The writing on the wall: The by-election has spoken.

By PNG Echo.

There are many who gratuitously and arrogantly claim to speak for the silent majority in PNG. It’s an easy claim to make because this majority, by definition, does not usually indicate their preferences. Well… not usually, but sometimes they do, and when they do they speak clearly, unambiguously and unequivocally – and that’s exactly what they’ve done and it is contrary to what the noisy minority would have you believe.

The Protests and protestors

Student protestors
Student protestors

In Papua New Guinea, at present, students are being whipped into mass hysteria by opponents of the government – and it’s a big kerfuffle, with little substance. Hell, even Namah has raised his ugly head offering to march with the students. (Can anyone tell me whether he did? I somehow doubt it.)

These students have been joined by some NGOs, the heads of which are political wannabes wanting the reins of power as PNG goes into the 2017 elections – which everyone knows is a decided advantage. It’s clear that they want control of the purse strings – well, they haven’t yet earned that right.

Dilu Okuk, the profane pastor and idiot son of PNGs political aristocracy
Dilu Okuk, the profane pastor and idiot son of PNGs political aristocracy

Dilu Okuk, the profane pastor, has written that the “COUNTRY [is] UNITED WITH ONE PURPOSE” (Okuk’s capitals). Wrong. Not even nearly, Dilu.

In fact, even the students themselves are not of one voice and some have complained to the press about intimidation. One student told Post Courier that he could not go to classes, as he’d wanted, because he’s been threatened.

You husait attndin class mas save olsem police non stap lo skul olgeta taim mipla lukluk lo yu stap.

The demand for the Prime Minister to step down, says it all.

They have no real concern with corruption, if they did they’d be demanding the Fraud Squad and their corruption-fighting darlings prosecute the main protagonist of the Paraka Affair, Paul Paraka himself – but they still have not established, legally, that a crime has even been committed – so why go after an alleged accomplished? An accomplice to what?

This noisy minority is not speaking for anyone except political vested interests.

The silent majority has spoken – and the message is clear

Gordon Wesley - re-elected in Samarai/Murua, Milne Bay
Gordon Wesley – re-elected in Samarai/Murua, Milne Bay

On the other hand, the people of Samarai/Murua in Milne Bay have made their preferences known as they returned Gordon Wesley as their sitting member in a parliamentary by-election, ironically triggered by Wesley’s alleged election misdeeds.

Wesley is a member of the PNC – the ruling party of which PNGs much-maligned Prime Minister is the head. The Prime Minister campaigned on behalf of this candidate and the people responded to him positively – notwithstanding the black mark against Wesley’s name.  The prime Minister is patently popular with the electorate beyond, and in greater numbers that the dissenters.

If, by now, you’re getting a feeling of déjà vu, I’m not surprised.

David Arore, disqualified then re-elected
David Arore, disqualified then re-elected

The circumstances and the results mirror almost exactly what happened in Oro a few months back with David Arore, the PNC candidate easily winning the by-election there.

In Samarai/Murua, Wesley romped it home polling almost double that of his nearest rival.

The silent majority has spoken – and they’re not saying what the noisy majority would have you believe.

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The incredible metamorphosis of Paul Reinbara.

By PNG Echo.

1238788_578686992172373_673535622_nPaul Reinbara is the name associated with the website PNG Blogs – he’s not a real person – it is the name that a group of people chose to be the face (name) of the group when it was first launched. They chose to remain anonymous.

So, Paul Reinbara is not one person; he’s a group of people who operate the blog site – it’s a paradigm that has existed from the start, around seven years ago.

 

 The past is a foreign country, they do things differently there. (JB Priestly)

Around five years ago, I was told by Paul Reinbara (or at least the person who used to answers his emails), that the website was intended to broadcast social and political issues that were being ignored by the mainstream press.

Theirs was a noble mission and they fearlessly went where angels fear to tread.

He told me that all of the group had good 8-4 jobs and would not be bought – although Paul (not his real name) had been courted for employment by both the Prime Minister, Peter O’Neill and Opposition Leader, at the time, Belden Namah – both of whom he knew personally.

