THE MALADINA amendment may be unconstitutional because Parliament does not have powers to amend the Constitution, according to Peter Donigi, one of PNG’s most eminent lawyers.
Two weeks ago Esa’ala MP Moses Maladina introduced amendments to Section 27(4) of the Constitution to remove the independent power of the Ombudsman Commission to issue directives preventing payments from public funds to officeholders where it believes there is impropriety.
In the past, the Commission has used this provision to stop MPs taking overseas trips when it felt the trips were a waste of public funds and has prevented the Finance Department issuing cheques if it felt the motives were political.
“We want to make it very clear that the action of the Ombudsman in issuing such directives is wrong,” Mr Maladina said, and he proposed a so-called 'parliamentary ombudsman committee' to be set up to make its own inquiries.
Parliament voted 83-0 to amend Section 27(4) but Mr Donigi says the Constitution only gives provides for alteration if the change supports the spirit of the Constitution, which is equality and democracy.
He also said the Constitution could not be amended without a national referendum. But there was no provision for a referendum in the PNG Constitution.
Mr Donigi said it appeared that the Constitution is under siege and no one seemed to care.
challenge Mr Moses Maladina to a public debate to be co-ordinated by the vice
chancellor of the
“The rules of the debate are to be determined by the vice chancellor. Mr Maladina must accept my challenge or withdraw all his proposed constitutional amendments,” he said.
Source: Drawn in part from ‘Parlt lacks power to amend’ by Caldron Laepa (The National) and ‘Top lawyer debates on amendment’ by Harlyne Joku (Post-Courier)