Redeeming Moti – The book

Was Julian Moti guilty?

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?

Available here

 

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Moti in Papua New Guinea: Part 1

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.

The Journalist...
The Journalist…

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.

..the Solomon Island's Prime Minister...
…the Solomon Island’s Prime Minister…

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

Unlawful

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.

...the then PNG Deputy Prime Minister.
…the then PNG Deputy Prime Minister…

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.

Polye continued:

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.

...and the Attorney general
…and the Attorney General of the Solomon Islands

For there was a reception committee waiting at the transit lounge of Jackson International Airport. It wasn’t welcoming or befitting Moti’s status.

Step aside,

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,

Moti asked

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]

Australian Federal Police and RPNGC - in cahoots?
Australian Federal Police and RPNGC

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,

Asaigo warned.

“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 happened next?  Stay tuned.

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Why not Juffa?

By PNG Echo

The warlord's son - with his weapon of choice
The warlord’s son – with his weapon of choice

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.

Hallo Byron. Off to Alotau? Does ben know?
Hallo Byron. Off to Alotau?

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.

ben-micah (1)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.

20130910_Tue_HeadlinesAnd 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.

…and Kua – he’s been a bully in the past – See: http://www.pngecho.com/2016/05/05/so-you-want-kerenga-kua-as-the-next-pm-oh-please/ – and it seems he’s still at it.

5160696-3x2-940x627Wasn’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.

The deputy (of most things)
The deputy (of most things)

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.

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The Opposition: Not a leader among them.

By PNG Echo.

Beware the Ides of August
Beware the Ides of August

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

One of the 'Chancers'
One of the ‘Chancers’

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

 Namah with his followers - now all gone - even the 'eternal deputy', Sam Basil.
Namah with his followers – now all gone – even the ‘eternal deputy’, Sam Basil.

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.

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All fingers point to the PNGSDP

By PNG Echo.

The first section of this article will be old news for many. If so, skip it and go to the second heading – but for those who need context, keep reading because lately things that haven’t made sense, suddenly are starting to, and knowing the context sets the scene for the intricate web of treachery.

Environmental disaster and compensation

It was always blood money –

PNGSDP was set up to obtain legislative immunity from prosecution [for BHP] for environmental damage to a great river system, a human and environmental tragedy that can be even observed from the moon,

writes Paul Yabob

Sir Mekere Morauta
Sir Mekere Morauta

Sir Mekere Morauta gave BHP clemency… PNG did BHP a favour that it did not deserve.

It was Mekere Morauta’s sell-out deal that would guarantee Morauta a lucrative position well past his political career and…

To protect it [the PNGSDP Fund] with the change of government, he [Morauta] has been appointed to head PNGSDP,

explains Yabob.

And the fund has rewarded its board members well, with reportedly comparatively meagre benefits for the people of the Western Province where the incidence of Tuberculosis, especially the drug-resistant kind, is beyond alarming and something that the Fund could and should have tackled before now. Tuberculosis can be eliminated. This notwithstanding the late, great, eco-warrior Dr Nancy Sullivan wrote:

In 2010 PNGSDP brought $40 million of the Singapore fund back to PNG to fulfil its program mandate. But they spent $10 million on their own administration, and a further $1.5 million on Board fees.

So, after the sell-out deal, did BHP go scurrying back to Australia with its tail between its legs – no it did not. Dr Sullivan, takes up the story again:

BHP and its lawyers went about setting up the structures [for the fund] and drafting the relevant agreements.  BHP then told the PNG Government that to start up the fund in Singapore – so that interest is readily available and PNGSDP can sustain itself from the beginning – there would be no need for any start-up capital from PNG itself.  BHP LOANED PNGSDP USD$120 Million for the fund in Singapore.

And when someone gives a loan – they give terms to secure that loan. The terms BHP gave were that UNTIL the loan was 100% paid back, BHP would nominate 4 of the 7 directors on the PNGSDP Board.  BHP would retain a majority on the PNGSDP Board.