Many journalists and new bloggers used PNG Blogs to publish and distribute their work, some going on to launch their own site (including me) – while others disappeared into the abyss of spent enthusiasm.

I corresponded often with Paul (not his real name) and we formed an amicable cyber relationship. Indeed, Paul did me a couple of favours for which I remain grateful.

I found him to be a very erudite, thoughtful and earnest young man, with a passion for his mission, which had no evidence of self-interest.

His journalistic standards were such that on two occasions, that I can remember, he either asked me to “tone down” the language I’d used or, in another instance, to produce the evidence. He judgement was spot on, and I did.

But things slowly and subtly started to change.

The changing of the guard

11403364_907547432619659_7339852145745744262_n
Paul Reinbara, now.

Paul (not his real name) informed me, sometime around the end of 2013, that he needed to sort out some personal matters and had given over the running of the blog to a friend from Unitech – but just temporarily.

However, from then on, the tone of the blog site changed.

Scurrilous articles started to appear that contained scandalous accusations made by people with the sort of names that internet trolls use, believing themselves clever.

The standard of writing also deteriorated to the point where one wonders whether the published articles are the result of a Primary School assignment.

On PNG Blogs, currently, English is being murdered, the same homicide repeated over and over without a skerrick of editorial intervention, rather, tacit approval.

Paul Reinbara (not his real name) even started entertaining articles which were nothing more than published threats of violence against a commentator who didn’t tow the party line, which had also mysteriously developed latterly

Then there was the cringe-worthy campaign targeting Finance Minister, James Marape’s teeth.

Now while I am a fan of satire this was neither witty nor clever, it just smacked of schoolyard bullying. It certainly was not the usual thing that Paul Reinbara (not his real name) would have entertained.

There are only two conclusions that can be reached and that is that there’s a whole new slew of Paul Reinbara’s, (not their real names) and “temporarily” has become permanently, or that the original Paul (not his real name) has taken leave of his senses.

The identity of Paul Reinbara

Guy Fawkes's mask will not save you
Guy Fawkes mask will not save you

But, be that as it may, there are still many people who wonder whom it was that used to answer Paul Reinbara’s emails (Not his real name). Indeed, I’m one of them – journalists are terminally curious and I’m no exception. I am also wondering whether the bounty put on the revelation of Paul’s (not his real name) identiity by a certain Rod Mitchell is still extant?

Well my dear Paul (not his real name), strap yourself in because I do believe they know.

They have told me they do – and while they have not told me your name (which they say they have) they have divulged much information about you that is verifiable from the conversations we have had, over the years. I think they’ve got it!

Anyway, I’m pretty certain that were I to gather together the information you divulged to me during our many cyber conversations and list it here there would be many who would instantly recognise you.

Things have changed, Paul (not his real name) since you were my second ever Facebook friend (in the days when I had only joined Facebook because I wanted to see an old friends photos that I needed an account to access.)

Since then, I have acquired a Facebook following that constitutes the maximum number of ‘friends’ (5,000) and many thousands on the waiting list (followers) – and that’s without taking into account PNG Echo website and Facebook Page. Someone there would be bound to recognise you – if not many of them.

But I’ve never had any interest in betraying you, so it was only last night, after the conversation with them that I took stock of our cyber conversations to come to that conclusion.

However Paul, (not his real name) on the other hand, you have betrayed me over and over. So much so that, a while ago, I found it necessary to ‘unfriend’ you from Facebook suspecting that our ‘friendship’ was just a ruse for you to collect information to use against me and to have access to my pictures, which you have then defaced. (Tee hee hee)

Now maybe you’d argue that that was the new Paul (not his real name) and not you, but the problem is, the only thing constant in all of this is the name ‘Paul Reinbara’ so the sins of the new incarnations will necessarily be visited on you.

That was not problematic while no one knew your identity – but, toksave, it’s about to be revealed.

