The (not so) mysterious death of Rosalyn Albaniel Evara.

By PNG Echo

Postscript

As an Australian tax-payer, I object to my hard-earned tax dollars going to a foreign government that tacitly condones the wholesale abuse of half of their population – and then does it with my money.

It is time that international sanctions were applied to Papua New Guinea – time to hit them where it will hurt – in the money pocket.  The international community need to express their disgust at the ongoing human rights abuses in PNG – we (the international community) can stop this, even if they won’t.

Let’s make this stop at Rosalyn Albaniel.

Her story:

She died suddenly. People were shocked.

“But I only just saw her yesterday,” and “I was to meet with her Monday,” they wrote incredulously.

For all intents and purposes, for the Senior Business Journalist with one of Papua New Guinea’s leading newspapers, Post Courier, it was ‘business as usual…until she died, that is.

There were outpourings of grief on social media and no doubt many more in the physical world. If there’s one thing that Papua New Guineans do well it is expressing their grief.

“Nooooo – it cannot be true,”
“Why did you leave us so soon?”
they write on social media in the case of loss. And at funerals, even men are heard (expected, even) to wail and cry out “Why, Lord?”

But the shocking truth is, that they had no need to ask “why,” they knew the answer – but they weren’t telling.

Rosalyn Albaniel Evara had been suffering ongoing physical abuse. Her husband often beat her senseless.

The injuries that she sustained are the probable cause of a suspected brain haemorrhage that killed her.

THEY KNEW

The ongoing beatings would take place within the gated accommodation compound of the employees of Post Courier. I once went to this complex in Port Moresby to drop off a colleague (a Post Courier journalist), who lived there. Whilst I never went inside the building, my impressions of the complex were that it looked like a block of cheap motel units of flimsy construction.

Living cheek by jowl with your co-workers in this way would not offer much in the way of privacy – and it didn’t. All witnessed the beatings that Rosalyn endured – if not by sight, certainly they would have heard them.

Some of her co-workers would take her in after she had been beaten and patch her up – supplying tea and sympathy.  Rosalyn begged them not to report her husband’s assaults to the police, as she was afraid for her daughter.  And they didn’t.  But they all knew.

Her beatings were a likely cause of her death – and they all knew.

In the wake of her passing, not one word was reported by the Post Courier about the circumstances surrounding her death – yet they all knew.

They attended her funeral yesterday, they sat there and grieved for her, yet they did not utter a word of what they knew.  Amongst the grievers would have been her husband.  They sat beside him even though they knew what he’d done.

It took a brave lady, Rosalyn’s aunt, Mary Albaniel, to tell all.  She chose to tell it at the funeral. It was a tale of sustained abuse and beatings leading to her niece’s death.

Mary Albaniel also had post mortem pictures she had taken of her niece’s body – and she showed these too. Rosalyn’s body was covered with the evidence of her husband’s abuse.

Yet with her bruised and battered body, Rosalyn turned up for work each day and performed her journalistic duties on behalf of Post Courier, her employer her clothes hiding most of the evidence of her abuse

Everyone considered Rosalyn Albaniel a good journalist who never failed in her duties to Post Courier – however, as a media outlet wedded to the idea of ‘the fourth estate’ whereby the media are tasked with a duty to expose wrongdoing, Post Courier surely failed Rosalyn.

Why wasn’t the perpetrator stopped (even if he wasn’t formally charged)?

Tea and sympathy for the victim before she’s sent packing back to her tormentor for more of the same, just doesn’t cut it.

Yet, the fault for her death must surely lie with the person who caused it – and that wasn’t her colleagues at Post Courier. But it could have been her husband.

Post Courier employees and others who knew were merely upholding a sick tradition that has emerged in PNG society whereby violence against women has become normalised and where very few men are ever prosecuted for violence perpetrated on women – especially ones deemed to ‘belong’ to the men through an intimate relationship or those that are said to be witches (yes, you heard right – they still burn witches alive in PNG). However, truth be told, women are fair game for men in most circumstances and age is no barrier.

The sick tradition

When Rosalyn’s Aunty Mary exposed what Post Courier should have at her niece’s funeral, she was wearing an orange T Shirt that said “No to violence against women.”

It was the T Shirt that we wore when we demonstrated against gender-based violence in Port Moresby on 16 December 2016.  It was, we thought, a landmark day.

