To recognise outstanding achievement in matters concerning the Vote of No Confidence the committee (me) would like to make the following awards. In the category of
Best Speech the winner is:
KELLY NARU – the Governor of Morobe who displayed a profound understanding of the issues surrounding this vote and articulated them with a razor sharp analysis – especially in that which concerned the ‘Separation of Powers’.
The Yeah Yeah Yeah award also goes to Morobe and is won by: SAM BASIL– who displayed none of the above but whose words inspired the next award.
The Mispronunciation award, that goes to the word: OPPOSHISHUN closely rivalled by DESHISHUN
In the ‘Best Dressed’ category the award was unanimously voted as going to: BEN MICAH – Was his suit a political statement or does he just look good in yellow?
The Let’s Keep Them Guessing award goes to: PAIAS WINGTI – who kindly kept the whole nation entertained for seven days playing ‘Where’s Wingti’? He was in Port Moresby and voted with government. Who got it right?
In the category of Best Comeback the award goes to: JAMES MARAPE – whose quick and incisive replies floored a couple of prominent members of the Opposition including Kerenga Kua, the practiced litigator.
Best timing goes to: THEO ZURENUOC: – the Speaker of the House whose call for a vote was a relief to most (see the ‘Yeah, Yeah, Yeah’ category that proved to be a strongly contested award) and that prompted the following category of…
Best Tantrum and was won by: BELDEN NAMAH – who is poised to make this category his own with his foot-stamping, fist thumping rhetoric – “Give us a chance to debate – I will not sit down until I debate.” He must be still standing because in the next category…
Best Sense of Humour, …where the winner is, once again, Speaker of the House: THEO ZURENUOC – He presided over the proceedings with good humour, a ready smile and who wisely responded not with sanctions, but with amused laughter at the above recalcitrant.
But the Gold VONC goes to the Honourable PETER O’NEILL, Prime Minister of Papua New Guinea (then and now) for his decisive win of 85 to 21.
Attorney General, Ano Pala, has today had the warrant of arrest, extant since July 2014, quashed by a unanimous three-man bench of the Supreme Court – consisting of Justices Higgins, Sawong and Batari.
The warrant had been sworn out by Magistrate Cosmas Bidar at the behest of Police Officer, Matthew Damaru.
The charge leveled was ‘defeating the course of justice’ in conspiracy with others including the Prime Minister, Finance Minister, Geoffrey Vaki and their respective counsels notwithstanding that most of these people were not a party to the proceedings at the time. The quashing of the arrest warrant means that the conspiracy charges are also not recognised.
Pala’s alleged sin, in the eyes of Detective Chief Superintendent Damaru, was to apply for the State to be joined to a matter wherein the Prime Minister and the Finance Minister had filed proceedings to legitimize (or not) bills paid by the state to Paul Paraka Lawyers by way of a declaration of taxation.
This is a most important question because if the Paraka bills are legitimate then no offence has been committed.
It is a way of getting to the truth – proof of a crime should be at the very beginning of an investigation (clearly no one has told this to Task-Force Sweep or the Fraud Squad.)
The truth is something that Police Officer, Matthew Damaru patently did not want to get in the way of a good witch hunt
I mean, how could trying to ascertain the truth be an attempt to defeat the course of justice?
Indeed, the three learned judges ascertained that Pala’s filing of proceedings
…is an act incapable of being a criminal act.
Further, they emphasized their ruling was timely (and lucky for some) as had Pala been arrested and denied his liberty, he would have had ample cause for redress.
With this decision, the Supreme Court overruled the previous decision of Justice Colin Makail in the National Court that dismissed Pala’s petition saying he had no standing to bring proceedings until after he was arrested.
Think about it: what’s the point of trying to quash an arrest warrant after its already been effected? But that’s what Justice Makail, in his wisdom decided – yes it baffles me too.
But it was not only that the charges were specious that caught the attention of the learned Judges but also the manner in which the arrest warrant was effected.
The faulty warrant
The Judges maintained that
…the warrant ha[d] received such little attention that the learned magistrate [Bidar] did not even choose whether the subject was “him or “her”.
The judgment went on:
It does not appear that any grounds were suggested to the magistrate… [although] …[t]he need to consider alternative grounds is mandatory.
