Manus Island Detention Centre – Who’s running PNG?

By PNG Echo.

Behind the fences on Manus Island
Behind the fences on Manus Island

Firstly, let me go on record as saying that I couldn’t be happier that the abomination that is the Manus Island Detention Centre will soon cease to exist.

It has gone way beyond my ken to think that one government could conceive of such a place and another government go along with it and I said so, many years ago.

But forgetting about the asylum seekers (which they did) this treaty allowed political jockeying to strip both governments of all vestiges of humanity, to put political self-interest before the rights of the most unfortunate men, women and children.

Thank goodness at least one player, Papua New Guinea, has come to its senses, at last. But with the stone already thrown in the pond the ripples are bound to continue.

The politics.

aus8_manning-phiddian_6
What a tragedy, they’ve drowned before we could turn them into an election issu

The reasons this treaty was signed were at best cynical:

At the time, the then Australia Prime Minister Kevin Rudd was in his death throes and thought this punitive, but popular policy in Australia, would pull him out of the doldrums – it didn’t – and it suited subsequent Australian governments to leave it in place. No asylum seekers on the shores of Australia means one chronic political headache (regardless of the reaction to asylum seekers in Australia being out of all proportion to the scale of the problem) was solved. Now gimme them votes.

As for Papua New Guinea, I’m supposing that, in return, a substantial monetary consideration (aid) was negotiated (although, I have read the latest Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) between Australia and PNG – and the exact quid pro quo is not articulated). But more than this, knowing what a political hot potato ‘boat people’ are in Australia, for the PNG government to have done Australia such a huge favour gave PNG considerable political leverage with the most powerful nation in the Pacific.

It suited Prime Minister O’Neill, who has been trying to maintain PNGs sovereignty against intrusions by it’s nearest neighbour and former colonizer, with OkTedi springing immediately to mind.

So, with Manus in his arsenal of negotiating tools the pendulum would have seemed to always be in PNGs orbit. – just how the Prime Minister wanted it.

But, regardless of the reasons, it was, nevertheless, a signed treaty between two sovereign nations – a pact, however Faustian

Now, one party wants to resile – to break the agreement.  There are bound to be consequences.

Possible consequences

Dutton-16615-newdaily-1
Australia’s Minister for Immigration, Peter Dutton

It’s all very well for the Australian Immigration Minister, Peter Dutton, to state that the court decision in Papua New Guinea is not binding on Australia, because while he may be right, it’s binding on Papua New Guinea, and when Papua New Guinea sneezes, Australia will catch the same cold.

And Australia is going to be kicked out, just like they were when the Supreme Court ruled the Enhanced Cooperation Program unconstitutional under the Somare government.

For Australia, the situation must not only be inconvenient but just a little irksome in that the MOU between the two countries states that

The participants may jointly decide to vary this MOU in writing.

About this decision there is no “jointly’ – only a unilateral decision by PNG.

It is an internal problem that has become a headache for an international partner – and an important partner at that..

As in so many cases recently in PNG, the problem involves the Executive at odds with the Judiciary.

It’s really not good enough for the PNG government to say that there’s little they can do because the Supreme Court has spoken – all of these little glitches should have been ironed out before the treaty was signed.

For PNG to come to the conclusion that the treaty is unconstitutional, almost 4 years after the signing of the initial agreement is criminal. Someone should have been dotting the i’s and crossing the t’s before the fact not engaging in crisis management like this.

I can’t imagine that this incident won’t damage the reputation of PNG internationally. I’m sure that PNG will be eyed with some suspicion and approached with some caution when it comes to any bilateral, multilateral or any other international treaties for some time to come.

I know, were it me negotiating, I’d want to know who was running the country and I’d certainly ask for Judicial assurance before I’d do business with PNGs executive – the incident has affected the credibility of the executive government.

By all means fight the internal battles – but for international purposes PNG should have a united front

…but you promised

Hon Ronny Knight, current MP for Manus
Hon Ronny Knight, current MP for Manus

What’s more, there are many people in Papua New Guinea who had pinned their hopes on the continued operation of the detention centre, especially Manusians – and they’re not going to be happy either.

Already Hon Ronny Knight, Member for Manus is panicking. He told the press:

If it has to be closed down it has to be closed down, but we still need our roads fixed.  It’s not our fault this happened – we’ve been promised certain things still yet to be fulfilled.

Mr Knight has tried to distance himself and his constituents from Papua New Guinea – and he can’t.

Papua New Guinea has reneged on the contract (and by association Mr Knight and his constituents). It will not be fulfilling its part of the bargain – how can he then expect Australia to fulfil theirs?  PNG is at fault as far as the breaking of a pact is concerned, how do they expect that they will emerge unscathed?

In history, wars have been fought over broken treaties, national sanctions have been imposed –  I doubt that Australia is considering anything like this and may even decide to bow out gracefully, but now, Papua New Guinea has lost its biggest bargaining chip. So many bets will be off – the landscape will change.

You’ve heard the saying “marry in haste: repent at leisure,” well I think this applies to this situation too – PNG (and Australia too) signed in haste and they’ll now be forced to repent in their own good time.

ADDENDUM: I have read the Supreme Court judgment, where all five judges (Salika, Sakora, Higgins, Kandakasi and Sawong) are in accord.
In this judgment the main protagonists weren’t forgotten nor ignored (at last). Indeed, Justice Higgins came back to a quote, more than once, that asked if what was happening was

reasonably justifiable in a democratic society having a proper respect for the rights and dignity of mankind?

I think he’s got it – what a shame he’s four years late.

 

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Political shenanigans in PNG: Could the Chief Justice be involved?

By PNG Echo.