Together with the Governor of the National Capital District (wherein Port Moresby resides) Powes Parkop, who is arguably the sole champion of the cause in the PNG parliament, we managed to put enough pressure on the PNG government that the National Executive Council (PNGs caucus) passed a strategy for combating violence against women that had been languishing in a government department for over 15 months. The irony of that situation was that the negligent minister overseeing that department was one of only three women in the PNG parliament at the time (there are none in this current line up).

The catalyst for the demonstration was a breathtakingly violent incident in the Highlands of PNG.

There was a report of a young woman suspected of cheating on her husband for which her husband sought revenge.  He arrived in her village with up to six of his friends and family and they chopped off both her legs with bush knives (machetes) that men habitually like to carry – a bit like Americans like to carry their guns.

I don’t know whether she survived or whether anything was done to those who committed this act because neither matter a damn in Papua New Guinea.  She was a woman, and one suspected of being wanton – she got what she’d deserved.  As for the men, well, they had every right, didn’t they? That’s the PNG attitude.

It is what enabled Rosalyn’s colleagues to turn a blind eye to her habitual, and clearly savage beatings – even though they are media and are expressly meant to do the opposite.  The sick tradition of condoning or ignoring violence against women prevailed.

Since that fateful day last December, not much has changed. Apparently, implementing government strategies take time – and time is something that the PNG parliament seems to have plenty of. Unfortunately time ran out for Rosalyn.

Rest in peace, my esteemed colleague, this journalist is aware of her obligations.

In the final analysis

The female half of the population of PNG are placed in such low esteem that no one cares when she is brutalized.

It is a national emergency treated by the government as a second or third tier priority, if indeed a priority at all or one which deserves more than lip service.  People have given up expecting that anything can or will be any different; that anything will change.

But they are wrong.  It must be changed.  It’s an abomination that needs resources thrown at it.

Yet the PNG government are blazé because there are no votes in it for them and government in PNG is all about hanging onto power.  Besides, many in parliament would have a problem casting the first stone for the reason that one survey (disputed) found that 70% of PNGeans beat their wives. That would make 78 out of 111 MPs potentially wife beaters themselves.

It is time the PNG government was given an urgent imperative to tackle this problem as their priority. To shake them awake from their smug reverie that it’s not their problem because they are men.  Let’s do it.

 

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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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History has lessons for the Anti-Violence-Against-Women Movement in PNG

By PNG Echo

For women in Papua New Guinea, this week has been variable. There have been both lows and highs.

The good news is that the Strategic Plan to combat violence against women, which is a comprehensive document that understands the need for long-term planning, has been endorsed by the parliamentary National Executive Council (NEC) which is a huge first step in a long journey.

The bad news is that it took the mutilation of a 19-year-old woman who had both her legs chopped off by a jealous husband to wake the relevant department from its reverie (it had had the completed proposal for 15 months, languishing and gathering dust) aided by political pressure from the Governor of the NCDC, Powes Parkop backed by protesting women.

The women rally for the cause.

Worst news is that in the interim, between acceptance and implementation, the violence is not over – it continues unabated. The problem needs a band-aid solution immediately while the wheels of progress grind slowly that bring in the more comprehensive set of goals

Because just a few days after the NEC ratified the document the newspapers told of a 12-year-old girl (in fact three girls/women – I don’t know the age of the other two) who were gang raped by 50 men over two days before they were released.

But what is most shocking to me is that none of the established women’s groups in Papua New Guinea had been moved enough by the leg amputation incident to voice their horror and disgust until the ‘wait meri’ did – informed by yet another ‘wait meri.’.

And when it looked like some positive action may come of the agitation, only then did many come to the fore.

This does not augur well for the future.

You see, one of the leading women’s organisations claimed ‘enough is enough’ back four years ago when Kepari Leniata was burned alive after being tortured – but it just wasn’t, was it?  In those four years, enough has not been even nearly enough and when the report hit the newspapers of this recent shocking incident (the leg amputations) where were they?

If the price of freedom is eternal vigilance then where too were the raised voices of PNG’s women’s movements when the next shocking rape incident was reported nationally, so close to the first – just yesterday.

History informs us that nothing is given to women easily and if the struggle to live without fear is to become a reality for PNG women then the women’s movements cannot let up on the pressure. They need to be constantly vigilant.

Each and every atrocity must be forcefully and loudly condemned.

