It’s tempting in the face of blatant wrongdoing to prejudge and go off, half-cocked, ears shut, mouth open. It’s neither a helpful, nor effective corruption-fighting strategy.
By PNG Echo
Moral outrage bordering on hysteria is what’s occurring in PNG about the Paraka letter. Ostensibly signed by the Prime Minister, the letter authorizes payment to Paul Paraka of Paraka Lawyers of an enormous sum of dubious money (K71.8 million).
People have been crying foul, making unreasonable demands of the investigating authorities – baying for blood, if you will – all the while paying scant attention to what’s being said that is of note.
The Devil’s in the detail
While concentrating on the authenticity of the signature, people have missed that the Prime Minister has been speaking of the ‘letter’. Has he denied that it’s his signature on the letter? No, he talks of the letter not being written in his ‘style’ with salutations deviating.
Reading between the lines, (which is all one can do given the lack of a definitive explanation) the allusion is that an unauthorized person wrote the letter. It begs the question of why the PM signed it should that be the case?
Unless the Prime Minister intended to authorize the payment (and the suggestion is that he didn’t) then there is just one alternative explanation; for some reason, he was unaware of what he was signing.
Did someone slip the letter to the PM to sign when he was distracted and he signed absentmindedly?
On the social media:
Rumour was that he [PM Peter O’Neill] signed it when he was fully intoxicated by the brewery.
I have no idea of the veracity of this person’s information but it allows a hypothesis that fits with the information the PM himself has been disseminating.
To this comment another person replied:
…that wouldn’t be an excuse in court.
Wrong. It would.
If the PM did not have a grasp of what he was signing, then he did not necessarily have any intent to commit a fraud or criminal act. He lacked Mens Rea or the criminal intent to accompany the act of signing.
…Under the traditional common law, the guilt or innocence of a person relies upon whether he has committed the crime (actus reus), and whether he intended to commit the crime (mens rea).
Hon Samuel Basil was similarly incorrect in law when he stated on the social media that PM O’Neill must “prove his innocence.”
Everyone is ‘innocent until proven guilty’ under the law (even the Prime Minister).
The onus is on the prosecution to establish guilt and it has a serious obstacle to overcome proving intent – if my proffered hypothesis is even approaching accuracy.
In this context, were the Prime Minister to be charged prematurely with an offence where intent cannot be established, the charge would not stick and it could foreshadow the end of any subsequent investigation.
Today, I put a series of questions to Sam Koim, covering the hypothesis I have just presented. His response:
…most of your questions border on matters that we are investigating and [as such, I] can’t comment…
The investigation is clearly ongoing.
Yet, some supposed ‘corruption fighters’, would wade in, in their hobnail boots, guns blazing, where angels fear to tread, not even aware that their guns are loaded with blanks – not serious corruption fighters but, cowboys – loose cannons.
Sam Koim and his team need to be left do their job, without the pressure of someone’s need for instant gratification and/or headlines.
Addendum: This article, is not the result of ‘inside information’. It is a hypothesis based on the art of the possible.
If the hypothesis holds, it does bring up yet more questions: For instance, if the letter was not written or authorized by the Prime Minister then who? – And if the PM was tricked into signing, who tricked him?