Media: Getting down & dirty with Sir Michael
Why are we here – and what should we do…

Ano Pala tries to crush free speech in PNG


Pala_Ano ANO PALA [left] is hardly a household name. But he’s got a fair chance of becoming a footnote in a PNG history book.

Just last month Sir Michael Somare appointed Pala to replace Dr Allan Marat CBE as PNG’s Attorney-General.

Marat was asked to resign his ministry following public comments that angered Sir Michael. He’s since been the object of death threats.

Dr Marat had said that major mining projects in PNG brought little benefit to local communities, workers or businesses, and he also questioned legislation affecting the Ombudsman.

He challenged the way in which two of the country’s biggest resource projects (Ramu nickel and LNG) were impairing the rights of the people, not to mention the environment, and condemned the Maladina Amendment, which has knackered the PNG Ombudsman Commission.

Marat is a distinguished man: the first Papua New Guinean to obtain a doctorate in law at Oxford, a former Deputy Prime Minister and an acting Governor-General.

Pala was a parliamentary clerk before being elected as MP for Rigo in 2007. As I said, hardly a household name. However, he’s now a qualified historical footnote.

Shut Up Notice Late last week he took the extraordinary step of telling the PNG media to stop talking about PNG’s controversial environment laws [left click on notice to enlarge].

A group of landowners says the laws are unconstitutional and is challenging them in the Supreme Court.

In a breathtaking attempt to suppress freedom of speech in PNG, Pala has told people to stop discussing the issue or be in contempt of court.

He’s trying to ban talkback radio, letters to the editor, interviews, ads, discussions and “above all” public demonstrations, which he’s announced will be stopped by the police.

It’s an edict that has already been ignored by PNG’s two daily newspapers and the nation’s fearless bloggers, like Nancy Sullivan.

Good thing, too. Ano Pala might be acting on instructions, but he’s crazy if he thinks people’s views can be suppressed so easily.

In fact, he’s just made the PNG government’s job a lot harder. Nobody likes a bully.


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Nalau Bingeding

Ano Pala is a 'Historical Footnote'. He deserves that title. It suits him well.

Phil Fitzpatrick

It will be very interesting if the courts become suddenly clogged up with contempt of court cases. That could be another effective form of protest.

Reginald Renagi

Free speech will not be crushed in PNG. In future, a frustrated citizenry will take the law into their own hands when the PM and his clowns in parliament keep playing marbles while the people suffer.

Something has got to give here. The pressure cooker will soon blow its lid off. The people will not be silenced by a useless piece of paper telling them they can't complain publicly, when it is their right to do so.

I imagine this may be another nail in the coffin for Somare's political career at this twilight stage of his long political run. Can anyone hear his swan song playing in the background?

Nancy Sullivan

Keith - I like your attitude! Keep up the great work with your blog.

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