The answers are contained in the revelations of ‘ Dr Susan Merrell’s newly-released book ‘Redeeming Moti’.
In it she successfully unravels the complexities of a political situation that was conflated with heinous sexual criminal charges to give a compelling explanation and analysis of a saga that involved four nations, brought down one Pacific government and threatened another.
Told through the experience of the author when, during the court proceedings, she sought to reveal what was being hidden behind a veil of contempt promoted by the nature of the charges. In the effort to redeem Moti, did she end up losing herself?
It has been difficult to unravel the many and varied thrusts and counter thrusts of the cases of John Mangos and John Tangit when they were both working at PNG Power Ltd (PPL). So, perhaps it’s best to start with the current state of play and work backwards.
John Mangos was charged twice with various offences, firstly relating to his employment contract with PPL and secondly with the allegedly illegal payment to a third party amounting to K62,000. Neither raft of charges got past a committal hearing where the both were found to be lacking in evidence. They were thrown out. Mangos is no longer with PPL.
John Tangit, having been stood down then reinstated, only to be terminated and who is implicated in corruption amounting to millions of dollars (by an independent investigation commissioned by Kumul Holdings and undertaken by a reputable Australian firm of investigators) is now back as at PPL (unconfirmed) having faced no criminal charges whatsoever – scot free – for now. How can this be?
From this information alone, it is reasonable to assume that the charges against Mangos were specious – and that’s certainly what the courts found when they threw them out.
It was Tangit that was the informant who commenced the second raft of charges against Mangos in a letter at the beginning of March this year, that he copied to various people, including the then appropriate Minister Hon William Duma, Paul Nerau, Chairman Kumul Holdings and Fraud Squad officer, Matthew Damaru – that stalwart supporter and enforcer to Sam Koim and the Task Force Sweep team.
So what would have precipitated this malicious and abortive prosecution?
Why would these Fraud Squad officers, who are lauded as exemplary and expert investigators by many, instigate proceedings against someone with so little and such flimsy evidence?
It just could be because the perception of integrity and competency is, in reality…well…just perception. The competency and the motivations of these officers has been seriously impugned by the fact that they, along with Sam Koim’s Task Force Sweep, have lost up to 50% of their cases at committal. Is this incompetence or something far more sinister – because it is either one or the other, there is no third way.
It seems the malicious litigation against Mangos was all to do with the findings of the abovementioned commissioned investigation that Mangos, as Director of PPL, was about to act on.
You see, the Mangos’ arrest and charges strikes a familiar chord – there is a precedent . It has all the hallmarks of a pre-emptive strike to suppress information becoming public – as surely as the ‘arrest’ of Tiffany Twivey was.
NEXT PART: What Tangit did and how did he get away with it? The case against John Tangit
By PNG Echo
(Keep reading to the end where the document that answers the question is supplied.)
It was the National Executive Council (NEC) that established Task Force Sweep and it was the NEC that terminated the agency.
But Sam Koim couldn’t accept the inevitable. He was enjoying his elevated and internationally lauded position, notwithstanding his inexperienced and inept management of the agency that saw only half of his prosecutions make it through a committal hearing and of many of those that have, have been an unnecessary failure, according to a concerned legal expert.
Koim recently stated of the decommissioning of the agency:
It’s like the accusers threw us out of the ship in the middle of the deep ocean and expected us to drown and die, but when we made it to the shore alive, they then turned around and accused us saying “why are you still surviving?”
Actually, the situation was anything but.
They were let out of a very leaky, inadequate boat on the Jetty and told to go home – but Koim kept wading back into the sea then expecting someone to pay for expensive lifeguards to get into the surf with him and keep his head above water. It has been a wilful and continuing act.
The analogy is plain: We are talking about his many and various attempts to keep the agency afloat using expensive and illegally hired lawyers and barristers. Recently, for the third time, the Supreme Court made the ruling of their illegality bringing into question every and any court victory he may have obtained using the expensive counsel
Anyway, the question of who has been funding the agency as well as funding the litigation has been the burning question.
