Speech/review ‘Redeeming Moti’


“…every person in the Pacific and the world should read this book.”




by Professor Shaista Shameen, Dean of the Law School, University of Fiji on the occasion of the launch in Suva, Fiji, 14 May, 2017 (Abridged)


Hon. Members of Parliament, Hon. Chief Justice and members of the Judiciary, Your Excellencies of the Diplomatic Corps, Distinguished Colleagues, Students, Ladies and Gentlemen.

Until I read Dr Merrell’s book last week, I had no idea of the actual facts [of the Julian Moti saga] only that he had eventually been cleared by the Australian courts.

Fiji’s Chief Justice, Anthony Gates – first in line to buy a copy

[But] It is just not enough to know that Julian had been cleared. The wrongs inflicted on him by those who otherwise wave the flags of democracy, rule of law, due process and human rights, and trumpet all the politically correct platitudes at us, Pacific Islanders, thus far remain unpunished. The perpetrators have shrugged and moved on, as if to say, you lose some….so what? And that is the evil that this book exposes.

‘Redeeming Moti’ is going to be an important book for universities and scholars for a number of reasons which I will go into in a minute.

But it is not a scholarly book- it does not have the kind of language that scholarly tomes tend to have nowadays in the post-modern tradition- convoluted and Foucaultian. It is uncompromisingly straightforward; a High School student can read it and will find in it both tragedy and comedy, take your pick.

The author and her subject

The story is so awful it is funny- and by funny I mean gallows humour. When I read it I said ..how can this possibly happen to anyone? Well it did happen. Dr Merrell’s book explains how and why.

Now, what will scholars and universities find in the book? What will my law students take from it? That was the litmus test for me as I read it.

Well, Ladies and Gentlemen, let me tell you why I think that every person in the Pacific and the world should read this book.

They will find everything in it. It has all the ingredients of a good thriller; it has a good survey of Pacific and international politics; a good review of media culpability in the persecution of a man who stood up to neo-colonialism, sometimes without support even from those he was protecting; there is a love story (of sorts) in it; and there is redemption, that is, a belief, a desperate belief actually, that one day the truth will be out and then everyone will understand.

Ladies and Gentlemen, there are several observations that I can make in reference to why this book will rightly have a scatter-gun effect.

Julian Moti

First, it exposes mainstream media for what it can be- banal, here today, gone tomorrow, slavish to those in power, hence denigrating its own power to do good, or if that is too hard, at least to be fair, occupying its own colonizing space shamelessly, and then, without warning, becoming self-righteous and unjustifiably indignant.
But what Dr Merrell shows as a journalist, and she is one despite her political science doctorate, is that the mainstream media must understand what it means to be the ‘critic and conscience’ of society..

Secondly, I turn to Pacific Politics, both external and internal that is exposed in the book. During this sorry series of events apparently now known as ‘Motigate’, parliamentarians of some Pacific Island states switched sides so fast, it made me dizzy just to read about it. What this book says about Pacific Island politics is revealing, to put it mildly. It appears we have no ethics, no loyalty to anyone but ourselves (certainly not to the constituency), no shame in changing sides to stay, even precariously, in power, and no guilt about selling our country or ourselves to the highest bidder. Instead we say, oh well, that’s politics for you.

Well, I can’t uphold that perspective to my law students; and I hope no lecturer here tonight will be able to say that to their students either.

The Author in Fiji

Dr Merrell’s book exposes the farce of Pacific politics, including in Australia, in such a way that we have now to decide what we want our politicians to do and be.

Finally, the law. Ultimately, what comes out as a force for good in this book are the courts. But not easily. In Dr Merrell’s account, courts’ decisions are based as much on chance as on law. But the Australian court that released Julian into the arms of the country of his birth, was a court of justice – at the time. That is the one bright light in the book.

But above all, for all that I have made some remarks that would be pertinent to scholarship, this book is about human foibles, including the author’s own which she freely shares with her readers, and about, almost Shakespearean, tragedy, and regret.

