From PAUL OATES
In a stirring speech to the Papua New Guinea Parliament last Friday, Opposition MP, Mr Sam Basil effectively threw down the gauntlet to the Somare government and the PNG law enforcement authorities.
"Continuous inaction and silence (by the police) and allowing high profile crimes to fade with time without justice being done is nothing but a recipe for disaster. Such is an element that is directly corroding the foundations of democracy which is the rule of law. A number of cases are still pending for investigations and prosecutions involving very senior members of parliament, departmental heads and various business people including the organised Mafia Activities that are operated by Asians, very well known to Police yet nothing is done about it." Mr Basil said.
"The Prime Minister has taken charge of some questions raised regarding the house matters but hasn't come back to this floor to tell us his remedies and as we all know money alone cannot fix this house but the rats must be fumigated too unfortunately the fumigation company ran out of active pesticides as the pests have developed resistance. It is a common knowledge in within parliament that a K2m of parliament funds has been spent annually for two external law firms while we do not have access to in house lawyers."
"If the Ombudsman Commission, the Police Force, the Public Prosecutor and other law enforcing agencies cannot do their respective role, this nation will decay into corruption and eventually a failed state."
"If nobody can apply justice then I commit this debate of mine to God to intervene so God please help Papua New Guinea."
A visibly angry Prime Minister Somare was stung into responding: "Instead of opening our big mouths and accuse each other, we must all read and understand procedures and processes of government. The so-called university graduates should read the law instead of leading demonstrations."
Somare said some of the leaders leading the protests were like parrots. He said it was the work of Parliament, which sees if there is anything wrong with the system, could change laws.
But hang on there PM, if the laws already exist but are not being followed, what use is it to change or amend them further? Isn't that just another case of diversion and denial?
The newly appointed Attorney-General and Justice Minister Ano Pala then cautioned MPs who questioned the integrity of the Parliament speaker. "Basil has questioned the integrity of the chair; if you want to question the authority and dignity of the chair, you are attacking all of us," Pala said during the grievance debate.
Yet Mr Basil didn't accuse all MP's of being corrupt, so why is Mr Pala trying to share out the blame? Could he now feel responsible for actually having to do SOMETHING about the problems Mr Basil has effectively highlighted with factual information? Is it that he feels personally implicated by agreeing to join the Somare government? Why try to defend everyone when only some are questioned?
Finally, during the whole grievance debate, one wonders why the reported exchanges only detail Mr. Basil's speech and the indignant rebukes by the PM and his minister for Justice. Where oh where were the Opposition Leader and his Deputy? Why weren't they reported as defending Mr Basil's integrity?
Mr Basil has been brave enough to open up a fetid bag of decay that is today's PNG government. Why isn't he being defended by his Opposition team leaders?
In the words of the Education Minister and Tari-Pori MP James Marape, "If you are not happy or satisfied with government, dispose of the government in a properly conducted election."
Ah yes, Mr. Marape, but will a properly conducted election be allowed to happen in 2012? In the 2007 general election, the improper use of a government plane and the promise of public monies by Somare ensured his cartel held onto power. No one seemed to be able to ensure the law wasn't broken then. So why won't this reported, corrupt election activity happen yet again in 2012?
Mr Basil should be hailed as a champion of PNG democracy and actively supported by all those who want a better future for their country.
Monday 17 May 10
Pala warns MPs not to degrade speaker
In Parliament with ISAAC NICHOLAS and ALMA MARIMYAS
NEWLY appointed Attorney-General and Justice Minister Ano Pala has cautioned MPs who questioned the integrity of the Parliament speaker.
He issued the warning after Bulolo MP Sam Basil questioned the speaker, alleging misuse of funds resulting in the deteriorating state of Parliament House.
"Basil has questioned the integrity of the chair; if you want to question the authority and dignity of the chair, you are attacking all of us," Pala said during grievance debate in Parliament last Friday.
He appealed to MPs to maintain the decorum of the house as the people were watching.
"The public is watching us. Every time when corruption is mentioned, they look at members as corrupt. None of us are corrupt because we are on the floor representing our people with dignity.
"You might not like the speaker and what he does, but we must all respect the chair," Pala said.
He said corruption was like a garden where you have to build a fence to prevent attacks by pigs and other animals.
"The fence is the system of government and the system of government must be strong to prevent attacks on the garden by pigs," he said.
Pala said systems and laws were like the fence and it had to be strengthened with laws to prevent attacks on the food garden by animals.
He said while MPs were attacking each other in Parliament, pigs were tearing down systems of government to lay hands on the people's money.
Education Minister and Tari-Pori MP James Marape said those who had been dishing out huge funds during elections to win votes were the very same people coming out in the form of non-governmental organisations and civil society organisations to lead public demonstrations.
"If you are not happy or satisfied with government, dispose the government in a properly conducted election.
"There is a big hypocrisy in this country. I campaigned against candidates dishing out big money but I won," he said.
Sir Michael apologises for 'longlong, sadang', comments
By ISAAC NICHOLAS
PRIME Minister Sir Michael Somare has apologised unreservedly for branding people sadang (evil/satan) and longlong (insane) at the height of the public demonstration outside Parliament against the Maladina amendments two weeks ago.
"Mi tok sori sapos mi kolim sampela pipel sadang o longlong (I am sorry if I call some people evil/satan or mentally retarded)," Sir Michael said in Tok Pisin during grievance debate in Parliament last Friday.
Organisers of the demonstration as well as the media, including The National, had called for a public apology, saying the prime minister had used parliamentary privilege to make comments unbecoming of a leader.
Sir Michael said he was sorry if people had been offended by his comments.
He said a lot of people who took to the streets to protest were educated people who had been calling leaders corrupt without even reading the amendments to the Ombudsman Commission.
Sir Michael said it was the job of MPs as legislators to make, or amend, laws which the government thinks were outdated or to make them stronger.
He said the Maladina amendments were not aimed at removing powers of the Ombudsman, but to make them stronger.
Sir Michael was referring to Bulolo MP Sam Basil's earlier statement in which he claimed that leaders, or MPs, were corrupt.
The Prime Minister said the leaders were pointing fingers at each other while public servants were getting away with white-collar crime, one of the reasons for amending the Ombudsman Commission legislation to include senior public servants and their officers.
He said MPs, as legislators, were supposed to make laws and the court system was there to interpret laws. "Instead of opening our big mouths and accuse each other, we must all read and understand procedures and processes of government.
"The so-called university graduates should read the law instead of leading demonstrations."
A visibly angry Prime Minister said some of the leaders leading the protests were like parrots.
He said it was the work of Parliament, which sees if there is anything wrong with the system, could change laws.