By PNG Echo
In a press statement issued earlier this week, Belden Namah, leader of a rapidly diminishing parliamentary opposition, vehemently denied that the defection of his MPs had anything to do with defective leadership and everything to do with the lure of money. (A considerable irony, given his admission of using K50 million in the 2012 elections to buy votes and loyalty – yes Mr. O’Neill, I’m with you: where did that come from?)
Back in June of 2012 I wrote
It’s a sad spectacle to see Namah on the campaign trail, trying to buy admiration. Showing off his expensive toys – an aircraft here, a landcruiser there, everywhere bundles of cash – never realising that people are more interested in his money than in Belden Namah. He is attempting to buy with money something he never will be able to – admiration is not for sale.
Yesterday, the Prime Minister begged to differ with the denial saying that the defecting MPs had ‘lost confidence” in Namah’s leadership:
His abrupt and aggressive style of leadership is unheard of in Melanesian communities and [in] Melanesian style of leadership,
the Prime Minister stated.
Indeed, in the same aforementioned article, more than two years ago, I asked the question:
…[W]hen will pride become more important than money [to the Melanesian ‘Bikman’]? How many more times will veteran politicians…such as the Highlander and former Deputy Prime Minister, Don Polye, put up with being publicly told to “F**king shut up?” How much longer will Peter O’Neill, want to entertain a deputy or coalition partner that openly and publicly challenges superior authority, not understanding ‘chain of command’ in spite of all his military training.
For some the reply to the question “when” was “soon”. Others took longer, but none have remained (save maybe for Allan Marat – but, then again, maybe not).
The Prime Minister dismissed the suggestion that the government had played “dirty politics” withholding the DSIP funds from opposition members. This notwithstanding, I can recall a proportion of the defecting members using this justification to publicly condone their actions.
Conversely, speaking on conditions of anonymity to Post Courier’s Gorethy Kenneth, many confirmed and singled out the “…leadership of Mr Namah as the reason for their departure.”
Why should these defecting MPs say one thing in public and another in private – could fear be the governing factor?
The fear factor
Harking back to my article of 2012 – I postulated, from my own limited experience of Namah, that my impression (backed up by his own admission) was that he may have been suffering the effects of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) from his experiences in the Bougainville War together with his subsequent incarceration. I wrote:
“Frightening” was how the WWI correspondent described those with shell shock (or PTSD) and frightening was how I found Namah, he had certainly [on this particular occasion] “lost control of himself”. The hate in his eyes was chilling.
And it seems I’m not the only one to find him “frightening” in personal dealings: a lawyer who is close to the O’Neill/Namah government and often gives advice or acts for one of them admitted in an internet conversation “…I’m actually a bit scared of him.”
But it’s not only in private that Namah’s actions are frightening. His whole demeanour is intimidating especially his propensity to respond to a challenge by shouting. His words are not wise, they are just loud.
This is the same abrupt and aggressive demeanour spoken of by Peter O’Neill.
All that makes it ironic that Namah’s breathless acolytes while attempting to put a positive spin on a disastrous political reality likened Namah to the majestic eagle that soars high and alone.
What these eager analogists missed was that the eagle is concerned only for himself. Namah is not operating in that context – or is he? What’s more the eagle preys on the weak and vulnerable to which it shows no mercy? This analogy is not a triumph of Namah’s PR machine.
Blame it on the Barmy Army
A commenter on many social media pages, Amos T. Wama wrote:
…back in January 2014…things were seriously wrong [in the Opposition camp]…the opposition was willing to ride out the ranting and raving of the ‘rent-a-crowd’ voices on corruption through social media…The hope was for the social media and its cascading impacts on the general public to overthrow the legitimate government. It did not.
He went on to explain why he thought they were not successful – not least of all being that many PNGeans do not have access to electricity let alone the Internet. In the words of Homer Simpson “d’uh.”
In Papua New Guinea, after the elections, all power moves from the hands of the people into the hands of the peoples’ representatives. Short of a peoples’ revolution, which is unlikely in PNG, it is the hearts and loyalties of the peoples’ representatives that need to be won by a leader. Namah has failed spectacularly to do this believing that the strident and adoring voices of the Barmy Army could substitute.
A good leader should surround himself with even better advisors, whereas Namah’s put his faith in the ‘Barmy Army’ – not necessarily for their expertise (amongst all of them, they have precious little) but because they flatter his ego
Namah’s always been hypocritically pious (who can forget his ‘JOY’ election campaign slogan) but encouraged by the Barmy Army, Namah’s rhetoric has taken on a messianic flavour.
For Namah there was not a ‘defection’ but an ‘exodus’. He does not ‘predict’ he ‘prophesizes’.
Namah seems to be fashioning himself an all-seeing ‘Prophet Martyr’ of biblical proportions. He’s openly stated that: “One man is a majority with God.” I’m assuming he’s talking of himself (hopefully he sees himself as the “man”, otherwise things are more dire than I think.)
I wonder whether the Lord was there when he did the shady and amoral Bewani deal that made him a rich man? Was God beside him at the Star Casino in Sydney when he was engaging in at least five of the seven deadly sins? Was He acting as chief advisor telling Namah to “deny, deny, deny?” I don’t think so.
Suicide bombers who kill innocent people think they have God on their side. The Israelis who continue to bomb Gaza think they have God on their side. They don’t and neither does Namah.
Namah needs to face up to his own substantial shortcomings and put the blame for the decimation of the Opposition exactly where it belongs, on his own inadequate shoulders.