Vote of no confidence – a vain hope

By PNG Echo.

PNG - Land of the unexpected. wink wink
PNG – Land of the unexpected. wink wink

In the lead up to this particular session of parliament, anti-government forces have been in overdrive trying to convince the public that a vote of no confidence is eminently reasonable. All this in spite of the bleeding obvious – no likelihood of success.

Land of the unexpected, they said, winking knowingly.

Are they living in some imaginary world where advertising slogans have some magical power?


…it’s a numbers game

9ba976_c5d07659bfff1abe02de8e76e900aaae.png_srz_240_115_75_22_0.50_1.20_0The Peoples National Congress (PNC) of which the Prime Minister is the head has 61 MPs – enough to govern in its own right, but, with the coalition partners, can call on around 100 votes. That only leaves 10% of Members in opposition.

Can we remind ourselves, once again, what democracy means?  Hint: it has nothing to do with rule by a minority of 10%

Clelland Tukana - astute political observer and commenter
Clelland Tukana – astute observer and commenter

What’s more, as one commenter on social media pointed out (thank you Clelland Tukana) if you are going to win a fight, you at least have to get into the ring.

In the first parliamentary session there were 92 MPs – just eight of them from the opposition. Belden Namah – that champion of the fight against corruption and alleged governmental excesses (where’s that ironic font?) who was so vocal in the media leading up to this parliamentary session hadn’t even bothered to turn up.

Nevertheless, as I write (Wednesday) a motion of no confidence has been registered and is waiting for the Speaker to accept.

But really,  is there any hope that the would-be usurpers are capable of pulling this off?  Is there really a window of opportunity there at all or  just a small bolt-hole through which those, bloated with their addiction to power, are trying to squeeze?

Under the circumstances, I guess they’d better be greasing themselves up.

Dirty deeds, done dirt cheap

One of the opposition’s tactics in the lead up to this parliamentary session has been to wind up their sycophants to effect some smear campaigns – especially on social media and blog sites.

Michael Passingan's profile on facebook. A ghost and a troll
Michael Passingan’s profile on facebook. A ghost and a troll

The most despicable effort has been that of Michael Joseph Passingan who wrote an article entitled “A comprehensive analysis of Peter Paire O’Neill: Fraudster or leader?” Under which, the article carried a picture of the Prime Minister with the caption “exposed serial liar.”

Well that points to a well-balanced article, doesn’t it? (Ironic font needed again.) From the get go we’re told how to think: the conclusion we should draw.

Passingan accuses the Prime Minister of many and varied crimes that move from the mundane to the fantastical – from, wholesale looting of public funds to the less-than-veiled suggestion of murder.

Continue reading Vote of no confidence – a vain hope

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Is payback the only game in town? Votes of No Confidence

By PNG Echo.

A vote of No Confidence
A vote of No Confidence

Unless it is sure that a Vote Of No Confidence (VONC) will be successful, I doubt that any one MP, with the exception of those already on the opposition and middle benches, will vote for it – and numbers there are miniscule – not nearly enough for a successful outcome.

Voting against a government that you are a part of displays disloyalty and NO party/coalition ANYWHERE will put up with vipers in their ranks – and rightly so.

A ruling party needs to be able to count on the loyalty of its members or get rid of them. How can a government be effective if they are at constant risk of getting a knife in their back, wielded by someone from their own ranks?

Don Polye - Out on his arse
Don Polye – Out on his arse

Polye found this out, to his detriment.  There is no room for Mavericks in a ruling party/coalition trying to form policy.

Polye lost out big time.  He lost his Ministerial portfolio, his membership of the ruling coalition and also the loyalty of his party who chose to let him go his merry way, without them.

So, if there are plots within O’Neill’s own party/coalition – and that’s probably just idle speculation – they had better be VERY sure of their success or they may find themselves in competition with Polye for the Opposition Leader’s role.

This is the reality of the political situation – and it doesn’t differ elsewhere. 

Australia for instance: Those who backed Abbott are now relegated to ‘no man’s land.’ You want to play power politics, you need to understand the rules of the game. Wishing and hoping is not reality. (Note to Sam Basil).

Juffa, free to swing whatever way he pleases - nothing to lose from the middle benchs
Juffa, free to swing whatever way he pleases – nothing to lose from the middle benches

Gary Juffa is right when he pointed out that it will take a lot of money to effect a VONC in this particular political context.

Some day that may change. That day’s not here.

Besides, I shudder to think of those who’d put their hand up to replace the current PM.

Instead of constantly trying to wrest power it would be more useful if everyone helped the mandated government to govern – there are democratic mechanisms, why aren’t they used, or used more effectively?

Is payback the only game in town?

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People in glass houses…: A timely reminder by Hon Mao Zeming

By PNG Echo.

Hon Mao Zeming deputy leader of PNC
Hon Mao Zeming deputy leader of PNC

The Hon. Mao Zeming, MP, the Deputy Leader of the People’s National Congress Party (PNC) and Minister for Fisheries and Marine Resources, has questioned the motives of one of the Grand Chief, Sir Michael Somare’s, children – the former MP for Angoram and Minister for State Owned Enterprises under his father’s government, Arthur Somare.


While the cameras roll,

said the Hon Zeming, commenting on Somare Junior’s reported intention to stand outside ASC in Australia,

I wonder how eager he will be to discuss his own ministerial record and the charges that were leveled against him in his own political career.

The sins of the son

All 105 of them apparently.

