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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Moti in Papua New Guinea: Part 1

It’s a sad truth that precious few political scandals in Papua New Guinea reach a satisfactory conclusion: they tend to erupt violently only to soon be forgotten (and often forgiven) as the next crisis or sensation overtakes and overshadows.  It is why PNG Echo has a category ‘Lest we forget’.

However, in true PNG fashion, this category has been overlooked lately as PNG Echo has become swept up with current political events.  It’s time to address that irony by revisiting the Moti Saga.

The Moti Saga caused a serious diplomatic stoush between Australia and countries of the Pacific – most notably the Solomon Islands and Papua New Guinea – but not only – Fiji and Vanuatu were involved too.

In the ensuing years, myth has overtaken fact and there are many misconceptions about what really happened.

The Journalist...
The Journalist…

My involvement with the Moti case and Julian Moti dates back to 2009 when I first interviewed him – and continues to this day

As a political scientist, I was appalled at his treatment and the egregiously bad behaviour of authorities in many jurisdictions and since the first article there have been dozens more – all revealing what both the Australian authorities and, sadly, the Australian press did not want the public to know.

Three years later, the High Court of Australia agreed with what Moti had always avowed and what I had been trying to disseminate, with varying success, through a reluctant media.

This is what happened in Papua New Guinea.

By Susan Merrell

No one would accuse Julian Moti of being politically naïve. When he accepted the position as Attorney General of the Solomon Islands in 2006 he knew there were powerful opposing forces.

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

None so powerful as the Australian authorities that were having difficulty accepting a change in attitude towards their role in the Solomon Islands brought about by the new Prime Minister, Manasseh Sogavare.

Sogavare had, over time, become increasingly critical of the intervention of the Australian-led Regional Assistance Mission in the Solomon Islands (RAMSI). Moti backed Sogavare’s position.

Australia’s best interests would be served by a quick removal of Sogavare and his backers.

So when Moti learned that the Australian Federal Police had begun a new investigation into a charge of sex with a minor (a charge that had been thrown out of a Vanuatu court almost a decade previously – Moti was found to have no case to answer), he braced himself for the ‘smear campaign’.

This was how they would discredit him, he reasoned. It was politics and politics is dirty.

But, even though Moti was in Papua New Guinea on his way to Honiara to advise Sogavare how to defeat a parliamentary motion of ‘no confidence’ against him in September 2006, and though he was aware that the Australians would be hoping that the motion was successful, he still did not foresee what would happen next

Unlawful

It must be nerve racking to arrest a lawyer. Lawyers have an air of arrogance buoyed by the confidence of knowing the law, their rights within those laws and how to exercise them. A wise person would be very sure of their grounds before making such a move.

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

Moreover, in Papua New Guinea’s international airport on September 29, 2006, it was no ordinary lawyer that was arrested. It was the Attorney General elect of the Solomon Islands, Julian Moti, in transit to Honiara to take up his position.

The now PNG Opposition Leader, Hon Don Polye, in a statement to the PNG parliament (2011) on the Ombudsman’s Commission Report (into the Moti issue) reminded parliament:

Mr. Moti was not an ordinary person. He was the Highest Law Officer of a Sovereign nation. He was the Attorney General of Solomon Islands. He deserved to be treated with decorum and proper protocol of a foreign dignitary.

Polye continued:

MR SPEAKER, not only was Mr. Moti deserving of decorum and protocol, (as we would expect other countries to treat our Attorney General), Mr. Moti was also an International Protected Person under the Convention on the Prevention of Crimes Against Internationally Protected Persons including Diplomatic Agents 1973 (“the IPP Convention 1973”) to which PNG became a signatory in 2003. Under the IPP Convention PNG was obligated to protect Mr. Moti, who qualified as a “representative or official of a State” and grant him safe passage as the highest ranking law officer of Solomon Islands.

The Arrest, Extraction and Detention of Mr. Moti by our Police, was in breach of our International Law and our International Obligations under both the Chicago Convention 1958 and the IPP Convention 1973.

So where was the Arrest Warrant and why was Moti removed from the transit lounge without the correct immigration documents and visas? It’s questions such as these that lead one to suspect that there were compelling forces at work – even more compelling than the law.

How the arrest was effected.

When Moti arrive in Papua New Guinea, he had been travelling for almost twenty-four hours. It’s no simple matter getting from India (where Moti had been an academic) to the Solomon Islands. He took the quickest route – to Singapore through Papua New Guinea, onto Honiara.

Had Moti known what was in store he may just have chosen the long way round.

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

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

Step aside,

was the instruction as Moti’s travel documents were handed to an awaiting, unidentified, Australian man. After perusing the documents, the Australian conversed with another Papua New Guinean man who approached Moti. Identifying himself as a police officer with the Transnational Crime Unit, he informed Moti he was under arrest.

Why am I under arrest,

Moti demanded to know.

I don’t know.  My seniors will tell you when they come.