It’s a tall order, I know – but it’s the eternal vigilance needed to effect the desired change. If the current leaders and members of the women’s movement are not prepared to do this, they need to pass the baton, graciously, on to someone who is.

What’s more, the women’s movements need to decide what they are really about – there are many worthy causes and so many women’s movements have been co-opted to those supplementary causes to their own detriment.

In many developing countries and former colonies, for instance, the race issue has overshadowed the women’s issues – and that certainly happened on December 16 in Port Moresby where racism was both palpable and rife – and perpetrated by some (not all) women against other women.

Fazilah Basari – organiser.

In fact, a woman who had done all the hard yards organising the protest was effectively sidelined – she was Indian and hence as unworthy as the wait meri. They should have been embraced as women but they were shunned because of their race.

This is unforgivable in a movement that’s all about opposition to abuse of women.

All women understand fear of male-perpetrated violence. Besides, in PNG there are many ‘wait meris’ and women of all ethnicities attacked by men – all women are vulnerable.

What’s more, while it is desirable to have the backing of men in this struggle – it must not become a ‘man’s issue.’

I was alarmed when a speaker at the press conference that preceded the 16 December rally by a couple of days spoke of the rape of males. Now while this is terrible, it is not within the purview of the women’s movement. By all means, start another movement to combat this because while it may seem interrelated, so is every issue in one way or another and the movement is there to curb the violence against women – the far greater of the two evils.

If we, in the women’s movement, have learned anything from history it is that the struggle will neither be won by a half-hearted effort nor by ostracising some committed women because they are the wrong colour.

Nor indeed will it be won by letting any extraneous issues co-opt and derail the goals.

Leaders of these movements have a grave responsibility because if they drop the ball it will be more likely that another woman will be beaten, maimed, mutilated or killed. I wouldn’t want that on my conscience.

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PNG Power: Where’s the money (part two)

By PNG Echo.

The Fraud Squad is either grossly incompetent or corrupt – there is no third way.

The ineffective and ineffectual heads of the Fraud Squad
The ineffective and ineffectual heads of the Fraud Squad

companies related to Mr Tangit [CEO of PNG Power Ltd (PPL)]and his close relatives have received payment of K16 million from from PPL. Combined with the K15 million received from both the [East Sepik] Provincial (K10 million) and [Angoram] District Government (K5 million), it appears that Mr. Tangit and his close relatives have received K31 million through various entities for the period, 19 February 2009 to 30 September 2015.

As CEO of PPL, this represents a serious conflict of interests, even if that were all there was to it – but it’s not – the money has all been paid out, but as of October 2015 there was no evidence of even the commencement of the project referred to anywhere.

Highly confidential (and why’s that?)

The above quote was taken from a 35-page report marked ‘HIGHLY CONFIDENTIAL’ of which I am in receipt.

It was commissioned as a result of questions being asked in parliament as to why, when funds had been allocated and deposited by Members of Parliament into the coffers of PPL for the Rural Electrification Project (RE Project), these projects were not completed, were behind schedule or significantly over budget. It was the July 2015 session of parliament.

In response, on 15 September, 2015, the Minister then responsible, Hon Ben Micah along with Mr Garry Hersey Managing Director (MD) and Chief executive officer (CEO) of the IPBC and Mr John Mangos, then Executive Director of PPL engaged an Australian forensic investigation company to look into allegations of corporate impropriety at PPL.

Déjà Vu

I have read this report in detail, with a pervasive feeling of déjà vu: I’ve heard it all before: it was in different times and different places but a very familiar modus operandi.

It evokes the non-existent Wasa Bridge in Kandep, associated with Don Polye and the non-existent community colleges – a fraud for which the Grand Chief, Sir Michael Somare and certain members of his family have been implicated in the Singapore courts.

Coincidentally (or not?), the RE [non] Project also involves the Somares as the project was to be undertaken in the district of Angoram (Arthur Somare’s seat at the time) and involved the East Sepik Provincial Government.

The Angoram RE Project

It is the K15 million paid out to two contractors to which the report dedicates much investigation.

K10 million was from the coffers of East Sepik Administration that had been deposited by Sir Michael Somare into that account (it is not stipulated under what authority and from whence it came but the K10 million was earmarked for the project) and over K5 million that was received by the contractor from the Angoram District Administration for alleged variations to this non-existent project of which the investigators admitted finding no evidence  (and they looked)

The K10 million remained with the Provincial Government until the contracts to carry out the project were awarded and then it was transferred to PPL.

