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.

O'Neill/Namah - established TFS
O’Neill/Namah – established TFS

Looking at the evidence: as Task Force Sweep was established by the O’Neill/Namah government – (with both the Prime Minister and the Deputy Prime Minister having been tainted by allegations of corruption, many of which had neither been seriously investigated nor adequately explained away) – it’s my contention that Sam Koim was expected either to fail or to toe the government line.

He didn’t and he hasn’t.

Disgrace MP, Paul Tiensten
Convicted MP, Paul Tiensten

In spite of low expectations, Sam Koim was achieving the sort of results that no investigator before him had. The conviction of the once powerful Member of Parliament, Paul Tiensten, was something, the likes of which PNG had not experienced before.

But Sam Koim was always destined to be ‘damned if he did, and damned if he didn’t.’

The chalice was poisoned.

Sam Koim has (until his recent trip to Australia) relied on the law as his only weapon – at least as far as I know…and it’s proving not to be up to the task – corruption fighting back with every weapon in its powerful arsenal.

No one is above the law…

…is a platitude especially when used by the Prime Minister himself. Neither is it particularly accurate, especially when the other two arms of government – the executive and the legislature – can successfully conspire to keep any matter away from the courts (who are, hopefully, still independent but alas not without their own accusations of bribability).

PMs machinations not particularly subtle
PMs machinations not particularly subtle

It’s not as if the political machinations of the Prime Minister have been particularly subtle – they haven’t.

They’ve been brazen and quite often, patently self-serving, in particular the appointment of Geoffrey Vaki as Police Commissioner.

No matter from what angle you view the appointment of Vaki, it is impossible to find any other explanation given his actions since being appointed – actions that had one solicitor, temporarily involved in the case of the stay of the Prime Minister’s arrest warrant, asking what side he (the solicitor instructed by the Police Commissioner) was supposed to be on?

This appointment has put sitting Judge Kariko between a rock and a hard place. The law, exemplified by the courts, is an adversarial process – if there’s no one to oppose, there is no case.

Now, all parties before the court, want the same thing – for the warrant of arrest to be stayed. The newly appointed Police Commissioner has even gone one step further in to facilitate this goal and has applied to have the warrant quashed in another court.

Newly appointed Police Commissioner Vaki wants all the files pertaining to the Paraka case.
Newly appointed Police Commissioner Vaki wants all the files pertaining to the Paraka case.

Then, in the most sinister off all moves, Vaki has asked for all records pertaining to the Paraka matter to be handed over to him.

The moving about of records tend to see many being misplaced or disappearing – it’s happened before.

In the NPF scandal, records that were used to form the recommendations of the Commission of Inquiry, who named many people (including Peter O’Neill) disappeared and/or were not available for subsequent prosecuting authorities.

The allegations against Peter O’Neill never reached the courts, there was no longer any evidence extant. I’d hate to see this happen again.

Suggested solutions


There are only two things that will force the Prime Minister to submit to the courts and the first is ‘people power’ – except in Papua New Guinea, the protest movement is weak, itself tainted by corruption, is politically compromised, has no credible leader and hence no cohesion.

The other is if other Members of Parliament, with their collective consciences twinged by the brazen manipulations of the Prime Minister, were to insist on it.

Hitler was only defeated when his generals turned on him. (Although I am not suggesting that Peter O’Neill is in any way comparable to Hitler – just the situation).

The MPs stand in support of the PM
The MPs stand in support of the PM

However, with four more MPs joining (or seeking to join) the PNC last week, support is galvanizing behind the Prime Minister – not vice versa.

PNG loves a winner – and I’ve noticed, that those that have been silent in the euphoria created by the arrest warrant are now feeling more confident to speak out in support of the Prime Minister and there are others switching allegiances to what looks more and more like the winning side.

In this context the law is impotent and integrity is a dangerous luxury – ask Sam Koim.


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13 thoughts on “Koim’s Poison Chalice

  1. The ball is in his (Sam Koim’s) court, let’s see whether he can pull this whole circus off. Either way, good luck and God speed to him

  2. it is a very delicate situation and I had taken you wrongly…Power must come from those who cite PMs involvement who themselves must be credible..claims for impropriety themselves must be proven beyond reasonable doubt…as a company by background physical evidence is critical or record of interview must be consistent

  3. All aveanues have either been exhausted or compromised with the accussed PM, therefore the only hope for the people of PNG is the judicary. We all praying that let justice be made at the courts.