Father and son - the PMs role not a birthright says Zeming
Father and son – the PMs role not a birthright says Zeming

They are charges that were lodged by the Public Prosecutor with the Leadership Tribunal for misconduct in office against Somare Junior in 2011.

However, in a stroke of good luck for him (although not for the unfortunate member of the three-man bench) Somare came out of it unscathed when the Leadership Tribunal was adjourned indefinitely following the passing of a member presiding over the hearing.  And with the loss of his seat in 2012 election, it was thought he’d largely disappeared into oblivion.

But lately, Arthur Somare has risen to prominence as the negotiator for the landowners in the LNG deal and has been eager to defend himself against the charge Prime Minister O’Neill leveled when he said that the UBS loan was necessary to sort out the mess that was left by the previous Continue reading People in glass houses…: A timely reminder by Hon Mao Zeming

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When you’re handed a lemon – make lemonade. The PNG Oil Search shares saga.

By PNG Echo.

Prime Minister Peter O'Neill has hit back at critics
Prime Minister Peter O’Neill has hit back at critics

Prime Minister, Peter O’Neill has defended his government’s position on the controversial UBS loan in the wake of an article published by Fairfax Media saying:

The cost of losses we suffered to the Arabs are far worse than the cost we pay on the loan from UBS.”

He went on to explain:

PNG paid $8.20 when the Somare government agreed to pay $8.50 to the Arabs, Oil Search is our country’s biggest tax payer and one of the largest employers of our citizens so why is it wrong for us to be a stable shareholder in that company?

In reality, this is a question that only time will answer – but the other often overlooked reality is that it was a decision that was forced upon the Prime Minister by the actions of a previous government – that of the Somare government and its Minister Arthur Somare and the disastrous deal with Arab money.

While it is true that there was more than one solution to the situation forced upon this government, it is also true that given the current state of the market, it is moot whether any alternative would have yielded a better result.

The Deal

UBS-small-business-loan-fundReading the information provided in the aforementioned article (written by John Garnaut – son of Ross Garnaut an erstwhile Chairman of the PNGSDP and someone that the Prime Minister declared “unwelcome” to return to PNG) the deal has its weaknesses but it also has its strengths.

Being given that its weaknesses have already been amply explored and exaggerated  – let’s now consider it’s strengths.

Garnaut describes a situation whereby 20-30 of the best financial minds worked 24/7 for two weeks to create a deal that was a win-win-win situation: for PNG, for Oil Search and for UBS.   It was acknowledged that no one else could have offered PNG a deal on better terms than UBS.

And sometimes even the perceived “weaknesses” turned out to be strengths when the Continue reading When you’re handed a lemon – make lemonade. The PNG Oil Search shares saga.

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National court decision: What were they thinking!

By PNG Echo.

COP Gary Baki - His authority must not be undermined - the risk is total anarchy
COP Gary Baki – His authority must not be undermined – the risk is total anarchy

The National Court, in two separate decisions today, have stayed four government directives.  Two against the banning of lawyers Egan and Lambert from entering the country and two against the dismissal of Police officers Gitua and Eluh.

I have not yet been able to ascertain the reasons given for these decisions but I am very concerned with the staying of the disciplinary action against the rogue police officers.

Are the PNG courts fully cognisant of the ramifications of effectively countermanding an internal directive and disciplinary censure of the Commissioner of Police against two of his men?

Section 27 of the Police Force Act states:

The Commissioners decision in respect to the finding of guilt and in respect to penalty for serious discipline charges is final.

And quite rightly so.

One of the primary indicators of a ‘failed state’ is when the government loses control of its disciplinary forces. They are in jeopardy of doing just that as the courts undermine the authority of the Commissioner of Police effectively splitting the force into factions.

What message does this send to the other members of the Police Force as Commissioner Baki tries to improve and control an already problematic police force as far as discipline is concerned?

When people find it necessary to complain about the treatment they received at the hands of the police – maybe they will remember this day and the part the National Courts played in instilling a sense of impunity for undisciplined and rogue behaviour within what can now just laughingly be called the ‘discipline’ forces.

What an irresponsible thing for the courts to do!

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SABLs – The way forward is here!

By PNG Echo

revised_SABL_billboard-small-1The government has received the eagerly awaited blueprint of on how best to implement the findings of the Commission Of Inquiry into Special Agricultural Business Leases (SABLs).

Under the Chief Secretary, Sir Manasupe Zurenoc, the SABL Implementation Task Force has completed its implementation recommendations on the 42 SABL reports and recommendations received from Commissioners Nicholas Mirou and John Numapo.

The Commissioners recommendations were that 30 be cancelled, 11 be suspended, leaving only one legitimate lease.

Sir Manasupe explained that laws dealing with SABLs were complex and ineffective to deal with the revocation of leases, hence the government had sought advice and recommendations on how best to proceed. Amendments to legislation is one of the avenues under consideration.

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

But while there is now no impediment to action on these 42 controversial leases, this is not the case on the remaining leases (around 30).

Government has yet to receive the findings from the third SABL Commissioner, Alois Jerewai and the government will be pursuing avenues to obtain them, according to the Chief Secretary.  He did not explain what action is likely to be taken.

The Chief Secretary commended the work of the committee members, comprising of Dr Laurence Sause (Chair & Policy and Government Advisor), Kutt Paonga (Legal advisor) and Daniel Katakumb (Land Advisor) saying there is now “a clear way to implement the revocation of non-genuine SABL leases.”

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