Koim’s Poison Chalice

A chalice is a ceremonial cup, often bearing a drink that confers upon the drinker a blessing – as in the Christian Eucharist. Traditionally, when someone received a chalice it was in connection with the gaining of high status – it is used in modern times as a metaphor for achieving a high and prestigious office – but what if that chalice does not carry the expected blessing but instead contains poison, asks PNG Echo?

Was the chalice always poisoned?
Was Sam Koim’s golden chalice always poisoned?

It’s no picnic fighting corruption in PNG; just ask Sam Koim.

Koim’s fall from official favour (if not public grace) has been swift and it’s been brutal. In one fell swoop he’s gone from being the investigator to the investigated.

But is anyone really surprised – least of all Koim himself?

When the position of Head of the Independent Task Force Sweep was filled by Sam Koim, he was a Principal Legal Officer at the Office of the Solicitor-General (a relatively junior position).

Mr Koim, who would have been barely 30 years old, at the time and a relatively inexperienced lawyer was being tasked with a huge job. In many cases the people he would be investigating would be the very people to whom he would report. How was that ever going to work?

It was naïve to expect that this glittering chalice that raised Koim up from relative obscurity into the international spotlight to be feted in the halls of such illustrious institutions as Cambridge University came without a price. Continue reading Koim’s Poison Chalice

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The good, the bad and the ugly

The Beatles, the pin up boys of the social revolution that occurred in the 1960’s and ’70s (of which PNG independence was a beneficiary), sang:


But when you talk about destruction
Don’t you know that you can count me out

You say you got a real solution
Well, you know
We’d all love to see the plan [more sarcasm]

But if you want money for people with minds that hate
All I can tell you is brother you have to wait

You know it’s going to be alright…

…but for PNG, is it, asks PNG Echo?

The Beatles could easily have been speaking to PNG in this current climate.


For, as the call gets louder and louder for the Prime Minister to step down – to all those calling for this and, as to the future of PNG, I’m asking: (as the Beatles did a generation before) “I’d love to see your plan.”

Because, while the Leader of the Opposition has called O’Neill “surgical and clinical,” in reality, those are not bad attributes for someone who’s been called to lead a developing nation. (Although, the noun (often implied) following those descriptors was “thief”. Not so good!)

On the positive side, this crisis has heralded some excellent changes, regardless of the motivation, such as SABL cancellations (even if not as widespread as first thought) and the raising of the minimum hourly rate.

Continue reading The good, the bad and the ugly

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Koim: Politically incorrect

By PNG Echo

Beleaguered Prime Minister Peter O'Neill.
Beleaguered Prime Minister Peter O’Neill.

As I put pen to paper, some Papua New Guineans, this morning, will march on the PNG Parliament in protest against the Prime Minister’s refusal to step aside from his post and submit to the arrest warrant taken out last week.

It is their right to do so and I hope the protest goes well.

As far as timing goes, the march coincides with a sitting of parliament – meaning that the police have more powers under laws that protect MPs to ensure that parliament is not interfered with.

It makes the situation more potentially volatile than it would have been had it been organized for another time.

Dirty deeds…done dirt cheap

Some leaders of PNG 'ant corruption movement in the embrace of the Opposition leader
Some leaders of PNG’s ‘anti corruption’ movement in the embrace of the Opposition Leader

Unfortunately, in PNG, the ‘anti-corruption’ movement has a strong taint of political influence and the timing of this crisis is a testament to that.

Neither has the Prime Minister been slow to use some deft political moves to prevent his downfall, including the sacking of dissenting ministers and public servants and the disbanding of Independent Task Force Sweep (ITFS) – the leading agency in the investigation of the Paraka matter for which the Prime Minister is implicated.

What’s more, the head of ITFS, Sam Koim, has been accused, by the Prime Minister, of improper political manoeuvrings and an inquiry has been ordered. Continue reading Koim: Politically incorrect

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Nature hates a vacuum: The potential demise of Peter O’Neill

By PNG Echo

Papua New Guinea has entered very dangerous political waters.

6161009The courts were aware of this when they cautioned restraint after the hearing to stay the arrest warrant of Peter O’Neill. –

Yet both sides are going about, willy nilly, doing the very things that they were cautioned against and which may just land them with a contempt of court charge?

Disgraced  former Police Commissioner Sir Tom Kulunga
Disgraced former Police Commissioner Sir Tom Kulunga

The retired Police Commissioner, Sir Tom Kulunga, was recently convicted of contempt and received a sentence of seven months hard labour.   Not even this has deterred them.

The Prime Minister’s actions are easily explainable – he’s fighting for his very existence.

He’s using political manoeuvring to stack the deck for when he next appears in court. Continue reading Nature hates a vacuum: The potential demise of Peter O’Neill

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All of the 77 evil and corrupt SABL’s are cancelled.

By PNG Echo

Today will go down in the annals of PNG history as a day when something insightful, far-reaching and concrete was finally done about corrupt practises in PNG.  But this is not my story to tell – it belongs to all those that have fought tooth and nail to save the environment.  So over to you Tiffany Twivey-Nonggorr who writes:

Tiffany Twivey-Nonggorr, lawyer and eco-warrior
Tiffany Twivey-Nonggorr, lawyer and eco-warrior

You want to talk about corruption fighting?  Well this government has just killed the biggest corrupt dealing of the past 10 years.

During the Somare government, a heinous scheme of issuing SABLs over large forest areas was created under the guise of Agri/forestry leases.

The Forests Act was amended under the then Forest Minister Belden Namah to allow for large scale clear-felling permits that had never been allowed for over 50 hectares before.  SABLs were then given over hundreds of thousands of hectares of forest under the pretext that the trees needed to be clear felled so that agricultural projects could start.

