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.

Sam Koim - The man of the hour.
Sam Koim – The man of the hour.

Mr Koim claims he has always “followed the evidence,” and events, so far, have borne this out.

Mr Koim steadfastly refused to entertain prosecuting the Prime Minister on charges relating to the 80 million kina fraud that is the Paraka matter, until now, when he says that new evidence warrants it.

This was in spite of considerable pressure in PNG’s noisy social media pages where he was branded a tool of the O’Neill government, himself corrupt and other names too disgusting to publish.

But people move from a rooster to  feather duster (and vice versa) very rapidly in PNG – and Koim, by this arrest warrant, has progressed from social media’s Bête Noire to it’s darling – the hero of the hour.

But, Koim turning up in Australia (yesterday) to lobby the Australian government to intervene to have the Prime Minister prosecuted, is a step too far.  He has seriously overstepped his authority in a move that smacks of political and diplomatic naivety and considerable arrogance.

Australian Interests vs those of PNG (and vice versa)

Julie Bishop, Australia's Foreign Minister may be shocked by the request
Julie Bishop, Australia’s Foreign Minister may be shocked by the request

It was said in the Australian press, in what the Fairfax newspapers have called a “high stakes move,” that Mr Koim will be in Canberra today for talks with Australia’s Foreign Minister, Julie Bishop and other parliamentarians from the other parties.

This is highly improper.

Papua New Guinea is a sovereign nation state.  Diplomatic talks have correct diplomatic channels – none of which have been observed.

Koim has no mandate to speak on behalf of PNG.

What’s more, in the aforementioned PNG social media, a strong vein of xenophobia is being aired with racist slurs against the Prime Minister, in particular (who has a Caucasian father and a PNG mother) and also his lawyer who is “waite” and female.

These same people are those that are heralding Sam Koim as the Saviour of PNG.  There’ll be an internal conflict of interests there as he asks Australia to solve the problems of PNG according to his specifications

Behind the fences on Manus Island
Behind the fences on Manus Island

As far as Australia goes, entertaining Koim will also create a conflict of interests for them.

Australia’s main concern will be the future of the Manus Island Detention Centre and let’s be realistic – when Australia went into partnership with PNG, Australia was well aware that there are elements high up in the PNG government that are corrupt.

It didn’t stop them.

Precedents

It’s said that Koim will ask the Australian government to cut aid to PNG unless O’Neill steps down and faces the charges against him.

Sir Julius Chan, PM who stepped down during Bougainville crisis - now Governor of New Ireland
Sir Julius Chan, PM who stepped down during Bougainville crisis – now Governor of New Ireland

Sir Julius Chan was faced with such an ultimatum during the Bougainville crisis – and it worked.

However, the major ingredient in the Bougainville crisis is missing in PNG at the moment – and that’s violence or armed conflict and egregious human rights’ abuses. Life goes on unabated in PNG – with just the proposed protest march (imminent) as a minor disruption.

What’s more, with Bougainville, one Australian government refused to engage with what was considered an ‘internal conflict’ until such time that the war had escalated to the point of becoming a ‘regional’ problem (which coincided with a change of Australian government).

Another crisis that was considered ‘regional’ was the RAMSI intervention in the Solomon Islands.

But this was also a mission that Australia didn’t embrace happily or readily. The tensions in the Solomon Islands had had many attempted solutions before RAMSI was deployed.

However, quite differently to what Mr Koim is attempting, RAMSI was deployed after the elected Prime Minister of the Solomon Islands, Sir Allan Kamakeza, sent an urgent request.

Sir Trevor Garland, former Honorary Consul-General of the Solomon Islands in Sydney commented that diplomatic requests for assistance only work through constitutionally elected governments and further added that he found Koim’s actions improper.

Australia has learned a few lessons from these regional interventions with the Lowy Institute, after the recent scaling back of RAMSI, seriously questioning what the intervention achieved and opined that the exercise had been a waste of money (and probably effort too) for Australia.

Mr Koim, your efforts in fighting corruption have been stellar – but this is beyond the pale – now you are politicking and you have no mandate.