Veteran former ABC Journalist and Pacific correspondent, Sean Dorney, has called the recent spate of political and judicial wranglings in Papua New Guinea “stranger than fiction,” but are they really?

Paul Paraka, ignored in favour of the Prime Minister.
Paul Paraka, ignored in favour of the Prime Minister.

It’s about power: wars have been fought for it, sons have killed fathers for it and innocent people have become a victim to it. And while the quest for power is rarely altruistic, hypocritical usurpers often invoke altruism to justify their lust for it.

And so it happens in Papua New Guinea where the desperate, wanting the head of the Prime Minister, say they’re fighting corruption. But how can that be when they ignore the main perpetrator, Paul Paraka, in favour of a dubious political target whose downfall would be beneficial to their goal of taking over government?

So who are they?

We don’t know for sure and it seems that they want to keep it that way – in fact lawyer Tiffany Twivey is of the opinion that her arrest was to prevent her from cross examining Sam Koim, on the witness stand as to the source of his funding.

It’s not lost on me [that] I was arrested the day before this final attempt to try and get the truth out there,”

Twivey stated.

Lawyer Tiffany Twivey
Lawyer Tiffany Twivey

Certainly the public faces of the unholy crusade are Sam Koim, and Fraud Squad officers Matthew Damaru and Timothy Gitua, but they can’t be acting on their own – they couldn’t afford to be, neither in monetary nor career terms.

Anywhere else or in any normal situation that would be sedition,

said Tiffany Twivey of their maverick arrest spree carried out in secret without the knowledge of their boss.

But not so in Papua New Guinea where actions that would be seditious in less unruly contexts are backed by judicial decisions that are often “stranger than fiction.”

For while the political support for the action of the rogue police is self-serving, hypocritical, mal-intended, it is expected – politics is like that.
(I believe that MP Kerenga Kua, sacked attorney-general and Sir Michael Somare’s former lawyer has coughed to the funding in an interview recorded by the ABC correspondent in Port Moresby and about to be aired on Australia’s 7.30 report – if it hasn’t been already.)

But nevertheless, and in spite of the separation of powers, none of this could have happened without the support of certain members of the judiciary whose rulings have oftentimes bordered on the bizarre tacitly condoning the anarchical actions of the rogue police while ensuring they remained answerable to no one.

Judicial decisions

Lately, one can almost predict the outcome of a legal case in matters involving the Prime Minister just by which judge the case will be before.

Justice Colin Makail has made some rulings that defy logic – deciding to hear a case, for instance, out of logical sequence rendering the second case potentially inconsequential, when it shouldn’t be.

Sam Koim - who is funding him?
Sam Koim – who is funding him?

It’s in the matter relating to Task Force Sweep where he decided to hear the substantive case without first hearing the charges of contempt and subjudice contempt against Koim. If Koim is found guilty of such contempt his case could (and arguably should) be thrown out – but it can’t be if it’s already been heard.

And as far as things subjudice are concerned, Justice Makail has recently queried something that COP Gary Baki published and has asked for submissions on whether it is subjudice. However, when Sam Koim published a paid full-page article on the case in the newspapers, not a single judicial eyebrow was raised – and this is in spite of the fact that it was not only subjudice contempt that could be alleged but also Koim was defying a court directive preventing such a breach.

Then there’s Justice Kirriwom who referred lawyers acting for the Prime Minister and Police Commissioner to their statutory body on a wrong premise.

COP Gary Baki - the courts making his job maintaining discipline tough
COP Gary Baki – the courts making his job maintaining discipline tough

Then again, Justice David Allen arguably (and I’m sure the lawyers are preparing to argue this in court) overstepped his jurisdiction by interfering in police administrative matters. His ruling directly contributed to the potentially dangerous situation where, in an attempt to bring his men into line, the Commissioner of Police had to use some of his men against others of them – something he should be never forced to do.

So why do certain elements of the judiciary appear to be politically compromised? Is the Chief Justice implicated?

The Chief Justice

This is a question for which I do not have the definitive answer – but there are things I do know, things told to me, usually in confidence, but always told with believable conviction and with a proviso that their name not be mentioned – one doesn’t cross the Chief Justice (CJ), apparently.

Chief Justice, Sir Salamo Injia - the judiciary's fearsome leader
Chief Justice, Sir Salamo Injia – the judiciary’s fearsome leader

You see, the CJ, ideally considered to be ‘first amongst equals’, is so much more in PNG.  Indeed the name of the Chief Justice, Sir Salamo Injia, is whispered in awe and trepidation in PNG legal circles, I’m told.

“My Lord and Master,” is how one Judge facetiously described the Chief Justice – and while there was certainly an element of tongue-in-cheek sarcasm with that remark, I’ve no doubt that were the CJ to say “jump” the response would be “how high.”

What’s more, the CJ has considerable influence within the Judicial Legal Services Commission (JLSC), which is the body that appoints judges. Although a five-member team makes the appointments, it is said that the CJ dominates.

It was a surprise to most when the late Justice Mark Sevua was not reappointed to the bench. Indeed, I have heard lawyers who’ve appeared before the learned judge wax lyrical about the privilege. However, he had not kept on the good side of the CJ whose dislike for Sevua was manifest when he failed to attend his funeral but left it to the Deputy Chief Justice instead.

The cognoscenti are also aware that there is no love lost between recently-arrested judge Sir Bernard Sakora and Sir Salamo either, (although there is no evidence that connects the CJ with his arrest – just a sneaking suspicion, based on recent bizarre judicial decisions).

So, it is in the best interests of a judge coming up for re-appointment – or indeed any other time – to keep on the good side of this powerful man. I’ve been told by those same cognoscenti that the CJ neither forgives nor forgets.

If that be true, then he would have a considerable grudge against this government over the impasse.

