OUR 40TH YEAR PM

Even if a date has been set for the PS Criminal Case, our attention must not be diverted away from one key point – who will be our 40th Year Prime Minister (PM)?

In just over 40 days from today Vanuatu elects its 40th Year PM after the GE on March 19th.

God forbid that a proud ‘king’ lead Vanuatu as PM as we march through the final 12 months stretch of our 40th year journey through the wilderness. An ‘Independent’ nation that doesn’t depend on and seriously acknowledges God is a proud nation; it will fall.

Leadership styles

As we’ve witnessed in past years, there is that leadership that acknowledges the collective support and contributions of all other MPs who have helped to successfully deliver a Government’s 4-Year term. People appreciate that. Conversely, we could have heard a slightly different testimony from a different type of leader who typically says ‘I did this, I did that, it was all about ‘me’, my party, my fantastic MPs (despite their corruption of course). Me this, me that, me everything! Everything revolves around him.

History repeats

To put this sentiment in perspective, we turn a few pages of history to review a classic example – the leadership of a man who was wholly emersed in his own pride. Somebody once said, ‘pride has been called the first sin’. The story of Nebuchadnezzar of Babylon – the ancient city of the nation we know today as Iraq. Hadani Ditmars – a journalist who has been reporting from the Middle East on culture, society and politics for two decades summarises the experiences of Iraq in the following words: ‘Babylon has seen it all. From its peak as the Neo-Babylonian capital under King Nebuchadnezzar through its heavy-handed 1987 reconstruction by Saddam Hussein to its post-invasion demise when American and Polish troops ran roughshod over its ruins and ISIS threatened its very existence…’.

The Babylonian King’s pride

God gave Nebuchadnezzar two dreams. Firstly he saw a towering image with a head of gold resembling Babylon but which eventually grumbled to pieces. The second dream was of a huge tree that was chopped down leaving only the stump and roots. Both dreams related to the ancient king and his demise. When the young slave boy Daniel was called in to interpret the second dream, he diplomatically informed the king that in fact the dream refered to the king himself. Bottomline is, God gave Nebuchadnezzar dominion and power; but he persistently failed to recognize God in the entire process. The end result, his fall.

Lessons for our time

On reflection, we have some leaders today that are like the ancient Babylonian king Nebuchadnezzar. Before dwelling on that, we go back further into our own independence history. The majority of our founding fathers were church leaders. That’s why they chose for us ‘Long God Yumi Stanap’ as our national motto. Our national flag has a yellow-coloured letter ‘Y’ to indicate peace and ‘the light of Christianity spreading through the archipelago’, as intended by the visionary artist, Malon Kalontas. Even our national anthem carries deep sentiments of our Christian values, besides Custom and Culture.

One key question we must answer here is, will we retain and sustain those foundational principles that embed the establishment of our nation as one that believes in the collective ‘Yumi’, or are we going to allow pride to ruin our future through a leadership that is arrogant in spirit, word and action?

For forty years we have seen Prime Ministers and governments come and go, starting with the 1st legislature leading up to the 11th which recently closed its doors in preparation for the 12th.

We have seen different sorts of leadership emerge, rise and disappear either into ordinary MP or citizenship life, or in an extreme setting, locked behind iron bars. Let’s call these the challenges of our democratic processes.

But there’s one leadership character that we must all shun. We’re talking here about the leader that believes in his own correctness, and one that particularly exhibits pride in all its form. At whatever cost, our MPs in the 12th legislature must avoid electing for PM a person that believes himself to be exclusively right; one that claims a religious backing but which denies the virtues of that true leadership that we all look for. In other words, our 40th Year PM cannot be a proud modern day Nebuchadnezzar.

The experience of a disappointed former senior Minister

To clarify the above, I quote an actual case. Two colleague Ministers were at a function together with their senior officials. One of the two leaders started speaking. He commenced by sounding ‘humble’ and serious (as he usually does), then eventually his true colours emerge. I did this, I did that, I…I…I. Speeches ended. The high ranking official of the older Minister saw that his Minister was unsettled as the latter sat there during refreshment time staring down onto the ground. Older leaders of course are not used to this kind of talk. They are more used to nationalistic and patriotic speeches concerning our common good, our struggle, our vision, and our development.

So the official approached his Minister and asked, ‘Minister, are you ok?’ The Minister responded still head bowed, ‘not really’. The official probes, ‘something wrong’? Then the answer falls from the old man’s tired lips, ‘I don’t like how that colleague speaks’. His words are all about himself...’ Conversation ends.

Upcoming MPs in the 12th Legislature, that’s the kind of Prime Minister we don’t want at the podium come 30th July 2020 addressing a nation of people who have struggled through 40 years of sweat, blood and tears. Our 40th anniversary Prime Minister has to believe and lead us on the basis of ‘We the people’. As long as it is all about ‘we the people’, then we know we are in safe and sound leadership hands.

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