Corruption is a word writ large over the relationship between PNG Prime Minister Peter O’Neill and his newly appointed Chairman of PNG Ports, Nathaniel Poya ( or Polya).
Poya took up his new role in February this year despite a history of corruption, failed businesses, debts and conflicts of interest.
O’Neill and Poya’s role in the NPF scandal
O’Neill and Poya first came to attention in the investigation into the huge National Provident Fund corruption scandal.
The Commission of Inquiry, headed by retired Justice Tos Barnett, revealed O’Neill and Poya jointly owned a company named Mecca (No.36) which received large illegal payments from the National Provident Fund.
At that time Poya was both a trustee of NPF and a director and shareholder of Mecca.
The Commission found that on 17 May 1999, K100,000 derived from the NPF Tower fraud was deposited into the account of Mecca (no.36) and “that such money was not earned”.
The Commission of Inquiry recommended both O’Neill and Poya be referred to the Ombudsman Commission for potential breach of the Leadership Code:
(e) MR Poiya and Mr O’Neill benefited from the payment to Mecca;
(f) THE benefit received by trustee Poiya was improper and the commission recommends that he be referred to the Ombudsman to consider whether there had been a breach of the Leadership Code by Mr Poiya; and
(g) The benefit received by Mr O’Neill was improper and at the time he was subject to the Leadership Code, being executive director of Finance Pacific.
In addition the Commission of Inquiry found O’Neill also benefited from and ordered many other corrupt payments involving NPF Tower fraud proceeds. A further K50,000 from the NPF fraud was paid to O’Neill’s former wife, Cheryl Caley
The Commission also stated:
Mr O’Neill’s explanations were unacceptable, internally inconsistent and contrary to clearly documented factual evidence
Poya not a fit and proper person to head PNG Ports
Nathaniel Poya is also not a fit and proper person to head any public corporation or government department because of some of his other business dealings.
Poya was a shareholder and director in Voco Point Trading Ltd when it went into liquidation in 2004 owing K3.9 million to 89 creditors including Bank of South Pacific.
In a subsequent legal case, National Court judge Justice Gabi was highly critical of the company’s failure to pay taxes or file tax returns for a number of years, conduct the judge described as “contrary to corporate morality or public interest”. [OS 291 of 2007, Poya -v- Paki at para 15]
Conflicts of Interest
O’Neill is also wrong to appoint Poya to Chair PNG Ports, as Poya is alleged to have a clear conflict of interest.
Mr Poya it is claimed has his own stevedoring business, PNG National Stevedoring. In this role Poya previously took the Minister for Transport to court for not awarding his company lucrative ports contracts; a court case that Poya subsequently lost.
O’Neill himself is also in a conflict of interest situation in this matter as Mr Poya, according to MP Sam Basil, is also a relative of the Prime Minister. [Post Courier 10 May 2013]
37 Years of Corruption: Do we accept corruption as a norm or is there a way forward for the country?
By Lucas Kiap on PNG Blogs
For the last 37 years of nationhood, we have been letting corruption to grow systematic and systemic – making our lives difficult, limiting our opportunities, making our systems malfunction, setting back our progresses, creating loopholes for our systems to be manipulated, distorting of our democratic values, depriving and denying us of our basic human rights and trapping millions of our citizens in poverty.
We have forsaken our country and its future by confessing and accepting corruption as a norm, part of our history, cultures, and traditions. We have regarded it is as part of our way of life, for instance “Big Man” are not punishable even when they commit serious crimes. We regarded “wantok system” or nepotism as helping one another or returning a favor. Bribery has been regarded as normal and is considered as a gift to facilitate requests in a speedy or timely manner. Unfortunately, our traditional norms have presided over western norms. We are a nation at confusion and lost between two extreme worlds – one inherited from our ancestors and one inherited from colonial masters during independence.
At this juncture, I would like to propose this question – do we accept corruption as a norm or is there a way forward for the country after 37 years of corruption?
In this article I attempt to answer the above question in three parts. The first part, I write about corruption as I see it. The second part I write about corruption as the rest of Papua New Guineans see it according to my 12 years of judgment. In the third or final part, I write about the way forward for the country as according to the way I see it.
CORRUPTION AS I SEE – A UGLY MONSTER
When I first begin to understand the corruption problem in the country 12 years ago in 2001, I want to find out how it affects my life and my country. As I searched deeply into the problem of corruption I came face to face with a young, ugly, and black monster yet appeared friendly. The monster was appeared to be looking healthy, well fed and looked after. From its appearance I could guess it was 37 years of age. The monster starred at me with its big and red eyes through which I could be able to see all its internal organs. I saw the intestines and what it has been feeding on. I could see human bones – the bones of the mothers died of breast cancer, the bones of children died of malnutrition, the bones of tribal warriors died in tribal fights and the bones of those who died as the direct result of lack of basic government services. As a searched further deep into all its internal parts and organs I noticed some of the ugliest sights decorated with sign boards of different shapes and sizes I had never imagine exist in our real world today. The writings on the signboards read, “I will deny and deprive you of the opportunities to education, employment, health care, transport and basic government services”. The sight of what I saw really frightened the hell out of me – drained and exhausted all my energy. I sat motionless, my heart pounding, eyes filled with tears of bitter sadness – all I could managed to say was “God, why are you letting this to happen for so long in a country where its people considered to be your own people or Christians?” As I come to face to face with this deeply rooted monster, I see my future slowing evaporating before its eyes.