That mask of Guy Fawkes that the new Paul Reinbara (not his real name) chose to adopt is about to be ripped off – and not off him, but off you.

One question to the old Paul (not his real name) – when you look at the current PNG Blogs, aren’t you ashamed of this thing you’ve spawned?

Paul Reinbara has grown up into a grotesque monster. You, Paul, (not his real name) as it’s parent must shoulder some of the blame.

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The Joker in the crowd

Militant activist (?) seeks permission for crowd to be arrested. Permission denied
By PNG Echo

Rossini's Figaro - a scoundrel who gets ahead by being all things to all people.
Rossini’s Figaro – a scoundrel who gets ahead by being all things to all people.

No seriously! The irony was completely lost on this Court Jester, this wannabe: wannabe lawyer, wannabe politician, wannabe journalist…Figaro here, Figaro there…

Bryan Kramer, the legal expert impersonator (who has managed to convince some gullible people that he’s legally qualified) took himself down to Unagi Oval today to inform the dozen or so protesters that they were committing an illegal act and that they should take themselves down to police station and be arrested (Most lawyers try to keep people out of jail but not Bryan – perhaps they should have given him the keys to the cells and he could have become their jailer too…Figaro up, Figaro down.)

Anyway, being the fine upstanding citizen that he is, he firstly asked permission of the police commander Ben Turi for the people to hand themselves in for breaking the law. Turi would not hear of such a thing and told them if they marched down to police headquarters to be arrested, they would be breaking the law and he would arrest them, so they didn’t.

It has all the hallmarks of an Edwardian farce, doesn’t it?

"Daylight for miles at Unagi Oval."
“Daylight for miles at Unagi Oval.”

What’s more, even if there were precious few protesters – one eye witness saying “it was daylight for miles,” and that the police presence of six vehicles swelled the numbers at the oval exponentially, Kramer’s generous offer to pay bail monies for all who couldn’t afford it was still astonishing.

Firstly, I’m sure, everyone would have taken up his offer, I mean, who would  be so churlish as to refuse such generosity? Not in PNG – where money talks.

Still, I don’t know what the hell it’s saying to Kramer, I mean, here’s a man with no visible means of support pledging potentially thousands of Kina – where would he get the money?

I guess he could be in receipt of a generous allowance from his Uncle Frank, but I doubt whether Uncle Frank would approve of his young gung-ho nephew using his money, some of which is earned on government contracts, to fund subversion.

Bryan Kramer, the jailbird. Figaro here...Figaro there...
Bryan Kramer, the jailbird. Figaro here…Figaro there…

So who else could be funding this? It’s the perennial question, isn’t it? Sam Koim, Timothy Gitua, Matthew Damaru, Lucas Kiap – where’s all the money coming from?

Lucas Kiap recently committed a serious faux pas in acknowledging the help of Mark Davis, Public Relations Man for PNGSDP for his cause – I think publicly pledging money that one does not have the means to provide on one’s own is equally revealing. Where are you getting it from, Bryan?

 

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Slip rule applications are rarely successful.

By PNG Echo

Justice Derek Hartshorn - Leave denied.
Justice Derek Hartshorn – Leave denied

That the leave sort by lawyers for the Prime Minister to apply the ‘Slip Rule’ to the recent Supreme Court ruling (lifting the injunction on arrests and harassment of the Prime Minister and his associates) was not granted today, is not surprising.

I don’t believe there is any case which has actually been granted leave to make a Slip Rule Application since the rules were changed in 2012 requiring that leave be granted.

What’s more, in this particular case the Justices who handed down the decision to lift the stay (Hartshorn, Makail, Sawong) are the ones that heard the leave application and would be naturally hostile to an application that suggests they erred.

A more satisfactory outcome would have been to have heard it argued before Judges with no pre-conceived ideas about the matters at hand – which, I concede, is becoming increasingly difficult in Papua New Guinea at the moment.

Interestingly, although the Justices stated that they would give an ex tempore decision, what they ended up doing was reading from a lengthy and widely-researched judgment that quoted extensive case law – including cases from Australia.