Ask no more.
Hereunder is an account from the Grand Papua Hotel for Mr Greg Egan, Koim’s senior counsel of choice, accomodation and food. The entity that was picking up the tab was Posman Kua, Aisi – Kerenga Kua’s old law firm.
I am also reliably informed that the ‘Dream Inn’ a Kua enterprise has also been used extensively – but that will remain speculation until someone can find an account I can publish. For now, let’s go with the one we have.
This is page 6 of Mr Egan’s accommodation bill with the final amount disclosed. I have receipt of the other five pages. Please note who’s picking up the tab.
It’s a sad truth that precious few political scandals in Papua New Guinea reach a satisfactory conclusion: they tend to erupt violently only to soon be forgotten (and often forgiven) as the next crisis or sensation overtakes and overshadows. It is why PNG Echo has a category ‘Lest we forget’.
However, in true PNG fashion, this category has been overlooked lately as PNG Echo has become swept up with current political events. It’s time to address that irony by revisiting the Moti Saga.
The Moti Saga caused a serious diplomatic stoush between Australia and countries of the Pacific – most notably the Solomon Islands and Papua New Guinea – but not only – Fiji and Vanuatu were involved too.
In the ensuing years, myth has overtaken fact and there are many misconceptions about what really happened.
My involvement with the Moti case and Julian Moti dates back to 2009 when I first interviewed him – and continues to this day
As a political scientist, I was appalled at his treatment and the egregiously bad behaviour of authorities in many jurisdictions and since the first article there have been dozens more – all revealing what both the Australian authorities and, sadly, the Australian press did not want the public to know.
Three years later, the High Court of Australia agreed with what Moti had always avowed and what I had been trying to disseminate, with varying success, through a reluctant media.
This is what happened in Papua New Guinea.
By Susan Merrell
No one would accuse Julian Moti of being politically naïve. When he accepted the position as Attorney General of the Solomon Islands in 2006 he knew there were powerful opposing forces.
None so powerful as the Australian authorities that were having difficulty accepting a change in attitude towards their role in the Solomon Islands brought about by the new Prime Minister, Manasseh Sogavare.
Sogavare had, over time, become increasingly critical of the intervention of the Australian-led Regional Assistance Mission in the Solomon Islands (RAMSI). Moti backed Sogavare’s position.
Australia’s best interests would be served by a quick removal of Sogavare and his backers.
So when Moti learned that the Australian Federal Police had begun a new investigation into a charge of sex with a minor (a charge that had been thrown out of a Vanuatu court almost a decade previously – Moti was found to have no case to answer), he braced himself for the ‘smear campaign’.
This was how they would discredit him, he reasoned. It was politics and politics is dirty.
But, even though Moti was in Papua New Guinea on his way to Honiara to advise Sogavare how to defeat a parliamentary motion of ‘no confidence’ against him in September 2006, and though he was aware that the Australians would be hoping that the motion was successful, he still did not foresee what would happen next
It must be nerve racking to arrest a lawyer. Lawyers have an air of arrogance buoyed by the confidence of knowing the law, their rights within those laws and how to exercise them. A wise person would be very sure of their grounds before making such a move.
Moreover, in Papua New Guinea’s international airport on September 29, 2006, it was no ordinary lawyer that was arrested. It was the Attorney General elect of the Solomon Islands, Julian Moti, in transit to Honiara to take up his position.
The now PNG Opposition Leader, Hon Don Polye, in a statement to the PNG parliament (2011) on the Ombudsman’s Commission Report (into the Moti issue) reminded parliament:
Mr. Moti was not an ordinary person. He was the Highest Law Officer of a Sovereign nation. He was the Attorney General of Solomon Islands. He deserved to be treated with decorum and proper protocol of a foreign dignitary.