The Police Officer replied.

Where’s the warrant for my arrest,

Moti asked

I don’t have it, it’s with my seniors,

the increasingly rattled policeman responded.

Clearly agitated by Moti’s questions, the police officer waited anxiously for his “seniors.” He knew who Moti was – he was well-aware of his position.

The seniors never did arrive – neither did the Arrest Warrant. And in spite of Moti not having the required documentation to enter Papua New Guinea, he was taken from the airport to a prison cell at Boroko Police Station.

The Machiavellian Australian figure appeared to direct the proceedings, the Papua New Guinean police carried out the orders.

In the Boroko cell.

The cells at the Boroko Police Station are hot and oppressive. There’s no air conditioning.

Squalid habitations for the wretched of the earth,

is how Moti described them.  By this time Moti was indeed wretched.

I remained in a state of shock throughout the day,

wrote Moti of his incarceration.

I had not been given anything to eat or drink. I had never felt so dejected in my entire life. The stench in that cell was overpowering.

Moti became ill and was vomiting. He was having trouble breathing. He had no access to his asthma medicine, which was in his luggage that had been taken off the plane bound for Honiara but had since gone missing.

Moti’s lawyer in Papua New Guinea, Peter Pena, described the condition of the cell as “putrid.” Moreover, the other inmates incarcerated with Moti were being detained for “wilful murder and other serious crimes.”

A more ignominious fate for a high-ranking official of a fellow Melanesian state is hard to imagine, a fact recognised when Moti received a visit from Joseph Assaigo (since deceased).  The Intelligence Branch Chief attached to the Office of the Prime Minister, apologised to Moti for the bad treatment.

By this time it was already afternoon.

Moti had received a copy of the Arrest Warrant mid morning. It had been obtained from the District Court at 9.30 a.m. Moti had been arrested at 5.30 a.m.

Mr. Moti, had in actual fact been arrested, extracted from the International Transit Lounge of the airport and held in police custody for over four hours at the behest, direction and supervision of the Australian Government without even a Warrant of Arrest.

wrote Peter Pena incredulously in his affadavit

Moreover, in the abovementioned statement to parliament, Hon Don Polye admitted Papua New Guinean culpability, stating:

MR SPEAKER, the most important fact that has eluded the media and the public eye for the last five (5) years that I must remind this House is that Mr. Moti has not committed any crime in Papua New Guinea. Mr. Moti did not commit any offence in PNG. Mr. Moti has not broken any law in PNG, either on or before the 29th of September 2006.

MR SPEAKER, there were no charges laid against Mr. Moti at the time of his arrest – for arrest, extraction from the International Lounge [Jacksons Airport] and lock-up. You can’t lock up international transit passengers without any charges. But that’s what we did.”[original emphasis]

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

Furthermore, Moti’s lawyers (including, now Acting Judge Danajo Koeget) noted numerous legally questionable premises on which the Warrant of Arrest had relied including an old extradition law that had since been repealed and replaced.

It was clear to Pena and Koeget that this document had been written in indecent haste and with scant regard to the laws of Papua New Guinea.

Nevertheless, and to the lawyers’ astonishment, the magistrate refused to discharge Moti but took it upon himself to grant bail.

So, in spite of Assaigo’s expressed regret at the bad treatment of Moti, the Solomon Islands’ Attorney General elect was left for twelve hours in a prison cell with murderers.

It was a cell that stank of human faeces, urine and sweat. He had not been allowed a shower or a change of clothes.

Ominously, that afternoon, Moti had also been made aware of plans to keep him away from Honiara. If he was to believe Assaigo he had every reason to fear for his life. In Moti’s affidavit to the Queensland Supreme Court he recounts this conversation that occurred at Boroko Police Station:

You watch your back, Moti,

Asaigo warned.

“The stakes are high. You’ll be finished. This whole intervention is making a lot of Aussies very rich. We’ve kicked them out. [most likely talking of the aborted Enhanced Cooperation Program], they’re kicking you and Sogavare out before you guys can kick them out too.”

Late that afternoon, by the time Moti was released on bail, he was shaken and physically ill. The lawyer’s confidence had deserted him. Clearly, the law could not be relied on to keep him safe. He was a marked man.

What happened next?  Stay tuned.

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Why not Juffa?

By PNG Echo

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

Don Polye, the Engan warlord, whose election result has been set aside on more than one occasion for suspected and proven tampering (including the most recent one), who is implicated in many corruption scandals including (but not only) the unresolved Paraka case, who has been rejected and sidelined by every government he’s served under, not least of all for incompetence, has been named as the alternative Prime Minister.

Is this the best the Opposition can do?

I’ve maintained (and am unlikely to resile from the position) that the Opposition is not a fit outfit to run a country.   They are a motley crew of the disaffected, disgruntled and rejected – all with knives sharpened to do each other in at the earliest opportunity.

