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 Rejects’ Shop – aka: the Opposition

By PNG Echo

13699546_10153959384506865_1414274448_o (1)
The ‘Little Shop of Horrors’ with Namah, significantly (?) in the second tier.

In most western democracies – certainly ones with a two-party system – the Opposition opposes the Government primarily on political ideology. That ideology provides the guiding principles for their policies.

In Papua New Guinea that has a 40-something-party (and goodness knows how many independents) system, the leading political ideology is self-serving pragmatism with a nod to expediency – so what exactly does the Opposition oppose?

The raison d’être

In the main, they are in Opposition because the Government doesn’t want them. In fact, the Opposition ranks (and they are meagre) consist of the rejected, swelled by the disaffected. And this is where the ‘alternative Prime Minister’ of Papua New Guinea will be sourced?

They’d all be still with the O’Neill Government if they had not either been unceremoniously dumped and/or O’Neill had not thwarted their ambitions, within the Government.

Many (and more, it seems, to come) have slunk into the Opposition ranks, tail between their legs, venting their spiteful spleen, like rejected lovers.

In fact, I’ve heard tell that the ultimate politically rejected lover is shuffling behind O’Neill, with his begging bowl, exhorting O’Neill to take him back. I’ve also heard tell that O’Neill is resolute in denying him.

The major players

Beware the Ides of AugustDon Polye:
Stripped of the Ministry of Finance, then the Treasury portfolio and then expelled from Government by O’Neill. Ordered by the Prime Minister to sit in the Opposition benches, after initially resisting, he finally complied – ousting Namah as Opposition Leader.  As leader of THE Party, Polye does not control his members. A large section of his Party stayed with government, including the Deputy Prime Minister – many defected to the Prime Minister’s party, PNC.

Belden Namah:
The ultimate cuckold. O’Neill’s coalition partner going into the 2012 elections, O’Neill found he did not need Namah – neither as far as numbers were concerned nor did he need the controversy and shame that Namah had brought to the high office when he was Deputy Prime Minister.  Eventually, all deserted Namah with the last being the perpetual deputy, Sam Basil – and now he’s gone too.

Kerenga Kua:
Former Attorney General – did he jump – or was he pushed? Certainly things were not going swimmingly for him in the government ranks. He never made it. Now he is the leader of the disgruntled (oh, and some resurrected and obscure political, one-man party.)

eight_col_Sam_BasilSam Basil:
Even the perpetual deputy whose fortunes rose and fell with Belden Namah has decided that Namah is too much of a liability and has resurrected the Pangu Party as its leader and even managed to get himself one follower in the guise of Little Willie Samb of Goilala.  To my knowledge though, he is still deputy of the opposition – but I wonder for how long now that the Opposition has swelled its number of wannabes.

In the comments, please feel free to add an Opposition member and elaborate how they have been rejected by government and why they are disgruntled.

PNG-Public-Enterprise-and-State-Investments-Minister-Ben-Micah.Which brings us to Ben Micah: Rumour has it that O’Neill would not give him the Deputy Prime Minister’s job and removed his portfolio. So welcome to the disgruntled, Ben. You’ll need to fight with Kua to have the title of ‘leader’ of that bloc but you certainly have the advantage in the weight stakes if not necessarily the political weight stakes. (BTW Ben, you forgot to take the Chans with you!)

Micah’s sins and indiscretions are legion. They are the stuff of dissertations and I have no time to go into them now. But you know what they are anyway – feel free to share in the comments. We’re all interested.

Slim pickings

IMG_1284
Symbolically, Micah leads Polye into the chamber

The Opposition’s rejoicing at Micah’s defection reminds me of the time when Namah, as then Leader of the Opposition, proudly announced his newest defection to the ranks – Paul Tiensten, that is, after he’d been convicted but before his sentence had been handed down. For all of you who missed it – Tiensten is in Bomana (I wonder if he’s still in the Opposition and whether he can vote?)

I do understand that this outlook for an alternative Prime Minister is depressingly bleak – but I have been fomenting an idea that could work. I’m going to sleep on it – I’ll get back to you soon. After all, we’ve only got seven days.

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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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No debate, early adjournment: It’s cause and effect.

By PNG Echo.

Parliament of Papua New Guinea
Parliament of Papua New Guinea

This week, the Government of PNG rushed through legislation, including the budget with little or no debate. Afterwards, parliament was adjourned early and will not reconvene until the end of March 2016 – which could put them in breach of the rules regarding sitting days.  It will also put them outside the window of opportunity where a vote of no confidence is possible.

With the superior numbers in the government ranks they can do that.

It’s not an ideal situation but the voting behaviour indicates that there is significant confidence in this government, which was also shown by the earlier vote of confidence.

Nevertheless, the issue that dominated this sitting of parliament was the mooted and twice attempted ‘vote of no confidence’ against one of the strongest governments in PNGs national history.

This notwithstanding, it is more probable than possible that what happened these last weeks in parliament (the lack of debate, the parliamentary adjournment) was the government attending to its duties while avoiding the motion – no matter how remote the chances of its success.