MR SPEAKER, not only was Mr. Moti deserving of decorum and protocol, (as we would expect other countries to treat our Attorney General), Mr. Moti was also an International Protected Person under the Convention on the Prevention of Crimes Against Internationally Protected Persons including Diplomatic Agents 1973 (“the IPP Convention 1973”) to which PNG became a signatory in 2003. Under the IPP Convention PNG was obligated to protect Mr. Moti, who qualified as a “representative or official of a State” and grant him safe passage as the highest ranking law officer of Solomon Islands.
The Arrest, Extraction and Detention of Mr. Moti by our Police, was in breach of our International Law and our International Obligations under both the Chicago Convention 1958 and the IPP Convention 1973.
So where was the Arrest Warrant and why was Moti removed from the transit lounge without the correct immigration documents and visas? It’s questions such as these that lead one to suspect that there were compelling forces at work – even more compelling than the law.
How the arrest was effected.
When Moti arrive in Papua New Guinea, he had been travelling for almost twenty-four hours. It’s no simple matter getting from India (where Moti had been an academic) to the Solomon Islands. He took the quickest route – to Singapore through Papua New Guinea, onto Honiara.
Had Moti known what was in store he may just have chosen the long way round.
For there was a reception committee waiting at the transit lounge of Jackson International Airport. It wasn’t welcoming or befitting Moti’s status.
was the instruction as Moti’s travel documents were handed to an awaiting, unidentified, Australian man. After perusing the documents, the Australian conversed with another Papua New Guinean man who approached Moti. Identifying himself as a police officer with the Transnational Crime Unit, he informed Moti he was under arrest.
Why am I under arrest,
Moti demanded to know.
I don’t know. My seniors will tell you when they come.
The Police Officer replied.
Where’s the warrant for my arrest,
I don’t have it, it’s with my seniors,
the increasingly rattled policeman responded.
Clearly agitated by Moti’s questions, the police officer waited anxiously for his “seniors.” He knew who Moti was – he was well-aware of his position.
The seniors never did arrive – neither did the Arrest Warrant. And in spite of Moti not having the required documentation to enter Papua New Guinea, he was taken from the airport to a prison cell at Boroko Police Station.
The Machiavellian Australian figure appeared to direct the proceedings, the Papua New Guinean police carried out the orders.
In the Boroko cell.
The cells at the Boroko Police Station are hot and oppressive. There’s no air conditioning.
Squalid habitations for the wretched of the earth,
is how Moti described them. By this time Moti was indeed wretched.
I remained in a state of shock throughout the day,
wrote Moti of his incarceration.
I had not been given anything to eat or drink. I had never felt so dejected in my entire life. The stench in that cell was overpowering.
Moti became ill and was vomiting. He was having trouble breathing. He had no access to his asthma medicine, which was in his luggage that had been taken off the plane bound for Honiara but had since gone missing.
Moti’s lawyer in Papua New Guinea, Peter Pena, described the condition of the cell as “putrid.” Moreover, the other inmates incarcerated with Moti were being detained for “wilful murder and other serious crimes.”
A more ignominious fate for a high-ranking official of a fellow Melanesian state is hard to imagine, a fact recognised when Moti received a visit from Joseph Assaigo (since deceased). The Intelligence Branch Chief attached to the Office of the Prime Minister, apologised to Moti for the bad treatment.
By this time it was already afternoon.
Moti had received a copy of the Arrest Warrant mid morning. It had been obtained from the District Court at 9.30 a.m. Moti had been arrested at 5.30 a.m.
Mr. Moti, had in actual fact been arrested, extracted from the International Transit Lounge of the airport and held in police custody for over four hours at the behest, direction and supervision of the Australian Government without even a Warrant of Arrest.
wrote Peter Pena incredulously in his affadavit
Moreover, in the abovementioned statement to parliament, Hon Don Polye admitted Papua New Guinean culpability, stating:
MR SPEAKER, the most important fact that has eluded the media and the public eye for the last five (5) years that I must remind this House is that Mr. Moti has not committed any crime in Papua New Guinea. Mr. Moti did not commit any offence in PNG. Mr. Moti has not broken any law in PNG, either on or before the 29th of September 2006.
