In an interview given to EMTV at the end of last week, Prime Minister, Peter O’Neill commented on a number of issues including:
the recent defections (?) to the Opposition,
the Grand Chief’s move to the middle benches (or the opposition depending on who you listen to)
and the UBS loan.
The Prime Minister reminded his audience that PNG, as an adherent to democratic principles, was governed by the virtue of numbers – and he had them
In fact, O’Neill has almost 60 Members of Parliament in his own PNC party, according to figures he quoted. With the PNG parliament having 111 seats, O’Neill’s PNC Party has the numbers to govern on its own if it so desires. I cannot recall another time in post-colonial history that that has ever been the case.
However, this government is a coalition government and holds the seats of around 100 members (once again according to the Prime Minister’s estimations). So even with Polye, Soso et al joining the Opposition, the opposition is still going to be largely irrelevant.
I’ve been incommunicado on the other side of the world for some weeks, so yesterday (24 October 2014) with good internet connections temporarily restored, I was shocked to learn that tensions and conflict within the police service in PNG seems to have escalated.
Why should that be so when the Supreme Court on October 2 clarified the constitutional position confirming that the Commissioner of Police has ultimate authority and control of his men – and that the duty of a police officer was to obey the orders of superiors?
Well, seems some ‘rogue’ police officers have chosen to disregard the ruling of PNG’s highest court.
A dissident faction, led by Chief Inspector Damaru and Inspector Gitua, seem to have forgotten they are first and foremost police officers and have become righteous zealots, hell bent on carrying out an arrest warrant on the Prime Minister, notwithstanding that the courts have stayed the warrant and regardless of the fact that their superior officer, Commissioner Vaki is currently seeking a judicial review of that same warrant.
In a press statement issued earlier this week, Belden Namah, leader of a rapidly diminishing parliamentary opposition, vehemently denied that the defection of his MPs had anything to do with defective leadership and everything to do with the lure of money. (A considerable irony, given his admission of using K50 million in the 2012 elections to buy votes and loyalty – yes Mr. O’Neill, I’m with you: where did that come from?)
It’s a sad spectacle to see Namah on the campaign trail, trying to buy admiration. Showing off his expensive toys – an aircraft here, a landcruiser there, everywhere bundles of cash – never realising that people are more interested in his money than in Belden Namah. He is attempting to buy with money something he never will be able to – admiration is not for sale.
Yesterday, the Prime Minister begged to differ with the denial saying that the defecting MPs had ‘lost confidence” in Namah’s leadership:
His abrupt and aggressive style of leadership is unheard of in Melanesian communities and [in] Melanesian style of leadership,
…[W]hen will pride become more important than money [to the Melanesian ‘Bikman’]? How many more times will veteran politicians…such as the Highlander and former Deputy Prime Minister, Don Polye, put up with being publicly told to “F**king shut up?” How much longer will Peter O’Neill, want to entertain a deputy or coalition partner that openly and publicly challenges superior authority, not understanding ‘chain of command’ in spite of all his military training.
In fact, so good were his cards that he had that very rare commodity in a card game – a ‘lay-down misère’.
A lay-down misère is a hand so good that it is played in full view of the other players with no risk. It’s brazen and it’s shamelessly triumphant.
However, you would be forgiven for thinking that the Prime Minister may have ‘stacked the deck’ by removing all the opponent’s trumps (Sam Koim, ITFS, Thomas Eluh, Kerenga Kua…) with one of the last being dissenting Solicitor-General, Ms Jubilee Tindiwi.
Dear Mr Namah,
My father often used to say when I’d interrupt him:
“When I talk to the organ-grinder, I don’t expect the monkey to reply.”
Using this metaphor, PNG would be forgiven if they were getting confused as to who is who in your relationship (alleged) with Sonja Barry Ramoi.
I say “alleged” because while she is busy publicly giving the impression that the Opposition Leader of Papua New Guinea does not sneeze without her say so, you have been especially quiet about her.
All this from a man who the Prime Minister has stated has nothing to offer PNG but his big mouth – and NOW you’re quiet?
Anyway, Ramoi is often seen to write: “I will be advising him…” this – or “I told him to do…” that. Which is all well and good because whoever has given you advice, it’s been spectacularly unsuccessful.