Corruption as it appears to me is a sinister monster with thousands of mouths that we have been feeding and looking after for the last 37 years of nationhood. We have tamed it to be our family member, best friend, relative, wantok and countrymen. We have let it grow its roots among family, cultural, social, political and economical settings. In the dark when no one notices it, it has slowly been creeping and knocking at the doorsteps of every Papua New Guineans, feeding on our greed and selfishness to escalate the deteriorating of our integral and moral human values. As a result, we have been in the race to be the conquerors of Mt. Everest before others, we want to reach the North and the South Poles to rewrite history, we want our initials curved on some deep sea monsters, we want to fly our flags on the moon, and we want to travel to Jupiter before the NASA scientists.
Yes we have mustered the art for the destruction of our own country and future and we are already addicted to it – we are on an endless mission.
Corruption as I described above is a monster to me. But what about the rest of Papua New Guineans think? Read on to find out what I think is their perceptions about corruption in the country.
CORRUPTION AS THE REST OF PAPUA NEW GUINEA SEE IT – A NORM
Unfortunately, the rest of Papua New Guineans have allowed corruption as a norm, originated from our cultures and traditions. For instance, a “big man” in a typical PNG culture is not punishable by the laws. The big man culture is well versed in PNG politics where politics have been misconceived as a means to personal wealth creation. Politicians or PNG big men begin their political careers as ordinary persons, or civil servants, and graduate as business entrepreneurs after their discontinuation from office. A browse through the political chronicles of PNG will reveal this interesting trend. In fact, most medium scale business activities in PNG are owned or partly owned by politicians and ex-politicians. The emergence of politicians-turned-businessmen or vice versa after 1975, and the difficulties in separating business from politics, had sent out false signals to aspirants to political office. Contesting elections today has become a god sent opportunity to wealth accumulation. Cases of diverting public monies into personal accounts or into those of the politician’s business associates are reported everyday in the daily newspapers.
An example of how politicians or PNG’s “big men” divert and steal public funds – when government funds (millions of Kina) are released for projects, politicians often pretend to open trust accounts to be managed by government department secretaries. While the money is in the trust accounts, a network of signatories to the money is established to draw out the money. When this is done and in order, third parties (often their cronies) are consulted and asked to submit project proposals or register ghost companies with bogus claims so that payments can be made to them. Eventually the money is transferred and shared between the key players. The key players of this political mafia gang type network include some of our politicians; government CEOs, secretaries, directors; and their financial controllers. They establish networks with bankers, accountants, lawyers or other specialists to help them generate, move or store their illicit income. The transaction is often enabled by professionals from many fields. With the network strongly established, creating an atmosphere of mutual trust and reciprocity; they attempt to provide a legal appearance to corrupt transactions, producing legally enforceable signatories; and they help to ensure that no one is blamed in case of detection.
Tribalism in the Highlands and other parts of the has also been promoting the “big man” culture. In the Highlands, where tribalism is common, there is a stiff competition between rival tribes in the numbers game of “big man”. The tribe that boasts more big men is a powerful tribe. As a result the tribal big men in the highlands are as powerful as little gods. When the tribal “big man” commands his tribes, they respond with “yes boss”. All tribal members stand ready to defend their tribal big man even when he is guilty. To promote more members of the tribe to big-man status, the big man usually a politician from the tribe requests tribal members to register ghost companies and submit ghost project proposals. He then diverts all or part of the District Development and Improvement grants or other project funds to the companies where the money is stolen – sometimes there is little work done or most of the times the quality of work done is very poor. The transactions are often aided by government officials and bureaucrats. This practice is widespread and is common in PNG were District Development and Improvement grants or other project funds have been diverted, misused and stolen.
Coupled with the PNG “big man” culture, greed, selfishness and individualism has allowed corruption to be integrated into part of our culture escalating the deteriorating of our integral and moral human values. The selfishness and greed of wanting more has led to people stealing from the State wealth through ghost project proposals or by other means such as registering ghost companies where public funds can be diverted to, often aided by corrupt politicians and bureaucrats who benefit from the scheme. As a result we have developed a culture of only caring for ourselves. We don’t care about the consequences of our actions or decisions in the lives of others. We simply tend to think that what happens to others is “none of our business”. Sadly, this is not a reflection of our Christian values and believes, which we always claim as in a Christian country.
