Papua New Guinea cannot claim to be a Christian country because its society has many social ills highlighted by a disrespect for one another, says Governor-General Grand Chief Sir Bob Dadae.
Speaking during the flag lowering ceremony during the Independence Day celebration in Port Moresby on Saturday, Sir Bob said: “On a daily basis, there is tribal and ethnic violence, once only heard of in rural PNG, is now a common occurrence in our cities.
“I make a nationwide call to all criminals and ethnic groups to lay down your weapons once and for all.
“The continuing cowardly act of torture, especially in the Highlands, and the infiltration of our cities with tribal warfare, are all condemned in the highest order and must cease once and for all. We must not use culture as an excuse to involve in violence and torture fellow countrymen.”
Sir Bob urged leaders, politicians, businessmen, village elders and chiefs to intervene and restore peace and reconciliation and bring to justice those responsible for carrying out such horrific acts of violence.
“We must build a peace-loving national character within our individual self and among our citizens,” he said.
“We must have a change in our mindset.
“Without values and high moral stance, including integrity, we are not a worthy society and cannot realise our full potential as a destination for investment and business to flourish.”
Sir Bob also urged the public service to lift its game and provide effective service delivery to the people.
“The immediate focus must be to address high costs of living brought about as a result of increased world prices on oil and gas,” he added.
United States Secretary of State Antony Blinken, in his Independence Day congratulatory message to PNG, said: “The United States is unwavering in our commitment to partnering with Papua New Guinea to advance our mutual priorities, including addressing the climate crisis, improving transparency and good governance and promoting gender equality and women’s economic empowerment.”
Various celebrations were held across the country.
NCD Governor Powes Parkop led an Independence Unity Walk on Friday morning.
The walk started at Murray Barracks and finished at Ela Beach, where a Contemporary Independence Festival was held.
He reiterated that while celebrating the 48th Independence Anniversary, the city was rehearsing for its golden jubilee in 2025.
The annual flag raising ceremony was held at Independence Hill followed by a parade down Independence Boulevard in Waigani on Saturday.
Meanwhile, Prime Minister James Marape has urged Papua New Guineans to think about what they can do for their country and not what their country will do for them as they celebrated the 48th Independence anniversary on Saturday.
Marape in a Friday press conference said despite the negativity and challenges, the leaders of the country were playing their parts in doing some good things and working both internally and externally.
“The greatest contribution one can give is to respect the rule of law and respect one another.
“I appeal especially to the sons of this nation to respect the women, the mothers, wives and daughters,” he said.
“We as the country would be okay and moving forward if all of us work together to respect the rule of law.
“This does not mean you have to wait for the government.
“Utilise the existing projects such as small medium-business enterprises (SME).
“We have put money into Bank South Pacific for the people to use to start up something for yourself.
“Let’s stop wasting time on social media and other things and start doing something good,” he added.
He said since he became Prime Minister in 2019, his government took the country out from an economic hole.
Marape said his government had managed the country’s economy to be worth around K113 billion (US$31 billion).
Igam’s engineering battalion members folding the national flag during the flag-lowering ceremony in Lae on Saturday.
“A total of K113 billion (US$31 billion) against 12 million persons over 462,840 square kilometres of land is not enough. We all have to work together and play our part to assist one another,” he added.
Amongst other developments and projects his government carried out over the last four years, Marape said he had managed to bring 84,000 students back for a second chance at learning through the Flexible, Open and Distance Education programme which would continue and be expanded. Marape added that aisde from education, the health sector was also improving.
“Boram hospital in East Sepik and Angau hospital in Lae are opened already.
“These are the results of our plan to build 22 modern hospitals in each provinces in the country,” he said. He added that for the first time in a long period, they had recruited and were training 300 police officers this year which was budgeted for and would continue to boost law enforcement manpower to get police numbers up to 10,000.