Belden Namah - as he stormed the Supreme Court with his 'storm troopers' to arrest the Chief Justice, mid session
Belden Namah – as he stormed the Supreme Court with his ‘storm troopers’ to arrest the Chief Justice, mid session

And understandably so – I still cringe when I see the footage of Namah storming into the court yelling: “Arrest him.”  How ignominious to the office of the Chief Justice and the Chief Justice himself to have to cower behind the locked door of his chamber against this crass onslaught.

One has to wonder whether this crosses Sir Salamo’s mind when involved political identities come within his jurisdiction – before his courts?  Revenge is a powerful emotion.

Because under the current system, it is the CJ who decides which judges sit on appeals in the Supreme Court – a considerable power – I wonder on what criteria he makes his selection?

For Sir Salamo Injia is a Chief Justice whose conscience and scruples allowed him to stop a legal case against himself and also to disregard the Supreme Court Act to deliver judgment in the second case between Prime Minister O’Neill and Sir Michael Somare after two of the judges of the five-judge bench left – it’s an ominous precedent on how Sir Salamo is prepared to wield his power.

Has he been doing that here – or am I adding 2+2 and coming up with five?

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Maladina Innocent.

By PNG Echo.

Jimmy Maladina - Innocent.
Jimmy Maladina leaving the courthouse after being found guilty

A unanimous decision by a three-man bench of the Supreme Court (Gavara-Nanu, Sawong and Higgins) upheld the appeal by Jimmy Maladina against his two convictions: conspiring to defraud and misappropriation in the National Provident Fund matter (NPF) that reaches back almost two decades.

it’s taken a while to established that Jimmy Maladina is innocent – but he always has been.

Maladina’s conviction was based on conjecture and misdirection and was a clear case where justice was miscarried according to reviewing Judge Gavara-Nanu.

It is all about more of that ‘trite law’ that I wrote about in my previous article on the judicial decision that quashed Damaru’s suspension.

This time, the law that convicting judge, Deputy Chief Justice (DCJ) Gibbs Salika failed to understand (according to his fellow judges) thus allowing him to bring down a guilty finding in the Maladina case, was the fundamental paradigm that western law is built on – the presumption of innocence and the onus of the prosecution to prove guilt beyond a reasonable doubt.

Justice Gavara-Nanu said in his judgment:

The view taken by the trial judge was of course contrary to the law relating to the burden of proof in criminal trials viz; proof beyond a reasonable doubt. The prosecution always carries the burden to prove every element of the offence charges.

Earlier in the document he stated:

…the trial judge had effectively shifted the burden of proof to the appellant to prove his innocence. This is evident from the trial judge’s statement that it was “incumbent” on the appellant to give evidence and explain the issues raised by the prosecution…

This burden [of proof] never shifts to the accused,

Justice Gavara-Nanu said.

But the DCJ had tried to do just that, maybe because there was precious little of prosecution evidence –  and the little that there was available was circumstantial and able to be imagined in more ways than the prosecution had presented or backed up with evidence.

Continue reading Maladina Innocent.

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Is the judiciary overstepping its jurisdiction? The Damaru case.

By PNG Echo.

Damaru and Gitua - The Lone ranger and Tonto
Damaru and Gitua – The Lone ranger and Tonto

Did you know that the Court of Law has no jurisdiction to hear an Originating Summons concerning a suspension of a police officer in an administrative matter except as a Judicial Review?

In the case of Damaru’s suspension, and as far as anyone can tell, Greg Egan and other lawyers for Damaru have not filed for a Judicial Review. Indeed they would have had to have sought leave first and that hasn’t come to anyone’s attention.

So, if Egan sought declaratory orders regarding the suspension outside of a judicial review (and it looks as though he did) then the court has no jurisdiction to effect it.

It’s all to do with the separation of powers – it’s fundamental “trite law”, as one commentator put it (a principle (paradigm) of law so notorious and entrenched that it is commonly known and rarely disputed.)

But however fundamental the legal paradigm, it seems to have escaped Justice Allen David when he stayed the suspension imposed administratively By COP Baki of his officer Matthew Damaru.

And that’s not the only legal paradigm that was seriously shifted in this case.  Justice David heard the case ‘ex-parte’ …but I’m getting ahead of myself.  First things first:

Greg Egan playing 'I've got a secret"
Greg Egan playing ‘I’ve got a secret”

The Judge said that he wanted the parties to come to an agreement on the way forward, but lawyers for the State said that they couldn’t do that as QC for Damaru, Greg Egan, refused to share the court documents with them.

Really, one would think that the wise thing to do under these circumstances would have been for the Judge to have ordered that Egan disclose them so that the parties were both well-informed, enabling them to come to that agreement as to the progression of the case – but did he hell? No he didn’t.

He decided to hear the appeal, ex-parte instead.

This means that Justice David chose to hear the application without any arguments from the defence and without their presence. Why? It was totally one sided.

Now ex parte hearings sometimes become necessary when the opposing parties aren’t available, in order to expedite matters, but the parties for the state and for the police service were all there and the ex-parte route is certainly not one preferred by the courts of justice.

This notwithstanding, the Judge chose to go down (unnecessarily) the least judicially desirable path, thus denying the State and the Police natural justice – the whole thing was one-sided and opposing parties didn’t even know what was being argued.

COP Gary Baki - the courts making his job maintaining discipline tough
COP Gary Baki – the courts making his job maintaining discipline tough

One of the stronger arguments against (apart from the fact that the courts have no jurisdiction), is that to interfere with the Police Commissioner is contrary to the Supreme Court reference  – which recognised the authority of Baki (as Police Commissioner) over his men – but who cares, hey?  No one was listening.