The desire for the destruction of our country and future in the pretext of accepting corruption as a norm for the last 37 years of independence has led to the emergence of a complicated attitude problem. As a result it has become part of our upbringing and has been slowly fueling corruption. We have invented shields of ignorance and pretended that there is nothing happening at our doorsteps or that of our neighbors. We defend ourselves when we are criticized, exposed or investigated for corrupt practices. We always try to play the game of not guilty, knowing well that we will eventually come out clean by manipulating a corrupted and often flawed judicial system. We take refuge as Christians in a Christian Country; pray, attend church services, take the Bread of Life and preach the gospel to be trusted and accepted. We take temporarily relief by blaming others for own problems, taking advantage of a very large illiterate population.
We have accepted corruption as a norm but did we admit it as a problem. In the following I will discuss some of the confessions by our former and current politicians and citizens who admitted corruption is a problem, as reported in our two daily news papers.
CORRUPTION IS A NORM BUT DID WE ADMIT IT?
Our inability to address corruption, confusing ourselves between the two extremes (cultures) – one inherited from our ancestors and one inherited from our colonial masters have allowed corruption to flourish in the social, economical and political settings unattended for the last 37 years of independence. But did we admit we have a problem? In the following, I discussed some of the confessions by our former and current politicians and citizens who admitted corruption is a problem, as reported in our two daily news papers.
When tried to shake off a shaky coalition government surrounded by scandals of the Sandline and economic crisis in 1997, the former Prime Minister late Sir William Bill Skate in a press release, attacked Sir Julius Chan (also a former Prime Minister) as ‘ultimately responsible’ for his Ministers’ conduct during the Sandline crisis. He said ‘our great nation of Papua New Guinea has been plundered and pillaged by a scattering of politicians and corrupt leaders and we want this sad chapter to be closed.’ He then called for an Independent Commission Against Corruption (ICAC), saying ‘if you have nothing to hide you have nothing to fear’. Soon after, Mr Skate expelled Chan’s PPP from the Government. It’s sad especially when a head of a country confessed corruption is an issue yet let unaddressed to grow from bad to worse over the years.
Sir Mekere Mourata when he was PNG’s Prime Minister in 1999 once described corruption in Papua New Guinea as Systematic and Systemic. Systematic because it is well planned, organized and cleverly executed to steal large sums of public funds (money) avoiding being detected and caught. Systemic because the current systems in place or the lack of strict checks and balances facilitates or is conducive for corrupt practices to flourish in the public sector for the last 37 years. Is Sir Mekere Mourata not responsible for failing to promptly investigate into the fatal shooting in June 2001 of Steven Kil, Peter Noki, Thomas Moruwo and Matthew Paven during a police operation against anti-government protesters at UPNG?
Former MP for Lae Open and then Deputy Opposition leader Bart Philemon in 2007 claimed the PNG’s politicians as ‘Dirty money MPs’. He claimed that Papua New Guinean politicians were walking on a “minefield” of “dirty money” from unscrupulous people with money, who were hell-bent on influencing political outcomes for their vested interests. The claim was made at the 7th annual Ethics Symposium of the Divine Word University’s Faculty of Business and Management in Madang. Mr Philemon said the country faced the real danger of seeing its Members of Parliament bought out by those with “big pockets (of money)” to get political favours for their vested interests. “How can we ensure our politicians survive this minefield?” Mr Philemon asked. In direct reference to the 2007 election where he observed large sums of money allegedly used by vested interests, Mr Philemon claimed some of the winning candidates demanded their election expenses be refunded if they were to join certain political groups in the lead-up to the formation of the new government last month. Such claims by MPs are common when in the Opposition but when in the Government it is a rare scenario.
The former National Planning Minister, Paul Tiensten in 2008 claimed that there was a “10 per cent” syndicate operating out of the Vulupindi Haus, the headquarters of the departments of Finance, Treasury and National Planning. The Minister made this revelation when announcing the National Executive Council’s decision to replace department secretary Valentine Kambori with Joseph Lelang. Mr Tiensten said: “This building houses a syndicate … everybody is getting a 10 per cent cut to approve a cheque.” He said National Planning will start cleaning the department and the rollover effect will help clean the other two departments as they work together. Is Mr. Tiensten a credible and reputable person to raise such allegations? From what I know he is yet to tell the people of Papua New Guinea about the disappearance and whereabouts of billions of kina he managed under the National Planning department.
HR Holdings Limited managing director and former chairman of the PNG Manufacturer’s Council Sir Ramon Thurecht in March 2008 made a similar claim of a 30 per cent syndicate involving bureaucrats and politicians begging businesses for money before work can be done. But, he said the businesses could not speak out because of fear the bureaucrats and politicians would retaliate. He said “our biggest challenge now is to work with the Government”.