Yet, even had the magistrate considered the grounds (which the bench found he hadn’t) apparently ”
None of the grounds for considering arrest referred to…could reasonably have been believed to justify the arrest of the applicant.
And so the witch hunt continues.
This is the second ruling this week that has found that the actions of the Fraud Squad have been cavalier.
For two years the Attorney General has had this charge hanging over his head – just because he lawfully sought the truth.
And then there’s the Deputy Secretary of Treasury, Mr Aloysius Hamou – described by all his work colleagues as a true and faithful public servant – who was sacrificed to the zealotry of these rogue elements in the Police Force who have become a law unto themselves.
He was also exonerated, found to be only doing his job in the purchase of the Israeli turbines matter – in fact, had he not obeyed the lawful directive from the NEC he would have been up on disciplinary charges.
I’m told Mr Hamou doesn’t enjoy the best of health, this episode, for an honest, fine and upstanding man, such as he, must have added a considerable amount of stress to his life, not to mention the loss of reputation.
Don Polye, the Engan warlord, whose election result has been set aside on more than one occasion for suspected and proven tampering (including the most recent one), who is implicated in many corruption scandals including (but not only) the unresolved Paraka case, who has been rejected and sidelined by every government he’s served under, not least of all for incompetence, has been named as the alternative Prime Minister.
Is this the best the Opposition can do?
I’ve maintained (and am unlikely to resile from the position) that the Opposition is not a fit outfit to run a country. They are a motley crew of the disaffected, disgruntled and rejected – all with knives sharpened to do each other in at the earliest opportunity.
I think they’ve already done Ben Micah in.
According to a government press release, Micah, when denied what Minister Marape has labelled “unreasonable demands” to whit: to be given the Deputy Prime Minister’s Portfolio (the good Minister considering Micah ” …does not have the stature, experience and respect required to be Deputy Prime Minister.”) he gathered up all his toys, like a spoilt child, and left – disgruntled, disaffected and rejected.
Only he left a few behind, like the Chans – the most useful toys in his stash.
How would he perform as DPM when he can’t even maintain the following of a small political party? I do, though, wonder how Micah found himself in oppositional no man’s land – no nomination as alternative Prime Minister – not even Deputy (they’ve got Basil, who’s made that role his own.)
The only reasonable explanation is that he did more than just sulked away – likely left with a whip behind him. Ah, you never know how humble you can be – until being humble is all the choice you have.
(Apologies to the unknown sage whose words of wisdom I’ve bastardized)
Mind you, the Opposition are so few that, at this stage, promising Ministerial portfolios would not be a problem.
However, once they’re all gone – what do they have left that’s in the least attractive for the other MPs and for the country? Not a lot.
Yet we are being regaled, in the social media, with all the likely defections – to the Opposition – when in fact the faction that is the most wobbly is the Opposition.
Micah, for instance, he’s got nothing for his defection (and he’s not known for doing things out of the goodness of his heart) and what’s more they quite likely tricked him out of the leadership or deputy role and he wouldn’t be pleased about that. I’d say Micah is for sale to the highest bidder – except no one seems to be bidding.
And then, there’s Namah… who has been ‘making eyes’ at O’Neill for some time now. But the famous cuckold has been, so far, unsuccessful. However, O’Neill would only have to wink at him and he’d come running. He’s no stable member of this wraggle-taggle mob – a bit of a floozy really.
Wasn’t it humiliating to see Speaker, Theo Zurenuoc go to water when Kua reminded him, ominously, that he could be charged with contempt of court – a veiled threat, I thought. You could have carried the Speaker around in a bucket. I’m wondering what motivates this feisty little gnome-like creature other than enriching the Somares.
Then, lurking in the background, not really with them, not really against them, is the Governor of Oro, Gary Juffa.
Here’s your solution.
I’m now going to suspend all disbelief in order to give you all what you say you want: that is the Opposition, the social media and the silent majority.
It is the Opposition’s position that this VONC was necessary because Peter O’Neill is ruining the country and needs to be removed to save PNG. Their motivation is to save PNG from corruption and bad fiscal management.
Pay attention to this, because it’s vital.
