unproductive part of our society. They are the ones not participating in any form of production.

It is not just sitting around in the house but it is potential we should be using but are not utilising. It is unproductive. There is lack of commitment by the government and by every body for long term. We want too much in a short time. But I can tell you and all other sectors to plan systematically and consistently when your budget circle just drops by. It is a manifestation of the problems in our resource planning machinery and in our society.

We have a circular society that speaks no other language but of winging and of complaints. That is very, very frightening folks. People go on these days, because they think government doesn't work for them. I don't have to talk about corruption in Government, those are big things and I can spent the whole afternoon talking about them. But these are the manifestation of the confusion and the problem, the growing cargo cult mentality that legitimises and continues. That people do not necessarily have to work but they continue to receive and receive. We learnt the language of give me, instead of the language of I give to you. This is a frightening phenomena.

In the midst of that my friends, if you look around, and I am sure you have work with our youth, there is a yearning and a cry in the lives of our people. There is a hunger, there is a cry, even if it is expressed in a silent way there is a call for a sense of direction. Some sense of purposeful, some sense of self fulfilment, that we belong to this country of Papua New Guinea. We are indeed a part of this nation, we are indeed proud citizens, we have a sense of duty and cry of our people. We can be walking along side by side in families, individuals, or in a governmental department. And perpetually, the question we ask ourselves is what have gone wrong.

There are many reasons we could add to our list. But I would like to think that there are two ways people like to do this in life. The first way is what we call the problem-centred approach to doing things. Our focus, our energy our language our vocabulary centres towards the problem you are putting in front of you. In management theory, as we remove the problem that is in front of us, we create a problem free future.

But the problem with it is the problem with the problem. If you remove the problem some more problem will creep up to take its place. So we spent our whole life sleeping, eating, drinking, and dreaming over it. So the problem consumes us and overtakes our system, our whole mentality, our intelligence and our wisdom and you name it. When we preach, we speak problem languages. That’s the problem.

That negativity consumes us. Everything we look at is a problem. Somebody said to me once that of the world of faculties we have in our body, the most influential of those faculties are the vocal ones. The things that we say from our lips. So we get up in the morning and say I have a backache. So your brain sends a message to your toes, nose, ears, and your hand that, yeh! get ready, we are going to have a backache the whole day.

The second way is what we call mission directed. You have a purpose, a mission and you direct your action towards a certain goal and a certain objective but because of a mission, you still set out no matter what. That was how this nation of our was evangelised many years ago. The old timers came here it didn't matter if there were cannibals or there were man eating people around, they had a mission, they had a vision, an objective and a direction on where to go and they stayed. Their persistency and their belief harvest the good news today. They had a mission that is why they are called missionaries.

And so folks, I think we have a choice as a country as we stand on the last couple of days of the 20th Century and look at the 21st Century. We too are to decide where we are to go and what we are going to be like. Are we going to continually be problem centred people or a we going to collect ourselves together and decide exactly what is our mission, set ourselves our objectives, political will and collectively move. To me, that is what vision is all about. Would you believe ladies and gentlemen, that what this country needs today is a vision. Let me see if I can justify what we call a VISION.

Some people believe our vision is the five preambles of our national constitution, where it set down originally the purpose of Papua New Guinea as a nation. Taking those directions and heading towards those goals and principles are important. But you and I know ladies and gentlemen that some how we have not gone with that direction. The Commitment to Papua New Guinea is not there. We have lost our way some how.

As I picture it like this and coming from a coastal island. It is like a ship that sets out on a course, to sail from Rabaul to Manus Island. Before the ship get on the sea and travel, the captain has to plot out the course the ship must take. Then once the course is charted out, the captain can then get other people to come in and take over the steering wheel. But the ship stays on course because the course is set out by the captain. But I feel that sometime when you look at our country, it is like a ship that started out on some course and on the way some body hijacked the ship and set another course and then somebody else hijack the ship and set another course. So we have a ship M.V. PNG that changes course every three, four and five years.

So what happens, the ship just floats, when the sea is too rough it changes courses again. And you and I know, if we met a women who was lost at sea on a ship like that is a very, very frightening experiences. And we have reason to be worried and concern on the status of our nation like a ship without a course that is floating all over the place. So what we are talking here folks, is about charting a course, a destination, a vision we must have and we must work towards. Our people must know the destination.

I draw my inspiration from Biblical Principles.  And I want to share with you one of this biblical principles from were I drew my own inspiration.  That is the Book of Proverbs 29.  The scripture says that, "when there is no vision, the people perish."  The New English Version actually reads like this, "Where there is no vision, the people cast out restraint."  In other words where is no vision, people no longer desire restraint.  The opposite of restraint is indiscipline.  When there is no restraint there is indiscipline.