Nevertheless one of the PNG cases that counsel for the Prime Minister put forward in her submissions, MRA & Ramu Nico v Koroma (2015), the Justices resolutely refused to follow.

A decision that was 5 years in the making was discounted by this bench of the Supreme Court in less than an hour.  Indecent haste?

Patently, this case had been decided even before counsel made its submission in court this morning. There is little likelihood that this judgment could have been researched and written in the lunch break. It had been pre-judged (the verb from where we get the noun prejudice).

In practical terms, it means that their previous decision is upheld and the PM, his legal team and other people covered by the order can be arrested.

That doesn’t mean they should be.

For the police to be running around willy-nilly arresting people just because they can, is madness. Only in Papua New Guinea!

Citizens and others residing in Papua new Guinea need to feel secure that the law protects them, not declares open season on them – as has been suggested by many unrestrained commentators.

I believe that the stay order on the arrest of the Prime Minister on the Paraka matter is still extant – the court has not lifted this.

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So you want Kerenga Kua as the next PM- Oh Please!

By PNG Echo

Kerenga Kua
Kerenga Kua

Social media has started throwing around Kerenga Kua’s name as a possible next Prime Minister of Papua New Guinea. It’s another ill-considered notion from the Keyboards of Papua New Guinea’s self-professed ‘elites’ (sic).

I mean, why would you want him? He’s a cheat, a hypocrite and a thug.

Having said that, I can see that it at least may be possible – unlike the other candidates that social media wastes our time with like Gary Juffa and Sam Basil who have not got a snowball’s hope in hell.

Even if they win the hearts of their people, they then have the problem of winning over their fellow Members – and neither have the numbers – nor do they have the wherewithal and allegiances to garner them.  Juffa is an intelligent man (not so much Basil) and he knows this only too well.

But back to Kerenga Kua, the bully boy from Sinasina/Yongomugl

Sir Michael Somare
Sir Michael Somare

Firstly, having spent many years as Sir Michael Somare’s personal lawyer, Kua, no doubt, knows where all the bodies are buried, what’s more, as his legal representative he likely would have helped Sir Michael dig the graves.

If Sir Michael knows a certain something about corruption you have to wonder who was the master and who was the apprentice in this relationship.

And he’s a lawyer too.

The most abiding criticism the current Prime Minister, Peter O’Neill faces is that he should stop using legal avenues to avoid arrest and submit to the court processes. Hell, our legal friend Kua has even made a big splash and a big man of himself suggesting the same.

Kua clearly has not heard the adage about people in glass houses not throwing stones.

I don’t know how he could have made such a statement with a straight face – not in view of what happened when an arrest warrant was extant for him in 2010.
Take it away, Sunday Chronicle.

[With]Mr Yama [complainant]…alleging conspiracy to pervert the court of justice [against Kua and others ] …police were working to interview PNG Law Society President, Kerenga Kua…but it was alleged that the duo [Kua and a Mr Mua] fled to Chimbu [to avoid arrest]…Mr Kua returned to Port Moresby after their representative, Blake Dawson Waldron Lawyers, successfully took out a National Court orders which granted leave to apply for a judicial review of the decision of Waigani District Court magistrate …to issue warrants of arrests.

The arrest warrants were stayed.   How familiar does that sound? And how hypocritical does Kua sound, knowing this? Besides, never has Peter O’Neill fled to Chimbu or anywhere else – so clearly Kua could elevate this avoidance to a level otherwise unimagined.

Commissions, Commissions, Commissions

Goiye Gileng - keeping it all in the family
Goiye Gileng – keeping it all in the family

And a healthy imagination is what you’d need to believe the things that came out of the Commission of Inquiry into the briefing out and payment of private law firms.

Firstly in Paraka-esque fashion Kua tried to stop the commission – he failed.

The Commission questioned Kua and his two partners in PKA Lawyers one of whom, Goiye Gileng is Kua’s brother. And didn’t the lawyer for the Commission have a field day?