Government detractors have said that the government is “scared”. I think that ‘cautious’ may be closer to the truth.

Vote of no confidence

The Leader of the Opposition, his Deputy and a ring-in,
The Leader of the Opposition, his Deputy and a ring-in, Oro Governor, Gary Juffa, who was needed if the Opposition were to get the required signatures to table the motion

While I am all in favour of democratic checks and balances of which the vote of no confidence is one, I am not in favour of how the opposition has used it.

This government’s numbers aren’t only superior, they are overwhelming.

This vote of no confidence was a simple let’s-suck-it-and-see exercise with the opposition only just managing to scrape in the bare-bones number needed to table the motion.

In the final analysis, the opposition gave the government no choice but to do what it needed to do to ensure its power base wasn’t eroded. It would be an extremely cavalier administration that would risk (however small the risk) submitting itself to such a speculative process when there were legal and legitimate ways to avoid it.

For had the motion been accepted, this would have given the opposition seven days to do its worse – more horse trading.

I mean, do you really think that the opposition would have attracted government MPs to vote with them because of their charisma, integrity and the strength of their alternate policies?

Do you think that no laws would have been broken in that seven days – no monetary gains promised in the pursuit of power?

And that’s the point.  It would need a government with a particularly stupid person at its head to think that that the vote of no confidence would be a fair fight and O’Neill is far from that.

Solutions

Michael Somare seconded the motion.
Michael Somare seconded the motion.

The only way to stop these speculative motions (as opposed to using the motion in the spirit that it was intended) is by heavily penalising the proposer and seconder of the motion if they cannot obtain significant numbers during the vote – numbers very close to winning.

Otherwise votes of no confidence are going to be abused whenever the opportunity arises and will remain an unnecessary distraction that will only prove to stymie parliamentary debate as the government is forced to direct resources into guaranteeing its own survival – resources that could be better utilized.

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Vote of no confidence – a vain hope

By PNG Echo.

PNG - Land of the unexpected. wink wink
PNG – Land of the unexpected. wink wink

In the lead up to this particular session of parliament, anti-government forces have been in overdrive trying to convince the public that a vote of no confidence is eminently reasonable. All this in spite of the bleeding obvious – no likelihood of success.

Land of the unexpected, they said, winking knowingly.

Are they living in some imaginary world where advertising slogans have some magical power?

 

…it’s a numbers game

9ba976_c5d07659bfff1abe02de8e76e900aaae.png_srz_240_115_75_22_0.50_1.20_0The Peoples National Congress (PNC) of which the Prime Minister is the head has 61 MPs – enough to govern in its own right, but, with the coalition partners, can call on around 100 votes. That only leaves 10% of Members in opposition.

Can we remind ourselves, once again, what democracy means?  Hint: it has nothing to do with rule by a minority of 10%

Clelland Tukana - astute political observer and commenter
Clelland Tukana – astute observer and commenter

What’s more, as one commenter on social media pointed out (thank you Clelland Tukana) if you are going to win a fight, you at least have to get into the ring.

In the first parliamentary session there were 92 MPs – just eight of them from the opposition. Belden Namah – that champion of the fight against corruption and alleged governmental excesses (where’s that ironic font?) who was so vocal in the media leading up to this parliamentary session hadn’t even bothered to turn up.

Nevertheless, as I write (Wednesday) a motion of no confidence has been registered and is waiting for the Speaker to accept.

But really,  is there any hope that the would-be usurpers are capable of pulling this off?  Is there really a window of opportunity there at all or  just a small bolt-hole through which those, bloated with their addiction to power, are trying to squeeze?

Under the circumstances, I guess they’d better be greasing themselves up.

Dirty deeds, done dirt cheap

One of the opposition’s tactics in the lead up to this parliamentary session has been to wind up their sycophants to effect some smear campaigns – especially on social media and blog sites.

Michael Passingan's profile on facebook. A ghost and a troll
Michael Passingan’s profile on facebook. A ghost and a troll

The most despicable effort has been that of Michael Joseph Passingan who wrote an article entitled “A comprehensive analysis of Peter Paire O’Neill: Fraudster or leader?” Under which, the article carried a picture of the Prime Minister with the caption “exposed serial liar.”

Well that points to a well-balanced article, doesn’t it? (Ironic font needed again.) From the get go we’re told how to think: the conclusion we should draw.

Passingan accuses the Prime Minister of many and varied crimes that move from the mundane to the fantastical – from, wholesale looting of public funds to the less-than-veiled suggestion of murder.

Continue reading Vote of no confidence – a vain hope

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The Blame Game: DSIP Funds

 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.

Hon Samuel Basil wants Bulolo's DSIP funds
Hon Samuel Basil wants Bulolo’s DSIP funds

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.

Continue reading The Blame Game: DSIP Funds

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By the way…New recruit to the Barmy Army.

6a00d83454f2ec69e20154389da15f970c-250wiI 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. 

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