I think they’ve already done Ben Micah in.

According to a government press release, Micah, when denied what Minister Marape has labelled “unreasonable demands” to whit: to be given the Deputy Prime Minister’s Portfolio (the good Minister considering Micah ” …does not have the stature, experience and respect required to be Deputy Prime Minister.”) he gathered up all his toys, like a spoilt child, and left – disgruntled, disaffected and rejected.

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

Only he left a few behind, like the Chans – the most useful toys in his stash.

How would he perform as DPM when he can’t even maintain the following of a small political party? I do, though, wonder how Micah found himself in oppositional no man’s land – no nomination as alternative Prime Minister – not even Deputy (they’ve got Basil, who’s made that role his own.)

The only reasonable explanation is that he did more than just sulked away – likely left with a whip behind him.  Ah, you never know how humble you can be – until being humble is all the choice you have.
(Apologies to the unknown sage whose words of wisdom I’ve bastardized)

Mind you, the Opposition are so few that, at this stage, promising Ministerial portfolios would not be a problem.

However, once they’re all gone – what do they have left that’s in the least attractive for the other MPs and for the country? Not a lot.

Yet we are being regaled, in the social media, with all the likely defections – to the Opposition – when in fact the faction that is the most wobbly is the Opposition.

ben-micah (1)Micah, for instance, he’s got nothing for his defection (and he’s not known for doing things out of the goodness of his heart) and what’s more they quite likely tricked him out of the leadership or deputy role and he wouldn’t be pleased about that. I’d say Micah is for sale to the highest bidder – except no one seems to be bidding.

20130910_Tue_HeadlinesAnd then, there’s Namah… who has been ‘making eyes’ at O’Neill for some time now. But the famous cuckold has been, so far, unsuccessful. However, O’Neill would only have to wink at him and he’d come running. He’s no stable member of this wraggle-taggle mob – a bit of a floozy really.

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

5160696-3x2-940x627Wasn’t it humiliating to see Speaker, Theo Zurenuoc go to water when Kua reminded him, ominously, that he could be charged with contempt of court – a veiled threat, I thought. You could have carried the Speaker around in a bucket. I’m wondering what motivates this feisty little gnome-like creature other than enriching the Somares.

Then, lurking in the background, not really with them, not really against them, is the Governor of Oro, Gary Juffa.

Here’s your solution.

 I’m now going to suspend all disbelief in order to give you all what you say you want: that is the Opposition, the social media and the silent majority.

It is the Opposition’s position that this VONC was necessary because Peter O’Neill is ruining the country and needs to be removed to save PNG.   Their motivation is to save PNG from corruption and bad fiscal management.

Pay attention to this, because it’s vital.

How can that be the case when they’ve nominated someone like Don Polye to be alternative Prime Minister – just more of the same things they accuse O’Neill of and worse?

I have also demonstrated, here and at other times, that the main contenders for alternative Prime Minister in the Opposition are all tainted by the broad brush of corruption.

The Opposition would tell you that they were acting on behalf of the ‘silent majority’; that they’ve heard their plaintive cries (although I don’t know how when they’re silent) and are responding – a voice for the voiceless.

Equally, there is a certain demographic that uses the social media who claim to also be speaking for the ‘silent majority’. (The students’ did too – but let’s leave them out – this social grouping seems to be becoming over-represented).

We can therefore conclude that the Opposition and the social media, anti-government forces are speaking for this same voiceless demographic.

With me? Excellent.

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

If we scrutinize the rhetoric of this social media grouping and take heed of the many surveys they have carried out, the consensus is that this silent majority, want Gary Juffa as alternative Prime Minister. Unequivocally! (Oh and Basil as the Deputy – who else?)

Juffa, though, hasn’t got the numbers and the Governor understands this only too well – yes, but only because these supposed representatives of the ‘silent majority’ have given their vote to Polye when their supporters want Juffa.

Oh come on Don, why don’t you listen to the plaintive cries of your constituents? It’s easy stuff, step down, instruct the Opposition (which you claim to lead) to back Juffa.

This will reveal, if your aim is really as stated or whether this VONC is a cynical exercise to raid the state’s coffers. As for the social media and the anti-government forces, I’ve given you a tangible way to get what you want – go lobby – but be prepared to run when the sheepskins are shrugged off to reveal the hungry wolves.

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The Opposition: Not a leader among them.

By PNG Echo.

Beware the Ides of August
Beware the Ides of August

Take Don Polye: he’s tried for years, but he inspires no one; his aspirations to lead have only led him into the diminished position he finds himself today – leading an opposition who are only behind him because that is the best position from where to stab him in the back.

They all want to lead – it’s just that no one follows.  They just don’t inspire –  none of them.

Yet, there are no followers in the current Opposition either (save for little Willie Samb of Goilala who, on joining the Opposition, found himself in a far more prominent position than he would have been had he joined government.)