Nevertheless, the phoenix does rise, as did Julian who is here with us today to talk a bit about the aftermath, the postlude. No one involved in this saga remained unscathed, least of all Julian, and also the author- that is clear.

However, we are reminded that despite the evil that we know for a fact exists in the world in myriad forms, there is good also, and that is the only thing that counts in the end. But, of course, only if we can find the difference between the two because, quite often, evil masquerades as good. That is the message in the book.I congratulate Dr Merrell for having written it, warts and all

Ladies and Gentlemen, I am indeed very happy and honoured to formally launch ‘Redeeming Moti’ and to highly recommend it to you.

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Book Launch: ‘Redeeming Moti’

If you are in Suva, Fiji next week and you are interested in attending the launch of my recently published book ‘Redeeming Moti’, hosted by the Law Department, University of Fiji, please RSVP to the address on the invitation. Julian Moti will be in attendance and will be a speaker at the event (as will I). See you there.

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The Defense of Task Force Sweep (Who’s funding Koim?)

By PNG Echo
(Keep reading to the end where the document that answers the question is supplied.)

6a00d83454f2ec69e201a511c676d5970c-250wiIt was the National Executive Council (NEC) that established Task Force Sweep and it was the NEC that terminated the agency.

But Sam Koim couldn’t accept the inevitable. He was enjoying his elevated and internationally lauded position, notwithstanding his inexperienced and inept management of the agency that saw only half of his prosecutions make it through a committal hearing and of many of those that have, have been an unnecessary failure, according to a concerned legal expert.

Koim recently stated of the decommissioning of the agency:

It’s like the accusers threw us out of the ship in the middle of the deep ocean and expected us to drown and die, but when we made it to the shore alive, they then turned around and accused us saying “why are you still surviving?”

Actually, the situation was anything but.

They were let out of a very leaky, inadequate boat on the Jetty and told to go home – but Koim kept wading back into the sea then expecting someone to pay for expensive lifeguards to get into the surf with him and keep his head above water. It has been a wilful and continuing act.

The analogy is plain: We are talking about his many and various attempts to keep the agency afloat using expensive and illegally hired lawyers and barristers. Recently, for the third time, the Supreme Court made the ruling of their illegality bringing into question every and any court victory he may have obtained using the expensive counsel

Anyway, the question of who has been funding the agency as well as funding the litigation has been the burning question.

Ask no more.

Hereunder is an account from the Grand Papua Hotel for Mr Greg Egan, Koim’s senior counsel of choice,  accomodation and food.  The entity that was picking up the tab was Posman Kua, Aisi – Kerenga Kua’s old law firm.

I am also reliably informed that the ‘Dream Inn’ a Kua enterprise has also been used extensively – but that will remain speculation until someone can find an account I can publish. For now, let’s go with the one we have.

This is page 6 of Mr Egan’s accommodation bill with the final amount disclosed.  I have receipt of the other five pages. Please note who’s picking up the tab.

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Thoughts on a colonial mindset.

By PNG Echo

The street where I was born.
The street where I was born.

I am often asked what attracted me to the politics of Papua New Guinea. I can only reply by evoking the country of my birth – Wales.

Although I left Wales as a teenager, Wales has never left me – I see in Papua New Guinea many reflections of Wales – especially in the struggle for identity.

My Country

My Country - my beloved Brecon Beacons covered in snow at sunset
My Country – my beloved Brecon Beacons covered in snow at sunset

Today I was reminded of poet, Gerallt Lloyd Owen: a fiercely patriotic Welshman who, in 1972, published an antholology of poems entitled: ‘Cerddi’r Cywilydd’ which, translated from our language (Welsh),  means ‘The Poems of Shame’.

The poems were written in response to Wales having invested the English Prince Charles as Prince of Wales – a very unpopular event with those of a nationalist bent – although celebrated by many – to the nationalistic horror of Lloyd Owen.