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13 thoughts on “Koim: Politically incorrect

  1. I agree this is simply improper for Koim to go region-trotting attempting to bolster support for the current agenda (arrest PM).

    David

  2. Australia and Julie Bishop will not waste her time here on Sam and his ‘diplomatic blunder’ put correct by PNG Echo that there are appropriate channels to follow.
    Why the reason turn of events by him after all this time he the opportunity to bring this to PO’s attention.
    Really a waste!

  3. A strong nation is built by wisdom, understanding, and knowledge. There are no shortcuts; cheaters lose in the end; folly only appears to work; riches by vanity disappear. The good life for a family or a nation is only as far away as wisdom. It is the many errors of human thinking that cause economic and financial trouble at every level of society.Every time you cheat financially, you put another nail in your own coffin. Can you discern motives? Can you make righteous judgment? Wise men recognize the temptations and weaknesses of men in order to prudently judge persons and situations. The power and influence of a PM or a top politician, and the money and generosity of the wealthy, attract fawning sycophants and leeches. The many that beg for favors from the powerful, and every man that befriends the wealthy, are generally unfaithful and dangerous men.Now, who is Sam Koim here? oh yeh! the young man who served on a golden plate by the current regime of PNG, who was trusted by the top politician to stand beyond the path of corruption. Now, who among you can refuse the golden plate like Sam Koim did? who among you can say NO to sin and YES to righteousness? who among you can bestowed your “opportunity” unattended to be tabled as vacant? who among you can stand tall to preserve your dignity without bias or nepotism to punish violators in any means? In a nation where corruption is irrefutable, culminating the three sectors of Government, it takes a strongest, toughest and a gallows heart to fight against corruption. Sam Koim held liable to his position and do what he can without fear or favor for the 7 plus million population of the nation of Papua New Guinea. God bless PNG.

  4. Koim has taken the lead to fight corruption thus far so good. He has alerted the nation of how corruption has grown roots. Koim did it to safe the 7 million plua population. However, to seek Australia’s aid to help us to solve our problem isn’t good enough.
    He should persist with what good he,s doing for the country. Yes we can see how corrupt is the government of the day. Maybe we should all call for a nation wide strike and the PM will vacate his seat.
    I’m sorry if Koim tried to seek Australias help. But if some forms of laws that encourage it then fair enough. This is a soverein nation built on fundamental principles and based upon democracy and not dictatorship.

  5. I believe the whole point of exposing all those involved in corruption is to put a stop to their stealing and have them prosecuted and punished for their crimes. The issue here now is the finger is pointing clearly in the direction of the PM in some of the biggest cases of rampant corruption and it had to take one brave lawyer/investigator and a couple of brave policemen to do what no one dared or wanted to do. I take my hats of to these guys. The PMs drastic actions of late does make one wonder if he truly is guilty and trying to cover up something.

  6. Think we all jumped guns here… Sams visit to Australia was not to solicit sympathy from the Australian Govt… rather he was there for a different occasion. That much is clear after the dust has settled.

  7. From how I can see it, he did everything he can to remove the corrupted politician who is the very person that is running the nation under his government. If Koim had gone through the right channels, I bet nothing would have happened because of the situation of the government that is in right now. We all can see that the PM is doing everything he can under his power to clear his name when actually there is evidence that he authorized illegal sum of money to the Paraka Lawyers. So I think Mr Koim did a brave thing to fly to Australia to talk about the matter in hand. I am sure Koim did not do it alone. There is other ministers who are supporting him and I am certain that they thought of every possible way as well as using right channels and what the outcome it would have. My point is, Mr Koim did the right thing. God Bless PNG.

    Concerned Citizen.

  8. I don’t think journalists should be putting words into other peoples mouths. There is no mention in Sam Koim’s interview of withdrawing aid and as per the same media you received your information i.e. facebook he has stated that he did not fly down on his own accord but upon the invitation of Transparency International.

    • And neither should you be putting words in mine, Brendon – my words are chosen very carefully to reflect the reality. Read again and note what I actually said. Your prejudice is showing.