Little Willie is the one-man-band of the eternal ‘deputy’ Sam Basil, and even he is now the proud head of the largest party (?) in Opposition (or is that still Polye’s THE Party, I seem unable to find any members who quit government to follow their ‘leader’ into Opposition – but I guess there must be at least one.)

Amusingly, a party of two is double the usual size of the parties in this coalition.

Painted into a corner

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

Polye is the figurative head of a raggle-taggle band of wannabe leaders that are, in reality, has-beens (Namah), never-were (Marat), never-will-be (Basil), and chancers (Kua and the rest).

I doubt if any of them are loyal to Polye.  He doesn’t inspire loyalty.

Some are only in the Opposition because that’s the only side that will have them – and Polye is amongst this number.

Ousted by O’Neill – he should have seen it coming. His performance in the role of Minister for Treasury and Finance saw O’Neill remove the Finance portfolio from him and place it in more competent hands. That was before he dumped him, unceremoniously, notwithstanding the numbers that he could have taken with him into Opposition – but they didn’t go. His leadership qualities are lacking.

Then there are those that would be back in the government if only O’Neill would have them and I hear tell that at least one has been imploring O’Neill to take him back. The metaphoric jilted lover whose plaintiff cry “…after all I’ve done for you,” echoed through the hallowed halls of Waigani in 2012.

The things they share: The risks they run

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

One of the binding common factors of the Opposition is that they don’t want to follow Polye: this coalition is of the unwilling.

The other, of course, is that these wannabe leaders have no followers. They are the overly-ambitious heads of one-man parties whose members (followers) have deserted them in droves.

If Polye manages to wrest power from O’Neill – and the likelihood of that is negligible – will we see the Ides of March re-enacted in Papua New Guinea?

I don’t believe there will be one member of the Opposition that will refrain from gleefully plunging the dagger into Polye after he has served his purpose – he just doesn’t inspire loyalty.

O’Neill has proved a formidable and maybe even an impossible target for this band of treacherous brothers  – Polye would be a far easier foe. They’re hoping he can pull a rabbit out of a hat for them – before they turn on him.

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All fingers point to the PNGSDP

By PNG Echo.

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

Environmental disaster and compensation

It was always blood money –

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

writes Paul Yabob

Sir Mekere Morauta
Sir Mekere Morauta

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

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

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

explains Yabob.

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

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

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

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

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

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

The Board members.

Lawrence Stephens
Lawrence Stephens

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

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

Rex Paki
Rex Paki

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

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

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

asks PNG Exposed

Good question hey?

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

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

Lucas Kiap
Lucas Kiap

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

Mark davis
Mark davis

 

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

 

The players – the links

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

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

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Another day, another Supreme Court decision

By PNG Echo.

ppellant: Minister for Finance - James Marape
Unsuccessful appellant: Minister for Finance – James Marape

Minister James Marape has today (Tuesday 9 April 2016) had his appeal dismissed unanimously by a three-man bench of the Supreme Court (Justices Hartshorn, Makail and Sawong).

The news was broken on social media and anti-government forces are hailing this latest Supreme Court decision as a David-and-Goliath type victory for the renegade police officers (Damaru and Gitua) with the Prime Minister and Minister for Finance said to have been “trashed” (sic) by the Supreme Court (even with their expensive QCs),.

But the truth of the matter is that the decision is on a procedural matter and is generally insignificant except for one major consequence.

The consequence

Justice Bernard Sakora still to preside over the substantive issue
Justice Sakora to preside

The most far-reaching consequence of the dismissed appeal is that it also served to lift the blanket stay of any arrest warrant (on any matter) for Minister Marape, the Prime Minister and their lawyers etc.

However, the Prime Minister, in a press statement released today, after the decision of the Supreme Court in the Marape case, reminded us that:

The case relating to legal fees for the Paraka matter remains outstanding before the court through a judicial review by Senior Judge, Justice Bernard Sakora, which also reaffirmed that the warrant of arrest be stayed until the judicial review is heard.

In other words, there is still a stay on the arrest warrant for the Prime Minister in the Paraka matter and that is a significant because an arrest is all that the anti-government forces have on their mind and their agenda.

This is war

Prime Minister O'Neill - his arrest is their only goal.
Prime Minister O’Neill – his arrest is their only goal.

So, while a small battle has been won today, the war continues unabated – and make no mistake, for democracy, it is important that the Prime Minister wins.

For all the proceedings have base political motivations, where the only goal is to have the Prime Minister arrested so that he is forced to step down from office. There is no discernible aim beyond this.  Indeed, all the proposed (aborted and abortive) protest rallies have this as their only objective. Why?

In reality, it is known  that any charges against the Prime Minister are unlikely to be proved – but that doesn’t matter – the damage would have been done by then, their goal effected. But there would be far-reaching ramifications -not only to this current Prime Minister but all those that follow him.