The report highlights the gross abuses of process that allowed vested interests to win the tendering process and commandeer the project without fulfilling the contract.

The tendering process

Implicated in just about everything – is John Tangit CEO of PNG Power whose ‘wantoks’ were the proprietors of the companies that won the four-part Angoram RE Project – three parts to PNG Engineering – the registered owner being Mr Richard Pii, brother-in-law of John Tangit and one part to Sepik Metal the registered owner being Mr Patrick Wolly Tangit, the brother of John Tangit.

john-tangit-ceo-png-power
John Tangit, erstwhile CEO of PNG Power Ltd.

The investigation team found evidence of John Tangit’s direct involvement with the tendering process on his desktop computer.

What’s more, these two companies seemed to have been made aware of the exact amount of money allocated for the project and their estimates coincided exactly (similar to insider trading). The three-parts of the project for which PNG Engineering won the tender were split into K3 million each, notwithstanding the very different parameters of each individual part. In other words the tender was neither accurate nor competent.

Further to the questionable estimates of PNG Engineering, the investigation teams noticed an assessment of 15/15 that had been awarded by the tenders’ assessment team to PNG Engineering for experience, a ridiculous score when the company was only five months old.

As for Sepik Metal, the other successful tenderer, they did not even gain the highest score in the assessment but got the contract because they came in exactly on budget – a little insider knowledge goes a long way.

As such, it could not be confidently asserted that either of these two companies were the best companies for the job regardless of conflicts of interest.

What’s more, on digging deeper into these two companies and their affiliates, many more links of John Tangit’s pecuniary involvement were uncovered.

John Tangit has been much more brazen even than Don Polye was when he awarded the Wasa Bridge contract to a crony – at least he didn’t ostensibly hand the contract to himself.

There’s nothing new here

Of the three issues, Wasa Bridge, Community Colleges and now the Angoram RE Project, there is nothing new.

In Kandep, an estimate K71 million has been allocated to the project and the contractors – and no bridge.

In 17 districts of PNG a whopping K156 million has been allocated and spent – and not one Community College to show for it. (“Leave the Grand Chief alone – he’s the Father of the nation,” you say– where’s that ironic font?)

In comparison, the K31 million gone missing from the Angoram RE Project is a mere bagatelle but a huge amount none the less in any context, but especially in one where many people exist on a couple of kina a day and women still die in childbirth at alarming rates through lack of governmental services (maybe in Angoram it’s from lack of electricity.)

This was brutally brought home to me recently when I heard that there was a drive to vaccinate potential mothers in PNG against tetanus. What on earth for?

In my world, tetanus is not considered a risk factor for birthing mothers. But it is where mothers habitually give birth on the ground in the dust and the dirt or the mud and the filth.

Yet here we are – talking of K31 million as if it were nothing – because everything is relative and the relationship of various acts of thievery is regularly and usually counted in millions in PNG.

To date, no one has found a way or a will to successfully prosecute these crimes. Why not?

Inadequacy of the agencies of the state.

For a journalist, once is an incident, twice is suspect and by the third time, it’s a trend.  And this mode of corruption is quite the trend in PNG. Yet it’s brazen, and not even particularly sophisticated.

What’s more, in two of these cases, there has either been a very competent Singapore court (Community Colleges) that has done the hard investigative work or a thorough investigation by a reputable independent investigator (Angoram RE Project).  As for the Wasa Bridge, if the authorities wanted some evidence of where to look – they could do worse than start with PNG Echo’s own investigation.

Yet it doesn’t happen, does it?  Why not?

If the agencies of the state, and the state itself, cannot recognise this brazen and obvious trend and put in place ways to successfully prevent and prosecute the crimes, then the agencies are either incompetent or corrupt themselves.

I find it hard to believe that in the PNG Power saga ,all Fraud Squad’s energies were put into prosecuting John Mangos for alleged visa infringements and an alleged K62,000 for which there was no viable evidence – Mangos would argue that it doesn’t exist – yet with all the credible evidence available to them – nothing has been done on the missing millions.

I re-iterate – the Fraud Squad is either grossly incompetent or corrupt – there is no third way.

