The curse of money politics in PNG

20 06 2014

The previous post generated a lot of comments at the original site at which it was posted. One of them touched on a key factor of politics in PNG. Money.

That response comment to Vergil Narokobi’s post has been re-posted verbatim below for the benefit of the non-FB readership.


succinctly put…; although one must clearly guard against mischievous, opportunistic or politicised actions against the government of the day from within the police or any other institution, clearly the rules need to be universal, whatever one’s position. So it it critical that mechanisms are not abused to circumvent due process. But this does bring one back to the question of how government’s are formed in PNG and how majorities are gained and retained. Unfortunately, with little or no ideological basis for parties (as in Australia and most places) PNG has ended up with government by dint of personality, but increasingly the use of money. Would an inspiring leader like Nelson Mandela have been able to become PM in PNG if he was to remain honest and not participate in pork barrel or money politics, or would he have just been sidelined by the man with access to logging money? And let’s face it this case is partly about that…the assumption is that public funds were laundered through a law firm’s accounts to be able to be used by a party for gaining office for funding campaigns and winning over other parties and independents…and if that was the assumption, what were the other parties and leaders doing? similar sorts of things, using SABLs and other land allocations, logging permits, DSIP funds, RESE funds, fish or petroleum licenses, exclusive rice concessions, citizenship awards, construction or commercial contracts, trust funds etc… So if this scenario has some truth, the question is, how does one halt it, and halt it across the board, so that no party or group is left with a special advantage, with exclusive access to public or other improperly-gained funds, leaving the others high and dry? how does one rid elections and post election formation of government of the current money element (from vote buy, to rigging electoral lists, to buying parties and members etc)? Many politicians would prefer that, but feel dragged into the current corrupt practices as the only way to play the game…these are some of the challenges, and it requires active involvement by the parties themselves, think tanks etc but also the wider public to help find the solutions, as clearly the voters are widely accepting and even demanding electoral bribes (in cash or kind)…

By Paul Barker

Why the Prime Minister has to step down

20 06 2014

I cannot remember the last time I was here.  It was certainly a long while back as I see the shelves here have been collecting dust.  There were a few factors that led to this rather lengthy hiatus, but let’s not get into that now.

I am here simply to re-post verbatim a commentary that I came across on Facebook for the benefit of the portion of readership out there who may not subscribe to this social media.

In any case, I feel that this man has pretty much summed up and articulated what most likely must be running through people’s mind as they try to make sense of the latest developments in Papua New Guinea’s rather vibrant national political stage.

“Its time for Papua New Guineans to call an ace an ace and a spade a spade!

The call for the resignation by the Prime Minister is a political question, not so much a legal question. The Prime Minister, like any body who goes through the criminal justice system is innocent until proven guilty. Here are some matters the Prime Minister should consider when making that decision.

Kua was Somare’s lawyer in the misconduct allegations against Somare. They went through the judicial process to challenge the OC. They failed. But they fronted up at the Leadership Tribunal, went through the process, found guilty by the Tribunal, paid the fine and life goes on. Skate resigned as Prime Minister paving the way for Sir Mekere to come in an atmosphere of serious allegations leveled against him. Julius Chan resigned when public opinion against him was overwhelming in the Sandline Affair. We hold public office as custodians for the people. If they are wrong in their convictions, they stand to suffer. That is the nature of our democracy. We have nothing to lose. Its their office.

There are important national matters that the Prime Minister must attend to. There are roads to be built, hospitals to maintain, doctors to be trained, borders to be protected, investors to meet and the list goes on. If one is busy fighting a criminal matter, looking over one’s shoulder when the next counter move will be made, attending a Commission of Inquiry, sacking “disobedient” ministers and servants of the state, how can one give their 100% level best to serve the interest of the country? One’s time and attention is divided. One cannot serve two masters. “To be or not to be, that is the question”.

Whilst one serve office, they enjoy the confidence of the people. If that confidence is no longer apparent in one’s leadership, and we are a democracy, it is an irreconcilable position to be in and one must do the honourable thing and resign. A leaf should be taken out of the dissenting opinion of the member of Leadership Tribunal Sir Robin Auld in the Somare Leadership Tribunal who thought that Somare should be dismissed from office. He said, “what would the reasonable person at Gordon’s market think about it?” What would the ordinary Papua New Guinean think the Prime Minister should do under the present circumstances?

