Gentle man, Peter O’Neill, the Prime Minister of Papua New Guinea.

By PNG Echo

Peter+O'NeillThis writer is often accused of “bias” towards the current government generally, and its head, Peter O’Neill, particularly.

There is no bias, just a considered opinion – between the two, there is a vast difference.  Here’s where my reflections led me and how I got there.

Criticism and defence.

Firstly, I am not uncritical of the O’Neill government.  For instance, I don’t think the Prime Minister is paying nearly enough attention to eradicating violence against women. I have added my voice to this issue and will continue to do so. However, it is not this issue that has drawn the most criticism of him.

When we believed there was hope. Before the disappointment set in: Women celebrating the 22 reserved seats that did not eventuate. Shame on you MPs.
When we believed there was hope. Before the disappointment set in: Women celebrating the 22 reserved seats that did not eventuate. Shame on you MPs.

More remarked upon is the PMs alleged corruption. During his tenure as Prime Minister, O’Neill has been dogged by rogue members of an undisciplined police force on a witch-hunt started by a government agency (TFS – who has been accused of being politically compromised) that firstly exonerated him and then changed its mind when it looked like the agency would not be recommissioned.

Paul Paraka - PM implicated in his alleged fraud
Paul Paraka – PM implicated in his alleged fraud

Under the circumstances, that his detractors are expecting the Prime Minister to be subdued and vanquished without a fight is surprising, especially since the prosecution of this case is little more than a blatant attempt to usurp the position of Prime Minister and thrust the nation into turmoil.

Not to submit to vexatious litigation with those sorts of consequences is not an immoral act, but rather, a virtue.

Remember, never has the Prime Minister stepped outside the law in his own defence. Yet, the people who oppose him are very happy to do so – to act ultra vires with scant regard for the consequences.

While the Prime Minister’s detractors are happy to bring down the system to effect their witch hunt, the Prime Minister is acting responsibly, upholding the idea of a liberal democracy and the rule of law – as one would expect of a Prime Minister.

The UBS loan was controversial
The UBS loan was controversial

Then there is the handling of the economy: it is so easy to make hay while the sun shines- but PNG is a resource-based economy and the sun isn’t shining on this sector globally. This government has not had a broad-range of alternatives with which to work and they have made their choices – choices that have been severely criticized.

However, it is only in retrospect – with 20/20 hindsight – that it will become apparent whether the choices have been wise ones.

Would another government have made different choices? Maybe. But the upshot is that they would have still had the same unfavourable context in which to operate, the same inherited conditions – many of which forced the hand of this government and would have done the same to any other.

One can predict all one likes but economics and the market do not always act predictably.

The Wasa Bridge - a dubious contract award involving Opposition Leader, Don Polye
The Wasa Bridge – a dubiously awarded contract award involving Opposition Leader, Don Polye.

On other matters: some criticisms, like the awarding of inflated government contracts to inappropriate contractors, are as old as the nation itself and the practises are steeped in PNG traditional custom. This is not a new invention by the O’Neill government.

My point: The issues for which the Prime Minister has gained the most severe criticism – down to criminal accusations, have all been those that involve money – alleged sins against property.

A gentle man of politics
A gentle man of politics

Never once has O’Neill been accused of brutality against his people.  

It is why I am perturbed when people in the social media compare him to leaders such as Idi Amin, Hitler and Ferdinand Marcos.

All these leaders were brutal murders.

Amin murdered an estimated 500,000. He was known as the ‘Butcher of Uganda’. From the military, he was an ambitious soldier, whose arsenal included the frequent use of torture.

Indeed, Ferdinand Marcos of the Philippines employed 88 government torturers to help maintain his dictatorship under martial law.

Hitler committed genocide – arguably the most heinous of crimes against humanity as he sought to obliterate the Jews off the face of the earth. However, I believe that he was a dab hand at handling the German economy –

These men resemble O’Neill NOT AT ALL:

The abovementioned heads of the murderous regimes all maintained power and control by acting extra-legally – just as those opposing the Prime Minister are trying to do – NOT the Prime Minister.

They breached the wall and the pigs ran in…

I am persuaded by this
I am persuaded by this

Papua New Guinea has a Prime Minister who respects the rule of law and is a gentle man – this cannot be said of many of his opponents.

While the government now, as in the past, has often affected lives negatively by omission, with this government it has never been, and I believe never will be, by commission. It’s a decent basis for a country with, admittedly, a long way to go.

