Saturday, August 09, 2008

Standing in the front row from left are Sir John Dawanicura (Chairman of PNG Olympic Committee), Syd Yates (Chief de mission PNG Olympic Team to Beijing), Chen Zhili (Vice President of BOCOG and Mayor of Olympic Village), John Momis (PNG Ambassador to PRC), and Sir Henry toRobert (President of PNG Olympic Committee and Sports Federation). Picture was taken during the flag raising ceremony in Beijing on Thursday. Picture by Albert Tobby in Beijing

I love my country

By Mathew Yakai in Changchun, China

On August 6th, 2007, Chinese embassy in Port Moresby appointed me to deliver a speech on behalf of PNG students (including myself) leaving for various studies in Great China.

Let me make it clear. When I say Great China, it includes the Mainland China, Hong Kong and Taiwan.

During my speech, I elaborated, “one can take me out of PNG but he or she will never take PNG out from me.”

For those who have been overseas will agree with me that it is reliving when one is recognized as a Papua New Guinean or by his nationality.

Why do I say this? See, it was 8.45pm, 08-08-08. I was in my room with my Japanese friend, Furukawa, gluing our nose to the TV screen. By the way, he brought a Japanese rice wine and we enjoyed it.

On the phone was Shaggy from Pogera. I put my mobile close to the TV speaker so she could hear the ongoing grand opening of Beijing Olympic.

At exactly 8:45pm, Gene Drekeke Iyovo, a PNg student in China called me from Jiangnan University of China in Jiangsu Province.

This is the moment I will never forget. The Big Fish…Rayn Pini was leading team PNG into the Olympic opening ceremony in Beijing. When I saw the PNG flag in Pini’s hand, with all the PNG team my tears naturally dropped down my chin…for a simple reason….”I love my country.”

On the floor of parliament, our elected leaders accuse each other…but that’s the beauty of democracy.

Rape, murder, criminal activities, unemployment, HIV/Aids…dominate our media and we still complain about these negative aspects of our failures. But we have never taken any moment out to join those who have taken PNG flag to places where they really represent PNG….for this case, Pini and team PNG.

I cried for one good reason….”I love my country”…and when I saw the flag in Pini’s hand before a capacity crowd of 48 thousand people and about four billion people watching on TV, I knew that China has provided the venue for PNG to make its presence known to the world scene.

Gene sent me a text message later and said, “Unblinkingly watched the different colors came officially into the Olympic bird's nest, the time of opening. The mentioned of Babuya Xinjineiya meaning Papua New Guinea in Chinese sent a shower of shock emotion down my spine, the PNG flag sent wave of tears, the flag bearer Rayn Pini gave me courage with joy and a new heart among the presence of world leaders, super powers and super citizens.”

He continued, “Amidst a world PNG exist. I personally believed the Olympics bring the whole world together under one burner-''One world one dream''. From those of us scattered into outer China away from Beijing, gave our hopes to Team PNG and watch your performance earnestly on TV. God Bless PNG!”

When Gene called, I was still crying…may be I am emotional but see, I love my country.

China has been accused many times by foreign media and individuals for being a communist state, on human right issues, and others.

Have you ever been to China? How much do you know about China? Do you believe what is on the media?

See…I have been to some of the villages in China and let me kindly and honestly tell you. The families here have three balanced meals a day. Their kids go to school, paid by the government.

Most of the old buildings are now demolished and families are moving into new high covenant buildings, provided with law rates by the government.

The health services and common facilities are provided by the government. The older citizens are taken care of by the government.

The train rail ways connect all provinces in China. Jobs in China are mushrooming any moment and people are engaged, thus, earning adequate money to enjoy the growing China.

When I read foreign media, accusing China of certain issues, I turn to wonder….in the hearth of Washington D.C, you see beggars. USA has a very serious human rights issue to address.

In Australia, see the way Canberra is treating the indigenous Australians.

In China, I have never seen any baggers on the street. You see beggars in PNG, in Australia, in America, even in Osaka in Japan. Not in China.

After the collapse of former USSR, China is now remaining as the only major communist state.

When I carefully look at China’s political situation, I totally admire its principles….and term it as a ‘guided democracy”. Why do I say this?

Look at all the African countries, South American countries, and Pacific Island countries, which were once colonized by western countries. We all have serious political problems because we abuse democracy.

But you see China, the democracy is guided and specifically focused towards benefiting the people. Let me give you an example.

During the devastating Earthquake in China recently, the President of China and top political leaders were at the scene with relief supplies immediately after four hours.

In PNG, Prime Minister Sir Michael Somare hardly visits some of our naturally affected areas. Former Prime Minister, Sir Mekere Morauta even tells PNG that he can not drag the Prime Ministers office to the street.

Late Bill Skate won the country’s heart when he was at tsunami affected Sepik.

Since China won the right to stage the Olympic, it has gone through close media watch. But this country, which I admire of its international standing, has been very genuine with its principles.

China is a member of many regional and international organizations. Importantly, a member of UN Security Council.

When the World Bank and IMF were slow to rescue the affected Asian countries during the Asian financial crises, China stood up and helped these countries.

When USA was devastated by the September 11 attack, Beijing sent condolences and further emphasized that any action taken must be carefully considered. Consequently, China did not support USA’s unilateral attack on Iraq.

China was not only wise but played by rules and norms of international values.

Recently, China has heavily involved in the Six Party talk, making North Korea to open up. The next possible role China can play is to negotiate with Iran.

So what more do the so called Western countries and their media expect from China. And this is what PNG must understand. PNG should not look at China through Western media, but must be independently.

Olympic is on now. Ryn Pini will splash the waves in Beijing. If he wins gold then its good for PNG, but the most important think he will do is strengthening the bilateral relationship between PNG and China.

China has invested heavily in PNG. That has brought food on our family tables. China is willing and ready to continue to do that.

After the Olympic, China will not be the same. For PNG, we are lucky to have China as one of our partners. Let’s treasure it, because Hu Jintao emphasized that he is willing to help the developing countries, which includes PNG.

To show that we are genuine with our bilateral relationship, I strongly recommend that PNG builds its own embassy building in Beijing, like what we have done recently in Tokyo.

I am sure, Beijing will help fund the construction.

Note: “Asia-Pacific Perspective: China +” looks at Chinese society, culture, economy, governance and China’s role within the Asia-Pacific region and the world over. It mainly focuses on how Oceania can learn from China’s experience. The writer is a PNG student in China