Most striking in this anthology is the poem ‘Fy Ngwald’ (My Country). In it he invokes the name of Llewelyn – the last (indigenous) Prince of Wales who was killed by the English in 1282.

It is a bitter lament on national subservience and the colonial mindset. Here is the first and most well-know verse.

Gerallt Lloyd Owen
Gerallt Lloyd Owen

Fy Ngwald

Wylit, wylit, Lywelyn,
Wylit waed pe gwelit hyn.
Ein calon gan estron ŵr,
Ein coron gan goncwerwr,
A gwerin o ffafrgarwyr
Llariaidd eu gwên lle’r oedd gwŷr.


The valley in winter
The valley in winter

My Country

You’d cry, you’d cry Llywelyn,
You’d cry blood if you could see this,
Our hearts with a foreigner,
Our crown with a conqueror,
And our people are just a privileged lover
With meek smiles, where once there were men.

Strong words.
Do they resonate in Papua New Guinea?  Could the name of our great Prince Llywelyn be substituted by a great warrior/leader of Papua New Guinea and these words become eerily apt?

My convictions

Tapini in Goilala - another valley dear to my heart
Tapini in Goilala – another valley dear to my heart

It is because of my strong nationalist leaning that I support the leadership initiatives of Prime Minister, Peter O’Neill, when he takes back what is rightfully PNGs – like OkTedi.

It is because I believe that the identity of smaller nations should not be subjugated to a more powerful neighbor that I applauded when your Foreign Minister, Rimbink Pato, restricted the access to Bougainville for Australians when Australia decided it could ignore PNG national sovereignty and bypass diplomatic channels.

It is also why I support the initiative of Gary Juffa (if not necessarily the modus operandi) #takingbackPNG.

But ‘no’ to racisim

Mty brand of nationalism, however, does not support xenophobia – indeed the Welsh tradition embraces all comers – especially the downtrodden.  And I am nothing if not a product of proud Welsh traditions.

Two of my Welsh wantoks who were children when banish black singer and activist, Paul Robeson, was welcomed in our valley.
Two of my Welsh wantoks who were children when banish black singer and activist, Paul Robeson, was welcomed in our valley.

Welsh coal miners, from which I’m directly descended, defied the British government and, using their own resources, travelled to Spain to fight against the fascism of General Franco in the Spanish Civil War.

Wales supported and harboured black dissidents banished from America because of their civil rights activism against black oppression – such as the singer Paul Robeson.

Robeson stated that It was in the valleys of south Wales (from whence I hail) that he first understood the struggles of white and negro together – after he had been down a coal mine in the Rhondda Valley (the next valley to where I was born) and lived amongst us.

My activities in Papua New Guinea are just a continuation of a proud political tradition transferred to closer, different (but often so similar) arena.

May your God bless Papua New Guinea

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Tall tales and true: Strategically yours

By Susan Merrell

I’m a journalist, people tell me things – lots of things. The information ranges from the factual to the fanciful and everything in between.
Some want to see justice done through the media, others just want their story told, while some try to use the media, through me, for mischievous purposes and for all sorts of reasons, including to make me appear foolish and gullible by publishing their lies.
So I’m cautious, but just occasionally a story is run past me that is so fantastical, so amusing that it would be a travesty not to share it.
However, I must caution the reader that the source of my source is “talk amongst politicians” meaning not even his sources are sure – so let’s call it a fairy tale for you to enjoy with your sandwich over lunch.

Who are these PNGeans? Paolo and Francesca, Bill and Hillary or ......
Who are these PNGeans? Paolo and Francesca, Bill and Hillary or ……

Once upon a time there were two high-ranking government officials who wanted to get married (let’s call them Bill and Hillary for ease of identification).

Well… actually… Bill desired the marriage, I’m not so sure about Hillary. So while I’m not saying for certain that she was less enthusiastic, she did seem to have little say in the process.

For both Bill and Hillary were married to other people, in fact, Bill had many wives. What’s more, while I’d like to tell you readers that they had fallen madly in love, (everyone loves a love story) – that’s not certain either.