How can that be the case when they’ve nominated someone like Don Polye to be alternative Prime Minister – just more of the same things they accuse O’Neill of and worse?
I have also demonstrated, here and at other times, that the main contenders for alternative Prime Minister in the Opposition are all tainted by the broad brush of corruption.
The Opposition would tell you that they were acting on behalf of the ‘silent majority’; that they’ve heard their plaintive cries (although I don’t know how when they’re silent) and are responding – a voice for the voiceless.
Equally, there is a certain demographic that uses the social media who claim to also be speaking for the ‘silent majority’. (The students’ did too – but let’s leave them out – this social grouping seems to be becoming over-represented).
We can therefore conclude that the Opposition and the social media, anti-government forces are speaking for this same voiceless demographic.
With me? Excellent.
If we scrutinize the rhetoric of this social media grouping and take heed of the many surveys they have carried out, the consensus is that this silent majority, want Gary Juffa as alternative Prime Minister. Unequivocally! (Oh and Basil as the Deputy – who else?)
Juffa, though, hasn’t got the numbers and the Governor understands this only too well – yes, but only because these supposed representatives of the ‘silent majority’ have given their vote to Polye when their supporters want Juffa.
Oh come on Don, why don’t you listen to the plaintive cries of your constituents? It’s easy stuff, step down, instruct the Opposition (which you claim to lead) to back Juffa.
This will reveal, if your aim is really as stated or whether this VONC is a cynical exercise to raid the state’s coffers. As for the social media and the anti-government forces, I’ve given you a tangible way to get what you want – go lobby – but be prepared to run when the sheepskins are shrugged off to reveal the hungry wolves.
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 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
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.
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.
They say that PNG is the land of the unexpected – but there is nothing unexpected about the latest decisions pertaining to Chief Superintendent Matthew Damaru and Chief Inspector Timothy Gitua of the RPNGC in what pertains to their witch hunt against the O’Neill government.
In the latest developments, Dr Lawrence Kalinoe, acting for the Attorney-General Ano Pala (who has, quite rightly, delegated authority to Kalinoe owing to a conflict of interest in this case) has refused to brief out barrister Greg Egan and Jema lawyers to represent the two policemen in the cases involving the Prime Minister Peter O’Neill, Finance Minister James Marape, Attorney-General Ano Pala, Police Commissioner Gari Baki, and Treasury Secretary Dairi Vele (or any cases, for that matter).
In the expected outcry by the supporters of the two rogue policemen, I have not been disappointed. This too was anticipated.
However, while my expectations and the expectations of the rogue policemen’s supporters tally, (we both expected the request to be denied) they come from a completely different understanding of justice and the rule of law.
The supporters of Damaru and Gitua want jungle justice, PNG style. They believe that the ‘bikmen’ that Damaru and Gitua have targeted are guilty and they want their heads on a plate regardless of how many principles suffer or how much anarchy and its ensuing consequences their need for retribution may trigger.
It is their argument that the government, by denying this request, is merely protecting itself and its implicated members. They claim it’s unfair.
On the surface, it may seem that way but only because these police personnel have been allowed to get away with insubordination for so long – so much so, that it has become normalised and expected that they should get away with more.
Anything is ok,with their followers as long as they deliver the bllood for which these people have been baying.
Who gave Damaru and Gitua the idea that they could act independently: that they had authority to brief these lawyers in the first place? Under whose authority were they acting? Sam Koim’s? He has no authority and is unlikely ever to get any again.
As one commentator on PNG Echo wrote:
These proceedings [various proceedings surrounding Koim] are a waste of time and money because Koim’s Task Force Sweep has no legitimate source of funding and since we should have a politically independent ICAC soon which should make Koim irrelevant although I am sure even that will not deflate his ego.
And when Damaru said, in the press, of the Acting Attorney-General’s refusal to grant his choice of lawyers
This is a major setback to all cases (in court) and investigations (into PM and others) currently underway… Taking on new representation will further delay us,
he really has only himself to blame. He should have thought about that before he decided to be a maverick. All actions have consequences, and that this gung-ho police officer failed to foresee them could be a direct result of his unbridled zealotry.