In today’s press release the Prime Minister had this to say

As the serving Prime Minister of the day, I cannot allow a precedent to be set that will render future Governments weak and ineffective.   Once a precedent is set then we know every future Government will become bogged down by malicious attempts to pursue arrest warrants by people outside the Parliament, simply for the reason of attracting media attention and applying political pressure.

To all those who ask time and time again why the Prime Minister does not “submit” himself to the courts, I think that question is now asked and answered.

The Prime Minister, in the aforementioned press statement, reiterated his confidence in the courts of PNG (whereas, on the other hand, I’m not nearly so confident) but stated he will not submit himself to the malicious and rogue attempts to use law enforcement as a political weapon.

That’s a response from a strong and responsible leader.

Political Inheritance

Lawyer, Paul Paraka - the man at the centre of the proceedings.
Lawyer, Paul Paraka – the man at the centre of the proceedings.

Every government inherits that which went before, sometimes it’s a golden chalice, sometimes the chalice is poisonous.  The Prime Minister “inherited” the Paraka situation and he rightly states:|

The issues at the centre of this matter occurred before I was Prime Minster.  Pursuing me on this matter is nothing but an attempt to influence politics from outside the Parliament and to undermine the authority of the Office of the Prime Minister, and the stability of the national government.

So, let’s clear away the debris and look at the real issues of this case and the reasons for the attempts to implicate the Prime Minister.

For also in the press statement the Prime Minister said:

We all know who are the real financial beneficiaries of the Paraka transactions, and only time will tell when these identities will be revealed.  I look forward to the facts seeing the light of day on this issue.

Last week, in parliament, the Prime Minister named Don Polye and the THE party as two of the financial beneficiaries. He has also stated that the evidence is with the police – perhaps this may be worth the self-proclaimed, misnamed ‘anti-corruption’ forces pursuing before they finish their ‘dance of joy’ over this small and insignificant victory.

This pursuit of the Prime Minister is nothing like a ‘David and Goliath’ battle for David was on the side of righteousness – this is more like a sniper attack on the fabric of democracy in PNG.

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Moti: A victim of murky politics

By PNG Echo

There is no doubt that Moti has been the victim of a shameful political power struggle – the High Court of Australia recognized that when they ruled in his favour.

And it didn’t begin and end in Australia – this was a political power struggle in which, Sir Michael Somare, then the Prime Minister of Papua New Guinea, chose to aid the Australian authorities to break Papua New Guinean laws to achieve their ends in spite of the breach of Papua New Guinean sovereignty.

It is mooted (in two commissions of Inquiry) that Sir Michael then broke more laws to get rid of Moti before the Papua New Guinea courts had the opportunity to scrutinize his illegal co-operation with the Australians in what has become to be known as ‘The Moti Saga’.

The human consequences

By now, he should be a Judge, an International Jurist or even the Secretary-General of the Melanesian Spearhead Group.

Moti: The victim not the protagonist
Moti: The victim not the protagonist

These would have been the reasonable aspirations of Julian Moti (QC), the former Attorney-General of the Solomon Islands; after all, he was always a strong advocate of the sovereign rights of Melanesian Nations.

It was a passion for which he paid dearly.

Because, instead of this stellar career trajectory, Moti is living hand to mouth, in his native Fiji, trying to patch up a career that will never recover from the stigma of the charges dredged up by Australia (under a different statute) that the Vanuatu courts had dealt with and dismissed a decade previously.

The Genesis

It was abuse of power by the Australian authorities in their bid to dominate the politics of the Pacific that halted the career and fortunes of Julian Moti  It was ‘abuse of process’ that the High Court of Australia found when it granted a permanent stay of prosecution to Moti at the end of 2011 on the regurgitated Australian charges of sex with a minor that the Vanuatu courts had thrown out over a decade previously.

You don’t bounce back easily from charges of this nature. Just the accusation is enough to unfairly stain your character irrevocably.

said Moti.

For the Australian authorities, the nature of the charges was fortunate – it was an effective smokescreen for the political motivations that drove this prosecution

Manasseh Sogavare was Prime Minister then as now
Manasseh Sogavare was Prime Minister then as now

In 2006, Moti was Attorney-General of the Solomon Islands; the current Prime Minister, Manasseh Sogavare was Prime Minister then too. Both nationalistic in their politics and vehemently opposed to the Regional Assistance to the Solomon Islands (RAMSI) – they wanted them out.  Moti is recorded to have said,

RAMSI came to do good, but stayed to do well.

On 29 September 2006, Moti was at Jacksons Airport, Port Moresby in transit to Honiara (from India via Singapore) where Sogavare was facing a vote of no confidence for which he needed his Attorney-General’s advice.

It was a motion that the Australians were hoping would be successful – having an antagonistic Prime Minister in the Solomon Islands did not suit their purposes. Under the circumstances, the last thing they wanted was Moti’s considerable influence and political expertise to come into play. So they made sure it wasn’t and didn’t – with the aid of Papua New Guinea.