“Corruption in PNG will reach a dangerous trend if leaders and publics servants implicated are not prosecuted”, prominent lawyer Dr John Nonggorr said in September 2007 when commenting on PNG’s ranking in the Transparency International Corruption Index , which fell by 13 places. Dr Nonggorr said the implications of widespread corruption domestically must not be underestimated. He said it had serious consequences for governments, governance and the continued functioning of a State. Dr Nonggorr said that with basic public services such as schools, hospitals, roads and bridges in a deplorable state throughout the country, the inability of the State to protect public property by preventing corruption, would lead to the loss of respect for the State, its institutions and authority generally. “This would give rise to public disobedience, which may demonstrate itself in public disorder including violence.
The rest of Papua New Guinea has joined the bandwagon; as I have observed a lot of anti-corruption websites or blogs starting to emerge. Papua New Guineans are now in large growing numbers using the social media to their advantage by writing and posting about our country’s worst night mare, corruption epidemic. Also, the editorial or viewpoints columns of our local news papers contain a significant number of letters or views of Papua New Guineans writing everyday about our friend, relative, and wantok – corruption. Papua New Guineans are now starting to wake up from their long sleep to face their tamed monster – describing it as a faceless evil or something worse, whatever they can think, name or describe it.
CORRUPTION A NORM: HOW MUCH HAVE WE BENEFITED?
We have accepted corruption as a norm yet we have admitted it is a problem yet we let it to flourish unattended for the last 37 years of independence. That means everyone in this country must have benefited from it and are better off than other countries. But how much have we benefited?
I am from the highlands where the PNG’s “big men” culture strongly exists. To me I don’t easily accept the fact that these big men or chiefs have been subjecting the future of our beautiful country to ransom. I find it extremely impossible to understand why Papua New Guineans have been tolerating the big men culture letting them getting away unpunished while we have been suffering in a rich country.
Because I don’t drink from the same cup or eat from the same plate with politicians. I don’t share a same wife and children with them. They don’t provide the daily needs of my family. I struggle everyday to provide something on the table for my family from my own hard work and sweat. The fortnight salary I get is simply not enough to rent a house in the city. It cannot even last two weeks. Having three meals a day is still a luxury and a dream.
I see our politicians with bitter sadness and pain. When I see them, I reflect on the many years of suffering I have been enduring in a rich country. I have been blaming them for making our lives difficult, limiting our opportunities, making our systems malfunction, setting back our progresses, creating loopholes for our systems to be manipulated, distorting of our democratic values, depriving and denying us of our basic human rights and trapping millions of our citizens in poverty.
As a result of corruption, the government of Papua New Guinea has neglected our infrastructure – our lifeline to deteriorate over the years, often blaming the public servants for not implementing government policies.
The daily local newspapers continue to reveal the breakdown of law and order with escalating in violent crimes that often scares foreign investors and tourists away and out of the country. Papua New Guinea is regarded as one of the high risk countries in the world to do business or to visit.
In cities and towns, squatter settlements are quickly developing, becoming a breeding grounds for street ‘mangis’ (boys) who eventually found themselves on the streets searching for opportunities to survive – they simply don’t care if taking another person’s life is a crime or a crime commit to survive. Far worse, there is total no control over the influx of illegal Asian immigrants into the country, taking away business and employment opportunities from the locals. Worse still, there is a stiff rise in the smuggling of cheap low-quality counterfeit goods by Asians into the country, invading government tax systems and feeding our people with rubbish and rob our off our hard earned Kina. The number of illegal businesses (brothels, pornographic movies and gambling) conducted by Asians has dramatically increased over the years, undermining the rule of the law.
These are painful, deep problems that quick fixes will not solve them. But we cannot let it unaddressed only to haunt our future or that of our children’s or their children. There should be a way out and I will discuss this bellow in the final session of my discussion.
IS THERE A WAY FORWARD?
Yes there is a way forward. The big men culture is neither our destiny nor our future. We cannot deny ourselves of a better life and pretend that corruption is a norm. Every Papua New Guinea must be on equal footing with our political leaders and play on a same level playing field. There are no two sets of laws in this country. There is only one constitution for every citizen in the country regardless of creed, race, ethnicity, religious background or political affiliations.
We cannot let big men ruin and deprive our future because we don’t eat from the same cup, eat from the same plate or sleep on the same bed. Everyone should be given and should have equal opportunity to excel in life as one desires. This country and everyone who occupies it from time to time should rise above their full potential.
We are not going to and shall not continue to suffer in a very rich country where we should be better off than other countries that are not rich as our country. Nor we cannot to walk under the shadows of the so called PNG’s “big men” culture. This is not our future and our destiny.
