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.
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
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, 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
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.
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.
Paul 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
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.
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
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.
The recently published article of Dr Bill Standish entitled PNG politics after the boom, does not deserve the wholesale acceptance it has received in PNG.
Firstly it is intended for an international readership so glosses over much and while it has the air of being balanced and authoritative, close scrutiny reveals it to have considerable flaws and an undercurrent of governmental disapproval.
Unbiased journalism – no such thing
Perish the thought that journalism is ‘unbiased’. Indeed some journalism, such as opinion, requires the writer to be anything but. Nevertheless, most journalist/writers aim to be fair and provide balance. Yet, bias tends to manifest itself anyway. A writer doesn’t write in a cultural vacuum and what is one writer’s ‘terrorist’ is another’s ‘freedom fighter’
It’s all in the chosen word: so when Dr Standish, writes that:
In 2015 the Ombudsman Commission urged [my emphasis] the public prosecutor to make O’Neill face a leadership tribunal…
we start getting a glimpse of what Dr Standish’s language may be telling us.
The Prime Minister was ‘referred’, the Ombudsman’s Commission (OC) did not ‘urge’ anything. That the OC ‘urged’ suggests the charge is so serious that the OC is taking a particular and inappropriate interest. It’s not.
Dr Standish makes the accusation of the Prime Minister seeming “defensive” because of his banning of two Australian journalists and the PMs stance (taken effect this month) on foreign advisors. He calls this a “restriction on international oversight” whereas the Prime Minister believes he is merely restricting undue outside interference and taking back Papua New Guinea.
It’s all down to semantics again, Dr Standish’s ‘oversight’ is the Prime Minister’s ‘interference’
Furthermore, Dr Standish’s words subtly reveal a covert governmental disapproval when he talks of how
…O’Neill defunded the Investigative Task Force Sweep, [ITFS] which had gained several [my emphasis] major convictions…
Exactly how many are several? The word certainly implies that the ITFS enjoyed considerable success. But did it?
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 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.
Weighing it up – ITFS has not been the success that the mention of its “several convictions” in isolation suggests.
False Premises and the sins of omission
Dr Standish posed a question in his first paragraph where he writes:
As long as PNG’s mining boom lasted, Prime Minister Peter O’Neill could build parliamentary support by allocating constituency funds to each member of parliament’s (MP) district. So how will restricted funds impact upon O’Neill’s political position and the stability of the government?
He’s talking of DSIP funds, I presume.
The question rests on an incorrect assumption: that the Prime Minister arbitrarily allocates these funds and that he’s the sole arbiter of who gets what. There is more to a government than merely a Prime Minister.
The funds are prescribed and applied to every constituency –so the answer to that question is: not at all, how could it?
The only impediment to the MPs obtaining these prescribed funds are in the timing –many have had to wait until funds become available and there have been accusations of the government manipulating the process for political ends – an accusation denied. This could be what Dr Standish is referring to – if it is, what he’s actually said is misleading – almost right, but not quite.
Then again, when Dr Standish speaks of Paraka’s “unauthorized invoices” and alludes to the fact that the UBS loan did not “seek the necessary approval of parliament” he is skating on very thin legal ice – both of these ‘allegations’ being currently tested in the PNG courts.
Moreover, according to Dr Standish’s analysis: “Two more ongoing legal cases could have a major impact on PNG politics in 2016” and he cites the opposition challenge to the blocking of two attempted votes of no confidence and the Namah challenge to the Manus Island Detention Centre.
Not really – the worse that could happen with the court challenge to the blocking of the vote of no confidence is that the vote is allowed to go ahead. There was an overwhelming vote of confidence taken on the floor of the parliament in response to the attempted vote of no confidence and the status quo is unlikely to change.
PNGs opposition, even if joined by those on the middle benches, is miniscule; the attempted negative vote was always a nuisance tactic with precious little chance of success. The Opposition knew that and of this I was told by one of the signatories.
As for the case against the Manus Island Asylum-Seeker’s Centre by Belden Namah: if precedents are anything to go by, any case led by Namah is unlikely to proceed.
Absolutely nothing has been heard of the defamation cases he is allegedly prosecuting against the Sydney Morning Herald and the Samoa Observer, for example. Prime Minister O’Neill once said that all Namah had to offer PNG was his big mouth – and he should know.
Besides, PNGeans are less passionate about the issues surrounding the Centre than people in Australia where the subject is a political ‘hot potato’.