Can you count your MPs on the fingers of one hand yet?
District Services Improvement Program (DSIP): is it an effective means of devolved funding to better reach the people or is it a members’ personal slush fund? Is DSIP funding (or the withholding of it) a way for the executive government to reward or penalise Members of Parliament at whim – and does it become a handy scapegoat for penalised MPs who haven’t delivered nor were ever going to?PNG Echo explores these questions.
An urgent application to the Supreme Court of Papua New Guinea has been lodged by Belden Namah (and/or the Opposition) and will be heard on March 14.
The application seeks to halt the mooted release of 2014 DSIP funds by the Minister of Finance James Marape, until the completed payment of 2013 funds owing to all MPs, especially Opposition Members.
Deputy Leader of the Opposition, Sam Basil announced that while all Government Minsters were paid in full by November 2103 (K10million), Members of the Opposition have received only K6 million paid in two batches – the first K3million in June 2013 and the second tranche of K3million in January 2014. (The second K3 million Basil claims has not reached opposition MPs because it was deposited in the wrong account)
It is not known (by this writer) when the remainder (K4million) is due to be paid or if it will be.
The Opposition is livid; they want what they consider their due.
More sideshows have been added this week to ‘Belden’s Big Top’, the (quasi) anti corruption circus that opened early in January with Belden performing the ‘Arrest the Prime Minister Dance’.
This clumsy dance was clearly self-choreographed, with Belden soon stumbling on his own amateur dance steps as the professionals (lawyers) proved to the arbitrators (courts) that the dance was unworthy.
And although, Blind Freddy could see his footprints all over the choreography, Belden chose to hide his light under a bushel and attributed it to four of PNGs finest.
It was a poison chalice that he’d handed the police officers (although it’s alleged that the pot was sweetened) because the four were suspended from their duties for disobeying orders. (They had been told not to dance with the devil.)
In the fight against corruption, one man, Sam Koim, of Task Force Sweep (TFS), has stood steadfast and true, in spite of the attempted bribes and the threats he’s had to endure in the course of carrying out his duties and notwithstanding that he has to account to the very people that he is often investigating.
The difference is integrity
Sam Koim has walked this particularly dangerous and difficult tightrope with amazing aplomb, foresight and maturity – without ever losing his sense of purpose – without forgetting the commitment to those he’s serving – the people of Papua New Guinea.
And it seems he is making progress, in spite of being headed off at the pass by the cowboy who is currently the leader of the opposition and his Barmy Army running interference at every possible juncture – and why? For Namah’s political gain.
PNG Echo is officially back to work after the Christmas break.
With so many things of import occurring in early January, it proved a bit of a ‘Clayton’s’ break. What happened to the usual practice of Papua New Guniean MPs exiting the country for the summer break and only returning in February for the first sitting of parliament (and sometimes not even that soon)?
Early January saw a dangerous political manoeuvre by the Opposition Leader (were the Casinos closed?) as he insisted on arrest warrants, sworn out at the end of 2013 (of which no one was aware), be carried through on Prime Minister Peter O’Neill, Treasurer, Don Polye and Minister for Finance, James Marape.
The arrest warrants cut across an ongoing investigation into the same matter being carried out by Investigation Task Force Sweep (TFS) and were contrary to the directions of Tom Kulunga, Commissioner of Police.
In fact the arrests were poised to seriously jeopardize the investigation of the TFS by pre-empting their inquiries. The arrests were ill-conceived and would have been premature had they gone ahead.
I read with sadness (twitter profile) that Martyn Namorong is now in the employ of the Opposition Leader, making him no longer an independent commenter.
Namah has managed to compromise so many supposed ‘corruption fighters’ by putting them on the payroll. All that it says to me is that the only reason they were fighting corruption in the first place was because they had sour grapes at not being the recipients of it (yet). Well now they are.
Namah has effectively managed to stymie investigation of his activities by paying the lukewarm patriots that are the Barmy Army. I guess that means it’s up to the PNG Echo. Well, I’m onto it.
Addendum (30 November, 7 pm – PNG time): Since publishing this post a few hours ago, Namorong has removed from his Twitter profile all mention of being employed by the Office of the Opposition of PNG – seems he is still a communications consultant though.