I don’t want my children to go through the suffering that I am going through every day in this rich country. I don’t want to live and die leaving behind a future that is uncertain for my children. When I know that I have the opportunity to at least achieve a change for this country – I don’t want to die without trying it.
The time is now to start act to stop corruption. To stop corruption we must rise above our own fears and doubts. We must defeat our confessions of “big men” culture and reject it. We must trade our greed, selfishness, bribery and wantok system cultures and adopt caring, giving, protecting and defending cultures. Remember, our ability to extract our natural resources to sustain our future will not be achieved without consequences. One day our ability to extract more of these resources will be questioned as our country is struggling to maintain a delicate balance between our increasing demands and natural laws which will eventually come into play and halt our ability to extract more of these resources.
It’s about time we need to write a bible about corruption in Papua New Guinea. Let’s preach our corruption bible in every corner of Papua New Guinea exposing the people who have been stealing and how much they have been stealing from the national wealth. We expose how much they have before becoming politicians or public office holders and how much they have amassed after becoming a public servant. If we can expose corruption to every Papua New Guinean, I believe they will accept it as a message of hope because 99 percent of the populations are not aware of the corruption problem. They are not aware of what we have been writing and discussing on every social networking sites and blogs. None one in this country has committed his life to preach the gospel of anti-corruption.
Yes this is the ONLY way forward. If you truly believe in this country and have been thinking that this country should be on its way progressing and advancing to achieve the status of a developed country in less than hundred years but is not because of the corruption, please do not hesitate to join me. I have lived in this country long enough to know exactly what has been going on. I also know a way forward for PNG to be a country free of corruption but full of patriots who will bet their lives for this country and want to achieve greater and extra ordinary things.
Contact the writer: email@example.com
Facebook : PNG Anti Corruption Movement.
ABC Radio Australia
Papua New Guinea’s Prime Minister says he has been informed by the Australian government that Australia will no longer issue visas to PNG citizens who are alleged to have bought properties or invested in Australia using money gained through corrupt means.
Peter O’Neill was speaking in response to reports that politicians and citizens in PNG are investing misappropriated public funds in Australia.
Presenter: Firmin Nanol
Speaker: PNG Prime Minister Peter O’Neill, Environment and Conservation Minister John Pundari
NANOL: Mr O’Neill says he’s received information from Canberra that Australia will no longer issue visas to Papua New Guinean politicians, bureaucrats or individuals who are found to be investing in Australia using the proceeds of corruption.
The PM says the advice demonstrates Australia’s commitment to helping his government tackle the theft of public funds, which would otherwise be spent on infrastructure, health and education services in PNG.
O’NEILL: They’re now starting to stop issuing visas to them, and I think some of our leaders have already been affected by that. That information was given to me basically because the Australian government wanted to highlight that they are taking this position. I think it’s about time some of our leaders and our corrupt citizens who park money down there deserve to be not welcome to that country. Hopefully our agencies, including the taskforce, the national fraud squad, all the other government agencies will work with Australian agencies in addressing some of these issues.
NANOL: This follows calls made in parliament last week by the Environment and Conservation Minister John Pundari, urging Australian authorities to help the government-appointed anti-corruption investigation team, or Task Force Sweep, to investigate reports that corruptly acquired funds are ending up in Australian property and investments.
Mr Pundari had accused the government of preaching about fighting corruption, but doing little in terms of actually tackling it.
Mr Pundari says it’s in both countries’ best interest to ensure public funds in particular are protected, and that any suspected misuse is fully investigated and the funds repatriated back to PNG.
PUNDARI: Mr Acting Speaker it is my humble plea with sincerity and respect to the Australian government, instead of hiding behind the laws to say that they’ve got protection laws of individuals, while there is a serious issue in our country confronting us, surely we can find a way out to ensuring that our people’s resources, Treasury, plundered maybe, can be rightly returned.
NANOL: Mr Pundari’s comments are echoed by the chair of Task Force Sweep, Sam Koim, who has called Australia the “Cayman Islands” of Papua New Guinea.
Last month Mr Koim told a meeting at the Australian Transactions and Analysis Centre in Sydney that corruptly acquired funds were being invested in Australian banks, casinos and real estate.
He’s also accused senior PNG officials of taking part in this activity, alleging that six PNG politicians have bought properties in North and Central Cairns worth more than 11 million Australian dollars.
In parliament this week the MP for Komo-Magarima, Francis Potape, challenged the Prime Minister to stand by the Task Force.
Mr Potape said there were grounds for concern for the Task Force, amid reports that individuals targeted for investigation might push for it to be abolished.
Mr O’Neill says the Task Force will continue, and Mr Koim will remain in charge of it until an anti-corruption agency is established.
Prime Minister O’Neill has also assured parliament that funds will be allocated in next year’s national budget, due to be handed down later this month, to fund Task Force Sweep investigations and prosecutions, including those relating to illegal investments in Australia.
