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Monday, March 1, 2010

Scandals remain unresolved


WHEN assuming office after the 2007 general elections, Prime Minister Grand Chief Sir Michael Somare promised Papua New Guinean citizens "a new path for enhanced growth and development as credible and dignified nation".

These were the opening remarks by Sir Michael in his State of the Nation's address delivered in Parliament House on Sept 18, 2007, during the opening of the PNG's Eighth National Parliament.

Today, many PNG citizens are asking if these words of being "credible and dignified" in the handling of important national issues, particularly major scandals and controversies involving ministers and members of government have been fulfilled.

The apparent lack of appropriate action to fight corruption at high places is a major concern among citizens and non-citizens alike.

The level of corruption has reached unprecedented level. Many concern citizens are asking why a blind eye has been turned on this cancerous issue. It is fast destroying the fabric of Papua New Guinean society.

For instance, controversy surrounding the Moti Affair has been the subject of discussion from corporate boardrooms to street talk and prison cells PNG-wide since Oct 2006.

The Defence Force Commission of Inquiry established that on Oct 10, 2007, international fugitive and former Solomon Island Attorney General Julian Moti was spirited out of Port Moresby to Munda, Solomon Islands in a clandestine operation under alleged PM's instructions.

Action has yet to be taken to prosecute those involved. Instead court relief had been sought to prevent the publication of the Moti Inquiry Report and its recommendations implemented.

As well, the no appropriate action has been taken against those involved in the failed US29.8 million (K85 million) Taiwan diplomacy scandal. PNG citizens are alleged to have received bribes.

In Taiwan, the Government has taken court action to order the return of the money from diplomatic brokers Ching Chi-ju and Wu Shih-tsai.

Chief Ombudsman Chronox Manek has confirmed the Ombudsman Commission is investigating this and another scandal involving $US40 million (K145 million) in Singapore accounts, money from log exports, sitting in a bank account of a PNG government minister looked after by a "consortium" in that country.

Mr Manek said because it involved different jurisdictions, the investigations would take time. OC investigators travelled to Singapore and Taiwan towards the end of last year and returned with some valuable information.
Other controversies that remain unresolved include declaration of shareholding in Pacific Registry of Ships Limited; and court actions to stop the Ombudsman Commission and the Public Prosecutor from performing their constitutionally mandated duties on allegations of the PM not completing or providing annual returns since 1992. Also outstanding is the OC's referral of State Enterprises Minister Arthur Somare to the Public Prosecutor on March 9.

The respect, credibility and dignity of the government appear to be fast diminishing. Concerns have also been raised over the continued support of the government by government backbenchers and ministers.

All Government ministers, vice ministers, parliamentary committee chairmen and backbenchers are equally guilty by their association and support.

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