When Kisakiu Posman, Kua’s other erstwhile partner in the law firm PKA Lawyers, was asked what constituted an ‘item’ in a bill for X numbers of items, he answered that they were six minute blocks but then stumbled saying – no probably a unit was an hour.

Firstly, everyone knows that lawyers bill in minutes not hours. However, Posman must have been busy doing the sums in his head and was way ahead of counsel who pointed out that were they 6-minute units then the charge out rate would be K15,000 per hour. Whoa! However, counsel had done his homework and pointed out that in the other scenario (1 unit= an hour) then Mr Kua must have worked for 20 hours that day.

While Posman said that this would be right, at least Kua, when cross examined, said he rarely worked more than 11 hours in a day. Yet, there it was  – the bill.

And then there are the ‘jobs for the boys’ or nepotism.

During the short time that Kua was Attorney General, he briefed out two of the most lucrative matters to his old firm, PKA Lawyers.

Counsel for the Commission pointed out that according to company records, Kerenga Kua was still involved in the firm when this happened. Posman explained it as being an ‘oversight’ and when Kua was questioned he said that, as Attorney General, he gave the contract to the most competent firm – yes, a firm so competent that they forget to alter the company records in a situation as sensitive as this – you’d want them in your corner if your life was on the line, wouldn’t you?

Yet, they billed the government millions of dollars (either at K15,000 an hour, or while working 20 hour days) for working on the Kumul Holdings case and, you guessed it, PNGSDP case in Singapore.

And that’s not all, there was much more – but read it yourselves.  The 18 and 25th November is of particular interest. Here is the link.

And last, but not least, is the Member’s thuggery.

In a violent society, where the most vulnerable, most often women and children get gratuitously beaten, maimed and killed, to have a leader that embodies the traits of the perpetrator is simply unconscionable.

Here is a report of the Incident from The National Jan 6, 2014

…In his witness statement, which was supported by security guard Samson Kokong, Hunter [electrical manager with Aisi-Bishman Contractors]said the incident occurred at 7pm at a property owned by Kua in Section 60, Lot 20 on Gabaka Street, Gordon…

Hunter said when he arrived  [at the premises]with two of his workers, he saw Kua with 12 security guards waiting inside.

“I was trying to greet him when he started shouting that I had wrecked his property and he punched me in the face,” Hunter said in his statement to police.

“I attempted to reason with him and explain my side of the issue while he continued to punch me in between yelling accusations that I was a con man and had cheated him.”…

Hunter said Kua and one of his security guards then proceeded to attack him but he managed to run out of the gate and drive off to the Boroko police station to report the matter.

Ah yes, what a Prince! Just what Papua New Guinea needs – He’s everything that’s been criticised about the current Prime Minister and so much more – he’s potentially another Paraka and he’s also a bovver boy.

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All fingers point to the PNGSDP

By PNG Echo.

The first section of this article will be old news for many. If so, skip it and go to the second heading – but for those who need context, keep reading because lately things that haven’t made sense, suddenly are starting to, and knowing the context sets the scene for the intricate web of treachery.

Environmental disaster and compensation

It was always blood money –

PNGSDP was set up to obtain legislative immunity from prosecution [for BHP] for environmental damage to a great river system, a human and environmental tragedy that can be even observed from the moon,

writes Paul Yabob

Sir Mekere Morauta
Sir Mekere Morauta

Sir Mekere Morauta gave BHP clemency… PNG did BHP a favour that it did not deserve.

It was Mekere Morauta’s sell-out deal that would guarantee Morauta a lucrative position well past his political career and…

To protect it [the PNGSDP Fund] with the change of government, he [Morauta] has been appointed to head PNGSDP,

explains Yabob.

And the fund has rewarded its board members well, with reportedly comparatively meagre benefits for the people of the Western Province where the incidence of Tuberculosis, especially the drug-resistant kind, is beyond alarming and something that the Fund could and should have tackled before now. Tuberculosis can be eliminated. This notwithstanding the late, great, eco-warrior Dr Nancy Sullivan wrote:

In 2010 PNGSDP brought $40 million of the Singapore fund back to PNG to fulfil its program mandate. But they spent $10 million on their own administration, and a further $1.5 million on Board fees.