Separately, Mr O’Neill also told parliament his government will review the engagement of senior Australian public servants and experts working in senior government roles in his country.
This was in response to a claim from Madang Governor, Jim Kas, who claimed in parliament that Australians working with government agencies in PNG are engaged in spying on PNG.
O’NEILL: There are some sensitive positions that we need to protect for our national interest and security. It does not mean that the Australians are spying on us, in some departments they’re there to help us build capacity. We welcome that support, but we need to review it for our own integrity. I think later in the month of November I think the Foreign Minister of Australia is leading that delegation up to PNG where this will be reviewed as part of the development assistance program that they have with our country.
NANOL: Mr O’Neill says the review will be carried out as part of the next PNG-Australia Ministerial Forum later this month.
The PNG government is spending K8 million of YOUR tax payers money to prepare for the visit of Prince Charles in November
While PNG maternal mortality rates are among the worst in the world and school and health facilities cry out for basic supplies, K8 million is being wasted on one of the world’s richest men.
Charles is the owner of the vast Duchy of Cornwall estate in the UK, which stretches over 135,000 acres across 23 counties mainly in the south-west of England. The estate is estimated to be worth more than $1 billion and provides Charles with an annual income of over $50 million.
But rather than providing basic services for the women and children of PNG this is what Peter O’Neill and his government is choosing to spend YOUR money on:
- Cleaning seats at Sir Hubert Murray stadium.
- Buying new uniforms for soldiers from Moem Barracks
- Fixing the lane in the highway on whichCharles will travel from the airport.
- Buying new escort vehicles.
Confidential government documents show that, just like his predecessor Michael Somare, O’Neill is not only being bullied by the Chinese to give them preferential access to PNG resources – he is using PNG tax payers money to subsidize the Chinese.
The O’Neill government says the controversial Pacific Marine Industrial Zone in Madang province is one of its priorities to boost the national economy but has not revealed:
- The USD79 million dollars it is borrowing from the Chinese to fund the project will be plowed straight back into the Chinese company building the PMIZ rather than being invested in PNG companies and people
- China Shenyang International Corp has been contracted by the PNG government to design, build and supply equipment and materials for the PMIZ rather than the PNG government using local businesses
- The total PNG government contract with China Shenyang International is for USD 95 million, which means PNG taxpayers will be directly subsidizing this Chinese company to the tune of USD16 million.
- All the goods, technologies and services purchased for PMIZ will come from China – not PNG suppliers
- China Shenyang International will operate completely tax free in PNG, exempt from any “rate, charge, duty or imposition of any kind under PNG laws” – a concession the PNG government NEVER gives to PNG businesses
The PNG government has also granted Chinese officials full and unlimited rights to examine and supervise the project funding including granting a long-term multiple entry visa to the Chinese loan officer.
The government has also “irrevocably waived” any sovereign immunity for PNG in any dispute over the loan, AND agreed while PNG may not assign or transfer any of its rights or obligations China has full rights to assign or transfer any of its rights and obligations!
Finally the PNG government has agreed the loan contract, although signed in PNG and to be effected in PNG will be “governed by and construed in accordance with the laws of China” – bet you don’t even know what those laws are do you Mr O’Neill!
Martyn Namorong reports on the latest developments:
Following yesterdays mass public protest against the O’Namah Regime:
1) Speaker Nape has refused to entertain Prime Minister’s instructions for Parliament to consider rescinding motion to defer elections. But Parliament’s motion is not binding on Andrew Trawen who as Electoral Commissioner is a constitutional officer not subject to directions from Parliament in the regard of complying with the motion
2) The Supreme Court per Mogish, Kariko and Manuhu JJ found that prima facie, there was an appearance of unconstitutionality and illegality in the Judicial Conduct Act and stayed the act’s enforceability pending final outcome of the Supreme Court Reference by the Morobe Provincial Gavman
3) Consequently, suspension of Kirriwom J and Injia CJ pursuant to s 5 of the Judicial Conduct Act were stayed by the Supreme Court per Mogish, Kariko and Manuhu JJ pending a final pronouncement of the constitutionality of the Judicial Conduct Act. This effectively means Kirriwom J and Injia CJ can preside over the case of the Prime Minister’s legitimacy tomorrow.
In the Lawyers’ Offices
4) Parliament may now try to counter the Supreme Court’s move. But how? All eyes on legal advisors
Eoin Blackwell, AAP
Papua New Guinea’s electoral commissioner has approved a new election schedule but Speaker Jeffery Nape says the commission must recognise parliament’s vote to delay the poll by six months.
Electoral Commissioner Andrew Trawen on Wednesday issued a revised schedule to the five-yearly electoral program, with the polling set to begin as expected on June 23.
He said the schedule had been approved by Governor-General Sir Michael Ogio.