It is directly akin to all of the contempt of court charges that are now extant and threatening to hold up cases while they’re decided. The people who have allegedly committed the contempt are busy crying foul but again, they have only themselves to blame : if you don’t want contempt charges to muddy the water, stop committing contempt – it’s not rocket science, especially if you are trained in the law.
Brought back into line
The RPNGC is a disciplinary force that is hierarchical in structure. There is a definite chain of command, without which the members become vigilantes – answerable to no one. As reported in his letter to Damaru, Dr Kalinoe has reminded the police officer of this when he tells him
…the request should have come from the Police Commissioner as the head of the organisation
Damaru was advised by the Attorney-General’s Department that he and his officers were able to be represented by lawyers from the Public Solicitor’s Office – which is what the office is there for.
Rulings handed down today today by a full bench of the Supreme Court (Justices Hartshorn, Sawong and Makail) have dismissed an objection by Police Officers Gitua and Damaru to an appeal by Minister James Marape arising from a National Court decision and have, furthermore, reversed a ruling of single-sitting Supreme Court Judge, Justice Kirriwom, thus upholding the appeal of Prime Minister Peter O’Neill, Minister James Marape and the Independent State of Papua New Guinea.
In the first-mentioned matter, an appeal had been lodged against the National Court’s ruling that refused an application by government and police lawyers for interlocutory orders by consent, restraining police from arresting Minister Marape and the Prime Minister.
Messrs Gitua and Damaru were objecting to the competency of the appeal.
A full bench of the Supreme Court ruled:
In our view all of the objections of the objectors’ [Damaru and Gitua] do not question this court’s jurisdiction to hear the appeal and do not go to the competency of the appeal but rather questions as to the merits of the appeal. Consequently the objection to competency should be dismissed.
In the second matter, the appeal was against Justice Kirriwom’s ruling that police officer’s Gitua and Damaru should be allowed to choose and engage their preferred counsel – in this case, Jema Lawyers and barrister Greg Egan.
The court determined that as police officers, Damaru and Gitua were required to obtain approval from the Attorney General to engage lawyers to act on their behalf in this proceeding and that Justice Kirriwom had erred in drawing the opposing conclusion.
An interim order restraining the police officers from engaging or instructing lawyers was granted and it was ordered that each party (both the Attorney General and the police officers) make the applications and appointments necessary for legal representation of Damaru and Gitua in this matter.
In both cases costs were awarded against Damaru and Gitua.
When Judge Kirriwom today referred lawyer Tiffany Twivey to the Law Society for perverting the course of justice he did so on the premise that she had “…signed consent judgment setting aside the warrant of the arrest of Dairi Vele without notifying Detective Chief Inspector Gitua…” (page 30 – Judgment SCM No 87 of 2014).
This is not what she’d done.
Ms Twivey, in fact, signed on 29 July, in the District Court, a consent order for an adjournment that had been requested by the Commissioner of Police (as the warrant was short served).
At the same time she applied for an order staying the execution of the warrant for arrest on the Secretary of the Treasury, Dairi Vele, until the Inter Partes hearing that was set for 25th August. This merely served to maintain the status quo until then.
The fact that there had been a change of name from the original matter – one that had replaced Gitua with the Royal PNG Constabulary, the Judge saw as sinister – because removing Gitua as a party to the proceedings had kept him in the dark.
Well maybe – but not for long.
For on July 30, the day after the granting of the adjournment, Detective Chief Inspector Gitua was served with notice by Twivey – not of the setting aside of the warrant (as stated by Kirriwom) but of the adjournment and the temporary staying of the arrest warrant until August 25.
In his affidavit of 7 August, Chief Superintendent Damaru, indicated in paragraph 7, that he understood the stay order was a temporary measure leading up to the hearing on 25 August – however, the learned Judge seems to have believed (as stated – see first paragraph) that the warrant had been ‘set aside’ – suggesting something far more permanent.
Today (August 25) notwithstanding the ample notice, neither Gitua nor Damaru were present when the requested adjournment was granted (until 22 September). The adjournment was sought and granted due to the replacement of Sam Bonner as the counsel for the Commissioner of Police (with Nicholas Tame) giving time for the Police Commissioner to brief his new lawyers.
The adjournment gives Gitua another opportunity to present himself and his case to this hearing should he care to.