When the Prime Minister relies on his privilege as a Member of Parliament to avoid a warrant of arrest, it raises the question whether one is using his office for personal gain and therefore misconduct in office under s 27 of the Constitution. Does an ordinary Papua New Guinean have that privilege when they are called into question by the police? When a Commission of Inquiry is set up to exonerate one from a criminal allegation, when the same question can be raised in one’s defence before a court of law, it raises the question of whether the Prime Minister is using his office for personal gain and therefore misconduct in office. How many ordinary Papua New Guineans can set up a Commission of Inquiry when they are called into question by the police. When a Minister of State is decommissioned for dubious reasons, which a reasonable person can infer for not giving concurring advice to avert investigation and arrest, that raises the question of whether one is using one’s office for personal gain and therefore misconduct in office. When a career serving police officer is sidelined for purportedly ordering the arrest of a Police Commissioner whose decisions have been in one’s interest, that raises the question of possible misconduct in office. Again the same can be said for Task Force Sweep.

Task Force is an administrative arrangement. It is not a statutory body. When the Opposition called for its disbanding, it was ignored. There would have been good legal grounds to disband it. Now that the subject of the investigation is the Prime Minister, it is dismantled. Is that a case of using public office for personal gain? Paul Tienstein obviously would say yes despite his desperate plea that it was “politically motivated”.

How many inmates in Bomana would also like to have a Commission of Inquiry into their conviction on the basis of that they were wrongfully convicted. A life is a life, no matter who you are. It is a wrong signal to the people of Papua New Guinea that there are two sets of laws.

There are national security issues at stake here. The longer the matter pro-longs the potential for widespread discontent arises. Stand-off between and among the disciplined officers is a serious threat. Investor confidence will be impaired and the gains from LNG will be lost over night. Its time to make the hard decision for the national interest.

There appears to be another potential stand-off between the executive and the judiciary. The same question on the legality of the payments to Paraka Lawyers is being determined by the court in his criminal matter. The same question will confront the Prime Minister if he is charged. By setting up a Commission of Inquiry, a quasi-judicial body will deal with the same question. It is questioning the independence of the judiciary. This is not in the national interest.

If the Prime Minister of Papua New Guinea has no faith in the police and the judiciary to determine the truth of the allegations against him, his own people, but choosing instead to rely on a Commission of Inquiry headed by an Australian, are we than a failed state? As the Opposition Leader said, “Prime Minister you are the first man in Papua New Guinea”. If you don’t believe in me, who else will?

The reason I have made this decision to make this call, is that Sam Koim an ordinary Papua New Guinean has put his hand up for Papua New Guinea, and I would be ashamed to call myself a Papua New Guinean if I did not honour his courage by having something to say. His involvement in the investigation suggests to me that there is no “political motivation”. After all he was appointed by the Prime Minister and has nothing to gain or lose except his reputation.”

by Vergil Narokobi


Sick Go Hungry in PNG

14 05 2008

Despite Papua New Guinea’s various staple food crops, today’s urban residents mainly rely on rice as their staple diet. Apart from the urban households, rice also features as the base in most menus in almost all of the public and private run institutions like schools, colleges, correctional facilities and hospitals.

Lately I could not help but notice that news relating to the shortage of rice and food stocks all over the world has persistently maintained a regular presence on the pages of the morning dailies. Then the headlines “Sick go hungry” (The National, 07/05/2008) and “Medics attribute child deaths to lack of food” (The National, 09/05/2008) nailed home the stark reality of this bleak predicament that we are in.

The headlines mentioned above highlight only a fraction of the plight of our medical services in this country. Apart from limited supply of food, the delivery of basic medical supplies, drugs and anti-venoms scandals, deteriorating standards of the wards and basic medical facilities are all issues that have plagued the medical sector of recent times.

Amongst other basic rights of a human being, the right to adequate food, shelter and medical care (Article 25, Universal Declaration of Human Rights) are the very fundamentals of life as we know. As such, when an organisation installed by the government of the common people is empowered to guard and protect the well-being of its citizens, it has to perform it diligently.

In failing, whether through mismanagement, ignorance or pure negligence, the party responsible for this tragedy is in direct violation of the basic human rights, as in the case of these children who sadly and unnecessarily lost their lives. They therefore should be held accountable for it and should be penalised accordingly.

Is this a preview of things to come? What can the authorities, policy makers and even us as individuals do about it? With the current rice(food) crisis, the rising cost of fuel and the pass-the-cost-to-the-consumer formula combined with an outdated minimum wage, there is a high probability of headlines like “Sick go hungry II” and “Sick go hungry III” appearing more often.

The government has to see this as a wake up call and has to ACT NOW to address the issue of food shortage and rising costs. Maybe our government can take a leaf out of the Indonesian, Fijian and the Tongan government’s initiative by temporarily reducing or even eliminating import duty on all basic food items coming into the country. At least that is one option worth considering.

Failure in doing so may see a breakdown in social order, eventually leading to mass abuse of human rights in the fight for survival, giving rise to a humanitarian crisis. Then a heading like “More Sick Starve to Death” may not even raise eyebrows, much less sell a paper.

