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.
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.
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
Don 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.)
Sam 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.
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.
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.
Take Don Polye: he’s tried for years, but he inspires no one; his aspirations to lead have only led him into the diminished position he finds himself today – leading an opposition who are only behind him because that is the best position from where to stab him in the back.
They all want to lead – it’s just that no one follows. They just don’t inspire – none of them.
Yet, there are no followers in the current Opposition either (save for little Willie Samb of Goilala who, on joining the Opposition, found himself in a far more prominent position than he would have been had he joined government.)
Little Willie is the one-man-band of the eternal ‘deputy’ Sam Basil, and even he is now the proud head of the largest party (?) in Opposition (or is that still Polye’s THE Party, I seem unable to find any members who quit government to follow their ‘leader’ into Opposition – but I guess there must be at least one.)
Amusingly, a party of two is double the usual size of the parties in this coalition.
Painted into a corner
Polye is the figurative head of a raggle-taggle band of wannabe leaders that are, in reality, has-beens (Namah), never-were (Marat), never-will-be (Basil), and chancers (Kua and the rest).
I doubt if any of them are loyal to Polye. He doesn’t inspire loyalty.
Some are only in the Opposition because that’s the only side that will have them – and Polye is amongst this number.
Ousted by O’Neill – he should have seen it coming. His performance in the role of Minister for Treasury and Finance saw O’Neill remove the Finance portfolio from him and place it in more competent hands. That was before he dumped him, unceremoniously, notwithstanding the numbers that he could have taken with him into Opposition – but they didn’t go. His leadership qualities are lacking.
Then there are those that would be back in the government if only O’Neill would have them and I hear tell that at least one has been imploring O’Neill to take him back. The metaphoric jilted lover whose plaintiff cry “…after all I’ve done for you,” echoed through the hallowed halls of Waigani in 2012.
The things they share: The risks they run
One of the binding common factors of the Opposition is that they don’t want to follow Polye: this coalition is of the unwilling.
The other, of course, is that these wannabe leaders have no followers. They are the overly-ambitious heads of one-man parties whose members (followers) have deserted them in droves.
If Polye manages to wrest power from O’Neill – and the likelihood of that is negligible – will we see the Ides of March re-enacted in Papua New Guinea?
I don’t believe there will be one member of the Opposition that will refrain from gleefully plunging the dagger into Polye after he has served his purpose – he just doesn’t inspire loyalty.
O’Neill has proved a formidable and maybe even an impossible target for this band of treacherous brothers – Polye would be a far easier foe. They’re hoping he can pull a rabbit out of a hat for them – before they turn on him.
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
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.
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
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.
Unless it is sure that a Vote Of No Confidence (VONC) will be successful, I doubt that any one MP, with the exception of those already on the opposition and middle benches, will vote for it – and numbers there are miniscule – not nearly enough for a successful outcome.
Voting against a government that you are a part of displays disloyalty and NO party/coalition ANYWHERE will put up with vipers in their ranks – and rightly so.
A ruling party needs to be able to count on the loyalty of its members or get rid of them. How can a government be effective if they are at constant risk of getting a knife in their back, wielded by someone from their own ranks?
Polye found this out, to his detriment. There is no room for Mavericks in a ruling party/coalition trying to form policy.
Polye lost out big time. He lost his Ministerial portfolio, his membership of the ruling coalition and also the loyalty of his party who chose to let him go his merry way, without them.
So, if there are plots within O’Neill’s own party/coalition – and that’s probably just idle speculation – they had better be VERY sure of their success or they may find themselves in competition with Polye for the Opposition Leader’s role.
This is the reality of the political situation – and it doesn’t differ elsewhere.
Australia for instance: Those who backed Abbott are now relegated to ‘no man’s land.’ You want to play power politics, you need to understand the rules of the game. Wishing and hoping is not reality. (Note to Sam Basil).
Gary Juffa is right when he pointed out that it will take a lot of money to effect a VONC in this particular political context.
Some day that may change. That day’s not here.
Besides, I shudder to think of those who’d put their hand up to replace the current PM.
Instead of constantly trying to wrest power it would be more useful if everyone helped the mandated government to govern – there are democratic mechanisms, why aren’t they used, or used more effectively?
Papua New Guinea is, once again, finding itself looking through one of those windows of opportunity whereby the government can be defeated and removed on the floor of parliament by a vote of no confidence.
This window is smaller this year because of legislation that increased the grace period from 18 to 30 months. It will be back to normal next year, the legislation having been deemed unconstitutional by the Supreme Court.
But why is it expected that because it could happen that it should?
What’s more, why do people expect an attempted vote of no confidence as a matter of course? And do people really consider that the politicians most desirous of wresting power would be a suitable replacement or have the wherewithal to effect the overthrow of the government anyway? Continue reading It’s vote-of-no-confidence time again.→
Sole MP in PNG Party and one of only three remaining MPs in the parliamentary opposition that he leads, Belden Norman Namah says he feels “betrayed” – quite rightly so, he has been. But, under the circumstances, why is he surprised?
Finance Minister, James Marape, has denied the claims of Sam Basil that Wau/Bulolo is being discriminated against in the distribution of DSIP funds (along with the electorates of all Opposition MPs) because of political affiliations. ( (Post Courier 28 February 2014)
Just last night on social media, Sam Basil claimed that he had received only K3million of DSIP funding with a second payment of K3 million being inaccessible because it was deposited in the wrong account.
There has also been an ‘urgent’ appeal to the Supreme Court, lodged by the Opposition, to halt payment of 2014 DSIP monies. It will be heard on March 14.
District Services Improvement Program (DSIP): is it an effective means of devolved funding to better reach the people or is it a members’ personal slush fund? Is DSIP funding (or the withholding of it) a way for the executive government to reward or penalise Members of Parliament at whim – and does it become a handy scapegoat for penalised MPs who haven’t delivered nor were ever going to?PNG Echo explores these questions.
An urgent application to the Supreme Court of Papua New Guinea has been lodged by Belden Namah (and/or the Opposition) and will be heard on March 14.
The application seeks to halt the mooted release of 2014 DSIP funds by the Minister of Finance James Marape, until the completed payment of 2013 funds owing to all MPs, especially Opposition Members.
Deputy Leader of the Opposition, Sam Basil announced that while all Government Minsters were paid in full by November 2103 (K10million), Members of the Opposition have received only K6 million paid in two batches – the first K3million in June 2013 and the second tranche of K3million in January 2014. (The second K3 million Basil claims has not reached opposition MPs because it was deposited in the wrong account)
It is not known (by this writer) when the remainder (K4million) is due to be paid or if it will be.
The Opposition is livid; they want what they consider their due.