But Mr Nape, PNG’s enormously powerful Speaker, threw up a potential roadblock as he opened Wednesday’s parliamentary session.
He said cabinet alone did not have the power to overturn last week’s vote to defer the poll by six months and Mr Trawen must obey parliament’s order to defer.
“Parliament has been intimidated by (cabinet) and the judiciary,” he said.
“Parliament is supreme. (The) action taken by (cabinet) and the electoral commissioner is unlawful.”
Mr Nape said he was seeking legal advice over who had the final say on when PNG will go to the polls.
The Speaker’s statement came about two hours before Mr Trawen’s revised schedule was sent to journalists and less than 24 hours after Prime minister Peter O’Neill backtracked entirely from the vote to delay.
Mr O’Neill, with members of cabinet in tow, told protesters in Port Moresby on Tuesday that elections would go ahead as scheduled, backed by Mr Trawen, who has been a staunch opponent of the delay.
Mr Trawen agreed to a three week delay for the issue of writs but said the poll would go ahead as scheduled in late June.
The date of PNG’s five-yearly election has been up in the air for months, with parliamentarians saying they fear the poll will be unfair because of potential fraud in the electoral rolls.
At the conclusion of Wednesday’s session, MPs were invited to a briefing on electoral preparedness attended by Police Commissioner Tom Kulunga and Defence Force Chief Francis Agwi.
And what a glorious day it was as the Sun beat through the cloudless sky and scorched all life in Port Moresby. The streets were largely deserted and the few who ventured out carried on rather nervously. Port Moresby’s notorious traffic jams were nowhere to be seen and for once the city looked like the most livable place on earth.
Angau Drive in Boroko with its lush vegetation had a slow stream of pedestrians, much to the annoyance of street vendors who prop up stalls near the footpath. The roundabout near SP Brewery did not have its usual scrum of vehicles puffing out toxic fumes.
Along Kennedy Drive where mobile giant Digicel is headquartered in Papua New Guinea, a mother escorts her child back from Gordon’s Secondary School. They’re both immersed in conversations about the Constitutionality of the Judicial Conduct Act and Parliament decision to postpone elections (sic).
The Gordons main bus stop and market area is unusually slow as a small crowd mingles around waiting for buses or buying mobile phone credits.
The largest city in the South Pacific, Port Moresby, had been shut down for Occupy Waigani, a protest organized to demand that Parliament rescind its decision to interfere with the Judiciary and to postpone the elections.
At around 10 am, students from the University of Papua New Guinea are all gathered on campus for their march to Sir John Guise stadium. As news filters that the University students were moving, a vocal crowd of predominantly teenage primary school boys leaves the stadium and heads towards the Government Offices at Waigani. The boys are stopped by police opposite Morauta Haus – the office complex that houses the Prime Ministers Department.
Back at the stadium a live band performs to a growing crowd of about 5000 people. Everyone is waiting for the arrival of the University Students.
An hour later the Students enter Independence Drive. The students were advise to March to the stadium instead of taking public transport. It is a lesson learnt from Tahir Square that once a small group with great legitimacy takes the streets, the sympathetic public joins the queue. And it worked as the students marched to Waigani with a 5000 strong crowd.
Sir John Guise stadium was now packed with about 10 000 people. Many Port Moresby residents had never seen such a crowd. This crowd serves as an ominous warning to Port Moresby based politicians as the clock ticks is way down to Election Time. One protestor described the crowd as the largest she had seen since the 1991 South Pacific Games held at Sir John Guise stadium.
The rhetoric began on stage and the crowd cheered “RAUSIM! RAUSIM! RAUSIM!” [Rescind! Rescind! Rescind! In Tok Pisin] as various speakers called on the O’Namah Regime to rescind its recent decisions. Unionists Michael Malabag and John Paska address the crowd first. Legal expert Dr John Nongorr then articulates the unconstitutionality of these changes in Tok Pisin. No doubt Dr Nongorr had done an excellent job in Tok Pisin.
As Dr Nongorr speaks, the O’Namah Regimes’ convoy enters the stadium. Opposition Leader Dame Carol Kidu also makes her way in. As the O’Namah entourage came to a standstill at the stadium, they were booed by the crowds.
The politicians make their way up the stadium and there is minor chaos on stage as seats are being sought for them. Dr Nongorr then continues his rhetoric and then Presents a synopsis of the Petition. Prime Minister O’Neil is presented the petition by Unionist Michael Malabag while the UPNG Student President Emmanuel Isaac presents another to Electoral Commissioner Andrew Trawen. The Trawen Petition calls on the Electoral Commissioner to go ahead with the elections as scheduled.
Here are the outcomes of Occupy Waigani at Sir John Guise stadium: [as summarized by ActNow]
- The issue of writs is officially postponed until May 18th (Mr Trawen said so!)