MR SPEAKER, there were no charges laid against Mr. Moti at the time of his arrest – for arrest, extraction from the International Lounge [Jacksons Airport] and lock-up. You can’t lock up international transit passengers without any charges. But that’s what we did.”[original emphasis]
Furthermore, Moti’s lawyers (including, now Acting Judge Danajo Koeget) noted numerous legally questionable premises on which the Warrant of Arrest had relied including an old extradition law that had since been repealed and replaced.
It was clear to Pena and Koeget that this document had been written in indecent haste and with scant regard to the laws of Papua New Guinea.
Nevertheless, and to the lawyers’ astonishment, the magistrate refused to discharge Moti but took it upon himself to grant bail.
So, in spite of Assaigo’s expressed regret at the bad treatment of Moti, the Solomon Islands’ Attorney General elect was left for twelve hours in a prison cell with murderers.
It was a cell that stank of human faeces, urine and sweat. He had not been allowed a shower or a change of clothes.
Ominously, that afternoon, Moti had also been made aware of plans to keep him away from Honiara. If he was to believe Assaigo he had every reason to fear for his life. In Moti’s affidavit to the Queensland Supreme Court he recounts this conversation that occurred at Boroko Police Station:
You watch your back, Moti,
“The stakes are high. You’ll be finished. This whole intervention is making a lot of Aussies very rich. We’ve kicked them out. [most likely talking of the aborted Enhanced Cooperation Program], they’re kicking you and Sogavare out before you guys can kick them out too.”
Late that afternoon, by the time Moti was released on bail, he was shaken and physically ill. The lawyer’s confidence had deserted him. Clearly, the law could not be relied on to keep him safe. He was a marked man.
What do Attorney General, Ano Pala, Aloysius Hamou and Francis Potape have in common?
Well, while the recent circus that was the Vote of No Confidence was keeping the whole nation entertained and distracted, in the nation’s courts, the three, abovementioned, gentlemen’s criminal charges were being overturned, quashed, and disallowed.
All three were cases being prosecuted on behalf of the Fraud Squad – featuring Messrs Gitua and Damaru.
These cases have been variously found to be incompetent, ill–conceived, or both as indeed was the case against Justice Sakora – thrown out too.
Other Fraud Squad cases still to be decided are that of lawyer Tiffany Twivey, John Mangos of PNG Power and the Prime Minister himself.
Given the precedents of Fraud Squad incompetence and overconfidence in their ability to influence the courts, that these cases should go the same way is more than likely (except if Justice Colin Makail is hearing them, that is)
The Fraud Squad are not conducting legitimate investigations into corruption but overseeing a witch-hunt.
It’s politically strategic
These rogue elements in the police force are aiding and abetting those with a political agenda to effect that agenda, illegitimately, through the courts and these three recent cases illustrate that all too well. See the details here
It’s the premise that those charged with an offence occupying high office should step down that excites the Fraud Squad and their political sponsors and urges them on to more spurious arrests.
Indeed, had the Attorney General stepped down on his arrest warrant being effected his electorate would have been without a member for the last two years and the national parliament would have been deprived of his services. And all for specious charges that held no water (as was found in the judgment).
But it is the ‘step down’ demand on the Prime Minister, in particular, that has culminated in the opposition seeking the court’s aid to force a Vote of No Confidence in the parliament – a vote that proved to have no chance of getting up – and the Supreme Court complied.
There is considerable debate in PNG as to whether the Supreme Court overstepped their jurisdiction and breached the separation of powers. More money will no doubt be expended on finding the answer to that.
That is, more money than the compensation likely to be claimed by all of those who were burned by the Fraud Squad’s incompetence and misguided zealotry.
These men of the Fraud Squad may be presenting themselves as God’s police; occupying a moral high ground that they have personally defined, but in actuality they are nothing short of loose cannons and dangerous vigilantes.
The political opposition is looking to the nation’s courts to effect a political solution that they are incapable of effecting in legitimate, political ways.
God help us all, if the courts co-operate any further – and yet, the three decisions this week give me hope that the law will triumph over vested interests.
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.