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Somare’s Singapore sling leaves Koim with a hang-over

By PNG Echo

The Grand Chief - irrevocably implicated
The Grand Chief – irrevocably implicated

The recent revelation that PNG’s former Prime Minister, Sir Michael Somare, was named in a Singapore criminal prosecution as a recipient of $US784, 000.00 (K2, 540,000.00) has exposed Sam Koim’s position as a so-called anti-corruption fighter in PNG, as fundamentally compromised.

Since Task Force sweep was decommissioned by the NEC, Koim has been kept afloat by unknown private sources.

Is it Somare himself, or Somare’s political allies who are providing this funding?

It’s really time Koim came clean with the people of PNG about who is funding his operations.  If Koim is, in fact funded by Somare or Somare’s political allies, this may explain Koim’s failure to prosecute or pursue Somare for this Singapore sling, wouldn’t it?

It might also suggest that the purpose of Koim’s relentless and well-funded attempts to remove O’Neill from his office as Prime Minister, is to install Koim’s pro-Somare benefactors in office, to protect him from prosecution for this crime?

Somare’s involvement in this scam, and the evidence required to conclusively prove it was provided to Sam Koim at the beginning of 2013, and Koim himself has publicly stated that he undertook some sort of official investigation . He declined to comment to the ABC reporter on whether or not Sir Michael had been interviewed by the Task Force.

The prosecution in Singapore was commenced in 2012, and Koim was provided with the evidence in 2013. Why has it taken so long for Koim to act in this matter? Has he even undertaken that basic, fundamental step of interviewing Somare in the investigation process?

The famous crying 'selfie' - are crocodile tears a fitting tribute
The famous crying ‘selfie’ – are crocodile tears a fitting tribute

According to Koim, he was unable to institute any prosecution in this matter because he was “defunded” by the O’Neill government. Again, given his pursuit of the current Prime Minister, Peter O’Neill through the courts of PNG since 2014, this is also hard to accept.

He seems to have garnered sufficient funds to maintain his home, his office and his own sustenance. He had sufficient funds available to illegally engage an expensive team of international and local lawyers, including Greg Egan, and Terry Lambert from Brisbane.

He had sufficient funds to orchestrate the unsuccessful prosecution of the Attorney General, a Supreme Court Judge, and several Police Commissioners, and anyone else who stood in the way of his contrived attack on the Prime Minister.

So Koim had no trouble financing these prosecutions, all of which failed. At best, they wasted precious resources (wherever they may have come from) which could have been more successfully spent prosecuting Somare.

Koim’s antics since 2013 have all been financed by persons unknown, bent on seeing O’Neill stood aside from the office of Prime Minister, at all costs, including the corruption of the prosecutorial and judicial systems.

Who would benefit from such a thing? Why, Somare and his political supporters would, of course.  It’s time Koim revealed who is paying him.

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Sir Michael Somare: The money trail

By PNG Echo.
Sir Michael Somare claims he has never received illegal payments. Oh, really?

The Community Colleges rort – and the proof of the pudding

On 16th August 2010, the then Prime Minister of Papua New Guinea, Sir Michael Somare, received the sum of $US280,000 into his personal account (#0374026963) at the Scott’s Mall branch of the Standard Chartered Bank in Singapore, drawn on the account of M/S Questzone Offshore Limited (“Questzone”). See below.

Somare Cheque 2Then, on the 1st September 2010, Somare received a further $US 280,000 into the same personal account from the same drawer. See below.

Somare Cheque 3Finally, on the 12th November 2010, he also received a further sum of $US 224,000 from the same drawer into his personal account. See Below

Somare Cheque 1Each of these annexures have the full tracing details endorsed by the bank on the copies produced here, so there can be no denying the funds were received by him.

I am told Sir Michael spent some of the money paying the builder of his Wewak residence and the rest has been frozen in this account (I believe the residual is around $300,000)

The enormity of this crime cannot be underestimated. I am reliably informed that it is the most serious “white collar” crime on the statute books and carries a term of imprisonment of 25 years in prison.

Furthermore, under oath before a Leadership Tribunal in 2010, Somare was required to disclose all of his bank accounts and other assets. He failed to disclose his Singapore account, and consequently perjured himself.

This account was not disclosed in his Leadership returns for 2010 or any other year subsequently, which constitutes a serial breaching of the Leadership Code.

Somare also failed to disclose this income to the Internal Revenue Commission, which is a fraud.

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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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The Inaugural VONC Awards

By PNG Echo

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

KNaru_ResizedBest 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’.

1609803_10152547043623574_471502395_nThe 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?