So, after the sell-out deal, did BHP go scurrying back to Australia with its tail between its legs – no it did not. Dr Sullivan, takes up the story again:

BHP and its lawyers went about setting up the structures [for the fund] and drafting the relevant agreements.  BHP then told the PNG Government that to start up the fund in Singapore – so that interest is readily available and PNGSDP can sustain itself from the beginning – there would be no need for any start-up capital from PNG itself.  BHP LOANED PNGSDP USD$120 Million for the fund in Singapore.

And when someone gives a loan – they give terms to secure that loan. The terms BHP gave were that UNTIL the loan was 100% paid back, BHP would nominate 4 of the 7 directors on the PNGSDP Board.  BHP would retain a majority on the PNGSDP Board.

Since its inception 12 years ago, [article written in 2013] PNGSDP has been controlled by BHP through its Board…  BHP has never left PNG.

The Board members.

Lawrence Stephens
Lawrence Stephens

A lucrative position with PNGSDP was not only enjoyed by Sir Mekere Morauta but also by Transparency International’s Lawrence Stephens and neither he nor Sir Mekere blinked when a dubious character was appointed to the board by then Treasurer Don Polye with the board’s blessing.

Rex Paki, was about as controversial as you can get – where was the due diligence or the caution in appointing a man that over the previous 20 years had appeared before two Commission of Inquiries (Finance Department and National Provident Fund), two Public Account Committee Inquiries, and a Supreme Court case where he was severely criticised with the judges finding him “evasive and dishonest?”

Rex Paki
Rex Paki

In fact, Paki seems to be suspected of running a Paraka-like scheme but with accounting fees rather than legal ones where the Public Curator’s Office had paid RAM [his consulting firm] K1,561,062 (approx US$640,000), without the existence of a contract, proper invoices, or evidence that any work had been done, according to PNG Exposed

Nevertheless, here he was, in charge of millions of dollars belonging to the people of Western Province.

The irony is we have men like Stephens and Morauta being held up in the international media as anti-corruption warriors, but what did they do about Rex Paki for all these years?”

asks PNG Exposed

Good question hey?

Mind Mapping – the burning question of who and what’s funding anti government forces?

Who is funding, Koim, Damaru, Gitua, and anti-government, NGO and activists?

Lucas Kiap
Lucas Kiap

Well the biggest clue was when Lucas Kiap of the NGO PNG Anti-Corruption Movement for Change, publicly acknowledged a debt to Mark Davis, the spin doctor from PNGSDP who was unceremoniously deported from PNG for “playing politics” against the conditions of his visa.

Mark davis
Mark davis

 

It started me wondering and here are the links I found that connect the main players to each other. It appears that all roads track back to Mekere Morauta and the PNGSDP.

 

The players – the links

  • Rex Paki: He was appointed to the board of PNGSDP by the Treasurer, who was Don Polye at the time. He was also involved in the controversial Paga Hill Development.
  • Sam Koim: Racking up bills aplenty with no visible means of support. Sam Koim also was involved in investigating the Paga Hill Development.  Dr Kristian Laslett, who heads ISCI’s Papua New Guinea Research, claims that errors in the Task Force Sweep assessment are “seismic” and “can’t be put down to mere ignorance or inexperience. He suspected something more sinister. Supposing Koim’s support base was Mekere Morauta and the PNGSDP, then his reluctance to find any wrong doing in this matter starts to make sense.
  • Lawrence Stephens of Transparency International who has been a bitter critic of this Prime Minister but a staunch defender of Rex Paki whom he says has not been convicted so should be given the benefit of the doubt. Now there’s a hypocritical position. Stephens lost his job with PNGSDP when the state reclaimed OkTedi.
  • Mekere Morauta – the leading critic of the Prime Minister – must be worried that he will lose control of the fund and the lucrative fees he’s collecting.
  • Mark Davis, the spin doctor for PNGSDP – who’s still “playing politics” apparently.
  • Lucas Kiap – one of the protagonists of the unrest with a debt to pay to Mark Davis.
  • Kerenga Kua – linked to Rex Paki when the courts were informed that the invoices Paki was failing to produce could be found at his office.
  • Don Polye, appointed Rex Paki to the board of PNGSDP.