Belden Namah the Minister (and logger) who altered the laws to allow for the evil SABLs and was first to take advantage in Bewani
Belden Namah the Minister (and logger) who altered the laws to allow for the evil SABLs and was first to take advantage in Bewani

These 99-year special purpose agricultural business leases were given over 5 million hectares of land in PNG amounting to the alienation of 10% of all of the land in PNG.

The leases meant that the peoples customary rights to the land were suspended for 99 years.

Up until these leases were issued, only 3% of the land in PNG had been alienated (taken away) since Independence from the customary landowners and 97% was still held customarily by landowners but within a few years 10% went.

That was the food and social security if 100s of thousands of people just taken from them.

Literally 100s of thousands of hectares of old-growth forest was cleared – with clearance permits obtained for shonky “agricultural projects”.

Alois Jerewai - the recalcitrant SABL Commission
Alois Jerewai – the recalcitrant SABL Commissioner

A commission of inquiry into these SABLs was started – yes there were issues with the reports as only two of the three commissioners submitted their reports [ Editor’s note: Alois Jerewai was the Commissioner who did not table his report – he later went on to become a legal representative of the man who enabled these leases – Belden Namah] – so a ministerial committee was established to pool the findings of the commissioners.

Their work is done.

NEC yesterday declared all of these disgraceful SABL leases cancelled.  They are gone. Continue reading All of the 77 evil and corrupt SABL’s are cancelled.

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The machinations of power: The Prime Minister’s arrest warrant

By PNG Echo

Hon Peter O’Neill, the besieged Prime Minister of Papua New Guinea

The Papua New Guinea Prime Minister, Peter O’Neill’s case to stay an arrest warrant has been adjourned until 25th

The adjournment was in response to the newly-appointed Police Commissioner Vaki informing the court that he consented to the stay and the seeking of consent orders to that effect.

The judge was not convinced of the legality of the move and declined to sanction the consent orders which would also restrain police hierarchy from interfering with junior police investigation (pending the taxation audit) unless he was convinced (by the police lawyer Mawa) that he had the power to interfere with the police functions. 

He gave him until the 25th to file submissions when the matter is due to be back before the courts.  Interim orders stay until then – there will be no arrests in that time.
Continue reading The machinations of power: The Prime Minister’s arrest warrant

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PMs arrest warrant: Facts without context

By PNG Echo.
As this article goes to press, I’ve been reliably informed that the PM and his lawyers are still in court, presumably getting the arrest warrant stayed or overturned

PM - Arrest warrant
PM – Arrest warrant

When ABC Australia’s Liam Cochrane broke the news today that there was an arrest warrant out for the Prime Minister Peter O’Neill in the Paraka matter, it sparked a flurry of jubilation in the social media as the pack that had been baying for the blood of the Prime Minister thought that this was their moment – their vindication – payback.

Continue reading PMs arrest warrant: Facts without context

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Let the courts decide (again)

By PNG Echo

UBS-small-business-loan-fundThe National Court’s decision (June 11) to stay the directive from the Ombudsman’s Commission (OC) forbidding the repayment of the UBS loan until the results of a Judicial Review is heard – is yet another instance of a country that is becoming unnecessarily litigious and overly reliant on the judicial system.

 Excessive legalism

One could be forgiven for thinking that a punitive ‘legalism’ is standing in the stead of sound judgement in PNG.

So concerned are the populace with law enforcement that it serves as a smokescreen for other urgent and relevant questions that so often go begging.

For instance, in the case of the buying of the Oil Search shares: did anyone canvas, or debate, the question of whether it was prudent for a government to be both an investor and the regulator?

Instead, there has been a morbid preoccupation with catching out the dealmakers in an illegal ‘gotcha’ moment by a punitive and vocal PNG mob, believing the punitive approach to be the only way forward. Continue reading Let the courts decide (again)

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Rhetoric over substance: O’Neill not always to blame

“O’Neill-ocracy” screams this morning’s Post Courier (Thursday 5 June, 2014). What could possibly have foreshadowed such a politically unrestrained newspaper headline? Asks PNG Echo

Proposed parliamentary reforms that, according to the Prime Minister, have been put forward by the Registrar of Political Parties (and not by himself or members of his party) are causing unnecessary chagrin, not least of all amongst members of the mainstream press who display a pitifully tenuous understanding that has produced a knee-jerk reaction.

Photo:  Front page 'Post Courier' 5 June 2014
Photo: Front page ‘Post Courier’ 5 June 2014

In particular, newspaper editor, Alexander Rheeney, led this morning’s Post Courier with the hysterical headline “O’Neill-ocracy”.

Rheeney’s main concern is about the proposed restriction of candidates for Prime Minister, (in the case of a successful vote of ‘no confidence’) to members of the sitting ruling party.

Rheeney claims, that this will benefit the current ruling party – in this case the PNC.

Exactly – so far so good – so what’s wrong with that?

Continue reading Rhetoric over substance: O’Neill not always to blame

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Anjo/Ramoi fail: Twivey stays.

By PNG Echo.

Noel Anjo Kolao and Sonja Barry Ramoi have been unsuccessful in their bid to have the PNG courts disqualify lawyer, Tiffany Twivey-Nonggorr and her law firm Twivey Lawyers from representing the Prime Minister in his defamation suit against the two self-styled activists with strong links to the Opposition Leader.

Justice Kandakasi handed down the decision last Monday in an on-the-spot decision at the National Court, Waigani that saw Anjo in attendance but Ramoi absent.

Anjo and Ramoi were ordered by the court to pay the Prime Minister’s costs in the amount of K1500. Continue reading Anjo/Ramoi fail: Twivey stays.

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