Mr Popular: Deputy Chief Justice Sir Gibbs Salika

By PNG Echo.

Deputy Chief Justice Gibbs Salika
Deputy Chief Justice Gibbs Salika

It’s official. Deputy Chief Justice, Sir Gibbs Salika, is the darling of PNGs social media (and the mainstream press seems equally impressed.)

Lately, to a wave of public approval, he’s handed down a guilty verdict on the cases of Governor Havilo Kavo – Gulf Province, Member of Parliament for Komo-Magarima, Francis Potape, Former Minister for National Planning and Pomio MP, Paul Tiensten, Commissioner of Police, Tom Kulunga and this week he hit the approval jackpot with his conviction of Jimmy Maladina over the NPF scandal 17 years ago.

An excited headline article in the Post Courier proclaimed: ”

After a 17-year wait the final curtain is about to fall on the National Provident Fund (NPF) saga when its central player – Jimmy Maladina – was found guilty of misappropriating K2.65 million by the Waigani National Court yesterday.

The blogosphere was equally as excited with one commentator saying:

At last justice has been served.

Ah yes, but has it – or has just the need for retribution been slaked?

PNG loves retributive justice – it’s akin to the tradition of  ‘payback’ so beloved of the culture – although this style of justice does little fix what ails PNG (but that’s a subject for another time).

With the judiciary coming in for some severe criticism lately in the press, Sir Gibbs has remained unscathed, buffered by the general popularity of the aforementioned decisions.

DCJ Salika’s record

cover-page1I was first introduced to the now Deputy Chief Justice through the discredited (both legally and factually) Defence Force Inquiry that he chaired. It was the first pointer to the fact that the good judge is not infallible.

Furthermore, curiously, on December 23 last year, DCJ Salika gave an ex parte judgment for Napanapa landowners against the state for K117 million to be paid by the state within 14 days of the judgment. The time limit for the state to file a defence had not even lapsed. The state had until March to file their defence. That was generous of him, wasn’t it?

The lawyers for the state had no trouble getting the judgment set aside on around 6 grounds.

So did the learned Judge also err in the case of Maladina? There are those that think so.

Where’s the evidence?

Jimmy Maladina at Waigani Courthouse.
Jimmy Maladina at Waigani Courthouse.

There was no real evidence presented, neither direct nor circumstantial.

Maladina’s lawyer, John Griffin QC according to a report in The National newspaper stated: “…the state did not show how the fraud was played out at NPF as nobody had testified on it.

Instead, the Judge relied heavily on the 12-year-old Commission of Inquiry Report – but court’s rules of evidence don’t apply in a Commission of Inquiry.  The Commission’s evidence remains untested.

Furthermore, the missing Japanese employees of Kumagi Gumi can hardly be considered reliable when they gave their evidence to the Commission in exchange for immunity from their own prosecution.

Post Courier reported that of the two witnesses who gave testimony (there were supposed to be eight), one was Sir Brown Bai, the outgoing chairman of the NPF board of trustees prior to the appointment of Jimmy Maladina.

According to lawyer, Tiffany Twivey-Nonggorr, quoting from the Commission of Inquiry report, the previous board, headed by David Copeland, lost the fund K200 million without anyone bothering to issue a “please explain?”

Are alarm bells ringing in your head? There’s a cacophony in mine. It’s a matter of ‘reasonable doubt’. There’s so much of it.

Principles count

The Scales of Justice
The Scales of Justice

It is the principles associated with justice that will see justice prevail.

The hero worship of the latest ‘pin up’ boy who will do everyone’s bidding and slake the need for retribution has never worked before. Heroes are always flawed.

What’s more, the people of PNG are fickle – ask Sam Koim who has been both hailed as a saviour and as a traitor with equal venom by the same people according to his latest decision. Yes, DCJ Salika, one minute you are a rooster, the next a feather duster.

DCJ Salika is poised to take the top judicial role before too much longer, he is an important and learned man but he is not bigger than the principle, he is merely a player. Examine the principle.

For my money, Maladina’s case has not been proven beyond a reasonable doubt.

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21 thoughts on “Mr Popular: Deputy Chief Justice Sir Gibbs Salika

  1. All PNGians must stand up to the witness box with concrete evidence just like Sir Brown Bai without any fear or favour. The 8 Japanese Company (Kumagai) directors must also come forward as witnesses. PNG now needs PNGians who are aware of or involved in this transaction, including former NPF staff and Kumagai to give appropriate evidence of the transaction that has transpired. If Kumagai refuses to stand up and give evidence in this case, this company should be totally blacklisted from doing any business in PNG. All assets of Kumagai should be forfeited to the state and Kumagai be told to live PNG.

    • In my humble opinion, this verdict should not have been reached without the good Judge examining all the evidence – which wasn’t presented. No evidence, no case. That’s fundamental


  2. I salute you Chief Justice Sir Gibs Salika. We need really good evidence to help you deliver a favourable judgement on this case. Its now up to PNGians to stand up and give concrete evidence if we are serious enough to fight corruption. If PNGians cannot stand up like Sir Brown Bai, the efforts of all those fighting corruption in PNG goes down the drain. My salute to Sir Brown Bai, you have shown to PNG and the world that you are one of the champions in fighting corruption in PNG.