Given their high-ranking positions it could have been convenience that was driving their desire (or rather – his desire) or it could be that the union would prove politically strategic for them both – a bit like the marital alliances that were forged in Europe long ago – I’m thinking here Louis the Sixteenth of France and Marie Antoinette daughter of the Holy Roman Emperor – (Yes, yes, I know, perhaps not the greatest example – I mean, didn’t that all end in tears? But that may just be how our story ends too.)

The marital status of Bill was no obstacle to their union – not in PNG – but Hillary’s could have been a real sticking point to the intended nuptials had it not been for the fact that in PNG high-ranking government officials have ‘means’ and, in PNG, women can be bought (or so it seems if you believe the “talk amongst politicians.”)

If you see a man with a brand new one of these in the company of a beautiful girl splashing around bundles of cash - please let me know
If you see a man with a brand new one of these in the company of a beautiful girl splashing around bundles of cash – please let me know

And that’s what purportedly happened: Hillary was traded by her then lawful husband for “…K2 million, a Toyota fully kitted 10 seater Landcruiser and a young beautiful lass from Central.”

So with everyone happy with their lot (I suppose)– the marriage took place between Bill and Hillary.

I’m sensing you are sceptical – I mean what did the “young beautiful lass from Central have to say about this and wouldn’t Hillary and her husband need to divorce first? – or is this just my western ethos spoiling a good story – because it gets better.

It seems that the union was indeed strategic and Bill is now using Hillary’s bank account to cover up questionable payments to even more government officials (in the six-figure range) in order to effect Bill’s (and perhaps Hillary’s too) strategic plans – whatever they be.

Purportedly these illegal payments have been made to the most unlikely of suspects. Social media darlings even – or so the legend goes.

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Task Force Sweep’s integrity compromised.

By PNG Echo

Forced evictions at Paga Hill to make way for developer exonerated for wrongdoing by Task Force Sweep
Forced evictions at Paga Hill to make way for developer exonerated for wrongdoing by Task Force Sweep

The International State Crime Initiative (ISCI) has raised serious questions about the integrity of anti-corruption agency, Task Force Sweep (TFS) and its Chairman, Sam Koim, after, TFS exonerated expatriate businessman Gudmundur Fridriksson and his companies and associates who are the developers of the controversial Paga Hill estate.

In a press statement accompanying a 57-page report released today, 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.”

In October 2012, ISCI lodged a complaint with Task Force Sweep containing serious allegations about the developer. Nevertheless, Dr Laslett writes:

Sweep failed to make any substantive response for 19 months then during June and July of 2014 Mr Fridriksson personally petitioned Task-Force Sweep to ‘correct’ Public Accounts Committee and Auditor General’s Office findings.

Four months later Sweep released a ten page case-assessment exonerating Mr Fridriksson and certain associated corporate entities.

The assessment contains “startling errors of fact, law and method,” claims the ISCI who goes on further to accuse Task Force Sweep of entirely ignoring its own basic practice and procedure, notwithstanding that “Task-Force Sweep is highly literate in investigative procedure and the law.”

The ISCI report highlights a “lack of rigour” in the case-assessment of TFS which it says

  • Is tainted by irregular practices
  • Misrepresented the Public Finances (Management) Act
  • Failed to consider the question of criminal liability
  • jeopardized whistleblowers.

ISCI is calling on the government of Papua New Guinea to launch an arms-length, independent probe into Task-Force Sweep’s investigation of Mr Fridriksson and other associated entities.

ISCI suggests that any uncovering of systemic failures within Task Force Sweep should lead to a broader evaluation of Task Force Sweep’s casework, managerial processes and financial accounting practices.

The ISCI recommends that the proposed Independent Commission Against Corruption be introduced at the earliest possible opportunity.

Task Force Sweep Chairman - not yet responded
Task Force Sweep Chairman – not yet responded

Task Force Sweep Chairman, Sam Koim, has been contacted to give his response to the report but although having read the messages has, so far, failed to respond. PNG Echo will publish his response should it arrive and whenever it arrives.