It leaves me wondering whether the Judge is aware of the ramifications of his decision? I mean, the right of the Police Commissioner to have full operational command is fundamental to the stability of the police force – but all efforts to bring discipline into line by Baki is being thwarted – and by the PNG courts.  (Montesquieu would be turning in his grave.)

Besides, there is far too much secrecy surrounding all of this; firstly the Fraud Squad operating on high-profile cases covertly and without the knowledge of the Police Commissioner, then there’s the Fraud Squad and Sam Koim from Task Force Sweep receiving funding from an unknown, and likely inappropriate, source and now Greg Egan playing ‘I’ve got a secret’ with the approbation of a National Court judge,  It’s highly irregular and I’m wondering what they’ve got to hide, aren’t you?

Goodness, I know that sometimes the law is an ass, but this time I don’t think the law was necessarily followed, so who is the ass really…and how do you combat questionable judicial decisions and dubious protocol, because I’ve been dedicating far too much ink to it lately?

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Corruption: Somare’s blueprint – Koim’s selective myopia

By PNG Echo.

Sir Michael Somare the founf=ding father of corruption in PNG - still at it, after all this time.
Sir Michael Somare, the founding father of corruption in PNG – still at it, after all these years.

If you need schooling in corruption, you need look no further than the lessons the founding father of Papua New Guinea, Governor of East Sepik Province and former Prime Minister, Sir Michael Somare, can teach you.

Sir Michael is the chief architect in the shaping of a corrupt political culture that the international diplomatic community describes, in private, as a “dysfunctional blob.”  See article.

The jargon

The jargon of corruption like –  inflated contracts, bribery, kickbacks, travel junkets, unfulfilled contractual obligations, nepotism, lack of transparent accounting, circumvention of process, cronyism, disreputable companies, lying under oath, non-disclosure, payments in the proverbial “dribs and drabs”, conflicts of interest and high-ranking patronage are all here in the story I’m about to tell you.

It’s also a tale that acts as sad indictment of Task Force Sweep’s failure to act on evidence in their possession (and they have all I have and more, and have had it in their possession for three years). It serves to add weight to the accusation that their pursuit of the allegedly corrupt is excessively influenced by politics.

It’s all about a contract involving Papua New Guinea

This particular shady contract has drawn the keen interest of the inscrutable Singapore Public Prosecutor who has charged two of the main protagonists, Lim Ai Wah and her husband Thomas Doehrman, with engaging in a conspiracy to falsify a paper with intent to defraud.

The “paper” was an invoice from a company in the British Virgin Islands (Questzone) to ZTE Corporation (the main contractor in the PNG contract) that was purportedly for supply of goods and services but instead was to collect a commission payment of $US 3.6 million (kickback) for the awarding of said contract in Papua New Guinea (to build community colleges).

The allegedly false invoice was needed to justify highly irregular distribution of the said payment to persons with a clear conflict of interest (which will become apparent as we progress) – that included Doehrman and his wife, the then Prime Minister Sir Michael Somare and his son Michael M Somare (also known as ‘Moox’)

But the Singaporeans have just scratched the surface – this is the stuff Commissions of Inquiry are made of – and God help us, we need another Inquiry (when will they invent an ironic font?)

The case in Singapore is ongoing.

Background to a rort

It was an accepted proposal that community colleges would be built across PNG to educate people who had ‘dropped out’ or had been otherwise unable to complete their education.

In 2010, PNG Department of National Planning kicked in K56 million, K90 million was provided by a loan from the Chinese Exim bank ($US36 million), a further amount of K10 million was drawn from RESI funds for which the payee, originally the East Sepik Provincial Treasury Office was later changed to the Merienburg Community College Trust Account.

That’s a grand total of K156 million

A trust was set up to administer the funds (LTE) ZTE Corporation was appointed the lead contractor.

Paid contracts, unfulfilled

There were 17 proposed colleges, two of which were to be privately funded, 15 to be funded by monies administered by the LTE trust.

According to a report by the Department of Education dated 19 June, 2013 the status is:

  • 2 – completed and operational
  • 3 – completed
  • 1 – ready for construction
  • 9 – not established due to land disputes

But others have informed me there is absolutely nothing to show.

Take the case of the college to be built in Wabag that had an establishment cost of K5.08 million for which K5.2 million was disbursed there. Reports state that it is one of the colleges that is caught up in land disputes and yet, it is also reported that all funds were fully exhausted or fully committed with no infrastructure or construction in evidence anywhere.  So what exhausted over K5 million – what was it spent on if not the college?

Worse, is the case of the Merienburg College where K17 million was deposited into their trust account, yet there is no college there: it falling under the ‘not established due to land disputes’ category. So how was that money spent?

This is blatant corruption: Task Force Sweep, has had this information since 2013 

The Somare connection

There is one person who is prominent in all the dealings, he’s the ‘friend’ in high places’, and let’s face it there’s none as high has the office of the Prime Minister and no Prime Minister more prominent in PNGs past nor present, as PNGs founding father, Sir Michael Somare.

Sir Michael’s fingerprints are all over this deal. It was Sir Michael Somare

  • …who was the Prime Minister at the time that the scheme was approved.
  • …that put his own cronies into the ITE trust (that distributes the monies) including his own son Michael Junior (Moox).
  • … who provided the only invitation for the appointment of Moox and Thomas Doehrman as trustees to ITE, circumventing protocol.
  • … that was one of the 4 recipients who shared a commission of $US3.6 million in a distribution decided by Moox, Thomas Doehrman and Stephen Li of ZTE Corporation.
  • … that having put his cronies in place in LTE they then enlisted ZTE corporation as the main contractor, paying them the money from the Chinese Exim loan ($US36 million – 90% of the contract price) from which the commission of 10% could be disguised as payment for services and goods and paid to the British Virgin Islands company set up for that purpose, Questzone.
  • … and his cronies in LTE that overlooked or approved and paid the inflated ZTE initial quote, that went from $US10 million to $US24 million and finally to over $US38 million.
  • … and 10 other people (said to include members of his family) who spent almost K15 million in travel expenses flying to China to sign contracts that could have been handled by one person in Port Moresby with the aid of the Chinese embassy.
  • … who failed to disclose all of the ‘advantages’ of which he’s been the recipient in this deal. He lied under oath.

