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?
The Fraud Squad is either grossly incompetent or corrupt – there is no third way.
…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.
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.
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.
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?
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.
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.
Then, on the 1st September 2010, Somare received a further $US 280,000 into the same personal account from the same drawer. See below.
Finally, 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
Each 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.
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.
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.
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
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.
The past five years of Mr O’Neill’s leadership have been characterized by mismanagement, waste and corruption on an unprecedented scale.
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].”
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.
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.
Social media has started throwing around Kerenga Kua’s name as a possible next Prime Minister of Papua New Guinea. It’s another ill-considered notion from the Keyboards of Papua New Guinea’s self-professed ‘elites’ (sic).
I mean, why would you want him? He’s a cheat, a hypocrite and a thug.
Having said that, I can see that it at least may be possible – unlike the other candidates that social media wastes our time with like Gary Juffa and Sam Basil who have not got a snowball’s hope in hell.
Even if they win the hearts of their people, they then have the problem of winning over their fellow Members – and neither have the numbers – nor do they have the wherewithal and allegiances to garner them. Juffa is an intelligent man (not so much Basil) and he knows this only too well.
But back to Kerenga Kua, the bully boy from Sinasina/Yongomugl
Firstly, having spent many years as Sir Michael Somare’s personal lawyer, Kua, no doubt, knows where all the bodies are buried, what’s more, as his legal representative he likely would have helped Sir Michael dig the graves.
The most abiding criticism the current Prime Minister, Peter O’Neill faces is that he should stop using legal avenues to avoid arrest and submit to the court processes. Hell, our legal friend Kua has even made a big splash and a big man of himself suggesting the same.
Kua clearly has not heard the adage about people in glass houses not throwing stones.
I don’t know how he could have made such a statement with a straight face – not in view of what happened when an arrest warrant was extant for him in 2010.
Take it away, Sunday Chronicle.
[With]Mr Yama [complainant]…alleging conspiracy to pervert the court of justice [against Kua and others ] …police were working to interview PNG Law Society President, Kerenga Kua…but it was alleged that the duo [Kua and a Mr Mua] fled to Chimbu [to avoid arrest]…Mr Kua returned to Port Moresby after their representative, Blake Dawson Waldron Lawyers, successfully took out a National Court orders which granted leave to apply for a judicial review of the decision of Waigani District Court magistrate …to issue warrants of arrests.
The arrest warrants were stayed. How familiar does that sound? And how hypocritical does Kua sound, knowing this? Besides, never has Peter O’Neill fled to Chimbu or anywhere else – so clearly Kua could elevate this avoidance to a level otherwise unimagined.
Commissions, Commissions, Commissions
And a healthy imagination is what you’d need to believe the things that came out of the Commission of Inquiry into the briefing out and payment of private law firms.
Firstly in Paraka-esque fashion Kua tried to stop the commission – he failed.
The Commission questioned Kua and his two partners in PKA Lawyers one of whom, Goiye Gileng is Kua’s brother. And didn’t the lawyer for the Commission have a field day?
When Kisakiu Posman, Kua’s other erstwhile partner in the law firm PKA Lawyers, was asked what constituted an ‘item’ in a bill for X numbers of items, he answered that they were six minute blocks but then stumbled saying – no probably a unit was an hour.
Firstly, everyone knows that lawyers bill in minutes not hours. However, Posman must have been busy doing the sums in his head and was way ahead of counsel who pointed out that were they 6-minute units then the charge out rate would be K15,000 per hour. Whoa! However, counsel had done his homework and pointed out that in the other scenario (1 unit= an hour) then Mr Kua must have worked for 20 hours that day.
While Posman said that this would be right, at least Kua, when cross examined, said he rarely worked more than 11 hours in a day. Yet, there it was – the bill.
And then there are the ‘jobs for the boys’ or nepotism.
During the short time that Kua was Attorney General, he briefed out two of the most lucrative matters to his old firm, PKA Lawyers.
Counsel for the Commission pointed out that according to company records, Kerenga Kua was still involved in the firm when this happened. Posman explained it as being an ‘oversight’ and when Kua was questioned he said that, as Attorney General, he gave the contract to the most competent firm – yes, a firm so competent that they forget to alter the company records in a situation as sensitive as this – you’d want them in your corner if your life was on the line, wouldn’t you?
Yet, they billed the government millions of dollars (either at K15,000 an hour, or while working 20 hour days) for working on the Kumul Holdings case and, you guessed it, PNGSDP case in Singapore.
And that’s not all, there was much more – but read it yourselves. The 18 and 25th November is of particular interest. Here is the link.