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Democracy, custom and the Melanesian Way.

By Susan Merrell

This is an article I wrote almost three years ago.  Inspired by a conversation with a learned PNGean, I am republishing – the thesis has not aged although the cast of characters has.

Is there a democratic Papua New Guinean nation – or is it merely an arbitrary state built on a shaky, crumbling foundation of disparate traditional customs and the ‘Melanesian Way’? Has the system of government become a hybrid of concepts that fail to work on any level – a bastardization of both democracy and custom?

melanesian_wayBernard Narokobi in his book ‘The Melanesian Way’ refused to define the conceptt:

According to Narokobi, those posing the question are “cynics”, “hypocrites” and display “spiteful arrogance.”  The concept is “cosmic” making a definition “futile” and “trite.”  He failed to explain how so.

Apparently, if Moses didn’t ask God to define himself then the messianic Narokobi should not be required to define the Melanesian Way – notwithstanding that he was writing a book about it, making one wonder what the rest of the book is about.

The idea of belonging to the ‘insider’ group that carries the knowledge of the Melanesian Way is so emotionally charged and identity defining that it usually provokes wide-eyed head nodding – but no conceptual challenge.

Yet, concepts only defy explanation when they are not widely understood. Given the nebulous nature of the ‘Melanesian Way’, it has become an exploitable idea. Continue reading Democracy, custom and the Melanesian Way.

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Lawyer, rapist, wife beater, mother beater, polygamist, conspirator, money launderer, thief…

… reads the profile of Senior Lawyer, Philemon Wass Korowi should all allegations against him be proven writes PNG Echo

White Collar crime

A busy man
A busy man

In a press statement, Sam Koim, of Task Force Sweep has confirmed that yesterday, Mr Korowi was arrested and  charged with:

4 counts of stealing from the state to the tune of over K10 million
4 counts of conspiracy to defraud the State
4 counts of money laundering

The charges were in relation to the Paraka matter where it’s alleged that in 2007, 2008 and 2010 Korowi used his firm’s trust accounts to facilitate and launder payments to Paraka – payments to which Paraka was not entitled.

Violence against women

Lawyer Wass Korowi's alleged victim - his wife's mother
Lawyer Wass Korowi’s alleged victim – his wife’s mother

In January of this year, Mr Korowi grabbed the nation’s attention and revulsion when his badly beaten mother-in-law (one of them), Lero Pat, made allegations of violence against him in an interview with TV station EMTV.

Ms Pat, still carrying the very visible and shocking facial injuries from his (alleged) attack, was so badly beaten that it became necessary to amputate one of her fingers.

Seems Mr Korowi was redefining and extending the idea of wife beating to include his mother-in-law – and, keeping it in the family, it is also alleged he raped his sister-in-law.

Yes, Mr Korowi has been a very busy man – not upholding the law but breaking it (allegedly) in more unspeakable ways than one.


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Namah defeated

By PNG Echo

4033280-3x2-940x627Belden Namah, leader of the Parliamentary Opposition in Papua New Guinea has conceded defeat.

Politically, the Opposition is a spent force as Namah admits:

Your Parliamentary Opposition has done all it can within its means… Our numbers cannot make any difference on the Floor of Parliament…There is nothing further the Opposition can do…

But that’s not right.

There is one significant thing, in fact, that the opposition can still do – sack the leader and replace him with a more attractive alternative.

In any other political context this ineffectual leader would have been replaced a long time ago.

However, Mr Namah refuses to fall on his sword for the sake of Papua New Guinea depriving the country of a potentially vigorous and effective opposition.

No Mr. Namah, you have not done all you can do, you’ve not even done the least.

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Court documents: Prime Minister O’Neill sues for defamation

The Prime Minster wasn’t bluffing.

WS 278 OF 2014- COURT ORDER pg. 1-2WS 278 OF 2014- COURT ORDER pg. 2-2WS 278 OF 2014- COURT ORDER pg. 3-2

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