Since its inception 12 years ago, [article written in 2013] PNGSDP has been controlled by BHP through its Board…  BHP has never left PNG.

The Board members.

Lawrence Stephens
Lawrence Stephens

A lucrative position with PNGSDP was not only enjoyed by Sir Mekere Morauta but also by Transparency International’s Lawrence Stephens and neither he nor Sir Mekere blinked when a dubious character was appointed to the board by then Treasurer Don Polye with the board’s blessing.

Rex Paki, was about as controversial as you can get – where was the due diligence or the caution in appointing a man that over the previous 20 years had appeared before two Commission of Inquiries (Finance Department and National Provident Fund), two Public Account Committee Inquiries, and a Supreme Court case where he was severely criticised with the judges finding him “evasive and dishonest?”

Rex Paki
Rex Paki

In fact, Paki seems to be suspected of running a Paraka-like scheme but with accounting fees rather than legal ones where the Public Curator’s Office had paid RAM [his consulting firm] K1,561,062 (approx US$640,000), without the existence of a contract, proper invoices, or evidence that any work had been done, according to PNG Exposed

Nevertheless, here he was, in charge of millions of dollars belonging to the people of Western Province.

The irony is we have men like Stephens and Morauta being held up in the international media as anti-corruption warriors, but what did they do about Rex Paki for all these years?”

asks PNG Exposed

Good question hey?

Mind Mapping – the burning question of who and what’s funding anti government forces?

Who is funding, Koim, Damaru, Gitua, and anti-government, NGO and activists?

Lucas Kiap
Lucas Kiap

Well the biggest clue was when Lucas Kiap of the NGO PNG Anti-Corruption Movement for Change, publicly acknowledged a debt to Mark Davis, the spin doctor from PNGSDP who was unceremoniously deported from PNG for “playing politics” against the conditions of his visa.

Mark davis
Mark davis

 

It started me wondering and here are the links I found that connect the main players to each other. It appears that all roads track back to Mekere Morauta and the PNGSDP.

 

The players – the links

  • Rex Paki: He was appointed to the board of PNGSDP by the Treasurer, who was Don Polye at the time. He was also involved in the controversial Paga Hill Development.
  • Sam Koim: Racking up bills aplenty with no visible means of support. Sam Koim also was involved in investigating the Paga Hill Development.  Dr Kristian Laslett, who heads ISCI’s Papua New Guinea Research, claims that errors in the Task Force Sweep assessment are “seismic” and “can’t be put down to mere ignorance or inexperience. He suspected something more sinister. Supposing Koim’s support base was Mekere Morauta and the PNGSDP, then his reluctance to find any wrong doing in this matter starts to make sense.
  • Lawrence Stephens of Transparency International who has been a bitter critic of this Prime Minister but a staunch defender of Rex Paki whom he says has not been convicted so should be given the benefit of the doubt. Now there’s a hypocritical position. Stephens lost his job with PNGSDP when the state reclaimed OkTedi.
  • Mekere Morauta – the leading critic of the Prime Minister – must be worried that he will lose control of the fund and the lucrative fees he’s collecting.
  • Mark Davis, the spin doctor for PNGSDP – who’s still “playing politics” apparently.
  • Lucas Kiap – one of the protagonists of the unrest with a debt to pay to Mark Davis.
  • Kerenga Kua – linked to Rex Paki when the courts were informed that the invoices Paki was failing to produce could be found at his office.
  • Don Polye, appointed Rex Paki to the board of PNGSDP.

All of these people are interlinked. Could it be that what’s sustaining them all is the PNGSDP?

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Is payback the only game in town? Votes of No Confidence

By PNG Echo.

A vote of No Confidence
A vote of No Confidence

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?

Don Polye - Out on his arse
Don Polye – Out on his arse

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).

Juffa, free to swing whatever way he pleases - nothing to lose from the middle benchs
Juffa, free to swing whatever way he pleases – nothing to lose from the middle benches

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?