Or is this a big call?



  • As a participating blogger in the Bloggers Unite for Human Rights campaign, I was planning to write about the abuse of “power” by some odd elements within the Royal Police Constabulary of Papua New Guinea, mainly on the juvenile sector of the population, as brought to the public’s attention and knowledge through the power of mass media. However, seeing the food shortage crisis as a more pressing issue, I decided upon this post.
  • To Give is Twice Blessed
    I would also like to make a special mention on the effort of some members of the community who selflessly and tirelessly put in their time, effort and resources into helping others through donations of cash, kind and human service. One such group are the United Church mothers who weekly make visiting rounds to the Port Moresby General Hospital as highlighted in the news report above. Your work is truly appreciated and God will immensely bless you.The effort of all medical personal all over the country as well as the world should not go without a mention too. For giving your best to saving lives; at often times with scant resources and at the expense of your own health and comfort. Thank you and God Bless.

Some Links worth checking out

  1. Human Rights Watch – Overview of various Human Rights issues in PNG
  2. Every Human Has Rights – Read and Sign the Universal Declaration of Human Rights
  3. Amnesty International


Independence To Have Precedence

14 09 2007

My Papua New Guinea
Here it comes around again. Another year. Another anniversary to celebrate Papua New Guinea’s Independence. The 32nd, to be precise.

This is the time when I should be celebrating the anniversary of the day these group of islands and its people stood up tall and proud to proclaim and “shout our name to the whole world to hear; Papua New Guinea“. Rejoice in its achievements and its wondrous beauty and blessings of rich culture and fertile land and bountiful seas. Accept her shortcomings, but proud nonetheless, that “this land of our fathers so free“.

Yet I have to put up with another hoopla about the Hiri Moale Festival on this day of all days in the Gregorian Calender.

Now, I don’t have any qualms whatsoever against this tradition and celebration. In fact I am proud to witness and absorb this festival’s history and tradition and see that even at a time when some of our cultural traditions are slowly withering away in the face of western influence and modernization, we still have these celebrations to remind us of our heritage and rich history.

I only want to see this festival moved to another day of the year. They can move it the Queen’s birthday for all I care. I just want September 16 to be left alone, solely for the celebration of our nation’s independence. All attention, all focus; should be on celebrating this day as the Independence Day of this sovereign nation that we call Papua New Guinea.

Even if the government through the National Events Council does not come up with something of a festivity or celebration for this date, the 16th of September is still worthy to be celebrated. In our own little way even.

If anyone reading this posting has found it offensive, then I just want to let you know that this was not the intention of this post. The truth often hurts but its good to tell it as it is. It is not supposed to prejudice against any particular group of people. Far from it. Especially at this time when we are about to celebrate our independence.

I am writing this simply because the blood that course through these veins and the bones that hold up this frame boldly scream out loud in Red, Black and Gold.

Peace y’all.


Formation of Government

13 08 2007

potraitframe.jpg Well today is D-Day for the formation of the new government. As some of you (who are tuned in to PNG news) maybe quite aware Somare may boast numbers on his side but who knows what may happen once they are on the floor of Parliament. Because in the national parliament, “Shiit Happens” is an understatment.

Let us just hope that above all, reason and wisdom prevails and a transparent and just governement for the people is voted in.

I’ll reserve my mud slinging for another day.



Got a problem there, son???

8 08 2007

was out and about and bumped into this fella…and he’s called….drum roll please………… “The Enigma of Beauty”. 🙂

Lets just hope there’s no flammable substance in that face paint… But still… P-R-O-U-D!

The Enigma of Beauty
Papua New Guinea, 1998
Photograph by Jodi Cobb

Now this! Is one bad-ass Huli warrior….. hehehe


Ref: National Geographic site.

Hallelujah!! AGAIN….

7 08 2007

Now, I never in my wildest dreams thought I would say Hallelujah 2 days in a row (fo real??) … I mean, I don’t go to church as often or anything like that but …. well I actually mean the recorded instances of me exclaiming this…anyway, I was going to say…..

That it’s OFFICIAL!

Tom Olga is now the GOVERNOR of the Western Highlands Province of Papua New Guinea.

Now, we’ll just pray and hope that we can deliver on our words and put all our effort into turning around the image of WHP to bring it back to its former glory. We are truly at the crossroad with regard to our progress as a province and as a nation.
This is the day when we either Make It or Break It.

I’m talking revolutionizing the entire administrative bureaucracy and completely revamping the government structure with new blood and fresh ideas to improve the standard of living and delivering goods and services to the small people of the land.

Its all about giving the Power To The People.
To educate the mass and enable them to wisely utilise their resources for their own progress and betterment.

God Bless Western Highlands and the rest of Papua New Guinea.

My Beautiful PNG

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