When it comes to elections, Papua New Guinea has a way of doing it the “Only in PNG” way. Some practices are predictable. Others are bizarre. In PNG elections, the most bizarre seems to be the most predictable.
The country’s national elections is only a few months away. It will certainly be a hotly contested affair before, during and even after the elections with all the disputes to follow. The process is just “normal” in PNG. There may be some disputes that have yet to be resolved in the courts from the last 2012 elections so this year’s disputes will only add to these bizarre situations Papua New Guineans find themselves in. No one wants to lose even if they’ve already lost.
As usual, potential or seating candidates, if they haven’t yet started, will be out doing their “homework” sponsoring local sports teams, making donations in community organised activities and a good number are expected to make “feature” appearances in Church. Individuals in Church too will be praying for the best not for all candidates but for their desired candidate. They will see their “desired candidates” as the “chosen one”. There have been a good number of these “chosen ones” who haven’t been successful. Maybe it was a case of mistaken identity.
And speaking of identity, the face of a candidate is critical to success.
A candidate’s face must be seen on a regular basis. It must be seen to the extent that their faces appear in dreams. That is why up to 70% of an election poster is covered by the facial features of the candidate and his/her name. The other 30% is made up of the candidate’s box number, slogan and not forgetting the vital “X”.
There really isn’t much space on the poster to set out policies. And that is the sad reality about campaigning because there isn’t much emphasis placed on informing voters about a candidates’ policies. As long as a candidate’s face is visualized with or without the opening of the eye, there’s a good chance of getting that vital “X” come polling day.
If the candidates do actually talk about policies, they’re often vague. They tell you what they’ll do when they get elected but they won’t tell you how – “I promise you”, they say.
It’s up to the educated populace to teach the uneducated about how to decide on who to vote for.
Without doubt, most candidates tend to take advantage of PNG’s low literacy rates and bombard them with imposing election posters featuring nothing more than the face of a person begging for your vote.
Well that’s the poster. Now the name.
History has shown that potential candidates like to stand out not just with their faces but with their names too. Some of the names of candidates that have popped up previously are so hilarious you wonder what their parents were thinking when giving the name. But, the parents shouldn’t be blamed because these names tend to be made up just so that they can get that much needed attention by voters.
So let’s look at some of these names, shall we.
Perhaps the most bizarre name we’ve come across is Moses Namagileso “10 kilo”. Yes “10 kilo” as in “ten kilograms”. Moses obviously “weighed” the pros and cons before opting for it.
Here’s a few more examples taken from the 2012 elections taken from this link http://www.innov8projects.com/pngpositives/:
Fada Grass from Moresby North East. Perhaps a leader (or father) of the grassroots or grass as in, you get it! Hopefully, not the latter.
A candidate resembling money or more specifically the foreign currency.
PAUL DOLLAR KASI
TULIP WESU DOLA
Family relationships or mateship candidate
DADDY JOHN DINA
PAUL PAPA NIME
LAWRENCE KAMO BRO
JOHN YUL BRO
Candidates with close relations to the land or more specifically vegetables
BRIAN MUSHROOM WAII
HEITCH HAIWEI KARROT
Rastafarian connections or for the love of reggae music:
JOHN RASTA NEGENKE
INDIA RASTA PUPUKAI
JOE DUBE WOBA
Maybe sponsor endorsed candidates:
DANIEL PEPSI LAP
PHILIP MORRIS LEIAO
Law and order is a priority if elected:
KOPS MOKEI KUNJIL
LAWYER KAUNGA AIPE Independent
POLIS NEL YAPA DAVIDIndependent
Straight to the point kind of candidate or something deadly
JOE BULLET BULHAGE
When PNG has its own King
CECIL KING DORUBA
GEORGE KING BAURE
ALOIS KING GOLU KINGSLEY
And to cap it off, this is a straight to the point slogan! But it’s a good poster with not much wording. Gets the attention!