 

0317np2The 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?

 

James-MarapeIn 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.

 

5160696-3x2-940x627Best 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…

 

Namah styleBest 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…

6a00d83454f2ec69e2017c32c40800970b-800wiBest 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.

Peter+O'NeillBut 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.

Hail the Chief.

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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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Hold on Papua New Guinea: Get the election you deserve.

by PNG Echo

Papua New Guinea’s political opposition has just two weeks to oust the Prime Minister if they want to get their hands on the government cheque book before the next election – and they do – desperately.

They’re pulling out all the stops.

As I write, there should be a decision being handed down by the Supreme Court as to the recalling of parliament to allow a motion of ‘No Confidence’ to go ahead. With the three judges sitting on the case being Mikail J, Salika DCJ and Injia CJ, I don’t like the chances of the government winning this.

The opposition are likely to get their chance at a Vote of No Confidence – whether they win it, is another matter entirely.

But they’re in there trying!

Bring out the big guns

Strange bedfellows
Strange bedfellows

They’ve got former Prime Ministers Sir Mekere Morauta and Sir Michael Somare joining forces in the attempt to depose the Prime Minister and asking other MPs to join them in a press statement that is the most hypocritical and self- serving document imaginable.

These men live in a very fragile metaphoric ‘glass houses’, yet they insist on throwing stones.

The two masters of the ironic (Morauta and Somare) are saying:

As former Prime Ministers we have made our choice, and we ask our fellow Papua New Guineans to join us in rescuing our country. We cannot, through inaction, see our democracy and the institutions that support democracy ruined. The nation’s future is at stake. Today we are declaring that the Prime Minister must stand down, for the good of all Papua New Guineans.”

For the good of all Papua New Guineans? When did these two have the good of Papua New Guinea foremost on their agenda?

Sir Michael was the architect and founding father of what Wikileaks called “a dysfunctional blob” and when Wikileaks made a comment on the possibility of Sir Michael coming back into power after the 2011 political coup, they referred to the Somare regime as

…a cesspit of corruption, incompetence and mediocrity.

Then again, Sir Mekere Morauta presided over what the Prime Minister has described as “the lost decade” with opportunities and good times squandered.

They are proposing a rescue plan that, on scrutiny, is actually a plan to make a plan. – they provide no solutions but plenty of criticism – all wreaking of gross hypocrisy.

They say:

The past five years of Mr O’Neill’s leadership have been characterized by mismanagement, waste and corruption on an unprecedented scale.

That’s not right.

If we’re talking mismanagement there are plenty of precedents in the Prime Ministership of both Somare and Morauta. In fact, let’s hear from Sir Mekere on what he thought about the management of PNGs finances during the Somare era,

As Minister, Arthur Somare regarded the SOEs [state–owned enterprises] as toys to be owned to glorify his image.

He said that the Somare family regarded these SOEs as their “honey pot”

It’s an interesting criticism when you consider the similar one the Prime Minister made of Sir Mekere when he recently said that that the

“…ongoing stream of hate and malice is all about the former Prime Minister trying to undermine the Government to keep control of the Sustainable Development Program (SDP) money…[Morauta] thinks that if there is a change of Government he might get to stay on and keep spending the money belonging to SDP [Sustained Development Program associated with compensation for the OkTedi mining environmental damage].”

The Founding father of the dysfunctional blob
The Founding father of the dysfunctional blob

As for corruption, well the ‘Father of the Nation’ is still allegedly at it (see here) and it would be more important to him than ever, now that he’s announced his retirement, that he install a government that would be sympathetic to his, and his family’s, ongoing needs.

No, neither of these two has earned the right to access the public coffers -especially not prior to an election that would recognise either of them as the mandated incumbent – and that’s unlikely to happen ever again making them no different to thieves, taking what doesn’t belong to them.

To election…

The question has to be asked why the opposition so desperately need access to the state’s coffers, doesn’t it?  What plans do they have for money belonging to the people?

These two weeks are so crucial to the Opposition because if they depose O’Neill after this small window of opportunity, then it will trigger an election – and they will have to go to that election without the benefit of the public purse.

Make no mistake, these next two weeks are nothing to do with the good of the nation and everything to do with the financial ambitions of the Opposition who’d like the trough for their snouts.

They’ll be quiet come the end of July – mark my words. The good of the nation will be forgotten.

Hold on PNG – get the election you deserve.

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