I am most persuaded by this.

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14 thoughts on “Gentle man, Peter O’Neill, the Prime Minister of Papua New Guinea.

  1. No Brutality? Susan you must be mad! What about the increasing violence by Police on civilians around the country. It is getting worse. A leader is only as good as his followers. Respecting the rule of law also doesn’t necessarily mean O’neil he is right. The law cannot justify a person even though proper processes have been followed legally. Morally and ethically, what are your thoughts on his leadership patterns.

    • I am talking of his own brutality or state-sanctioned brutality – as was practised by Idi Amin, Saddaam Hussein, The Shah of Iran et al. I’m tired of O’Neill being likened to these murderers. You have no idea the significant downturn in your fortunes that would occur if you ever got someone like that for a leader – and you have a few wannabes with potential.
      O’Neill is not without his faults – by all means criticize him on those – but to make these comparisons is just spiteful and vicious and factually incorrect – ie WRONG.. As for the police brutality-in PNG it’s shocking, I agree. O’Neill has been at the forefront of tackling that and I believe there are more reforms about to be announced – according to the Press releases that have been coming out of the PMs office and the Press Office for the Police. So, by all means, be critical, but direct your criticisms more usefully.

  2. I will only believe that our Prime Minister is truly against corruption if he sets up an ICAC, has decent people appointed to lead it and gives it adequate funding because actions speak louder than words.

  3. Police commissioners changed twice in his reign as PM, rumors already in the streets are that Gray Baki will be replaced soon. The writing is crystal clear on the wall; O’Neil doesn’t give a dam shit about police brutality etc. As long as his interests are protected by the police force; doesn’t really matter legally or illegally.

  4. Susan thanks, in PNG we don’t appreciate the good things done by someone but criticize people for the bad things. Criticism is good but in PNG’s perspective, we criticize without knowing very well the subject, we criticize based on our limited/narrow mind, without thinking outside the box and criticize without offering alternatives, and even make dump criticism. Even if you argue with a PNGeans, they offer no facts but very low standard, dump arguements and threatening words.
    Given the political situation in PNG, social media commentators sees fit for somebody to fill the role of the PM by easily comparing the performance, and the allegations that are yet to be proven in court. Many factors, such as PNG political environment, past corrupt practices by past government, non-effective public service, .e,t.c, has contributed to the issues, we must not judge the PM by the allegations made by politically connected people. Corruption has been existing and institutionalized. The institutionalized corruption hasn’t just popped up in Peter O’Neil’s era, it has been there before. Even the current government alone cannot and will not eradicate corruption. It’s embedded with the attitudes and culture of our people, thus, not the government or any tom, dick and harry eradicate it. It’s in the minds of ordinary PNGeans and is becoming a norm, wantokism and bribery are the worse, PNGeans working in private organizations are practicing that and we know that.

    Now, If the anti-corruption organization and NGO concern put the nations interest first, than the timing of their investigation into the current PMs allegations should be correct, because PM could still use any legal means to put to rest such using the privileges and powers vested in him if he thinks the investigations are compromised. Now their slogan is for the PM to resign, this is something PM considered politically motivated. PM is not elected by anti-corruption groups; PM is elected by the people of PNG through their mandated leaders, almost three quarter (3/4) of the 111 MP are with the Government, which is the overwhelming support, some people seem fit to pop up propaganda campaign through the use of social media, trying their best to lure support from ordinary people while we are appreciating and seeing so many changes happening around the country. And those vocal PO haters are no other than the failed politicians themselves.
    These people have polluted the minds of PNGeans because they put their self-interest first, not the nations. By far Peter O’Neil is the most effective PM in this short history. And currently there’s no MP ready for the PMs post, except few such as Basil and Juffa. Let PO serve his term and see what happens instead of succumbing to false prophets “economic dooms and gloom’s” propaganda.

  5. We all have our ups and downs. I like O’Neill for his practical approach in many respects. But two things he did that disappointed me: 1) Failed to show up at the police station to answer questions relating to allegations against him; 2) Going to great lengths to frustrate 1). All other matters are irrelevant unless you want to major in minors…

  6. Dont wait until the sun shines but prepare tools to make hay. Exactly the mind of the current government.
    PNG politics is based on the constitution more indirectly expressed in their criticisms. It is not direct but a mere reflection of the peace that the fore leaders left behind during their reign.
    You touched the sensitive part of the thing and it reacted. You shouldnt have done that for the good of the majority.

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