Moti in Papua New Guinea.

The belief in the sovereign rights of Melanesian countries is what Moti says disappoints him so profoundly about what happened in PNG. Moti explained:

I know in what great esteem the people of Papua New Guinea hold the Mama Lo – and yet here were the PNG authorities arresting someone without a warrant, taking them into the country, against their will and without the necessary documentation [such as visas] on the request of a foreign authority pursuant to an out-dated Extradition Act [and therefore illegally], while charging him with a crime over which they held no jurisdiction.

What am I doing here?

was the question Moti asked repeatedly of the PNG authorities.

Polye was acting Prime Minister when Moti was taken into PNG against his will and without the relevant visas.

Moti was in PNG unwillingly and illegally by the express authority of Don Polye (Deputy Prime Minister) acting for Sir Michael Somare (Prime Minister) and most likely in consultation. (Sir Michael was away in the Provinces at the beginning.)

I was completely shocked that the founding father of Papua New Guinea was prepared to compromise the country’s sovereignty in this manner and I’ve often wondered to what end,

Moti said.

In the final salvo, Moti was an unwilling participant in the clandestine PNG Defence Force flight (under the radar) that delivered him to Munda in the Western Provinces of the Solomon Islands on the eve of when he was expecting a court decision on his bail – which Moti was confident would be granted. Moti is a firm believer in the rule of law.

The court did not have the jurisdiction to hear the charges – Papua New Guinea cannot prosecute a case originating in Vanuatu – even if they could, there would be the problem of double jeopardy,

he explained. Nevertheless…

Just before dawn on October 10 2006, Moti found himself landed on the tarmac at Munda airport in the West of the Solomon Islands.

He had been dumped in the middle of Papua New Guinea police armed with machine guns who were confronted by a RAMSI Land cruiser obstructing the runway. The Australians were waving revolvers and shouting threats.

It was a terrifying event to witness,” wrote Moti. “I was afraid I’d be shot in the crossfire.

That previous evening, the now late Joseph Assaigo, Intelligence Branch Chief at the Office of the Prime Minister, had called to the Solomon Islands Chancellery (where Moti had sought diplomatic asylum) to tell Moti that the government could no longer guarantee his safety. A secret operation had been planned and Moti should be ready. The terms were not negotiable.

In spite of being implicated by two inquiries, Sir Michael Somare has never answered
Implicated in two inquiries – yet not called to account

Sir Michael has never explained nor answered for his role in the Moti Affair, in spite of two inquiries implicating him.

Was the illegal, clandestine flight an attempt to deny the PNG courts the opportunity to scrutinize the executive decisions of the Somare government is a question that Moti has often asked and contemplated with this writer.

Making it right

Many PNG laws were flouted to placate Australian political ambitions in the Pacific (as the Ombudsman’s Commission Report attests and admits) – and Moti believes he is owed an explanation as well as compensation.

Sir Michael was compensated for being ousted from his position as Prime Minister to the tune of K5 million

said Moti,

I am left wondering why I am the only one to have suffered the consequences of this blight on Pacific politics – while others, who have been far more culpable, have escaped scott free?

In other jurisdictions: Moti’s Australian claim was referred to mediation under the terms of a confidential agreement with the Commonwealth Government while the former Gordon Darcy-led Solomon Islands Government publicly admitted its liability (in Parliament) to pay compensation and outstanding remuneration but Moti is still awaiting payment.

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Not all foreign political commentary is impeccable

By PNG Echo

Papua New Guinea has had 40 years of political independence - independence of thought is also encouraged.
Independence of thought to be encouraged too.

The recently published article of Dr Bill Standish entitled PNG politics after the boom, does not deserve the wholesale acceptance it has received in PNG.

Firstly it is intended for an international readership so glosses over much and while it has the air of being balanced and authoritative, close scrutiny reveals it to have considerable flaws and an undercurrent of governmental disapproval.

Unbiased journalism – no such thing

Perish the thought that journalism is ‘unbiased’. Indeed some journalism, such as opinion, requires the writer to be anything but. Nevertheless, most journalist/writers aim to be fair and provide balance. Yet, bias tends to manifest itself anyway. A writer doesn’t write in a cultural vacuum and what is one writer’s ‘terrorist’ is another’s ‘freedom fighter’

It’s all in the chosen word: so when Dr Standish, writes that:

In 2015 the Ombudsman Commission urged [my emphasis] the public prosecutor to make O’Neill face a leadership tribunal…

we start getting a glimpse of what Dr Standish’s language may be telling us.

oc-logoThe Prime Minister was ‘referred’, the Ombudsman’s Commission (OC) did not ‘urge’ anything. That the OC ‘urged’ suggests the charge is so serious that the OC is taking a particular and inappropriate interest. It’s not.

