Descent into pork politics after implementation of #parliamentary system post independence

When Australia and the United Kingdom granted independence to Melanesia (Papua New Guinea, the Solomon Islands, etc.) in the 1970s, they established parliamentary style democracies there. According to our local "CORRECT" Movement, this should have set them on the path to socioeconomic development. It should have made Melanesia one of the most progressive regions in this part of the world.

In fact, the exact opposite happened. When this political system was transplanted to Melanesia, their societies became more chaotic. The reason? Most Melanesian voters do not vote for political programs or ideologies. They vote for political PERSONALITIES. Usually this was the "Big Man" of the local "wantok" (tribe). If the Big Man (or occasionally "Big Woman") is elected to parliament, it is the understanding that the new MP will use his or her influence to direct government resources back to the wantok, to help supporters with "projects" like constructing school buildings and educational programs, public works and utilities, and even funeral expenses. Sound familiar?

From our point of view, this is political corruption pure and simple. But from the standpoint of the islands' traditional culture, the Big Men are only doing what Big Men have always done. They assume responsibility for redistributing resources to their tribe/kinsmen — the main function of their traditional office and the foundation of the community's trust in them. Only now, in the position as Member of Parliament, they have access to taxes collected from the citizenry and revenues from mineral rights and other income from economic activity the national government has a part in.

In spite of the existence of all the institutions of a sovereign parliamentary democracy, neither Papua New Guinea nor the Solomon Islands have any coherent political parties. What they have are a multitude of individual "leaders," each working to bring back as much pork as possible to their supporters.



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