  4. All aveanues have either been exhausted or compromised with the accussed PM, therefore the only hope for the people of PNG is the judicary. We all praying that let justice be made at the courts. If the judicary is also compromised then what will it be like?

  5. Mr. Koim is a God Fearing Christian. When you touch God’s anointed, you are dealing with God.
    However, the PM is determined to nail him by getting others to check Mr. Koim’s books on the use of Task Force Sweep money. There is rummor of Koim has property in Australia and PNG valued above a normal lawyers salary. This rummor may be misleading since Koim may draw a contract and high risk allowances.
    The PM changes the Investigation team and the Police Commissioner who requested all investigation files to be surrended to him. And he has attempted to give his consent for withdrawl of PM s warrant of arrest.
    PNG is reaching a sorry state.
    I as a Christian know that the more PM tries to conseal the truth and fight back the Tari warrior way, still God’s ways are higher than mens ways. He will face health problems or die suddenly like his former party leader PM Bill Skate.
    There is a little more to share but as I write I start to feel the pain on my stomach ulcer. I have talked about CORRUPTION for the last 4 years and it is like having a full meal. Enough is enought. LEADERS CHANGE YOUR WAYS. REPENT AND RECEIVE JESUS CHRIST AS YOUR LORD AND SAVIOUR. Jesus is the only way the truth and the life Bible John 14:6.

    • Amen! Amen! to that David. Our God is watching us from Heaven above and has not forsaken nor turned his back on His children who are fighting for justice for the silent majority. God Bless PNG!!!

  6. Provoking as usual. And of course accurate. It is indeed a sad pity that the ACTING police commissioner has seen fit to act as he has. And to be honest, Vaki is no bag of roses. In fact, one would say he should not even be appointed as a commissioner of police (or even the CIS). His actions confirm his lack of respect for the office he temporarily holds. In fact the badge of rank he is is photographed in is that of the Police Commissioner. Vaki acting in the role must wear his substantive rank – which is unclear at this time. What was he reinstated as anyway; assistant or deputy commissioner?
    The politicians appear to be lame ducks just serving their own selfish self interests as usual. Not one of them had the guts to join the protesters! Although they were all in POM for the parliament sitting. Even the ones who come out on FB screaming and shouting about corruption. Scared of losing their DSIP funds?
    The courts are still dilly dallying and always deferring the matter for the arrest warrant. And now O’Neil is giving conditions for him to surrender! I mean really!!!
    By the way Susan, if you will recall Australia was the first to “recognise” the legitimacy of the O’Neil era in the face of a PNG Supreme Court ruling that his was an unlawful government. Reminiscent of Chamberlain saying Hitler was just making noises and would not do anything, don’t you think? WW II erupted soon after. Maybe not WW III here but there is a lot of dissatisfaction going on and you really cannot continue to plug a volcano’s crater and hope it does not explode one day can you?
    Anyway I hope you get someone in the Australian government to come to their senses and do the right thing now rather than later. After all, what is the point of sending Australian soldiers to die in Afghanistan when the situation here is of more importance to Australia’s national security interests? Or do they think they can pour oil on the turbulent waters their inaction creates later?
    I don’t know but maybe I’m just confused but I certainly hate what is happening in my country now.

    • Paul, thanks, as always for your comment. Please see my previous article on why I think Australia will not intervene. I am apt to agree that Australia’s dealings with their Pacific neighbours has often left a lot to be desired – it is another reason I think that Sam Koim’s veiled appeal for intervention (however he cared to spin it) was naive. I would not trust this Australian government (in particular) as far as I could throw it.

  7. Paul, Why will Australia interven into something of an independent state of PNG. This is not a War. We have a Laws and this country to solve the problem. we have not exhausted all avenues. Stop crying out loud like a baby, we have people in this country and we can manage this.

  8. Sir Julius Chan said this some years back “the first race is not won by the angels- rather by the others” This has some wisdom. Tomorrow’s days will post the winning formulae. Didn’t the Filipinos showed the world this lesson some years back too? I might be wrong…