And last, but not least, is the Member’s thuggery.
In a violent society, where the most vulnerable, most often women and children get gratuitously beaten, maimed and killed, to have a leader that embodies the traits of the perpetrator is simply unconscionable.
Here is a report of the Incident from The National Jan 6, 2014
…In his witness statement, which was supported by security guard Samson Kokong, Hunter [electrical manager with Aisi-Bishman Contractors]said the incident occurred at 7pm at a property owned by Kua in Section 60, Lot 20 on Gabaka Street, Gordon…
Hunter said when he arrived [at the premises]with two of his workers, he saw Kua with 12 security guards waiting inside.
“I was trying to greet him when he started shouting that I had wrecked his property and he punched me in the face,” Hunter said in his statement to police.
“I attempted to reason with him and explain my side of the issue while he continued to punch me in between yelling accusations that I was a con man and had cheated him.”…
Hunter said Kua and one of his security guards then proceeded to attack him but he managed to run out of the gate and drive off to the Boroko police station to report the matter.
Ah yes, what a Prince! Just what Papua New Guinea needs – He’s everything that’s been criticised about the current Prime Minister and so much more – he’s potentially another Paraka and he’s also a bovver boy.
If you need schooling in corruption, you need look no further than the lessons the founding father of Papua New Guinea, Governor of East Sepik Province and former Prime Minister, Sir Michael Somare, can teach you.
Sir Michael is the chief architect in the shaping of a corrupt political culture that the international diplomatic community describes, in private, as a “dysfunctional blob.” See article.
The jargon of corruption like – inflated contracts, bribery, kickbacks, travel junkets, unfulfilled contractual obligations, nepotism, lack of transparent accounting, circumvention of process, cronyism, disreputable companies, lying under oath, non-disclosure, payments in the proverbial “dribs and drabs”, conflicts of interest and high-ranking patronage are all here in the story I’m about to tell you.
It’s also a tale that acts as sad indictment of Task Force Sweep’s failure to act on evidence in their possession (and they have all I have and more, and have had it in their possession for three years). It serves to add weight to the accusation that their pursuit of the allegedly corrupt is excessively influenced by politics.
It’s all about a contract involving Papua New Guinea
This particular shady contract has drawn the keen interest of the inscrutable Singapore Public Prosecutor who has charged two of the main protagonists, Lim Ai Wah and her husband Thomas Doehrman, with engaging in a conspiracy to falsify a paper with intent to defraud.
The “paper” was an invoice from a company in the British Virgin Islands (Questzone) to ZTE Corporation (the main contractor in the PNG contract) that was purportedly for supply of goods and services but instead was to collect a commission payment of $US 3.6 million (kickback) for the awarding of said contract in Papua New Guinea (to build community colleges).
The allegedly false invoice was needed to justify highly irregular distribution of the said payment to persons with a clear conflict of interest (which will become apparent as we progress) – that included Doehrman and his wife, the then Prime Minister Sir Michael Somare and his son Michael M Somare (also known as ‘Moox’)
But the Singaporeans have just scratched the surface – this is the stuff Commissions of Inquiry are made of – and God help us, we need another Inquiry (when will they invent an ironic font?)
The case in Singapore is ongoing.
Background to a rort
It was an accepted proposal that community colleges would be built across PNG to educate people who had ‘dropped out’ or had been otherwise unable to complete their education.
In 2010, PNG Department of National Planning kicked in K56 million, K90 million was provided by a loan from the Chinese Exim bank ($US36 million), a further amount of K10 million was drawn from RESI funds for which the payee, originally the East Sepik Provincial Treasury Office was later changed to the Merienburg Community College Trust Account.
That’s a grand total of K156 million
A trust was set up to administer the funds (LTE) ZTE Corporation was appointed the lead contractor.
Paid contracts, unfulfilled
There were 17 proposed colleges, two of which were to be privately funded, 15 to be funded by monies administered by the LTE trust.
According to a report by the Department of Education dated 19 June, 2013 the status is:
2 – completed and operational
3 – completed
1 – ready for construction
9 – not established due to land disputes
But others have informed me there is absolutely nothing to show.
Take the case of the college to be built in Wabag that had an establishment cost of K5.08 million for which K5.2 million was disbursed there. Reports state that it is one of the colleges that is caught up in land disputes and yet, it is also reported that all funds were fully exhausted or fully committed with no infrastructure or construction in evidence anywhere. So what exhausted over K5 million – what was it spent on if not the college?