Is payback the only game in town?

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It’s vote-of-no-confidence time again.

By PNG Echo.

Prime Minister Peter O'Neill - unlikely to be rolled
Prime Minister Peter O’Neill – unlikely to be rolled

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.

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Abuse of Social Media.

By PNG Echo

BRYAN+KRAMERHe’s not a lawyer, nor a journalist: Bryan Kramer is the thrice-rejected parliamentary candidate for the seat of Madang.

In spite of what he’s not, globalization and the democratization of the media means that he commands an audience far greater than his expertise warrants.

Tim Nichols in The Federalist in his essay ‘Death of expertise’ writes:

…democracy, […] denotes a system of government, not an actual state of equality. It means that we enjoy equal rights versus the government, and in relation to each other. Having equal rights does not mean having equal talents, equal abilities, or equal knowledge.  It assuredly does not mean that “everyone’s opinion about anything is as good as anyone else’s.” And yet, this is now enshrined as the credo of a fair number of people despite being obvious nonsense.

Greg Sheppard has not replaced Twivey lawyers
Greg Sheppard has not replaced Twivey lawyers

Continue reading Abuse of Social Media.

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Polye or Namah? Rearranging deckchairs on the Titanic.

By PNG Echo.

imagesIn an interview given to EMTV at the end of last week, Prime Minister, Peter O’Neill commented on a number of issues including:

  • the recent defections (?) to the Opposition,
  • the Grand Chief’s move to the middle benches (or the opposition depending on who you listen to)
  • and the UBS loan.

The Prime Minister reminded his audience that PNG, as an adherent to democratic principles, was governed by the virtue of numbers – and he had them

In fact, O’Neill has almost 60 Members of Parliament in his own PNC party, according to figures he quoted. With the PNG parliament having 111 seats, O’Neill’s PNC Party has the numbers to govern on its own if it so desires. I cannot recall another time in post-colonial history that that has ever been the case.

However, this government is a coalition government and holds the seats of around 100 members (once again according to the Prime Minister’s estimations). So even with Polye, Soso et al joining the Opposition, the opposition is still going to be largely irrelevant.

Continue reading Polye or Namah? Rearranging deckchairs on the Titanic.

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Belden Namah’s demise: The ‘push’ factor (or: lack of effective leadership)

By PNG Echo

Namah on the campaign trail his bilum stuffed with K50 million
Namah on the campaign trail his bilum stuffed with K50 million

In a press statement issued earlier this week, Belden Namah, leader of a rapidly diminishing parliamentary opposition, vehemently denied that the defection of his MPs had anything to do with defective leadership and everything to do with the lure of money.  (A considerable irony, given his admission of using K50 million in the 2012 elections to buy votes and loyalty – yes Mr. O’Neill, I’m with you: where did that come from?)

Back in June of 2012 I wrote

It’s a sad spectacle to see Namah on the campaign trail, trying to buy admiration.  Showing off his expensive toys – an aircraft here, a landcruiser there, everywhere bundles of cash – never realising that people are more interested in his money than in Belden Namah.  He is attempting to buy with money something he never will be able to – admiration is not for sale.

Yesterday, the Prime Minister begged to differ with the denial saying that the defecting MPs had ‘lost confidence” in Namah’s leadership:

His abrupt and aggressive style of leadership is unheard of in Melanesian communities and [in] Melanesian style of leadership,

the Prime Minister stated.

Indeed, in the same aforementioned article, more than two years ago, I asked the question:

…[W]hen will pride become more important than money [to the Melanesian ‘Bikman’]?  How many more times will veteran politicians…such as the Highlander and former Deputy Prime Minister, Don Polye, put up with being publicly told to “F**king shut up?”   How much longer will Peter O’Neill, want to entertain a deputy or coalition partner that openly and publicly challenges superior authority, not understanding ‘chain of command’ in spite of all his military training.

Continue reading Belden Namah’s demise: The ‘push’ factor (or: lack of effective leadership)

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