INDEPENDENCE DAY MESSAGE
The 45th Independence Day celebrations come at a time of grave concern for the consequences of the COVID-19 pandemic. Death, sickness, strain on the health system, loss of jobs, and anxiety are the most visible effects of the virus that has attacked mankind at the beginning of the year. Papa New Guinea is still coping well in terms of lives lost, while the numbers are by the hundreds and the thousands, especially among the elderly, in other more developed and organized nations. We are grateful to God and to nature for sparing our weaker and older citizens. We are also thankful to the countries and the development agencies that came to our rescue in providing medical equipment and expertise.
All this tells us once more that independence cannot be confused with isolation. Countries need each other and support each other especially in times of difficulty. Self-determination is something we grow into. It coincides with mastering one’s destiny. The journey started for Papua New Guinea on 16 September 1975. But the struggle for universal education, health care, end of gender and domestic violence, personal honesty, prosperity for all, development and necessary infrastructures is far from won.
People in Papua New Guinea get easily satisfied with the simplicity of village life. But tribal fights and family conflicts push an increasing number of individuals out of their place of origin and their ancestral land. The urban centers boom, but opportunities for employment are scarce, the streets are dirty and filthy, petty crime is hardly contained.
It takes unity and cooperation to overcome the challenges. We expect the government to be more pro-active in reaching out to civil society for input and scrutiny. Democracy does not end on election day, after which Members of Parliament are hardly seen back in their constituencies, and government Ministers hide behind locked doors in Waigani, reducing as much as possible interaction with the pubic.
Only transparency and participation lay the grounds for a new level of national progress and freedom.
Happy Independence Day to everybody!
REV. FR. GIORGIO LICINI, PIME
General Secretary, Catholic Bishops Conference of Papua New Guinea & Solomon Islands