  3. I say I would back up DCJ Salina anytime !
    He at least has the courage and wisdom to be a worthy Judge ! Full Stop !!!
    The suck up brown nose people who criticise him need to Shut up and learn to be honest for a Change !!!

    • The principles of law are more important than the people called to administer them. Back the principles of law, not slavishly follow one person. DCJ Salika is NOT infallible. The principle is. If he is following the principles of law then he’s a “worthy judge” – if not…. Worthiness does NOT translate to those who do what’s popular.

      • The principles of Law are Equally important to the People called to administer them – in a SOVEREIGN NATION STATE…This is not a colony anymore and we have evolved into a national community somewhat different from what we were in 1974. We have elected legislators duly mandated to make and change our laws!

      • What exactly are the principles of law are you talking about? Analysing your comments, I see that you seemed to be consent about the morality of DCJ decisions than the integrity of the decisions. The courts are the to deter & punish crime not a person. However, it has to be administer it justly. A decision that a judge makes is the sum total of the opinion of the judge, the lawyers assisting in the case and the witnesses/evidence. It is the prerogative of the the presiding judge to hand the decision….the burren of proof always rests with the lawyers….

  4. This piece is interesting…quote “DCJ Salika gave an ex parte judgment for Napanapa landowners against the state for K117 million to be paid by the state within 14 days of the judgment. The time limit for the state to file a defence had not even lapsed. The state had until March to file their defence. That was generous of him, wasn’t it?” End of quote.

    Was the verdict dependent on generousity?

    And by the way this article also by principle is not infallible.

    • I guess, you missed the point, Hans of that little acerbic aside. For the good Judge to hand down a victory and award a substantial amount of money to a plaintiff even before the deadline for a response from the defense, is indeed overly generous to the plaintiffs – and clearly not legally upholdable.

  5. Evidence? Maladina himself testified on record that he received K400G from the Japanese Company; despite there being no evidence of Maladinas’ law firm Providing any ‘Services’. Its obviously a conflict of interest, and is almost likened to ‘Money Laundering’.

    Verdict: Guilty
    DCJ: Thumbs UP

    • Yeah, but “most likely” is not proof beyond a reasonable doubt. This is a court of law, the judge has pledged to be a servant of that law. I’m wondering whether public opinion would have been the same had the convicted been anyone other than Jimmy Maladina – who has been already tried and convicted in the court of public opinion. People tend to love those who agree with them. It’s not Maladina but the principles of law that this case is shaking to the foundations.

  6. I have to say that I completely agree with you in principle. Judges should not be sentencing people, Maladina or any man or woman, without evidence to prove beyond reasonable doubt for criminal matters. I also find it very interesting the turn-around time for Selika to reach a judgement on a very important decision. It seems like his mind was made up before the trial.

  7. Deputy Chief Justice Gibbs Salika is a man of integrity and a top vibrant Judge in Papua New Guinea.We cannot be influenced by politics, money or position to defame someone who is a state respected man.

  8. interesting, to read for and against on these subject a learn person would like to know more
    thank you

  9. Firstly, the court & rule of law layout process for those who are not happy with courts decisions or who think like a judge had err in his decision to appeal against the verdict. The court system had had the view that judges are humans and a not immune from making mistakes does provide an avenue for a review of decisions. My opinion is for the relevant authority

  10. The people lost their savings. Some one has to be responsible. It is only just that Maladina is held accountable because this happened during his watch. I fail to understand this nonsensical arguments about ‘principles’. Looking forward to seeing Maladina head to Bomana.

  11. You are no match for CJ Gibbs. He is full of wisdom and makes his judgments fairly. All corrupt leaders will go behind bars soon, that includes Oneil and his cronies.

    • No, nor he for me. We have completely different skills. Well Jimmy Maladina isn’t, is he? That was a ruling of Justice Salika too.

  12. This article caused much chagrin within the ranks of the ‘anti-corruption’ fighters. (Where’s that ironic font?)
    So much so that an article appeared in the blogosphere entitled ‘WHOSE INTEREST ARE YOU SERVING, SUSAN MERRELL?’ that stated:
    “Dr Susan Merrell has in effect said that the Judiciary of the Sovereign State of Papua New Guinea is not infallible, That amounts to sedition and she must be arrested and charged immediately when she is in the country.”
    But not content to urge the police force to do just that (they didn’t – they had no grounds. It was just emotional irrationality pointed out to them, so I’m told, by Sam Koim) they went on to threaten harm as is their wont:
    “Beware that PNG is no safe haven for you.”
    Ah yes, but that was before Deputy Chief Justice Salika decided to suspend Maladina’s sentence. The latest rhetoric from the pages of the rabid goes like this:
    “This judge should be executed,” writes Greg Kala.
    Ironically, although the article stated: “The Judiciary in PNG today is the last bastion of democracy and can never be questioned by aliens. The JUDGES RULING IS FINAL…” that only seems to apply when the ruing is popular. On the other hand unpopular decisions aren’t final, it seems.
    Yesterday saw a petition being presented to the Public Prosecutor to have the ruling of Maladina’s suspension overturned. What a joke these people are!

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