Why are our streets today full of indisciplined young people. Why? Because there is no direction and no purpose or vision for our youth, there is no discipline. I want to say that it is an important statement to make but if I measure what I have seen against what I will think, then I have reason to be fearful today. No vision will result in no restraint.

No restraint is no decision so, you see instead of sending our children to courthouses, jails and punishment after punishment may be we did not give them hope, purpose and meaning. Some one said to me if you go to Kuala Lumpur, in Malaysia and you ask a taxi driver, where is Malaysia heading to, the tax driver will tell you the vision of Malaysia. But if you ask one of our Parliamentarians where PNG is heading in 20 years time, they would not know. Because there is no vision, that’s why, it is very dangerous. Vision is all about looking to the future, dreaming and looking ahead and preparing ourselves to head for that direction.

I listened to an Evangelist on a video cassette and this is how he simplified what vision is all about. So people asked what is vision and how do we put it together. This is how this evangelist simplified a vision.

One day, we went to the airport and check in at the airport. This was a flight from Jamaica to Barbados. He was given a boarding pass with the name Barbados written on that as his destination. He sat on the chair and an inspiration fell on him. And he looked at his hands and said what I am holding in my hands is a vision. In other words I received the end before the flight. Barbados my destination but I am holding it in my hands now.

I like the vision of our country that way. That we sit down and write the future of our history or we write the future of our history as it were. We have vision 20 years ahead down the road and we say to ourselves well, 20 years from now, this is what we want PNG to be. This is our destination.

And in the words of Earlihart we better walk backwards and develop the course that will takes us now to that destination. And write it down now, and we can call into the wheel house in front of us while we are still holding the steering wheel and check out the course we are going to go. That is the destination we are going to go.

Well I want to vision development this way. That we hold it on our hands today even thought its 20 years away. That we teach that vision, that dream, that reality to our wives, children and to our grand children. They eat it, drink it, dream over it and live with it. It consumes them. This is where we want to be. It will mobilise the conduct of our government, mobilise the conduct of our local government, our business, our education system, our agriculture sector, our fisheries, our people resources. We are going to manage them along this course.

Twenty years later we will arrive at this point. That is what it is all about. If we don't have that, every body is going to do their own thing and we will ride around in confusion. We must have development into our mind, developing it, describing it and let that boarding pass we are holding in our hands today but is something which we will reach in the future. Doesn't matter if the government of Papua New Guinea changes tomorrow but M.V. PNG will stay on course.

This is a very difficult exercise. Now to carry out this exercise. There are two phases we are going to go through. The first is called a reality diagnostic process. This involve reflecting on the things we have done since the beginning and we work back upwards to determine what has gone wrong. Like a doctor diagnosing a sickness. We try to diagnose a sickness. As the saying goes. Those who refuse to live in the realities of today will live in the past tomorrow.

If we do not understand and appreciate history, we are bound to make the same mistakes in the future. So we got to understand the past. So the first part of this exercise is just that. We try and highlight the driving forces that has shaped our schools, our industries, our business, our politics. There are certain driving forces that shape us, understanding them we will have a better idea to work effectively towards how to tackle the problem. But remember, even when we are dealing with the past, our focus is on our vision ahead.

The second part of our task is the dreaming part. What do we want PNG to be in 20 years time. The first one is the probable future. The future you will arrive at in 20 years time if you go on the same way you are doing now. The second one is the preferred future. What we want PNG to be 20 years later. That is a dream. But sometimes the dreams are not a reality.

The third one is a compromise of the two and is the possible future. It is a realistic one derived from the diagnostic process. My committee is just going through the diagnostic process and when we go through the visioning process, we will be undergoing a public consultation process. We will be travelling through the provinces and talking to people - NGOs, Churches, students, women and people who shape opinions in our country.

After we get all their aspirations, we will sympathise through all these aspirations and dreams. We will develop what we call the vision of Papua New Guinea. The next state of that is to translate the national vision into what we will call sectoral visions. Where would Education be in 20 years time? Let's describe it and set ourselves a goal and work backwards.

We are hoping that the whole process will be completed sometimes in late 1997. We are not guided by the election timetable. We hope that through a public consultation process - keeping in mind that the process is much more important then the cost.

At the end of the day, the grassroots that can be heard must be heard. So that even the taxi driver can say we have a vision.

Here are the members of the committee:-

  • Professor John Nonggor, Professor of Law at UPNG
  • Mr. Meli Paivu, Tourist Personality in Rabaul
  • Mr. John Millet, Institute of National Affairs
  • Mrs Mary Dikkins, Business Women
  • Mr. Valentine Kambori, Cocoa and Copra Industry
  • Ms Betty Datson, School Teacher
  • Ms Felecia Dobunaba, Department of Personnel Management
Above paper presented by
Misty Baloloi
Vice Chancellor of the Papua New Guinea University of Technology, and
Chairman, National Planning Committee For the 21st Century

GEORGE H. WRONDIMI, Conference Facilitator

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