Tuesday, January 20, 2009
A pioneer businessman and politician is writing his life story in a book titled ‘No Stone Left Unturned’. We give a peek preview of what should be a hot seller once it hits the shelves.
Mr Kagul Koroka is in the process of writing his memoirs. This no-holds-barred account of his life and times is being edited by two senior academics and will be published later this year.In his memoirs, to be entitled No Stone Left Unturned, Mr Koroka, a pioneer businessman and politician, reveals all in a frank and forthright style that pulls no punches. “A lot of things have happened in my life. I have had many joys and disappointments.
I have worn many hats and occupied many chairs in my life. Some things are the stuff of myth; others are nearer to the truth. It is time to set the record straight,” he said.Mr Koroka tells the story in a typical Western Highlands idiomatic and metaphorical style. His book is certainly one that is worth forgoing your favourite amber ale for and will provide much debate and discussion across the country. Indeed, it should afford a source of inspiration for many, a supply of pleasure to his many friends, and a cause of worry to only a few. “This book is intended to share my life with the nation. My hopes, dreams, and disappointments are all here.
My family life is covered too,” he said. Indeed the Koroka story provides valuable insights on how to manage a large family, tribal affairs, politics and business with balance and poise. His memoirs will be of direct interest to social and political historians of the highlands, anthropologists, business management scientists interested in good governance and business ethics, and not least all those who seek to understand a man who, in a very real sense, truly left no stone unturned. “I have always tried to ride the waves of enterprise in a largely uncharted sea — come fair weather or foul,” said Mr Koroka.
“I want to send a clear message for the next generation about business and politics in the Highlands. Sometimes the way ahead seems unclear but benevolence, trust, and good faith will always pay dividends in the long term.”Kagul Koroka was born into the Kopelka tribe of the upper Nebilyer Valley. He was educated at Togoba, Paglum and at Kabiufa in the Eastern Highlands. Among those who had the greatest influence in his early life were American missionaries, Dr Roy and Helen Yeattes. “I do not know why the Yeattes’ adopted me.
All I know is that it just happened and will be forever grateful that they did. I remember the first car ride to Mount Hagen in the Yeattes’ Land Rover. My father patted me on the back after I got car-sick and he said ‘don’t worry, one day you will have your own car and will drive it yourself’.’’ Kagul Koroka served his commercial apprenticeship in Mendi with a pyrethrum research company called Bush Boake Allen (Australia) Limited. He went into private business in 1971. He started a farming business at Tomba, initially growing English potatoes and strawberries and, later, broccoli, all of which were sold to expatriates in Mount Hagen.
The business later expanded to road-side coffee buying, selling store goods to nearby villages along the highway, and operating a fuel station at Tomba. In later years, the business diversified to coffee growing, construction, and haulage. “It was a struggle at the start and make no mistake about that. I worked every hour God sent and lived very, very simply. I travelled widely buying coffee because Tomba was not suitable for coffee-growing and learned the business and the provincial districts from the bottom up.” He entered politics as a provincial politician in 1984 and soon after became premier of WHP. Kagul Koroka’s political life can be described as a roller coaster.
There have been some great highs and some lows, but ultimately, it started and finished on firm ground. His political base has always been his upper Nebilyer constituency. He is revered by people from Togoba to Tomba to Tambul. He introduced business principles of transparency and accountability to the office of the premier at a time when the buzz-word “good governance” was unknown. In hindsight, his style of governance directly led to his downfall, but he insists that he would not do it any other way if he were to do it again. A former PEC member in the Koroka administration, Tamai Nukundi, had this to say about Mr Koroka’s management style: “We wanted to get money out of the provincial government, but Mr Koroka would wave the budget papers in our face and told us to stick to budget appropriations.
He was a hard man who did not win many friends.’’Provincial politicians were not ready for his good governance principles, and they are clearly still not ready, but imagine what the province would have been like had some leaders embraced his leadership style. To be sure, the political setbacks (unsuccessful attempts at national politics) may have been devastating blows for a successful businessman, but he simply shrugged them off and continued with the race. Staying in the game was important to him.
Along the way, Mr Koroka has mentored some great leaders, at all levels of politics, and is grooming the next generation of leaders for public office. One of them will surely take his place, or as Western Highlanders say, the old stump will be replaced with a fine young sapling. “My views are that only good people with proven leadership skills and successful commercial backgrounds should enter politics — no tucker shop-owners need to apply! Politics should be the occupation of mature people who have seen money and run businesses.”
Raising 34 children and managing 12 wives takes some doing. A lesser man would have stumbled and fallen. Not only has Kagul Koroka successfully managed the affairs of a large family, but he has also found the time and stamina to participate in community enterprises. His is the greatest success story in balancing family with business and politics. Kagul Koroka is affectionately called “father” by those who know him. In the final section of the book, he provides valuable advice on family, business, politics, and on life in general for the next generation of Western Highlands and PNG leaders as well as ordinary people.
“He talks about his successes and failures, his strengths and weaknesses, his dreams and aspirations, and about his plans for the remaining years of his life.“People need to diversify their business ideas — there are too many similar commercial enterprises. “I want to see new ideas and not simply one person copying another and therefore undoing each other. The same is with politics. We will all benefit then and our country will become something strong and great.”
***It's fascinating to see Mr. Koroka finally trying to put something on paper regarding his accomplishments and failures. I remember vividly as a kid growing up, that his no-nonsense leadership has set a precedent for future leaders of Western Highlands Province and PNG. Though, he has a huge family; he can be able to balance his life with his family, business, and have time for leisure because he knows the 'principals of management' - one of the fundamental components of good governance which is lacking in our leaders. I admired Mr. Koroka's leadership style and come to know some of his wonderful children. He will surely leave a legacy in WHP and PNG. Can't wait to read the book when it comes out. Apa o, Good luck! ***
Source: Post Courier Focus