It’s time to change our attitudes & mindset

Hon. Powes Parkop, LLB, LLM, MP

I can’t believe we have almost completed the 1st quarter of the year and time is indeed running very fast. We have just had our new City Manager and at NCDC and at my office, we have been very busy. We have four major pillars or priorities we want to pursue including Upgrading settlement to suburbs, Modernizing Motu Koitabu Villages and continue to upgrade all the suburbs and make our City safe and peaceful by reducing violence and crime.

While these are critical programs that will further transform our City these goals on their own will not really shift the City unless we also change and improve behavior and attitude of our people in the City and indeed the whole country.

Being Governor and Member of Parliament for the last 10 years has convinced me that unless we improve our behavior by subscribing to higher values like respecting ourselves and each other, taking responsibility and ownership, choosing peaceful means to address issues and grievances, all our efforts elsewhere in developing our City and our country will fail. So I am going to get a bit serious on this topic, as it is very important for us as a city and as a nation.

These last few weeks have been particularly interesting for me personally as I have seen how people are so motivated by poor judgments and leadership. At NCD we have spent huge amounts of money on infrastructure development, also on skills training for our young people, on ensuring adequate infrastructure development to health centers and schools around the city – however, we fail to address the most important pressing issue effecting us all – that is our behavior, our attitudes and our mind-set. All developments are futile in a society that is not willing to embrace universal and our Melanesian values of respect, being responsible and kind, peaceful and mostly according the care and respect for our fellow human beings, not forgetting for public utilities, infrastructure and joining together to make our city safe, clean and healthy and making it safe for our women and girls.

I know that our people have the capacity for change and understanding of the importance of good behavior as I have spoken to many young people who are motivated, inspired and willing to become better citizens. I have sensed their hopes, their aspirations and their unthinkable obstacles just to be accepted in society. How our girls have gone through huge trauma just to be who they are, to express themselves jeopardizing their own personal safety, their freedom, risking rejections and intimidations by cowardice men out there. Not all of us, but there are many of us out there who can be better men in caring for our women.

I want to remind all of us, that our behavior and our attitude is very important to building a society, improving the economy, ensuring job satisfaction, job security and living sustainably for a long time with good healthy habits, lifestyles, family values and good solid principles to hand over to our next generation. We have to understand the measure of any society lies in how we treat our women and girls and everyone with dignity and respect.

We have to forgo our foul habits of defacing the city with graffiti, spitting and littering, engaging in crime, harassment both physically, emotionally and digitally and using foul language and swear to and at each other. We all have a right for our voices to be heard in the world. We have to do unto others what we wish to be done unto ourselves.

We have to have at least some basic level of human decency to stop painful, hurtful, destructive behavior patterns that decrease our value as human beings.

I will continue to invest on such development promoting non-violence, behavior and mindset change and engaging in a more holistic approach to make our people and our city safe and healthy, physically, mentally and emotionally. Behavior change does not happen overnight, it takes time and we have to keep doing our part repeatedly to ensure this awareness and this understanding gets into the core of our being as a lifestyle habit. We cannot change the city with broken up people with bad habits, bad attitudes and poor education.

So whilst we will focus on our key priority areas of upgrading all settlements to suburbs and modernizing of our Motu Koita villages, we also have to focus on creating a city that is safe, active, smart and clean.

In my recent visit to Shenzhen our Sister city among the things that stands out was that it was a very clean and green city. One could hardly see rubbish anywhere in the city. Nor would you see graffiti or destruction to public property. They planted trees and flowers everywhere so it was a very green city. We later learnt that it was relatively a safe city too where men and women could move around without fear of harassment or being attacked anytime of either day or night.

It is one of the major growth centers of China with a population mainly of migrants. It use to be a sleepy fishing village of about 130,000 35 years ago. Now it’s has completely change and is a success story because among other things it’s based on respect, responsibility, non violence and taking ownership of the city.

On my way back from Shenzhen I got offloaded in Manila, Philippines due to problems with Air Niugini. And though I stayed just a day I marveled at how a city of 27 million can function and thrive and still be clean and safe with not much graffiti similar to the problems we face in Port Moresby.

I recall too when we visited Jarkata in 2013 with Prime Minister Peter O’Neill how that a city of about 30million can also be relatively safe and clean and respectful despite its many challenge.

Around the cities of the Pacific like Honiara, Port Vila, Suva, Christchurch, Sydney, Brisbane, Melbourne etc these cities are relatively clean and safe for all. Respect, responsibility and ownership are key values upon which these cities are based and as a result they thrive.

I don’t know why, in Port Moresby we need securities in markets, bus stops and other public places. We are the odd city out. Unless we take on and shift our people’s attitudes and behavior, all that we are developing and building elsewhere in other sectors will be futile.

This is also true of whole country. We spend more time, resource, energy at fixing problems created by our poor values and behaviour and not enough on building the future.

We must equally lift in this area to secure a better and greater City.

We will and are doing our part. I need our residents to also do their part.

I wish everyone a Happy Mother’s Day. God bless our mothers in our motherland.

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