Reminding ourselves about our Constitution

By Steven Winduo* 

The celebration of nationhood is one moment in our lives when we celebrate our Independence from our former colonizers. We think of Independence as a political event that changed the political landscape in Papua New Guinea. We also think of Independence as an act of orchestrated collective will to free ourselves from the shackles of colonialism. In every celebration we renew our strength and vision to be a progressive and free nation. Our sense of nationhood is refreshed, revitalized, and re-energized in such a way that whatever we do we resolve to abide by the Constitution that holds us together.

The Constitution of the Independent State of Papua New Guinea is the single most powerful document in this nation. It is the source of law, state, politics, and the foundation upon which the visions of the nation was engraved in. Since Independence in 1975, one would think by now the Constitution should become available to every citizen of Papua New Guinea.

Every Papua New Guinean is entitled to a copy of the Constitution. It is important for Papua New Guineans to have the Constitution in whatever form or format. Some of the money earned from developing the natural resources of Papua New Guinea must be used to reproduce the Constitution in different forms and formats for all Papua New Guineans read, hear, or use in their daily lives.

After 35 years of Independence the people of this diverse nation must renew their belief in the nation. The nation as a concept is in need of some serious rethinking and reframing. It is to the best interests of a nation to have its people know the foundations on which the nation is founded on. It is to the benefit of the people of this nation that the Constitution is made available in different forms, formats, and languages. Every Papua New Guinea has the right to read, see, hear, and use the Constitution to develop and prosper as a proud, informed, and free person.

The Constitution is the voice of the people of Papua New Guinea. The Constitution speaks from time to time when its foundations are challenged, tested, and hijacked. It remains the most powerful document in this heterogeneous society with a thousand tribes. If every citizen has the right to know the Constitution then it means the government must do everything possible for its people to have a copy of the constitution.

If the Constitution is a single most important document in our nation we must also observe one day in a year as the Constitution Day. Since the fifth and final draft of the Constitution was adopted on 15 August 1975 we should observe that date as the Constitution Day. Such a day will insert in the minds of people the importance of the Constitution. It will also be a day for us to remember those who founded the Constitution.

Many young people in schools are familiar with a portion of the Preamble made as a national pledge, but the full Preamble is never known to many people. Then there are the National Goals and Directive Principles:
  1. Integral Human Development,
  2. Equality and Participation,
  3. National Sovereignty and Self-Reliance,
  4. Natural Resources and Environment, and
  5. Papua New Guinean Way.
Our performance in each of the category is good, but we need to do more. There are specific areas that need more work.

Our Basic Rights or the fundamental rights and freedoms of the individual, we enjoy as citizens also form the Preamble of the Constitution. We observe the following rights and freedoms:

  1. life, liberty, security of the person and the protection of the law; and
  2. the right to take part in political activities; and
  3. freedom from inhuman treatment and forced labour; and
  4. freedom of conscience, of expression, of information and of assembly and association; and
  5. freedom of employment and freedom of movement; and
  6. protection for the privacy of their homes and other property and from unjust deprivation
At this time we need to ask how many times we have stretched these rights for our own individualistic, political, social, cultural, and economic inconveniences.
We also have the Basic Social Obligations to fulfill:
  1. to respect, and to act in the spirit of, this Constitution; and
  2. to recognize that they can fully develop their capabilities and advance their true interests only by active participation in the development of the national community as a whole; and
  3. to exercise the rights guaranteed or conferred by this Constitution, and to use the opportunities made available to them under it to participate fully in the government of the Nation; and
  4. to protect Papua New Guinea and to safeguard the national wealth, resources and environment in the interests not only of the present generation but also of future generations; and
  5. to work according to their talents in socially useful employment, and if necessary to create for themselves legitimate opportunities for such employment; and
  6. to respect the rights and freedoms of others, and to co-operate fully with others in the interests of interdependence and solidarity; and
  7. to contribute, as required by law, according to their means to the revenues required for the advancement of the Nation and the purposes of Papua New Guinea; and
  8.  in the case of parents, to support, assist and educate their children (whether born in or out of wedlock), and in particular to give them a true understanding of their basic rights and obligations and of the National Goals and Directive Principles; and
  9. in the case of the children, to respect their parents.
All citizens have an obligation to themselves and their descendants, to each other and to the Nation to use profits from economic activities in the advancement of our country and our people, and that the law may impose a similar obligation on non-citizens carrying on economic activities in or from our country.
* Steven Winduo's blog - Steven's Window


I always thought of that. The Constitution should be made acessble to the general public. They need to know their rights and obligations.

yeah,what Marangist said on 04th/10/2010 is ideed very very true and i strongly agree with it. It is time now the general public must have access to all the acts that have been passed by our leadrers and this in regard to the so called constitution of the country, the United Nation Convention on the Rights of the Chilren (Lukautim Pikinini Act), the United Nation Universal Declaration on Human Rights, only to name a few. Not everyone have access to all these laws and acts that have been passed by the ones in authority, only the bureaucrats. To be honest, many of the current students do not know the constitution of the country (Elementary up to Tertiary level). And even many do not know their basic human right so do many parents and children do not aware of this lukautim pikinini act...What is the government doing??? Just to made these laws and acts and leave them out to rott??? Oh come on bureaucrats lets try and do something about it...