Saying sorry is a position of strength, not weakness

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DEPUTY Prime Minister Manasseh Sogavare had a go at his boss on the floor of Parliament two days ago, accusing him of ignoring his brief for the recent Melanesian Spearhead Group (MSG) in Port Moresby, Papua New Guinea

That brief, according to Mr Sogavare, was essentially to hand over the MSG baton to the next chairman, PNG’s Prime Minister Peter O’Neil, and not to apologise. It’s quite a departure from the protocols of Parliament.

You are allowed to make such comments in Caucus and Cabinet, but not outside those two foras, which is open to the whole nation, given that proceedings of Parliament are transmitted on air.

But like it or not, the Deputy Prime Minister’s position is one many of our MPs support.

They believe it is wrong to apologise.

They also believe that by apologising as Prime Minister Ricky Houenipwela has done, we have weakened our position as a sovereign nation.

“We should have maintained our position on the West Papua issue, not apologising which made us a laughing stock before Fiji and Papua New Guinea,” they said.

That may be so.

But in a world where ego controls some, it is a breather to see someone has the guts to take the lead in showing servant leadership. Servant leadership, not macho leadership, is needed today more than anything else.

Macho leadership achieves practically nothing – we have seen that in the last three years. $4.2 billion in budget were used and there was little to show for such a phenomenal amount of money.

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Servant leadership exudes greatness and strength. Apologising is therefore an outward demonstration of what is within and that we are prepared to forgive and forget.

Apologising is a position of strength, not weakness. It raises an individual who hitherto has been somewhat an unknown to the height of greatness. If follows then that if we want our nation to be great and recognised there is only one way to achieve that.

We must not only demonstrate our willingness to say sorry, but must be seen to be doing so. For the only way up is the way down – on our knees.

I firmly believe that Prime Minister Houenipwela did the right thing by us in apologising. We should never poke our nose into an issue which is already on the UN agenda.

Apologising does not mean we are precluding ourselves from making contributions to international debates on the matter. Far from it.

Apologising means we support all UN efforts being pursued to ensure the plight of the West Papua people remain on the UN radar at all times. By taking the position we did under the most recent administration implied that we are more powerful than the UN, which has already taken the matter on board.

Furthermore, Papua New Guinea the country that shares the common land border with Indonesia has taken a position that should be exemplary. Solomon Islands would do well to take a common stand with Port Moresby on the issue, instead of pushing it. There could be repercussions.

And so the position taken by Prime Minister Houenipwela is probably the best for us and the region, now and in the future. It is a position of strength, a position of peace, not of fear. It is a position that many world leaders lack at the present time.

And for us, it is a position that tells the world that it works for us. They should also try it.

By Alfred Sasako

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