Home > Corruption, Human rights, Land, Papua New Guinea, Politics > Middle-class must lead a social revolution

Middle-class must lead a social revolution

John Fowke

It is PNG’s middle-class – (the well-educated, salary-earners, professionals and tertiary students) – who by virtue of the clarity of their understanding of the dispossession of PNG’s citizenry, of the loss of basic rights and of equity in the common wealth of their lovely land, are not only qualified, but DUTY-BOUND to conceive and to lead a lawful social revolution to restore citizens’ rights and to foster honesty and a sense of duty everywhere.

The mass of the population, the villagers, the settlement-dwellers, these largely-illiterate or semi-literate people are ready-made victims for oppression by the exploitative bilakmasta class.. They MUST have the LEADERSHIP of people with a clarity of understanding of all the issues and of a path towards real reform. There are many people who are equipped to step in as groups based in their places of residence- perhaps as many as 200,000 people; those mentioned above as potential guides and leaders of a new society.
Dont hide behind words, you middle-class people, you salary-earners, professionals, technocrats, tertiary students.

There’s no way around it. Its your born duty and obligation to the nation which has made you a part of its educated, thinking,worldly-wise class. All that has to be done is something like what I will outline below, before signing off. Become active after some thought, and get together a few like-minded compatriots. With the emphasis on “..patriots.”

And stop putting it off endlessly – JUST DO IT!

All this mess is not PNG’s fault as a new nation. No. As a young man I was part of the biggest of Australias two major mistakes in its role as ruler of then TP&NG. I was a member of one of the teams which collected votes around the country in the first national election in 1964.

I was too immature to understand how dense, how incredibly blind, my big bosses at Konedobu, -and in Canberra at the Department of Territories- were to allow parliamentary representation to arise without full discussion and examination of all possible paths. How in a nation where land and what grows on it, and the bones of those buried in it, are the absolute basic bedrock from which social structure, culture, ethics, morality all arise..This was a society of small groups, each dependent upon and intensely defensive of its own resource of land, of rights to river, reef and island.

Here were no Barons whose landholdings and influence ran to Province-sized fiefdoms; here were no Manorial holdings comprising large acreages of prime farming land, here were no landowning Squires for whom landless share-farmers laboured all their lives, Here were no slaves bound to a Baron or a Lord for life. None of these. No; in 1964 TP&NG,, as ever, was an almost entirely egalitarian society with almost no tradition of hereditary class, hereditary privilege or poverty.Certainly a 99% classless self-governing society.

From day one the opposing interests of the Bullybeef Club – ( Pangu) – and the business sector and Missions allied with older and conservative village leaders – (Compass Pati, later National) – advanced and retreated, skirmishing as they solidified into opposing parties. That is how it all started. Parliament soon became an institution far from the understanding of the common citizen, remote, eventually becoming the object of derision and mistrust. This is no way for a modern, avowedly-democratic nation to be

So stupid, then, to allow a facsimile of the British Westminster party-based system to arise in the first House when none of the conditions which the party-system grew to meet in a heavily-class-ridden kingdom over several centuries in Britain. These conditions never existed in TP&NG. This is the source of most of PNG’s present-day unfairness and discontent. By their stupidity the Australians caused an isolated, selfish, greedy political class to establish itself in self-constructed, exclusive “clubs”. This most un-Melanesian ruling-class have established deep roots in this hitherto free, avowedly democratic if often unruly society..

Especially stupid when 100 or more LLGs – (then LGCs) – being grass-roots-based political institutions were well-established and well-understood throughout the land. The LGCs of today -and now there are many, many more of them, still remain as the basic, grass-roots building blocks for grass-roots control of their nation and its resources and its state institutions.

Then as now, parties possessed little of principle, little member-loyalty, and
great personal, selfish ambition. There is no connection between the electorate 
and the elected.

This has to change if you are to fulfil the promise embodied in your lovely
land and your constitution and your aspirations.

Get together with some others, like-minded, and prepare the way for your own Ward Councillor to suggest in a meeting that your current MP be asked to make a formal agreement to appear regularly at the Council’s meetings, to act upon reasonable requests pertaining to the welfare of the council’s constituency- being a large part of his own- and to bring his District Development funding to bear on reasonable and duly budgeted physical infrastructural needs. The MP should also take on the improvement of all National and Provincial services in the council area by liaison with provincial and Waigani-based officials and with the PM’s Department if necessary.

In return the Council should agree that depending upon performance, the MP would have the full support of the LLG constituency in the next national election. Such an agreement would be constitutional and might be accomplished peacefully with great benefit on all sides.

Lawful, transparent and productive of a much more settled, equitable and peaceful social environment if successfully publicised and acted upon. If in doubt, dig out the records of the Public Sector Reform Advisory Group presided over by the late Sir Barry Holloway until his death two years ago. This group of idealistic and well-qualified PNG professionals began work in 2002 and built up a number of excellent policy-papers for parliamentary consideration. Policies which encompassed aspects of my own suggestion above. Whilst parliament did nothing with these the records and most of the people concerned are still available for you to consult. Perhaps you may take some of their insights and ideas to incorporate in a set of steps you yourselves, you middle-class professionals and students, decide upon. This is not brand new territory, I assure you. Go to it.

Good luck.

  1. ToPam
    March 22, 2014 at 10:56 am

    There is no other way other than the suggested option by John Fowke. Let us rise up and show these mongrels who owns this land. Thanks bro Fowke for giving us this idea.

  2. DK
    March 24, 2014 at 12:31 am

    A middle class person must LEAD the revolution but there are countless examples to show that the middle class does not participate much in revolutions. It is students and the downtrodden that take to the streets, while the middle class sits indoors and watches the proceedings on television. John, learn your history before you spread inaccurate advice. Look at all the middle class who read pngexposed, pngblogs, etc and they haven’t risen up yet. Never have, never will. The evidence is staring at you right in the face but you refuse to accept what that evidence is telling you.
    John, if you want revolution, you should be in the settlements of Port Moresby and speaking to squatters in all the cities. You should be reaching out to students in all the universities. That’s the only way you will make connections with the highest potential movers and doers of any revolution that will take place in our country. The middle class will write. Write a lot. But if the revolutionaries-in-waiting can’t afford smart phones or internet connections, or even have access to newspapers on a daily basis, we’re totally missing the boat.

    • John Fowke
      March 24, 2014 at 10:19 am

      DK- the fact that you can read, are worldly-wise, and have access to the internet and thus to new ideas is exactly why you, by the sound of you, should be doing something even a little bit active. But I know you won’t. What a cop-out. You are such a selfish crowd of whimps. You take an expensive education and use it only for your own personal benefit. Have you no sense of ideals, of fairness, of sorrow for the conditions of life in PNG which the salaried, internet-consuming citizens contemplate from an exclusive raft of privilege and education?

      You interpret history with a slant which paints a self-justificatory picture for you. Sorry to have disturbed your childish, dohore -manyana-tumora mind-set once again.

      And thanks,


      • DK
        March 24, 2014 at 7:33 pm

        You haven’t clue of what I do… and you can take it from there!

      • Friend
        March 25, 2014 at 9:58 am

        John, your still not getting it. Middle class people do not make revolutions! So stop berating the middle class people who are the ones reading your internet articles. You cannot change certain realities of life and that is one of them. You were already advised – work with the sector of society that DOES create revolutions if you want to see some results.

  3. observer
    March 26, 2014 at 3:27 pm

    A “lawful social revolution”, John? I’m sure glad you weren’t advising Nelson Mandela and Mahatma Gandhi that they had to stick to the law in their revolutions. They would have failed following your words. Have you ever heard of the concept of civil disobedience? It is ESSENTIAL for revolutions or any major upheavals of society that put things on a better track. You are displaying yourself as a person ignorant of strategies for success learnt thru history and thus rallying our people to jump off the edge of a cliff! I resent that. As others have already advised you, read about the history of revolutions before you go telling us (as always) what to do (as always)!

  4. pkay
    April 11, 2014 at 11:56 pm

    Why a revolution, and who needs a revolution? Most families, whether in the higher echelons of public or private employment or in the middle classes or somewhere in the dungeons are preoccupied (and rightly so) with what affects there families most. I can’t see a revolution emerging from villages as there is a lot more sanity and common sense there than you will find among the educated and employed in the cities. The folks in settlements or squatters on the periphery of cities and towns are quite adventurous in rather sustainable ways including stealing – to them it isn’t stealing but may be it’s their attempt to redistribute resources so that some people do not have excessively more than others. A revolution would serve no long term purpose or interest. The middle class are too busy doing well to even contemplate anything like mass disobedience or rioting out of control. No one wants to upset the apple cart or stop the gravy train on its tracks.

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