What’s more:

  • It was under Sir Michael Somare’s watch that the Department of National Planning was complicit in paying monies into trust accounts in “dribs and drabs” to keep the accounts under the payment approvals threshold and thus to circumvent scrutiny
  • It was Sir Michael Somare’s cronies who, having bypassed all standard procedures, hired a company (ZTE) that had been suspected of corruption in relation to contracts in the Phillipines, Mongolia, Norway and Algeria.
  • It was Sir Michael Somare’s crony, Thomas Doehrman who received monies (K3 million) in a trust account he set up which had been earmarked by the NEC to be operated by the community college scheme’s architect, Dr Alphonse Xavier.

The Koim disconnect.

So what more do they want? The fish has literally jumped on the line for them.

Our brave corruption fighters who have no qualms in accosting and arresting female lawyers at airports and manhandling them roughly to the point of bruising –seem to be having a problem with this one. Why’s that?

All the evidence I have and the Singapore authorities have, Task Force Sweep and the Fraud Squad – Koim, Damaru and Gitua have also had for three years.

It seems, for them, it’s a legitimate use of their time to harass the current Prime Minister when he has already stated that he has received no benefits from the Paraka case and that if they can produce some evidence to the contrary he will give himself up (clearly they can’t produce any, because they haven’t) – yet they cannot act when there is a clear trail of evidence with recorded payments and a sworn statement taken by the Public Prosecutor in Singapore from Lim Ai Wah implicating all.

In fact Lim Ai Wah has been a wealth of information:

When asked if she knew that the money deposited in the Questzone account ($US3.6 million) was from the proceeds of crime, she responded:

I wish to say yes but I wish to say that if you don’t pay to the PM PNG you will not be able to get business from PNG.

She also went on to say:

I wish to state that the 3 payments labelled ‘Housing’…were made for the purpose of helping PM PNG to pay for his house and his son to pay for a separate house…Hence the US$280,000 and US$224.000…were meant for the PM PNG’s use of housing loans.

She goes on further:

Sometime in 2010, I received a call from the son of PM PNG asking me to send money to him. I told him the amount set aside for him was US$280,000 but since he did not have an account in Singapore, I wrote a cheque to PM PNGs bank account and told him to pass the money to his son…”

Let me reiterate: This is a sworn statement by one of the parties (married to Thomas Doehrman – a trustee of LTE) who has admitted this, under oath with evidentiary support (bank accounts etc).

Lim, her husband Thomas Doehrman, a trustee of LTE, Michael Somare Junior – Deputy Chairman of LTE and Sir Michael Somare, Prime Minister of PNG all benefited from the proceeds of crime to the tune of $US3.6 million.

The conflict of interests is clear.

Sir Michael Somare, at best, has failed to disclose these payments, even during a Leadership Tribunal (it could be why he’s so chary of fulfilling his statutory duties and filing his returns) and at worst…?

All hail the Chief!

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Corruption: Sir Michael Somare’s Legacy

By PNG Echo

The Grand Chief
The Grand Chief

Revered as the founding father of Papua New Guinea, Grand Chief Sir Michael Somare’s political career pre-dates national independence by 8 years.

First elected to Papua New Guinea’s pre-independence parliament in 1967, he has had an unbroken run of almost 49 years as an elected Member of Parliament, 17 of those as Prime Minister of the independent state of Papua New Guinea.

On independence, Sir Michael had already done his political apprenticeship under Australia’s watchful eye and he’d had a full 8 years to learn the ropes (even as Chief Minister in the pre-independence, self governing parliament) before he became PNGs first Prime Minister.

If anyone was poised at the crossroads of history, with an opportunity to leave his indelible mark, Sir Michael was.

And he has – but it is not one of which to be proud and it could have been.

His was the unique opportunity to steer Papua New Guinea in any direction he wanted. He chose the path most travelled – self-interest.

An opportunity squandered

Dubai. Is this what Port Moresby could be like now?
Dubai. Is this what Port Moresby could be like now?

By now, PNG should be counted among other great, modern nations like Singapore and Dubai, it certainly had all of the potential.

And to a large extent, the future destiny of PNG had been trustingly placed in the hands of Sir Michael on independence. He had led the nation to that point and the people were confident he would lead them into a prosperous independent future.

They were disappointed.

Instead, Sir Michael spent his post-independence parliamentary life as the leading architect of Papua New Guinea’s shameful and ignoble political culture where precious little functions and only money talks.

And so, Sir Michael bows out of politics at a time when the social indicators in Papua New Guinea are abysmal (I needn’t expand on this as they are only too well known).

Indeed, according to leaked diplomatic cables, Sir Michael is the founding father of

…a dysfunctional blob.

On the possibility of Sir Michael coming back into power after the 2011 political coup, a diplomatic source (Wikileaks) called the Somare regime:

…a cesspit of corruption, incompetence and mediocrity.

Entrenching an aberrant Modus Operandi

PNGs Hous Tambaran (parliament)
PNGs Hous Tambaran (parliament)

Remember. It was the Somare government who enshrined such manipulative tactics as controlling parliamentary procedures by sheer weight of numbers, together with the convenient adjournment of parliament to avoid adverse parliamentary votes, according to a paper on the DevPolicy blog by the well-credentialed, Ronald May.