Dr Standish makes the accusation of the Prime Minister seeming “defensive” because of his banning of two Australian journalists and the PMs stance (taken effect this month) on foreign advisors. He calls this a “restriction on international oversight” whereas the Prime Minister believes he is merely restricting undue outside interference and taking back Papua New Guinea.

It’s all down to semantics again, Dr Standish’s ‘oversight’ is the Prime Minister’s ‘interference’

Furthermore, Dr Standish’s words subtly reveal a covert governmental disapproval when he talks of how

…O’Neill defunded the Investigative Task Force Sweep, [ITFS] which had gained several [my emphasis] major convictions…

Exactly how many are several? The word certainly implies that the ITFS enjoyed considerable success. But did it?

In the figures that Sam Koim (ITFS Chainman) provided the PNG public recently  he claimed to have registered 350 cases – 93 that were ITFS initiated of which 12 were successful.

Paul Tienstien convicted by TFS of official corruption
Paul Tienstien convicted by TFS of official corruption

Those figures neither take into consideration that the conviction of MP Francis Potape (one of the two major convictions of ITFS – the other being MP Paul Tiensten – twice) was successfully overturned on appeal nor that some have mooted that this may be the fate of other convictions.

For now, it stands at 11 out of 93, or 11.83% success rate! Based on the cases registered (350), the success rate comes out at 3.1%. Indeed, a full 50% of ITFS cases have not made it past committal.

Weighing it up – ITFS has not been the success that the mention of its “several convictions” in isolation suggests.

False Premises and the sins of omission

Dr Standish posed a question in his first paragraph where he writes:

As long as PNG’s mining boom lasted, Prime Minister Peter O’Neill could build parliamentary support by allocating constituency funds to each member of parliament’s (MP) district. So how will restricted funds impact upon O’Neill’s political position and the stability of the government?

The Prime Minister
The Prime Minister is not a sole arbiter

He’s talking of DSIP funds, I presume.

The question rests on an incorrect assumption: that the Prime Minister arbitrarily allocates these funds and that he’s the sole arbiter of who gets what. There is more to a government than merely a Prime Minister.

The funds are prescribed and applied to every constituency –so the answer to that question is: not at all, how could it?

The only impediment to the MPs obtaining these prescribed funds are in the timing –many have had to wait until funds become available and there have been accusations of the government manipulating the process for political ends – an accusation denied. This could be what Dr Standish is referring to – if it is, what he’s actually said is misleading – almost right, but not quite.

Then again, when Dr Standish speaks of Paraka’s “unauthorized invoices” and alludes to the fact that the UBS loan did not “seek the necessary approval of parliament” he is skating on very thin legal ice – both of these ‘allegations’ being currently tested in the PNG courts.

Moreover, according to Dr Standish’s analysis: “Two more ongoing legal cases could have a major impact on PNG politics in 2016” and he cites the opposition challenge to the blocking of two attempted votes of no confidence and the Namah challenge to the Manus Island Detention Centre.

Don Polye with the paperwork for his attempted vote of no confidence
Opposition Leader, Don Polye with the paperwork for his attempted vote of no confidence

Not really – the worse that could happen with the court challenge to the blocking of the vote of no confidence is that the vote is allowed to go ahead.   There was an overwhelming vote of confidence taken on the floor of the parliament in response to the attempted vote of no confidence and the status quo is unlikely to change.

PNGs opposition, even if joined by those on the middle benches, is miniscule; the attempted negative vote was always a nuisance tactic with precious little chance of success. The Opposition knew that and of this I was told by one of the signatories.

As for the case against the Manus Island Asylum-Seeker’s Centre by Belden Namah: if precedents are anything to go by, any case led by Namah is unlikely to proceed.

Who can forget the Star Casino incident? Namah apparently
Who can forget the Star Casino incident? Namah apparently

Absolutely nothing has been heard of the defamation cases he is allegedly prosecuting against the Sydney Morning Herald and the Samoa Observer, for example. Prime Minister O’Neill once said that all Namah had to offer PNG was his big mouth – and he should know.

Besides, PNGeans are less passionate about the issues surrounding the Centre than people in Australia where the subject is a political ‘hot potato’.

Finally, Dr Standish presents Don Polye, erstwhile Treasurer and current Opposition Leader, completely without context. Although Don Polye is quoted as saying “..our country is on the verge of kleptocracy,” Dr Standish fails to mention the many allegations and accusations attached to Polye himself that make Polye’s statement just a little ironically comical.