Worse, is the case of the Merienburg College where K17 million was deposited into their trust account, yet there is no college there: it falling under the ‘not established due to land disputes’ category. So how was that money spent?
This is blatant corruption: Task Force Sweep, has had this information since 2013
The Somare connection
There is one person who is prominent in all the dealings, he’s the ‘friend’ in high places’, and let’s face it there’s none as high has the office of the Prime Minister and no Prime Minister more prominent in PNGs past nor present, as PNGs founding father, Sir Michael Somare.
Sir Michael’s fingerprints are all over this deal. It was Sir Michael Somare
…who was the Prime Minister at the time that the scheme was approved.
…that put his own cronies into the ITE trust (that distributes the monies) including his own son Michael Junior (Moox).
… who provided the only invitation for the appointment of Moox and Thomas Doehrman as trustees to ITE, circumventing protocol.
… that was one of the 4 recipients who shared a commission of $US3.6 million in a distribution decided by Moox, Thomas Doehrman and Stephen Li of ZTE Corporation.
… that having put his cronies in place in LTE they then enlisted ZTE corporation as the main contractor, paying them the money from the Chinese Exim loan ($US36 million – 90% of the contract price) from which the commission of 10% could be disguised as payment for services and goods and paid to the British Virgin Islands company set up for that purpose, Questzone.
… and his cronies in LTE that overlooked or approved and paid the inflated ZTE initial quote, that went from $US10 million to $US24 million and finally to over $US38 million.
… and 10 other people (said to include members of his family) who spent almost K15 million in travel expenses flying to China to sign contracts that could have been handled by one person in Port Moresby with the aid of the Chinese embassy.
… who failed to disclose all of the ‘advantages’ of which he’s been the recipient in this deal. He lied under oath.
It was under Sir Michael Somare’s watch that the Department of National Planning was complicit in paying monies into trust accounts in “dribs and drabs” to keep the accounts under the payment approvals threshold and thus to circumvent scrutiny
It was Sir Michael Somare’s cronies who, having bypassed all standard procedures, hired a company (ZTE) that had been suspected of corruption in relation to contracts in the Phillipines, Mongolia, Norway and Algeria.
It was Sir Michael Somare’s crony, Thomas Doehrman who received monies (K3 million) in a trust account he set up which had been earmarked by the NEC to be operated by the community college scheme’s architect, Dr Alphonse Xavier.
The Koim disconnect.
So what more do they want? The fish has literally jumped on the line for them.
Our brave corruption fighters who have no qualms in accosting and arresting female lawyers at airports and manhandling them roughly to the point of bruising –seem to be having a problem with this one. Why’s that?
All the evidence I have and the Singapore authorities have, Task Force Sweep and the Fraud Squad – Koim, Damaru and Gitua have also had for three years.
It seems, for them, it’s a legitimate use of their time to harass the current Prime Minister when he has already stated that he has received no benefits from the Paraka case and that if they can produce some evidence to the contrary he will give himself up (clearly they can’t produce any, because they haven’t) – yet they cannot act when there is a clear trail of evidence with recorded payments and a sworn statement taken by the Public Prosecutor in Singapore from Lim Ai Wah implicating all.
In fact Lim Ai Wah has been a wealth of information:
When asked if she knew that the money deposited in the Questzone account ($US3.6 million) was from the proceeds of crime, she responded:
I wish to say yes but I wish to say that if you don’t pay to the PM PNG you will not be able to get business from PNG.
She also went on to say:
I wish to state that the 3 payments labelled ‘Housing’…were made for the purpose of helping PM PNG to pay for his house and his son to pay for a separate house…Hence the US$280,000 and US$224.000…were meant for the PM PNG’s use of housing loans.
She goes on further:
Sometime in 2010, I received a call from the son of PM PNG asking me to send money to him. I told him the amount set aside for him was US$280,000 but since he did not have an account in Singapore, I wrote a cheque to PM PNGs bank account and told him to pass the money to his son…”
Let me reiterate: This is a sworn statement by one of the parties (married to Thomas Doehrman – a trustee of LTE) who has admitted this, under oath with evidentiary support (bank accounts etc).
Lim, her husband Thomas Doehrman, a trustee of LTE, Michael Somare Junior – Deputy Chairman of LTE and Sir Michael Somare, Prime Minister of PNG all benefited from the proceeds of crime to the tune of $US3.6 million.
The conflict of interests is clear.
Sir Michael Somare, at best, has failed to disclose these payments, even during a Leadership Tribunal (it could be why he’s so chary of fulfilling his statutory duties and filing his returns) and at worst…?