The Rejects’ Shop – aka: the Opposition

By PNG Echo

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The ‘Little Shop of Horrors’ with Namah, significantly (?) in the second tier.

In most western democracies – certainly ones with a two-party system – the Opposition opposes the Government primarily on political ideology. That ideology provides the guiding principles for their policies.

In Papua New Guinea that has a 40-something-party (and goodness knows how many independents) system, the leading political ideology is self-serving pragmatism with a nod to expediency – so what exactly does the Opposition oppose?

The raison d’être

In the main, they are in Opposition because the Government doesn’t want them. In fact, the Opposition ranks (and they are meagre) consist of the rejected, swelled by the disaffected. And this is where the ‘alternative Prime Minister’ of Papua New Guinea will be sourced?

They’d all be still with the O’Neill Government if they had not either been unceremoniously dumped and/or O’Neill had not thwarted their ambitions, within the Government.

Many (and more, it seems, to come) have slunk into the Opposition ranks, tail between their legs, venting their spiteful spleen, like rejected lovers.

In fact, I’ve heard tell that the ultimate politically rejected lover is shuffling behind O’Neill, with his begging bowl, exhorting O’Neill to take him back. I’ve also heard tell that O’Neill is resolute in denying him.

The major players

Beware the Ides of AugustDon Polye:
Stripped of the Ministry of Finance, then the Treasury portfolio and then expelled from Government by O’Neill. Ordered by the Prime Minister to sit in the Opposition benches, after initially resisting, he finally complied – ousting Namah as Opposition Leader.  As leader of THE Party, Polye does not control his members. A large section of his Party stayed with government, including the Deputy Prime Minister – many defected to the Prime Minister’s party, PNC.

Belden Namah:
The ultimate cuckold. O’Neill’s coalition partner going into the 2012 elections, O’Neill found he did not need Namah – neither as far as numbers were concerned nor did he need the controversy and shame that Namah had brought to the high office when he was Deputy Prime Minister.  Eventually, all deserted Namah with the last being the perpetual deputy, Sam Basil – and now he’s gone too.

Kerenga Kua:
Former Attorney General – did he jump – or was he pushed? Certainly things were not going swimmingly for him in the government ranks. He never made it. Now he is the leader of the disgruntled (oh, and some resurrected and obscure political, one-man party.)

eight_col_Sam_BasilSam Basil:
Even the perpetual deputy whose fortunes rose and fell with Belden Namah has decided that Namah is too much of a liability and has resurrected the Pangu Party as its leader and even managed to get himself one follower in the guise of Little Willie Samb of Goilala.  To my knowledge though, he is still deputy of the opposition – but I wonder for how long now that the Opposition has swelled its number of wannabes.

In the comments, please feel free to add an Opposition member and elaborate how they have been rejected by government and why they are disgruntled.

PNG-Public-Enterprise-and-State-Investments-Minister-Ben-Micah.Which brings us to Ben Micah: Rumour has it that O’Neill would not give him the Deputy Prime Minister’s job and removed his portfolio. So welcome to the disgruntled, Ben. You’ll need to fight with Kua to have the title of ‘leader’ of that bloc but you certainly have the advantage in the weight stakes if not necessarily the political weight stakes. (BTW Ben, you forgot to take the Chans with you!)

Micah’s sins and indiscretions are legion. They are the stuff of dissertations and I have no time to go into them now. But you know what they are anyway – feel free to share in the comments. We’re all interested.

Slim pickings

Symbolically, Micah leads Polye into the chamber

The Opposition’s rejoicing at Micah’s defection reminds me of the time when Namah, as then Leader of the Opposition, proudly announced his newest defection to the ranks – Paul Tiensten, that is, after he’d been convicted but before his sentence had been handed down. For all of you who missed it – Tiensten is in Bomana (I wonder if he’s still in the Opposition and whether he can vote?)

I do understand that this outlook for an alternative Prime Minister is depressingly bleak – but I have been fomenting an idea that could work. I’m going to sleep on it – I’ll get back to you soon. After all, we’ve only got seven days.

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The reformation of the court system in Papua New Guinea.

By PNG Echo.

This article is the first in a two-part series that looks at the Judiciary in Papua New Guinea. This first part will look at the newly-proposed legislation, ask some questions and highlight some concerns. The next part will look at the judiciary in general and seek to answer the question of whether the judiciary will be the saviour of PNG or merely a powerful part of the problem.

Will the judiciary be the saviour of PNG or just another part of the problem?.
Will the judiciary be the saviour of PNG or just another part of the problem?.

The proposed legislation to establish a Court of Appeal in Papua New Guinea and separate the National Courts from the Supreme did not pass last week.

However, that was not because of opposition to the bill.

As far as I can tell, there was only one dissenting voice, that of erstwhile government and now opposition member for Lae, Loujaya Kouza who walked out in protest. (She needn’t have bothered there was a deficit of numbers in the chamber -79 and 83 were needed for it to pass.)