Who is Dr Bill Standish

The signing of the Treaty - including Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Fraser, PNG Prime Minister, Michael Somare and Queensland Premier, Joh Bjelke -Petersen
The signing of the PNG Treaty (Torres Strait Islands) part of the process of decolonization – including Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Fraser, PNG Prime Minister, Michael Somare and Queensland Premier, Joh Bjelke -Petersen

Dr Bill Standish is described as a ‘Researcher’ based in Canberra. The Development Policy Centre’s blog, for which he writes  describes him as a “Research Associate in the School of Culture, History and Language in the ANU’s College of Asia and the Pacific [who] has watched PNG politics closely for 45 years

It gives the reader a clue as to how, and from where, Dr Standish’s opinions have been formed (for surely he must have many after a 45-year study

Political paradigms are changing in Papua New Guinea and it’s not surprising that those who have had a long, arms-length relationship with the country may be uncomfortable with the current turn of political events. But Papua New Guinea has been a sovereign nation for forty years now and perhaps it is only right that the incumbent government should be ridding the country of the last vestiges of colonialism. Now it just remains to clear those vestiges from the minds of PNGeans too.

And in case you’re wondering, the irony of this writer also being a foreign political commentator hasn’t escaped her.

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SDP is not Mekere Morauta’s retirement fund, nor the SOEs the Somare’s honey pot

By PNG Echo.

The Prime Minister hits back at his critics
The Prime Minister hits back at his critics

Prime Minister, Peter O’Neill has hit back at the continued and sustained attack on the government by former Prime Minister Mekere Morauta, saying his…

…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…

He went on to say:

[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 Prime Minister, admonished the former Prime Minister, now retired politician, for playing politics from outside the parliament  He said Sir Mekere was

… a failed Prime Minister who initiated Papua New Guinea’s lost decade

(Sir Mekere’s Prime Ministership from 1999 – 2002 was followed by that of Sir Michael Somare lasting until the political coup of 2011 and is no doubt the “lost decade” of which O’Neill is referring.)

An unholy alliance

04PNG
Is this alliance forged under the premise that ‘my enemy’s enemy is my friend?

In spite of the recent alliance between Morauta and Somare, where they teamed up to criticize the government’s UBS deal, the fact is, Sir Mekere Morauta, has never been an admirer of the politics of Sir Michael and stood in opposition to him for most of that decade.

More recently (2011) he made a scathing attack on Sir Michael’s government and especially the performance of Sir Michael’s son, Arthur Somare on inheriting the IPBC from him. He said:

As Minister, Arthur Somare regarded the SOEs [state–owned enterprises] as toys to be owned to glorify his image,… It seems that the IPBC and its SOEs were seen as the Somare family “honey pot”

Morauta was scathing about the abortive deal done by Arthur Somare that, arguably, was the precedent that made the UBS deal necessary and he questioned “the motives of the borrowers.”

It is therefore a considerable irony that these two have become allies against the government – with the Grand Chief even willing to play second fiddle to Don Polye (the Leader of the Opposition ) – a man he never trusted to deputize for him while he was Prime Minister.

Leader of the Opposition, Don Polye
Leader of the Opposition, Don Polye

Given that Polye has had an alleged hand in so many corrupt deals, that these two strange bedfellows (Somare and Morauta)  would happily fall in behind him while claiming to still have altruism as their only motivation, would need a complete suspension of all disbelief.

It all smacks of self preservation and the protection of vested interests.

These government’s accusers do not have clean hands and neither do they have a right to lifetime stewardship and control of governmental assets (however controversial or fiercely fought for) and/or the right to expect that the Prime Minister position should be a sinecure or something that can be gifted to their children.

All of this belongs to the people of Papua New Guinea.

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

By PNG Echo.

A vote of No Confidence
A vote of No Confidence

Unless it is sure that a Vote Of No Confidence (VONC) will be successful, I doubt that any one MP, with the exception of those already on the opposition and middle benches, will vote for it – and numbers there are miniscule – not nearly enough for a successful outcome.

Voting against a government that you are a part of displays disloyalty and NO party/coalition ANYWHERE will put up with vipers in their ranks – and rightly so.

A ruling party needs to be able to count on the loyalty of its members or get rid of them. How can a government be effective if they are at constant risk of getting a knife in their back, wielded by someone from their own ranks?

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

Polye found this out, to his detriment.  There is no room for Mavericks in a ruling party/coalition trying to form policy.

Polye lost out big time.  He lost his Ministerial portfolio, his membership of the ruling coalition and also the loyalty of his party who chose to let him go his merry way, without them.

So, if there are plots within O’Neill’s own party/coalition – and that’s probably just idle speculation – they had better be VERY sure of their success or they may find themselves in competition with Polye for the Opposition Leader’s role.

This is the reality of the political situation – and it doesn’t differ elsewhere. 

Australia for instance: Those who backed Abbott are now relegated to ‘no man’s land.’ You want to play power politics, you need to understand the rules of the game. Wishing and hoping is not reality. (Note to Sam Basil).

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

Gary Juffa is right when he pointed out that it will take a lot of money to effect a VONC in this particular political context.

Some day that may change. That day’s not here.

Besides, I shudder to think of those who’d put their hand up to replace the current PM.

Instead of constantly trying to wrest power it would be more useful if everyone helped the mandated government to govern – there are democratic mechanisms, why aren’t they used, or used more effectively?

Is payback the only game in town?

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