For example, the Somare government had its own self-interested at heart when in November 2010 – it adjourned the parliament to 10 May 2011. The long recess was to avoid the opposition moving a motion of no confidence in the government.

It was during Somare’s Prime Ministership that “executive dominance’ started to be remarked upon in the media.

What’s more, the sacking of Gari Baki and appointment of Tony Wagambie as acting commissioner in 2010 was then seen as a political act that left a divided police force.

Sounding familiar? But wait, there’s more:

For several years prior to his options running out, Sir Michael had been taking court action to prevent the Ombudsman Commission from investigating violation of the leadership code for his failure to lodge complete financial returns for fifteen years beginning in 1992–93.

When he was finally found guilty, one of the three judges, Sir Robin Auld, thought the offense should result in Somare’s dismissal because he’d shown

…a disregard bordering on disdain for his constitutional obligations.

In the end Somare was suspended for two weeks without pay.

But the irony of this should not be lost when Somare evoked the sacred nature of the PNGs ‘Mama Lo’ (the constitution) to rail against his own overthrow in the political coup of 2011 – craven hypocritical pragmatism?M

I would moot, that the methodology pioneered by Sir Michael, owing to his political dominance and its efficacy, has left a legacy where it is almost impossible to survive politically without employing the same tactics – they’ve become entrenched and seemingly impossible to bypass.

Nepotism and the art of corruption

Neither has Sir Michael ever been averse to employing a bit of nepotism –I mean, it’s so much easier to control the political environment, and the flow of anticipated largesse, when you have your cronies on the inside – better still if they’re family… and Sir Michael’s family has benefited in spades with government jobs and lucrative board appointments.

If you want to be sure of commissions (also known as kickbacks), it’s handy to have a son on the board of the trust that awards the contract (with the proviso of the said commission) and decides the beneficiaries.

Sir Michael, the family man.
Sir Michael, the family man.

And so Michael Somare Jnr (also known as Moox), became the Deputy Chairman of a trust that administered a multi-million dollar governmental loan from the Chinese Exim bank to build community colleges (variously reported – but around $US36 million)

In regard to this fund, and the subsequent awarding of contracts, both Somares – father and son – are embroiled and implicated in corruption allegations in the Singapore courts that involve substantial kickbacks to them and charges of conspiracy to falsify a document, wilfully and with intent to defraud – levelled against another trustee of the same trust of which Moox is the Deputy Chairman together with the company that was eventually awarded the contract.

In a sworn statement to the police, one of the accused Lim Ai Wah when asked whether she understood/knew that money she had had deposited into an account to pay “commissions” was proceeds of crime, she answered:

I wish to say yes but wish to say that if you don’t pay to the PM PNG you will not be able to get business from Papua New Guinea.

She was speaking of Grand Chief, Sir Michael Somare who had, at the time, been Prime Minister for the previous eight years.

This case was still being decided in the Singapore courts until recently and I am in the process of finding out more details which will follow in a separate article.

However, not in dispute and listed in the prosecutions submission to the court under “Undisputed background facts” is that both Somare’s received six figure sums (in US $) as commissions/kickbacks. This notwithstanding there is still no sign of the colleges – just commission payments.

The younger Somares Betha and Arthur.
The younger Somares Betha and Arthur.

Other Somare children have been similarly blessed with son, Sana Somare’s appointment to the board of PNG Power in 2005, while daughter Betha earned her keep by looking after public and media relations for her father.

Betha would brook no criticism of her father and was known to respond to difficult and probing questions like those from The Australian with a three-word reply, “Go to Hell.” Not a usual tactic for a public relations professional but not many have a doting Daddy as the boss.

Then there was Arthur who was awarded prestigious Ministries when he became an MP, up to and including Minister for Public Enterprises, where he was instrumental in setting up the Arab loan that preceded this government’s refinancing and restructuring through the controversial UBS loan.

It was a lemon handed to this government by Somare junior on attaining power – whether the O’Neill government will go on to succeed in making lemonade is yet to be determined – but make no mistake, the present government was forced to act because of the legacy that the Somare government had left them thanks to the Junior Somare, Arthur.

What’s left to posterity from this greatest of opportunities?

…precious little really, certainly not another Singapore or Dubai. If the Hippocratic oath tells us to “firstly, do no harm,” no one told the Somares, led by the patriarch of the clan, that it was an oath worth subscribing to.

A hideous political culture had life breathed into it by Papua New Guinea’s founding father, Sir Michael Somare – a good father does not leave such a millstone around the neck of his children.

If corruption, as so widely quoted, is systemic and systematic – it’s the Somare legacy.  Hail the Grand Chief!

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Twivey and Sakora arrested: Justice scorned

By PNG Echo

Tiffany Twivey-manhandled
Twivey, Manhandled

The accosting and arrest of lawyer, Tiffany Twivey, at Jacksons Airport, yesterday, is a considerable blight on every law enforcement officer in Papua New Guinea by association with senior but rogue police officers, Damaru and Gitua and the Machiavellian, Sam Koim.

When around 10 plain-clothes police started shouting aggressively at Twivey after she’d exited the arrivals hall of Jacksons Airport, she had no idea why they were shouting for her to get into their car.

Twivey’s 85-year-old mother, frail and fragile, was travelling with her and she was confused, upset and frightened as she watched her daughter being manhandled into the car. But the police were determined not to let an old lady’s distress distract them from their zeal and would not let Twivey go back to speak with her mother.

…they were shouting, “get into the car – get into the car” aggressively

said Twivey.

It was only good fortune that Twivey’s driver was there to rescue her frail, confused and frightened mother – for Christian decency was not the order of the day with the police officers.