All of these people are interlinked. Could it be that what’s sustaining them all is the PNGSDP?

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Look who’s talking – Foreign media.

By PNG Echo.

The failed state of PNG

proclaimed the headline of Australian ’boutique’ publication The Saturday Paper, (its author, Mike Seccombe)

This is opinion and, in my opinion, it is tainted opinion.

It’s a melange of the same old sources, saying the same old thing, displaying a nostalgic longing for a time passed when Papua New Guinea was ‘get rich and get out’ country unimpeded by governments who were far more malleable than this one.

Take the headline – incorrect:  the very first indication of a failed state is when the government loses control of its disciplinary forces. That hasn’t happened – nor will it. O’Neill is still the Supreme Commander of the PNG armed forces and O’Neill appointee, Chief of Police, Gary Baki, is doing a sterling job of maintaining discipline even with a few court-backed rogue police as thorns in his side.

Hon Gary Juffa, Governor of Oro
Hon Gary Juffa, Governor of Oro

Ironically, the article was brought to my attention on the Facebook page of Gary Juffa, Governor of Oro and the politician who is spearheading a campaign to #takebackpng# – it was republished with just a small comment by the Honourable Governor  “It has come to this..” It was ‘shared’ by dozens of his Facebook friends.

I don’t know what the Governor means: It’s come to what?

But certainly if PNG is going to be taken back then perhaps overseas reports, such as this, should be exposed for what they are: highly inflammatory, bordering on libellous, focused on Australian interests and quite often wrong.

The author and his ‘sources’                   

Last November, in The Australian Media Watch Dog‘, Gerard Henderson named Mike Seccombe “Media fool of the week” for his front-page article on Cardinal Pell.

Henderson points out that “…”Smirk” Seccombe’s sources – for want of a better word,” are hardly impeccable and are most often nameless, such as “Cardinal Pell’s “most trenchant critics,” and “Pell’s anonymous critics” and even “some influential figures in the church” – and while Seccombe in his article about Papua New Guinea does name some of his sources, he fails to point out the ‘elephants in the room.’

Lawyer Tiffany Twivey
Lawyer Tiffany Twivey

However Papua New Guinean lawyer, Ms Tiffany Twivey who counts amongst her clients the Prime Minister and who was recently arrested by the aforementioned rogue police operating outside of the purview of Chief of Police in very controversial circumstances, has no such qualms writing:

That terrible article [Seccombe’s on PNG] – quotes Paul Flanagan, an Australian – who is failed former PNG treasury employee who has been writing “the sky is falling” economic forecasts for PNG since he was sacked. Then there are the team from development policy at ANU – where people go if they can’t get a job actually in development.

She goes on:

Lawrence Stephens formerly of PNGSDP, currently, Transparency International
Lawrence Stephens, Transparency Int.

As for Lawrence Stephens – well he was working for PNGSDP when the government took over OK Tedi – lost his job. Former catholic Secretary General for PNG who has made a career out of pointing out problems in PNG but never actually helps to solve them.

For my part, my particular fascination is with Seccombe’s source that couldn’t be named “for good reason” – but we’re told he is a former senior Australian government official – and as such I can’t imagine why he needs to hide his identity – only people with something to lose need to do that – and maybe that’s the nail hit squarely on the head, especially when we read later:

You have to be careful about putting your name to criticism these days if you ever hope to get back into PNG. Hence the reluctance of our old hand, quoted above.

Now I understand.  Is this “old hand” hoping to get a lucrative government job in PNG to cushion his retirement? The government’s policy of dispensing with overseas ‘consultants’ would not have suited many with such plans and they’d be understandably bitter.