In other words, opposition did not defeat the bill, apathy did – the MPs didn’t think it was important enough for them to make it into the chamber.

Indeed, when I asked a prominent PNG lawyer for comment he replied that he knew nothing of the proposed legislation.

They may just be missing something.

What’s it all about?

The Bill seeks to establish a Court of Appeal that sits above the National Court and below the Supreme. After appealing a decision to the new Court of Appeal there is a mechanism to further appeal to the Supreme Court but now, one must first ask for ‘leave’ to do so which may or may not be granted.

It’s added an extra layer to the justice process – a further avenue of appeal.

High Court of Australia - The Chief Justice wants one - by any name.
High Court of Australia – The Chief Justice wants one – by any name.

If passed, it will be similar to the Australian system where the Supreme Court is the court of appeal, in the first instance, then the High Court (which one must also obtain ‘leave’ to petition). However, Australia is over three times the size of Papua New Guinea and one is forced to ponder the necessity of such a system in Papua New Guinea or its usefulness in dispensing justice.

Moreover, what this will mean for the judiciary is that National Court judges will not automatically be judges of the Supreme Court as is the case currently. Judges will either reside in the National Court, the Court of Appeals or the Supreme Court.

It is expected that the appointments will be according to seniority with the most experienced judges being attached to the Supreme Court, the more junior judges in the National Court and the medium-term judges on the Court of Appeal.

With the practice of sending newly-appointed National/Supreme Court judges to the provinces; for them then to be denied their week in ‘the big smoke’ to sit on the Supreme Court, may be a sticking point with some when considering appointment and may deter some talented candidates.

What’s more, if this is indeed the intended arrangement, then the most experienced judges will no longer be conducting trials.

The other relevant questions are: who will head each division?

Sir Salamo Injia, Chief Justice and first amongst equals (?)
Sir Salamo Injia, Chief Justice and first amongst equals (?)

I am assuming the Chief Justice will preside over the Supreme Court and he is appointed (for 10 years) by the National Executive Council (NEC), but who will appoint the leader of the National Court and the Court of Appeal?

Will it also be the NEC or will it be the Justice and Legal Services Commission (JLSC) – a judicial agency dominated by the Chief Justice? What are the ramifications of each course of action? Whose interests will be served?

Who benefits

Deputy Chief Justice Gibbs Salika. Is this who Rut is referring to or...?
Deputy Chief Justice Gibbs Salika. Is this who Rut is referring to or whom?

The scurrilous blogsite, PNG Blogs in an article written by Dianne Rut (likely a pseudonym) has accused the Prime Minister of using the legislation to protect himself. She writes:

…Peter O’Neill had been having very difficult time with judges who dealt with his cases were also in the Supreme Court [sic].

The suggestion is that this legislation will remove these judges from the courts of appeal (including the Supreme Court) and leave only experienced and easily manipulated judges (?) there.

Not only is that suggestion highly defamatory, it is also completely wrong.

Those with even a cursory knowledge of cordial relations between the Prime Minister and the Chief Justice will know that, probably stemming from the political impasse of 2011, there is no love lost between the two – and there’s no doubt the Chief Justice will head the Supreme Court.

Indeed, it has been suggested to me by a high-ranking former member of PNGs legal fraternity that:

…there is [maybe] a hope, which I think is forlorn, that if they [the government] give the CJ what he wants (including his K400m+ court complex) then he will be nice to them.

The Hon. Loujaya Kouza has also issued a press statement accusing the Prime Minister of base political motives. She writes:

I did not take part in the vote is simply because the timing was wrong [sic]. The intention was not only wrong but the initiator was ill-motivated as well.

Loujaya Kouza's defection to the opposition.
Loujaya Kouza’s defection to the opposition.

Kouza called the Prime Minister “…an intelligent, brilliant architect of evil,” – but then she would, wouldn’t she? She sits (uncomfortably) on the opposition benches.

What Kouza did not do was look beyond the Prime Minister.

Kouza’s need to establish his sinister motives has blinded her to what may be the real agenda of this legislation given that these reforms were first suggested by the Chief Justice over 5 years ago.

Part two of this series will look at the Judiciary – the good, the bad and the ugly – Saint or Sinner?


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Raising the status of women in Papua New Guinea

By PNG Echo.

Was she joking?

The current three female MPs. in PNG parliament.
The current three female MPs. in PNG parliament.

She said that she didn’t think political parties should be forced, by law, to drag women into parliament against their will. It conjures up pictures of cave men dragging women screaming by the hair into the Haus Tambaran à la Fred Flintstone.

Delilah Gore, Honourable Minister for Religion, Youth and Community Development and Member of Parliament for Sohe, was commenting on proposed legislative changes before Parliament that would require political parties to ensure that 10 per cent of their candidates endorsed for national elections were women.

Does she really think that there aren’t any capable and willing women in the community that would and should jump at the chance and, should that not be the case, force would be applied?

Continue reading Raising the status of women in Papua New Guinea

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