Minister for National Planning and Monitoring Sam Basil today urged the nation to remain united over the Indonesian military jet incident involving the Falcon jet.
“No nation, however large or small, however rich or poor, however large or small its army, should be allowed to intimidate, coerce, manipulate and dominate another,” Basil said.
“That is one of the pillars that hold up the United Nations and the basis upon which Deputy Prime Minister Belden Namah raised the issue on the November 29, 2011 incident.”
Basil was referring to the much-publicised issue on an intercept by two Indonesian military jets on the Air Niugini-managed Falcon jet.
Namah and his business partners together with Minister for Police ohn Boito and Basil were on-board as well flying over Sulawesi in the Indonesian air space when the incident happened.
“I am urging Papua New Guineans not to be swayed by malicious and untrue suggestions that the Falcon jet was carrying US$250 million," Basil said.
"That is a red herring – a mere diversion from the real issue.
“The Falcon jet was chartered by the Bewani oil palm project and was ferrying business partners in the project which included Deputy Prime Minister Belden Namah, Minister Boito and myself.
“I was there because the trip offered insights into oil palm project management which is useful in the light of the Tekadu oil palm project in my Bulolo electorate as well as the Markham Valley oil palm project in Morobe generally – not to mention that as National Planning and Monitoring Minister I would sooner or later have to deal with oil palm-related issues.
“As a commercial chartered aircraft, all of us were subject to the rigorous checks required under customs, immigration and civil aviation laws of the various countries where we landed.
"That includes declaration if any one of us was carrying more than the equivalent of K10,000 in cash which we all complied with.
"“With the kind of portfolio held by Boito and my own strong stance in fighting corruption shown in the Investigative Task Force Sweep, why would we be a party to money laundering or any kind of illegal activity for that matter?
“If there was the slightest sniff or suggestion of money laundering or illegality of any kind, I personally would have distanced myself from the trip.”
The Bulolo MP added: “Spearheaded by Mr Namah, we formed the new O’Neill-Namah Government that wants to see issues like lying over shares one holds, resisting and delaying legitimate Ombudsman Commission processes through the court system, unexplained missing Taiwan dollar-for-Ddplomacy funds, breaking multitude of PNG, Solomon Islands and international aviation laws highlighted in the Defence Force Inquiry into the Julian Moti Affair and extensive waste of funds in the Commission of Inquiry into the Department of Finance with no one charged or prosecuted to date.”
Basil said that the Deputy Prime Minister, a national leader of Papua New Guinea hasdexpressed concern based on what was observed and the reports of the pilot and co-pilot on the incident involving the two Indonesian military jets.
A diplomatic note has given to the Embassy of the Republic of Indonesia who have in turn responded suggesting discrepancies in dates approved when the Falcon jet would be using Indonesian air space and as justification for the actions of their military jets.
Prime Minister Peter O’Neill, as executive head of Government has accepted the response subject to clarification on the dates and assured the Republic of Indonesia on the importance of amicable bilateral relations between our two countries.
Basil said that he personally finds the Indonesian Embassy response shallow and wanting.
Referring to the Occurrence Report - O471-11 Apparent Intercept by Military Jet Aircraft over Indonesian Airspace by Captain Christopher Smith, Basil said that the Falcon jet despite being on course and on altitude was given a traffic alert on their traffic collision avoidance system and a resolution advisory which caused Captain Vincent Kipma to disengage the autopilot. He had to make a steep climb “to avoid a collision”.
Following the “bizarre confrontation”, Captain Smith radioed Ujung control asking if they had the Falcon jet’s overflight permit which was issued on November 27, 2011 and valid for seven days.
The report states: “After several minutes, they responded with an affirmative. A phone call was then placed to Universal Weather from the flight phone explaining the engagement and to check the validity of the Overflight Permit.
"They acknowledged that it was valid and said they would follow up with Indonesia on their end.”
Basil concluded: “I agree there is a discrepancy.
"Someone is not telling the truth – and the truth as a way of sipping out despite best efforts to cover up – even by nations.”