Seccombe, even in quoting Dr Ron May (emeritus fellow to the State, Society and Governance in Melanesia Program at ANU), only gives some basic widely known and understood context – handy for an ignorant Australian audience but unnecessary for a Papua New Guinean one.

And that’s the crux: Australian’s are Seccombe’s audience. It’s written from their point of view and with their best interests in mind and with Australians giving their ‘expert’ opinions on Papua New Guinea to other Australians.

So why is a PNG audience on the social media, who describe themselves as ‘elite’, taking so much notice?

Every Australian article that I read about Papua New Guinea recycles the same old ‘experts’ who carry the same old trite views. Invariably they are Australians who have had lucrative careers as ‘consultants’ to Papua New Guinea and are clearly missing the ‘good old days’ where Papua New Guinea was more easily exploited and are alarmed at the rapidly changing landscape.

It’s becoming a habit.

It was just in January, this year that I wrote about the article by Bill Standish (also associated with the Development Policy Centre – about which Ms Twivey is so scathing) making the same observations about its useful contribution to Papua New Guinea (as opposed to Australian interests)

Standish makes many of the same assumptions that Seccombe does, especially about Task Force Sweep.

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.

While Standish talks of “several” convictions of the agency, Seccombe talks of their “40 high-profile arrests.” Nowhere in either article could be found the figures that illustrate the abysmal failure of the agency:

In the figures that Sam Koim (ITFS Chainman) provided the PNG public recently he claimed to have registered 350 cases – 93 that were ITFS initiated of which 12 were successful.
Those figures neither take into consideration that the conviction of MP Francis Potape (one of the only two major convictions of ITFS – the other being MP Paul Tiensten – twice) was successfully overturned on appeal nor that some have mooted that this may be the fate of other convictions.
For now, it stands at 11 out of 93, or 11.83% success rate! Based on the cases registered (350), the success rate comes out at 3.1%. Indeed, a full 50% of ITFS cases have not made it past committal. (My emphasis)

To support their shaky thesis they have also needed to overlook the fact that Koim is embroiled in his own allegations with a charge of Contempt of Court dogging him along with the question of who is funding him.  When this question can be answered then Koim may be further discredited. Another elephant in the room ignored.

Lying can be as successfully achieved by omission as by commission.

PNG Courts

Just for good measure, the anonymous “old hand” and Professor Stephen Howes (yes, another source from that Development Policy Centre) – are in agreement that the court system in PNG is probably the last bastion of democracy and the only PNG government institution that can be trusted to function effectively.

Justice Terry Higgins
Justice Terry Higgins

This notwithstanding, Howes does mention a couple of appointees (though not by name) who seem to have been corrupted but is eager to point out that it isn’t the ‘white’ judge, Justice Terry Higgins, who was a former chief justice of the Supreme Court of the ACT. No it wouldn’t be the Australian, would it?

While I have also not seen any evidence that Justice Higgins is anything but impeccable and ditto other ‘non-white’ Papua New Guinean judges, nevertheless, in my close observations of the courts lately, I have seen some extraordinarily illogical decisions handed down by some and have remarked on them
See http://www.pngecho.com/2016/04/26/political-shenanigans-in-png-could-the-chief-justice-be-involved/ http://www.pngecho.com/2016/04/19/is-the-judiciary-overstepping-its-jurisdiction-the-damaru-case/   http://www.pngecho.com/2016/03/30/the-png-judiciary-the-power-and-the-glory-part-two/ http://www.pngecho.com/2016/03/29/the-reformation-of-the-court-system-in-papua-new-guinea/

Yet Seccombe tells us:

Others spoken to for this story say likewise: the government might be crook but not the courts.

Another of Seccombe’s immpeccable sources: “Others spoken to.”

With all this in mind, does this give Seccombe the qualification to gratuitously call the government of Papua New Guinea variably, corrupt, crook and greedy?

My advice, #takebackpng# – start listening to people who are talking to you – not those talking to the vested interests (that aren’t yours).

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