Twivey is a lawyer, she knows her rights and when she asked why the police wanted her to come with them, as she was not under arrest – the police officer replied that she was although ABC Australia was informed that she wasn’t.

…they were grabbing my arms and trying to shove me into the car – and I have bruises,

she said.

So what were Twivey’s sins that she was arrested and manhandled in this ignominious fashion?

Sam Koim - has his own questions to answer over corrupt actions that he'd rather avoid.
Sam Koim – has his own questions to answer over corrupt actions that he’d rather avoid.

It’s simple, her client is the Prime Minister and he has been targeted by anti-government forces led by police officers Damaru and Gitua, spearheaded by the former head of Task Force Sweep. – the anti-corruption fighter that has some of his own explaining to do, Sam Koim.

And explaining he would have been:

I was to cross examine Sam Koim and examine McRonald Nale on the source of the private funding of the policemen and Sam Koim for the past two years,

wrote Ms Twivey in a statement.

She says that the timing is not lost on her, for instead of appearing in the National Court on behalf of the Prime Minister – with Koim uncomfortably on the stand under her cross examination, today she will be required to appear in the District Court defending herself.

Koim should be breathing a sigh of relief, it would take considerable arrogance to deliberately lie on the stand, wouldn’t it?  Within the next few hours we would have known who has been behind all of these vexatious arrests – who’d been bankrolling the zealotry.  Serendipity or a deliberate ploy?

For as Twivey asked:

Why couldn’t they come to my office? I’ve been in the same office for 5 years/ same apartment?

Ms Twivey was also at pains to point out that when Justice Kirriwom referred her and lawyer Sam Bonner to the Law Society, he did so on an incorrect premise of which  Damaru and Gitua were well aware.  It seems that this was what the arrest was all about.

These policemen did not object or make any submissions against my appeal In the Supreme Court against referral to the Law Society as they knew Kirriwom J had got the facts wrong, and yet they now initiate a criminal process,

she asks, incredulously?

Justice Bernard Sakora whose sin seems to be deciding in favour of the PM
Justice Bernard Sakora whose sin seems to be deciding in favour of the PM

Which brings me to Justice Bernard Sakora, why was he, at this very point in time, being arrested for something that allegedly occurred in 2009 and which the likes of Task Force Sweep, under the guidance of Sam Koim, had known about for 6 years? What took them so long?

Well there IS that timing thing again that Ms Twivey remarked upon…and it’s no surprise that driving the arrest were police officers Damaru and Gitua.

How many such cases has Task Force Sweep been keeping to themselves and for how many years…and why? To what avail?

Sakora is alleged to have taken a bribe from lawyer under investigation, Paul Paraka.  Although the alleged bribe has been explained by Justice Sakora as the sale of a car, the explanation is not good enough for Damaru who alleges that Sakora should have declared the transaction when he presided over cases they were involved in.

However, as in Twivey’s case, he did not raise any objection in court, which would have been the appropriate time.

One commentator believes that this could be a thinly-veiled attempt to get Sakora off the bench – just as the motive for the Prime Minister’s arrest seems to be to get him to step down. Sakora has found for the Prime Minister lately, which is likely, his sin.

Someone suggested to me that this could be viewed as an ominous ‘warning’ to others not to cross them (Damaru, Koim Gitua) – be they lawyers, politicians or judges.

I wonder how much ‘dirt’ the files of Task Force Sweep contain, on whom and when these will see the light of day? It’s all in the timing, I guess.

What do you call a nation/state controlled by corrupt zealots and rogues who are answerable to no one and whose tools include vexatious arrest and blackmail? Just asking.

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Zealots, diplomats and breakfast: Koim, Tonge and cornflakes

Sam Koim, former head of an Anti-corruption agency, Task Force Sweep, fraternising with British High Commissioner Simon Tong at Breakfast, Grand papua hotel this morning.
Sam Koim, former head of an Anti-corruption agency, Task Force Sweep, fraternising with British High Commissioner Simon Tonge at Breakfast, Grand Papua hotel this morning.

This picture of Sam Koim, the head of the now, in dispute, anti-corruption agency, Task Force Sweep, having a protracted breakfast meeting this morning at the Grand Papua Hotel with the British High Commissioner, has too many sinister connotations to ignore.

As things stand, with the issue of the legitimacy of Task Force Sweep still legally in dispute –Sam Koim is now answerable to no one. He is a loose cannon.

Is this disgruntled, former employee (?) keen to have his revenge on the system that rejected him – even if that involves sedition and/or treason?

Diplomacy

One of the roles of the foreign diplomat is to foster friendly relations with the sovereign government by whose invitation they are in the country. Sam Koim is in a bitter court battle with the Prime Minister of Papua New Guinea and other senior ministers and public servants – in fact the whole NEC – so, the question that this begs is why this senior diplomat, the High Commissioner to the United Kingdom, would not recognise that this fraternisation could seriously affect cordial relations between the two governments?

That the British High Commissioner wouldn’t be aware of the perception of his actions is drawing too long a bow.  After all, it is his job to know.  But are the stakes higher than this – after all

A diplomat is someone who is appointed by a nation state to represent and protect that nation’s interests abroad.”

Nowhere is it stated, nor is it expected, that a diplomat has anything other his own country’s interests at heart – so what use is the petulant, former government employee (disputed) Sam Koim to him and British interests?

Coercive diplomacy

The Guardian newspaper in an editorial quoted the words of Charles Crawford, a former British ambassador to Sarajevo and Warsaw, who said:

Diplomats, spies and journalists are all basically nosy people. They all want to find out things that are not generally known. What distinguishes them in practice is the methods used. When it steps into impropriety and illegality you can just feel it.

The question is: would this meeting of Koim and the British High Commissioner foster such a feeling?

