Friday, August 07, 2009

Parliament Raped PNG’s Constitution and Democracy

Article published by Sunday Chronicle under "letter from China", Papua New Guinea August Sunday 9, 2009.

By Manson O’iki in Hubei, China

PARLIAMENT adjourned its sitting to mid November. It is a constitutional requirement that the Parliament meets no less than sixty six days in a year.

So far for this year, the Parliament has met for just over forty plus days. That means there are still 20 + days to make up between mid November and December.

We cannot be sure if this will happen but we can be sure from past history that they will not sit in the Haus Tambaran for more 3 or 4 days.

Realizing this, the opposition called for the referral of the Prime Minister (Sir Michael Somare), Speaker (Jeffery Nape) and MP responsible for Government Business (Paul Tiensten) to the Ombudsman Commission.

Prompted by this, Government back bencher & MP for Anglimp South Waghi (Maxton Graham) voted against the Governments decision to defer Parliament and also severed his parties tie with the Government.

He also alleged that the government has been issuing threatening memos to their back benchers and minor coalition partners to keep shut and just follow the governments’ decision or have your grants withheld.

We don’t have to be legal eagles to understand or analyze the non-compliance of the Parliament to the constitutional requirement under the leadership of Michael & National Alliance.
From a civil perspective, the whole scene was orchestrated to escape or delay the looming vote-of-no-confidence (there could have been hidden agendas as well) or maybe to cover up something else as usual or even just to buy time.

To be fair, who would not want to do something like this to stay in power? We’d all probably do the same, but that would purely be for SELF purposes.

We can’t probably hang the government for showing self interest, which is a normal human instinct/tendency but given the position they are in and the timing, this adjournment of parliament has to be condemned in the strongest way possible by every thinking citizen.

The following are two points that I wish to discuss:

1. Timing:

Definitely the next few months are very crucial to PNG for now and the future. We are at an economic cross road with the responsibility to choose on our behalf in the hands of the government.

Considering issue such as the LNG Gas Pipeline Project, Ramu Nickel Mine and the many others, this is not the time to postpone sitting.

What guarantee is there for the government to be making sound decision when there is no parliamentary sitting? This is absurd.

Mr. Graham’s discloser/allegation of threat adds fuel to fire. What we know is just the tip of the ice berg, and there is surely more to it than just that. It looks as though our government is dancing to someone else’s music and that its decisions are not independent.

More than that, I have no hesitation to say that the elected leaders who comprise the government have no heart for the people in any way at all. They would be sitting their assess in the parliament right now deliberating on our future by dealing with issues at hand.

Instead, they see it fit to call the Parliament off and conduct their own businesses or whatever else, who knows.

The simple question now is; what is there for the people of PNG if our parliamentarians are inconsiderate of our future or are probably perusing their own interest, with our mandate their magic spell?

At the end of it all, we the ordinary citizens of this country get left behind to leak our wounds. The parliamentarians fly away to their cozy nest and look down on us from way up high in all splendor and safety.

If for one moment we let our guards down, we will soon be caught just like those African countries with our pants down. This is simply due to the fact that our current or forecasted economic boom is based on non-renewable resources (oil, gas, copper, gold).

The moment our parliamentarian resort to SELF (as it is now) and misuse the mandate entrusted to them, we become like feathers in the wind. Our resources will be depleted in no time at all.

This is the time for our leaders to effectively play our cards with the population in mind more than self. If ever there was such a time, it is now more than ever.

From simple logic, why would an investor risk billions of money for a one meter thick gas pipe line running from Southern Highlands to Port Moresby? Imagine the distance and the magnitude of the project.

There is surely something more than what they are spending that the investors are going after. It does not matter if it is for a very short time or long. The fact of the matter is that they are sure of the return.

This is prime time for parliament to convene regularly instead of the reverse. Even if it means collaborating with the opposition they have to do it for the sake of the ordinary people.

I have no intention in going on preaching about this, as it is never ending. But what prompts me to write this, is to challenge each of you to think about what can be done about this.

As educated as you are, you’ve got to be stupid not to look and be able to see the looming black clouds. It’s going to be raining soon and we will get wet, not the MP’s.

If we have to do something, it has to be now, not tomorrow. We have better vision than our parents and forefathers. We have to look beyond our office enclosure, our tinted vehicles, our mansions, our bulging bank accounts and look into the future.

We don’t want to be raped and left naked when all has been taken from us. The bully tactic applied by the government just because of it having the number to do so is an act of absolute immorality.

More so, it is an act of sheer self desire and clear display of inconsideration, stupidity, insecurity, incompetency and so on, that any straight thinking Papua New Guinean will only be stupid too to stand watching without acting to the contrary.

Just like the MPs are thinking about themselves, why can we not think about ourselves, our future, our children, our relatives and do something about it when our elected leaders cannot?

2. Constitutional Violation

I like the way Bart Philemon summed the act of the government. He labeled the act of the government in hijacking the parliament as “Constitutional Rape/murder”. By all means this is true.

The law implied here is the number of the parliaments sitting days in a year. The Constitution clearly stipulates the minimum number of sitting days in a year to be no less than 66 days.

Without focusing on technicalities involved, the whole scene already denotes legal interpretation and those implicated are liable to be dished punitive measures. This is a calculated and deliberated misleading of the parliament by knowledgeable people, designed for SELF.

The government has deliberately displayed its defiance and dominion over the constitution. Or putting it simply, it has shown us that it is above the law. Unfortunately, acts of this nature are common among dictators, and if we are not careful we can end up under dictatorship.

On the face value of it, there should now be no delay in going after these thugs (the government) and its executives (Michael, Jeffery & Paul) be brought to justice.

Now is just the right time the three arms of the government should grasp to show their independence. The Judicial arm consisting of the Police, the Ombudsman, the Courts and the likes who implement the constitution should stamp their authority and uphold the law of the land without fear and favor.

But just by judging the way its taking shape, it looks as though the Judicial arm has no venom to bring the Executive arm to justice. Otherwise we can conclude they have some common grounds/links somewhere.

When this happens, it all becomes a ‘chasing of your own tail’ kind of scenario whereby we go around in circles.

The moment we condone this act, we in one way or the other are helping those white collar criminals rape and walk off free while a drug dealer caught selling marijuana for sustainability and school fee purposes is treated inhumanly and locked behind bars. Where is justice in cases like this?

In any democracy, an effective and service delivering government is the one that constantly rubs shoulders with the opposition, not walking over with its number might.

It is more dangerous if this might is employed to undermine even the Constitution as in our case. This is sure sign of step in the wrong direction.

Do we, as elites sit down and be spectators or are we supposed to be doing something? Each of us has a moral duty to one another and the country at large.

I have no suggestion or course of action for us to take, but I leave that to you to come up with.

The message must be passed on. We need collective force and idea to do something about this. It is my hope that we look outside our various confinements and think and act like creams of the society.

If it means going on a revolt then why not, though I personally don’t encourage that? The point is, we have to do something about the direction the government is heading to.

Those of you in centers such as Moresby, Hagen and Lae, please, work closely with individual & groups that are campaigning against this.

Help people to see the big picture and the future implications. People spill their blood in very civilized societies for minor issues than ours.

We have a problem at our door step that will leave lasting effects and we have a duty NOW to attend to it.

As I now leave the matter to you for further discussion & deliberation, I beg you to start THINKING BIG and look at the big picture. Let’s act responsibly if our elected leaders cannot.

Note: Manson O”iki studies Masters of Science in Petroleum Engineering at China University of Geosciences in Wuhan City, Hubei Province. For comments and queries, e-mail Mathew Yakai on: