Politics and General Issues

Haters This is for You: Allan Bird

It is apparent that some people take exception to my speaking out against some of the injustices being perpetrated on our people either by design or through lack of discipline. Admitting something is wrong is not criticism. Facts make their own argument.

Only a fool will expect everyone to agree with him, so I don’t have that expectation. I respect that every ethnic group has differing values so agreement will not always be possible. But I expect all ethnic groups to show tolerance to the way others choose to conduct themselves.

Allan Bird (right) meeting with Kerenga Kua, Gary Juffa and Ian Ling-Stuckey

Just because someone does not respond when you are aggressive towards them does not mean they fear you. Just because someone objects strongly against what you are doing does not mean you are enemies either.

I represent and speak for the Sepik people as head of a Provincial Government. I am responsible for what happens in one province. That is my mandate. Not everyone agrees with me and that is fine. We live in a democracy.

Ministers are responsible for what happens in national departments and PNG.

I do not believe we are elected to mindlessly follow the crowd without question. Sheep to the slaughter. That is a luxury only reserved for fanatics.

As a student, I was part of the protests against the decay in PNG in the 1990s. I protested when I was a unionist for workers rights. I was elected in protest against the PNC led government.

The pinnacle arena of protest is the floor of Parliament. So the protest against corruption, apathy, incompetence, personal interests, lack of transparency, nepotism, etc. Will continue.

I am very uncomfortable when my colleagues become entangled in questionable deals. Mi save pilim bikpla sem ya. I am not perfect but there are certain things I will not do, lines I will not cross.

I encourage dissenting voices in East Sepik Provincial Assembly likewise I expect the same tolerance in other forums.

In PNG unfortunately, dissenting voices are no longer tolerated. We now follow personality cults without question. We have developed into a cargo cult nation of blind followers. Unable to think, incapable of considering alternative ideas.

I believe a Governor has a duty of care to his/her people in the first instance as head of the Provincial Government. So when I declared our border closed to those coming from China on January 28th, it was a duty of care to the people I work for. I was accused of being racist but today, it’s called “social distancing”.

People forget that ESPG responded to Kardovar Volcanic Eruption in January 2018. It took 4 weeks before national government arrived. Responsibility for Kardovar has since been removed from the ESPG by the PNC government.

Last year, ESPG through our PHA responded to the Polio outbreak with our partners. Our PHA did an exceptional job.

Responding to COVID19, like our two previous emergency situations is something we have become good at.

When we chose to reopen food and betelnut markets in Sepik on April 17th: it was a duty of care to our people, again drawing on our own emergency management experiences.

I don’t criticize other leaders. I only point out what I feel is important to the common good. Whether it is police brutality, empowerment of people or lack of good government: my critique is never against the person, only the actions or lack thereof.

My political goal is simple: Enable one province (business unit) to function autonomously so that it adds value to the country (system) by building a sub system that:

1. Empowers the majority of the people to be self sufficient and reduce their reliance on government,

2. Improves transparency and accountability of Provincial Government,

3. Builds trust between the people and Government,

4. Improves tax collection mechanisms,

5. Improves local service delivery mechanisms,

6. Collects data and measures progress.

I prefer the American model of citizens free. Independent, strong and self reliant. No free handouts. Something about that resonates with my own Abelam culture. My grandfather used to say: “Mi no stap lo strong blo wanpla man, mi stap lo strong blo mi yet”.

Let me make a bold declaration: I will never be PM. My predecessor, a man who has no equal, Sir Michael Somare was PM for 17 years. So whoever your favorite MP is, he has nothing to fear from me.

Sepik has two senior leaders: Patrick Pruaitch and Richard Maru. If anyone from Sepik is going to put their hands up for the top job, it will be these two leaders. Not me.

I speak not to win the favor of other MPs. I say what needs to be said. This is called check and balance. That is my second role, as a member of the Legislature.

Like my brother Gov Juffa, I have no following among other MPs. I didn’t get elected to make friends. I was elected to do a job to the best of my ability and I believe I have done a reasonable job so far.

Someone has to have the courage to stand up and point out the flaws, even at risk of being wrong.

I have only one major commitment which is the EU STREIT program, after that, I see no reason for me to remain in politics. The STREIT program ends in 2025.

I will contest 2022 to try and help my party run the country. That is my responsibility to my party. I also have an individual responsibility to oversee the successful completion of the EU program which I almost sacrificed my political career fighting for.

No one will be happier than I to be voted out in 2022. If that happens, I will leave satisfied because I know that the seeds I have planted among the young people will grow and bear fruit. I believe I have inspired a new generation of Sepiks.The new culture of transparency and good government now practiced in Sepik has fired up the imagination of Sepiks and hopefully other PNGans.

Some people talk about fighting corruption: in Sepik we have been successful in combating corruption to a large degree. And we will keep going.

I am not interested in anyone’s approval, promotion or reward. I am not afraid of you, I don’t care for your riches or inducements. I am only interested in the empowerment of my people.

The best thing you can do for yourself, is to ignore the things I am saying and to keep following your idols. That way you can be happy in your ignorance.