The Guardian goes on to say:

Approaching foreign nationals and asking them to work for your government is generally agreed to lie in the realm of espionage.

The possibility is ever-present in the diplomatic realm.  It was wikileaks and whistle-blowers such as Edward Snowden that alerted the wider public to what the cognoscenti already knew – that the diplomat walks a fine line that often descends into espionage – as in evidence by the number of diplomats, worldwide, who have been expelled and rendered as Persona Non Grata because of it.

For it is the job of the diplomat to gather intelligence to aid his country’s negotiations with his host nation, a line is crossed when intelligence gathering lapses into espionage: when information was gathered quasi-illegally in order for it to be used for hostile purposes.  Many have crossed that line and continue to do so.

As for Sam Koim, he has seriously breached national diplomatic protocol when he appeared, in Australia, on a national current affairs program, being in Australia ostensibly to obtain Australian governmental backing for his quest against the mandated government (a claim he denies – see http://www.pngecho.com/2014/06/24/koim-politically-incorrect/ )

And this is not the only overseas trip he has taken – always paid by the foreign entity itself, according to Koim. To my knowledge he has accepted paid trips to the US, Britain and Australia (are there any I’ve left out?)

So what was discussed at this long breakfast meeting (2 hours)?  Were secrets revealed either purposely or inadvertently? What schemes were hatched and to whose benefit?  Was the sovereignty of Papua New Guinea breached over the bacon and eggs (and who paid for breakfast?)

 

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Another day, another Supreme Court decision

By PNG Echo.

ppellant: Minister for Finance - James Marape
Unsuccessful appellant: Minister for Finance – James Marape

Minister James Marape has today (Tuesday 9 April 2016) had his appeal dismissed unanimously by a three-man bench of the Supreme Court (Justices Hartshorn, Makail and Sawong).

The news was broken on social media and anti-government forces are hailing this latest Supreme Court decision as a David-and-Goliath type victory for the renegade police officers (Damaru and Gitua) with the Prime Minister and Minister for Finance said to have been “trashed” (sic) by the Supreme Court (even with their expensive QCs),.

But the truth of the matter is that the decision is on a procedural matter and is generally insignificant except for one major consequence.

The consequence

Justice Bernard Sakora still to preside over the substantive issue
Justice Sakora to preside

The most far-reaching consequence of the dismissed appeal is that it also served to lift the blanket stay of any arrest warrant (on any matter) for Minister Marape, the Prime Minister and their lawyers etc.

However, the Prime Minister, in a press statement released today, after the decision of the Supreme Court in the Marape case, reminded us that:

The case relating to legal fees for the Paraka matter remains outstanding before the court through a judicial review by Senior Judge, Justice Bernard Sakora, which also reaffirmed that the warrant of arrest be stayed until the judicial review is heard.

In other words, there is still a stay on the arrest warrant for the Prime Minister in the Paraka matter and that is a significant because an arrest is all that the anti-government forces have on their mind and their agenda.

This is war

Prime Minister O'Neill - his arrest is their only goal.
Prime Minister O’Neill – his arrest is their only goal.

So, while a small battle has been won today, the war continues unabated – and make no mistake, for democracy, it is important that the Prime Minister wins.

For all the proceedings have base political motivations, where the only goal is to have the Prime Minister arrested so that he is forced to step down from office. There is no discernible aim beyond this.  Indeed, all the proposed (aborted and abortive) protest rallies have this as their only objective. Why?

In reality, it is known  that any charges against the Prime Minister are unlikely to be proved – but that doesn’t matter – the damage would have been done by then, their goal effected. But there would be far-reaching ramifications -not only to this current Prime Minister but all those that follow him.

In today’s press release the Prime Minister had this to say

As the serving Prime Minister of the day, I cannot allow a precedent to be set that will render future Governments weak and ineffective.   Once a precedent is set then we know every future Government will become bogged down by malicious attempts to pursue arrest warrants by people outside the Parliament, simply for the reason of attracting media attention and applying political pressure.

To all those who ask time and time again why the Prime Minister does not “submit” himself to the courts, I think that question is now asked and answered.

The Prime Minister, in the aforementioned press statement, reiterated his confidence in the courts of PNG (whereas, on the other hand, I’m not nearly so confident) but stated he will not submit himself to the malicious and rogue attempts to use law enforcement as a political weapon.

That’s a response from a strong and responsible leader.

Political Inheritance

Lawyer, Paul Paraka - the man at the centre of the proceedings.
Lawyer, Paul Paraka – the man at the centre of the proceedings.

Every government inherits that which went before, sometimes it’s a golden chalice, sometimes the chalice is poisonous.  The Prime Minister “inherited” the Paraka situation and he rightly states:|

The issues at the centre of this matter occurred before I was Prime Minster.  Pursuing me on this matter is nothing but an attempt to influence politics from outside the Parliament and to undermine the authority of the Office of the Prime Minister, and the stability of the national government.

So, let’s clear away the debris and look at the real issues of this case and the reasons for the attempts to implicate the Prime Minister.

For also in the press statement the Prime Minister said:

We all know who are the real financial beneficiaries of the Paraka transactions, and only time will tell when these identities will be revealed.  I look forward to the facts seeing the light of day on this issue.

Last week, in parliament, the Prime Minister named Don Polye and the THE party as two of the financial beneficiaries. He has also stated that the evidence is with the police – perhaps this may be worth the self-proclaimed, misnamed ‘anti-corruption’ forces pursuing before they finish their ‘dance of joy’ over this small and insignificant victory.

This pursuit of the Prime Minister is nothing like a ‘David and Goliath’ battle for David was on the side of righteousness – this is more like a sniper attack on the fabric of democracy in PNG.

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