Finally, Dr Standish presents Don Polye, erstwhile Treasurer and current Opposition Leader, completely without context. Although Don Polye is quoted as saying “..our country is on the verge of kleptocracy,” Dr Standish fails to mention the many allegations and accusations attached to Polye himself that make Polye’s statement just a little ironically comical.
Who is Dr Bill Standish
Dr Bill Standish is described as a ‘Researcher’ based in Canberra. The Development Policy Centre’s blog, for which he writes describes him as a “Research Associate in the School of Culture, History and Language in the ANU’s College of Asia and the Pacific [who] has watched PNG politics closely for 45 years
It gives the reader a clue as to how, and from where, Dr Standish’s opinions have been formed (for surely he must have many after a 45-year study
Political paradigms are changing in Papua New Guinea and it’s not surprising that those who have had a long, arms-length relationship with the country may be uncomfortable with the current turn of political events. But Papua New Guinea has been a sovereign nation for forty years now and perhaps it is only right that the incumbent government should be ridding the country of the last vestiges of colonialism. Now it just remains to clear those vestiges from the minds of PNGeans too.
And in case you’re wondering, the irony of this writer also being a foreign political commentator hasn’t escaped her.
In the lead up to this particular session of parliament, anti-government forces have been in overdrive trying to convince the public that a vote of no confidence is eminently reasonable. All this in spite of the bleeding obvious – no likelihood of success.
Land of the unexpected, they said, winking knowingly.
Are they living in some imaginary world where advertising slogans have some magical power?
…it’s a numbers game
The Peoples National Congress (PNC) of which the Prime Minister is the head has 61 MPs – enough to govern in its own right, but, with the coalition partners, can call on around 100 votes. That only leaves 10% of Members in opposition.
Can we remind ourselves, once again, what democracy means? Hint: it has nothing to do with rule by a minority of 10%
What’s more, as one commenter on social media pointed out (thank you Clelland Tukana) if you are going to win a fight, you at least have to get into the ring.
In the first parliamentary session there were 92 MPs – just eight of them from the opposition. Belden Namah – that champion of the fight against corruption and alleged governmental excesses (where’s that ironic font?) who was so vocal in the media leading up to this parliamentary session hadn’t even bothered to turn up.
Nevertheless, as I write (Wednesday) a motion of no confidence has been registered and is waiting for the Speaker to accept.
But really, is there any hope that the would-be usurpers are capable of pulling this off? Is there really a window of opportunity there at all or just a small bolt-hole through which those, bloated with their addiction to power, are trying to squeeze?
Under the circumstances, I guess they’d better be greasing themselves up.
Dirty deeds, done dirt cheap
One of the opposition’s tactics in the lead up to this parliamentary session has been to wind up their sycophants to effect some smear campaigns – especially on social media and blog sites.
The most despicable effort has been that of Michael Joseph Passingan who wrote an article entitled “A comprehensive analysis of Peter Paire O’Neill: Fraudster or leader?” Under which, the article carried a picture of the Prime Minister with the caption “exposed serial liar.”
Well that points to a well-balanced article, doesn’t it? (Ironic font needed again.) From the get go we’re told how to think: the conclusion we should draw.
Passingan accuses the Prime Minister of many and varied crimes that move from the mundane to the fantastical – from, wholesale looting of public funds to the less-than-veiled suggestion of murder.
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.→
The Supreme Court has ruled against parliamentary amendments to sections 142 and 145 of the constitution. The extension of the ‘grace period’, whereby there can be no votes of ‘no confidence’, will not be extended to 30 months
While I have not been able to access the judgment in its entirety, I have had the benefit of being given the Government’s view through press releases from the Prime Ministers Office and also the anti-government angle through the writing of Bryan Kramer whose strident, partisan, anti-government bent will have, no doubt, provided me with the most damning evidence emanating from this Supreme Court case.
So, keeping it simple, the Prime Minister has said that it was a move to enhance government stability and Kramer has quoted the Chief Justice, Sir Salamo Injia as saying that the government had “…the aim of entrenching itself in power at the expense of parliament and democracy.
I suggest the truth of the matter is that it was a little bit of both
Where Sir Salamo’s judgment falls down (or is severely restricted) is in having to proceed from the assumption that PNG is a democracy – it isn’t – at least not a working and workable one Continue reading The Supreme Court says “no”→