- Today’s Parliament sitting is postponed to 10am tomorrow
- The Judicial Act will be repealed as long as Injia and Kirriwom step down (Mr O’Neil said so)
- The issue of today’s march will blow over and people will forget (Mr Namah said so)
- Mr O’Neil wound down his window and waved royally to all of us gathered at the Sir John Guise Stadium when leaving.
- Mr O’Neil stated clearly that ONLY the Electoral Commissioner has the authority to delay or not the 2012 National Elections therefore he can’t give assurance that elections will run according to schedule
- Mr O’Neil stated CLEARLY that he will repeal the Judicial Act if Chief Justice Sir Salamo Injia and Justice Nicholas Kirriwom step down.
Papua New Guinea’s prime minister and electoral commissioner say the nation’s election will take place as scheduled, following a massive protest in the nation’s capital, Port Moresby.
Thousands of protesters marched on Sir John Guise Stadium in the heart of the city’s government district on Tuesday, demanding the government stop interfering in the electoral process and that it roll back laws giving parliament the power to suspend judges.
PNG’s politicians last week voted 63 to 11 to delay the June 23 poll by six months after it was revealed the rolls for 41 electorates in the resources-rich highland region were incomplete.
“(Cabinet), the parliament, does not have the power to direct the electoral commissioner,” Prime Minister Peter O’Neill told the crowd.
“Parliament will not interfere with the electoral commissioner.”
With 51 per cent of that nation’s eligible voters in the highlands, issuing the writs when the rolls aren’t ready would be unfair, Mr O’Neill said.
“How do you expect them to vote, what about their rights,” he said.
Electoral commissioner Andrew Trawen, addressing the crowd mostly in pidgin, said the election will go ahead as scheduled in late June, but writs will be issued three weeks late to allow for greater public scrutiny of the rolls.
“The three weeks’ delay will give the voters from the Highlands equal or same opportunity like that given to voters in the Southern, Momase and New Guinea Islands regions to view and object to the preliminary rolls so that a credible roll is produced for the Highlands,” he said in a statement on Tuesday morning.
Mr O’Neill also made a conditional promise to repeal the controversial Judicial Conduct Act, a law the government passed, then used to suspend the nation’s chief justice, Sir Salamo Injia, and Justice Nicholas Kirriwom.
He said parliament would repeal the law provided Sir Salamo and Justice Kirriwom stepped down voluntarily.
“If they do the right thing, I will do the right thing,” he said.
Both judges are currently overseeing a hearing into the government’s legitimacy, and police have previously arrested Sir Salamo on charges of perverting the course of their investigation into his handling of court finances.
Petitions against a delay were handed to Mr O’Neill, Mr Trawen and Attorney-General Dr Allan Marat on behalf of Governor-General Sir Michael Ogio.
Student representative president Emmanuel Issacs told the crowd they would wait to see what parliament did next before deciding on further civil action.
The peaceful, but at times rowdy, protest was made up of a highly sceptical crowd.
While Mr O’Neill spoke, one frustrated protester could be heard shouting “It is bullshit, he is lying” over the crowd’s chant of “rausim, rausim” – pidgin for “chase him out” or “get rid (of him)”.
The public statements from Mr O’Neill and Mr Trawen are significant.
Mr Trawen has long been against delaying the poll, arguing the constitution spells out a strict five-year term for PNG’s parliamentarians.
He threw down the gauntlet on Monday afternoon, saying he would go the governor-general on April 27 for the issue of writs despite parliament’s vote.
Mr O’Neill offered the compromise delay of a month for the writs late on Monday night.
Port Moresby and social media have been rife with rumour since Mr O’Neill indicated on Saturday morning he had backed away from the vote.
The government has denied rumours of a split within its ranks and that Deputy Prime Minister Belden Namah, seen by many as the architect of the vote to delay the election, had been sacked by Mr O’Neill.
A poker-faced Mr Namah sat next to a smiling Mr O’Neill at the stadium.
Meanwhile, a scheduled parliamentary sitting was cancelled when an insufficient number of MPs turned up on Tuesday.
Parliament is expected to resume on Wednesday at 10am (AEST).
Via PNG Blogs
Papua New Guinea’s flip-flopping Prime Minister Peter O’Neill has remained defiant saying the Judicial conduct law will only be removed if the Chief Justice, Salamo Injia resigns.
Arriving with a government entourage under heavy police guard, O’Neill addressed more than 4000 people at the Sir John Guise Stadium at midday today.
The PM also wants another senior judge, Justice Kirriwom to step aside as part of a trade off to have the judicial conduct law repealed. Both judges have been at the center of the controversy between the government the judiciary.
O’Neill’s response has drawn public anger from Papua New Guineans both on the streets and on social media networks.
“What’s the next step PNG? I’d like an all out rampage across the nation. This is so bloody waste of time. Do we now fear these Dictators?,” said one Twitter user.