It must be noted that in all of these proceedings, the Police Commissioner has not indicated whether he will consent (or not) to the application made to stay the arrest warrant of Vele.
Under the circumstances, the criticism from the bench that: “He [the Commissioner of Police] has no qualms …in collaborating and cooperating with …Marape and Prime Minister O’Neill,” seems to be a trifle unfair.
Besides, this judgment completely ignores the Supreme Court Reference, five-man bench decision that says the Police Commissioner has the right to withdraw any warrant of arrest or the right to direct any officer to withdraw a warrant of arrest.
It is an option, that the Commissioner of Police; he who is accused of collaborating and cooperating with the Prime Minister and Finance Minister; has not even exercised.
Twivey was, in this matter, acting on behalf of Prime Minister Peter O’Neill in the case against police officers Gitua and Damaru and their right to hire private lawyers. Sam Bonner, former counsel to the Commissioner of Police was also referred to the Law Society on the same matter.
A Supreme Court ruling yesterday that granted an injunction against police arresting Finance Minister, James Marape, saw a full bench of the Supreme Court tacitly endorsing the new, National-Executive-Council-appointed Police Commissioner Geoffrey Vaki in their deliberations.
Earlier this week, this time in the National Court, Justice Gavara-Nanu granted a permanent stay against the NEC order that disbanded the Task Force Sweep (TFS) and set up an Interim Office.
The decisions solve nothing and create two investigation bodies (men) claiming court sanctioned legitimacy.
The Police Commissioner does not agree with how Task Force Sweep has gone about prosecuting the Paraka matter (and particularly the Prime Minister’s alleged involvement) and is unlikely to co-operate with any initiatives in this matter taken by TFS.
Yet both the Police Commissioner and the Task Force Sweep are ostensibly court backed.
We have a stalemate – another potential impasse between the executive and judiciary; between politics and the law.
In my estimations “Big Man’ (traditional) politics is seeking to utilise western-style justice to effect a customary solution. It’s a situation where even those applying the paradigm of the ethics and morals of a western style government are still looking for the customary solution of ‘payback’. Continue reading Retribution or reform?→
Justice, David, Hartshorn and Sawong were today unanimous in their decision to grant Finance Minister, James Marape an interim injunction restraining his arrest by any member of the RPNGC.
The outcome was not unexpected as all four responding parties, Prime Minister, Paul Paraka, RPNGC and Independent State of PNG consented to the appeal of Finance Minister Marape for the interim injunction.
However, what was not widely foreshadowed was how strongly the divisions apparent within the ranks of the police force affected the outcome of the appeal (that in different circumstances may have been decided otherwise, according to the decision) and how the Judges, in their summation, tacitly endorsed and supported the leadership of the new Police Commissioner, Geoffrey Vaki.
We have […] heard submissions from counsel for the applicant, the Royal Constabulary, the Prime Minister and the State, which to say the least, are disturbing, distressing and saddening,
They went on to mention their specific concerns which included: the assault of lawyer acting for the Acting Police Commissioner (Sam Bonner) “in the precincts of this court,” the two charges brought against the Acting Police Commissioner by other police and the situation whereby the orders issued by the Acting Police Commissioner to members of the RPNGC had been ignored.
All this “…had created animosity and division amongst members of the police force,” the court stated, and it was agreed that the Acting Police Commissioner needed time to restore the integrity and reputation of his office and also the RPNGC generally.
It was in this context, that the court decided it had no confidence that any arrest of the Finance Minister, carried out while the RPNGC was in such a state, would be in accordance with the law and not motivated by “improper reasons” of one or more RPNGC members.
“No citizen of this country, regardless of any position that he may hold, should have to live in fear of such treatment from a supposedly disciplined force,” was the court’s final point before granting Marape’s application.
By PNG Echo. As this article goes to press, I’ve been reliably informed that the PM and his lawyers are still in court, presumably getting the arrest warrant stayed or overturned
When ABC Australia’s Liam Cochrane broke the news today that there was an arrest warrant out for the Prime Minister Peter O’Neill in the Paraka matter, it sparked a flurry of jubilation in the social media as the pack that had been baying for the blood of the Prime Minister thought that this was their moment – their vindication – payback.