by PETER S. KINJAP
ACCORDING to many Papua New Guinean citizens and international observers, the O’Neill-Dion People’s National Congress-led government is the most corrupted regime in the short history of our country.
It has tampered with the meaning of the national constitution, created laws that seem to advantage itself and failed to pass tough legislation that would fight corruption. This is indeed a sad, sad scenario for PNG.
Before going to the last elections in 2012, Peter O’Neill – who had come to power in unusual circumstances - promised to curb corruption. Early in his term, he set up Investigation Task Force Sweep (ITFS) which did an excellent job exposing and prosecuting corruption and malfeasance.
Then Task Force Sweep began investigating O’Neill and it was disbanded. And, when the police fraud squad got too nosy for comfort, police commissioner Garry Baki applied special “vetting” to high profile cases under investigation, including the O’Neill case.
When framing the 2012 Alotau Accord under which the coalition operates, the coalition partners pledged to bring to parliament anti-money laundering legislation, whistle-blower legislation, freedom of information legislation and an Independent Commission against Corruption Act (ICAC).
But during the coalition’s reign, none of this proposed legislation made it to or through parliament as promised. Instead the government legislated a cyber-crime law which has a draconian provision affecting social media and has proposed amendments to change the election dates and increase candidate nomination fees, moves that are seen to advantage the incumbents.
Several times the parliamentary opposition has strongly criticized the government for sitting on the whistle-blowers protection bill and not tabling it in parliament. Not so long ago National Court Justice Martin Ipang spoke of the need for such legislation when ruling in the Ati Wobiro case.
Citizens need to be protected if they hear about corruption, if they see it, if they become a victim of it or if they want to report it. PNG needs a whistle-blowers act. Along with the creation of an ICAC, this is a very important law for our country.
But the O’Neill government has failed and fooled the nation with its promises. A new government formed after the 2017 elections must ensure that these laws - and others like them - are passed.
People ask time and again why the most corrupt politicians are not exposed and brought to justice. Sam Basil, a two term Bulolo MP, says:“PNC's best bet (if they lose government) is to have another veteran MP's political party to reign. Why? Because it's like having partners in crime taking control once again or, simply put, corruption changing hands.
“If they bring their brothers down they will all go down together, it's like they all have been closely knitted together.”
Only fresh MPs without any connection to the current and past regimes can clean up this country, there is no other way.
There has to be a scrubbing period where citizens from all walks of life face the judiciary to clean up allegations against them.
Your vote in 2017 can save Papua New Guinea or destroy it. Over to you.
*The article was also published on PNG Attitude Blog - Keith Jackson & Friends and Asia Pacific Report (AUT's Pacific Media Centre)
A cartoon about the lack of action in reversing the huge Special Agricultural and Business Leases (SABL) land grab, or to stop illegal logging in SABL areas. Cartoon: PNGExposed - Asia Pacific Report.