Letters & Opinions

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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.

Engans die as Ipatas meddles in public service

IT HAS   been very interesting for me as a former Enga Assembly member, who has served the very people of Enga from 1990 to 1995, to read about our Honorable Governor, Mr. Peter Ipatas complaining about small administrative issues in the media.

This to me is a childish statement and deliberate intention of tarnishing and diminishing a reputable and simple public servant who has performed to his ability in delivering most needed health services to the very people who have voted Mr Ipatas.

Mr. Salan Ere, (who was my former colleage) is a professional health extension officer (HEO) and a career public servant who was clocked 26 years in the public sector, and 4 years in politics as Member of the Enga Provincial Assembly from 1990 to 1995 and held senior portfolios like Finance and Planning for three consecutive years, under the premiership of Danly Tinduwi.

Furthermore, during the time of Mr. Salan Ere, as a provincial minister responsible for financial meters, planning and budgeting only K12, 000,000 and thus handling of political issues as the Deputy Premier of Enga under Tinduwi's political regime, he has never been once questioned by the Auditor General's office or referred to the Ombudsman Commission like Mr. Ipatas who was found guilty and fined K1, 000 each for 16 counts and paid K16, 000.00 in total as fine.

Since Ipatas took over from Danly Tinduwi in 1996, as Governor of Enga, politics has crept into very important education and health institutions.  As a result, Sopas District Hospital in Wabag District, then provincial hospital entirely owned and operated by the Seventh Day Adventist Mission (SDA) has closed due to continuous  political influence and interference in 1998. Thus also resulting in a very important institution; the only Nursing College being transferred to Pacific Adventist University in Port Moresby by the SDA Church.

Also Mambsianda district hospital located in Wapendamenda district, owned and operated by the Gutnius Lutheran Church which has also been recognized as a provincial hospital for several years has been crippled by continuous political interference by Mr Ipatas and his political cronies.

We are talking about 300,000 plus Enga people's lives being at stake at this crucial moment.  Where  does Ipatas stands: to save lives of people who are dying of curable disease daily or continue to politicize health institutions and decrease the Enga population?

I think, Mr. Ipatas should prioritize and accommodate law and order in his provincial budget, (which has not been the case in his 13 years administration) and address all tribal warfare taking tens of thousands of lives and destroying property worth millions. The Enga Police facilities like vehicles, operational costs, allowances, cell block, police residence etc, have deteriorated over the past 13 years and who is responsible!

Finally, honorable Governor,  we call you the action man, you should immediately stop the two tribal fights in Surunki, Laiagam district and Suyane in Kandep District which has claimed more than 15 lives within a month. Your immediate priority is to concentrate on your backyard rather than sponsoring rugby league for political gain and sticking your nose into administrative matters. You have never been a public servant yourself and whilst you are talking about petty issues,  your own people are dying, starving for basic health and education services, homeless and scattered all over PNG in hope  of experiencing peace, harmony and fair distribution of resources and business opportunities.

Nathan Piari (Mr.)
Former Enga Assembly Member and
Minister for Finance and Planning

Somare's successor hard to find

THE Rt Honourable Sir Michael Somare declared himself in Kandep that he will bow out in 2012.

If it is true then there will be huge void left behind the father of this nation and the longest serving politician in PNG and the Commonwealth.

The man, who led the nation from the dark ages to where it is today, will leave a very proud legacy but a huge void none will be able to fit in his shoes.

Sir Michael Somare, who fought for the poor and the oppressed, women and children, a committed family man and public servant, will leave a very crystal clear path for the future generation to learn from and lead the nation.

Sir M.Somare has indicated that there are many potential leaders out there who will take the challenge and lead the nation. He never mentioned or recommended anyone in his National Alliance party, or other coalition partners. A man of wisdom always knows that anybody can do the job of the prime minister. If he had mentioned anyone he would have offended the coalition partners or his NA party members.

In many countries, prime ministers, presidents and kings always recommend successors but in PNG it was not. However, fewer world leaders, who have trust and confidence in their country's know that anyone who has the potential to lead the nation never recommends anyone but that was up to the people to decide.

Come 2012 elections, it will be very hard to find someone like Sir Somare who has turned the economy around. Out of his four regional deputy leaders, Sir Puka Temu would be a right candidate as he has proven that he has potential to unite PNG. The other three would be too young because it not good for the future generation.

From among the coalition, Southern Highlands Governor Henderson Aigiru stands out. Honourable Aigiru has proven to be the potential candidate.

In the opposition, the two former Prime ministers (Hon. Sir Morauta and Hon. Sir Chan) and Honourable Bart Philemon would be possible candidates.

In contemporary PNG society, people must be united and sharing wealth and resources together. Many candidates would be available for selection in 2012 but a few who spoke about unity and equal distribution of resources and wealth and are committed to the development of PNG while being united are Sir Puka, Sir Meker, Sir Julius, Hon. Philemon and Hon. Agiru.

These leaders have spoken about unity of PNG and equal distribution of the country's wealth.
It's up to the People of PNG to gear up for coming elections in 2012.

Gibson Palimas,

PNG needs more Helen Clarks and Carol Kidus!

TODAY PNG needs more Helen Clarks and Dame Carol Kidus to make a big difference in the way our country needs to be governed.  I am a great admirer of these two women who have achieved so much for their countries.

Helen Clark has been a great leader of New Zealand in recent years and I am sure her latest role as a UNDP administrator will bring about much required change to our region and globally in the years to come.

Dame Carol is also a great PNG politician.  She has made a lot of difference in PNG politics in her three terms as an MP.  It would be great to see more women parliamentarians as they enhance the overall quality of parliamentary discussions where much needed debate is required before laws are passed for the country. 

It is a pity that she intends not running for public office in 2012 but we need more champions for the marginalised people of PNG.  As part motuan I am very angry about what is happening to the cultural enviroment of this peaceful race of people of Central province and am very concerned sad that the Motu-Koita people may now not be well represented in future without Dame Kidu around.

The recent decision to have 22 reserved seats for women in parliament is a step in the right direction even if it is a bit late (after 34 years after Independence).  Whilst a collective NEC decision, many people will still attribute this to the tireless efforts (despite many unfair criticisms) of Dame Carol Kidu both in and outside parliament.  Well done Dame.

Today, PNG's governance is going off on a tangent.  This country desperately needs real credible leaders like Dame Kidu still serving the people of PNG in parliament.  The public is now urged to give their support in whatever way needed to "keep Kidu" as PNG needs more MPs like her.

Reginald Renagi
Port Moresby

Witch hunters' weapon

THE OMBUDSMAN Commission (OC) is created under the Constitution. It is an important creature of Constitution. Leaders and public officials are subject to the OC. But the OC is now unreachable and untouchable.

Knowing the law is one thing. Seeking justice and fairness is another matter. Such seems to be the case with Patrick Pruaitch.

When the OC gave the leader right to be heard in September 2006 and after the leader responded in October and November 2006 the OC delayed its deliberation and carried out new investigations.

A summons issued to Kanawi Pouru by the OC in Phoebe Sangetari on January 2008 while asking for copies of cheques for verification sought other new and additional information.

Then in July 2009 the OC referred Patrick Pruaitch to the Public Prosecutor for leadership law tribunal to be set up on request.

A leadership tribunal has been set up by the Chief Justice. It was to have convened on 23 February 2010 if not for a stay order from the Supreme Court.

In a true spirit of seeking justice Patrick Pruaitch sought judicial review and a constitutional right enforcement before the National Court.

On each occasion the National Court refused entry to the door of justice and fairness. This is under appeal to the Supreme Court.

Nonetheless, following leadership cases will show that, the OC is very superior to the National Court. The National Court will find all the legal and procedural technicality to keep leaders and public officials out of lawful protection.

Truth about OC is 'killing leaders of PNG' is its song. When it sings Waigani dances and its National Court hides justice and fairness. Where do leaders go to seek justice and fairness when the National Court continues to shut its door?

Taking time to understand serious leadership killing game leaders will see OC for what it is. Telling arrogance and pride are lawyers and judges who act out of jealousy.

Raising legal and procedural defence is quite common in cases. Playing leaders' position and denying them entry to the door of justice and fairness lawyers and judges work for killing leaders of PNG. Such was unheard of in our country in times past.

Reality is desperate lawyers and judges will resort to desperate measures. Never before has legal practice been as worse as now.

And OC is an example of law and politics being badly played.

James Wanjik 
Port Moresby