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Confusion surrounds election of Sir Paulias


THE PNG Governor-General’s term expires tomorrow and he won a decisive vote for reappointment last Friday, but his re-election remains in doubt.

Sir Paulias Matane has told PNG Attitude that “the 'win' is likely to be taken to court due to misunderstanding of the law”, adding “let's wait and see”.

Three candidates ran against Sir Paulias for the vice regal post - former Enga MP Ronald Rimbao, former Auditor General Sir Makeno Geno, and Sir Pato Kakaraya.

Speaker Jeffery Nape said that, as Sir Paulias was being proposed, the Constitution required Parliament to determine his eligibility for re-appointment by a two-thirds majority vote of 73 members for which an exhaustive secret ballot was not required.

In this 'eligibility' ballot Sir Paulias secured an 84-13 majority.

But there was surprise when Sir Michael Somare moved a motion for Parliament to resolve that Sir Paulias be appointed to a second term.

There was reported “chaos and confusion” in Parliament and members supporting other candidates exchanged abuse, bringing the House into turmoil.

The confusion focused on whether Sir Paulias was merely allowed eligibility to stand for a second term or whether he was elected.

When Sir Paulias was declared re-elected, Morobe Governor Luther Wenge shouted that “democracy has been hijacked”, and Enga Governor Peter Ipatas cried “why are you hijacking this House”.

The matter is now expected to be challenged in court.


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Roy Marsden

I am not happy with Sir Paulias Matane. His opposition to corruption is not what it seems.

Many of my friends will ignore his annual Walks against Corruption.

Bruce Copeland

There are people criticising Sir Paulias Matane for not declining the position of Governor-General.

We are not to know the arrangements that were discreetly made with Buckingham Palace.

Sir Paulias may have been instructed to quietly remain at his post until the matter is resolved and not to become embroiled in political controversy.

So it looks as if he is grimly hanging on to the position when he is really carrying out his duty as caretaker.

Bruce Copeland

Nokondi Buka - Thank you for your kind words. You have to realise that Sir Paulias is staying in the official residence to be close to internet connections and contact with Buckingham Palace.

He also reads 'PNG Attitude'. In writing about Sir Paulias on this blog, I know he is quietly reading. I hope the contributors give him a PNG perspective and assurance. We have to avoid the herd instinct.

Nokondi Buka

Bruce - Why don't you go up to the Government house right now and keep the Vice-Regal company until this blows over. Tell him to remain silent and not make any public utterances about corruption because many of the MPs who want him in are perceived to be 'corrupt'.

This will also slow you down a bit on posting too many comments on poor Sir Paulias, who is already feeling very bad by this sad turn of events in the spirit man's house.

Bruce Copeland

The community watchdog is the leader of the Opposition - not the Governor General.

A Governor-General promotes unity not disunity. He speaks against corruption by talking about honesty and transparency.

We have to have a little humanity with regard to the Governor-General. He is now suffering in a situation not of his making.

What is he to do? Is he to move out of the official residence with his wife and transport his personal effects away?

What if the issue takes months to resolve? And he is not Governor General? If I were Sir Paulias, I would sit quietly and not perform any official duties.

I would wait for resolution. Then I would stay or move out as the case may be. I would not decline the appointment so as not to become embroiled in a political inferno.

I have run out of Kleenex, Peter Warwick.

Bruce Copeland

There have been media criticisms of Sir Paulias on the basis that he has not spoken out on corruption. That is not the job of the Governor-General. He is not a community watchdog at the top.

Perhaps Sir Paulias being the person he is has spoken out on many issues in the last six years. Now it is expected of him. And held against him that he has not spoken out on all issues.

We do not hear the Queen speaking out on issues except those that affect the nation and do not divide the community. She will undoubtedly call the Prime Minister to Buckingham Palace on the more crucial issues.

Bruce Copeland

I would like to explain the role of the Governor General. He is guided by Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth in her own approach to addressing issues.

She only speaks out on issues that unite the nation or the world. We see this in her address to the United Nations as reported in the PNG Post-Courier 8 July 2010.

Britain’s Queen Elizabeth II pleaded for world peace in her first visit in five decades to the UN headquarters at the start of a whirlwind tour of New York.

Addressing the UN General Assembly, the Queen praised the remarkable achievements of the UN and said that “the waging of peace is the hardest form of leadership of all”. New challenges of terrorism and climate change were adding to the huge tests facing the world body.

She said it was her hope that when judged by the future generations our willingness to take the lead will stand the test of time.

Sir Paulias has the duty to follow the same basic approach to public statements.

Reginald Renagi

Peter - My guess like most PNGeans is the other knight who is running the country as his own family business.

Bruce Copeland

I feel that Friend of PNG is overstating the issue and causing unnecessary alarm.

There is a constitutional issue causing problems. But it should be solved among men of good will.

The PNG Government has massive social and economic problems that have to be faced in the next decade including violence, poverty, HIV/AIDS, immunity to TB, landowner problems and distribution of funds through health and education.

Papua New Guinea is a democracy with a government and opposition. There is freedom of speech and freedom of the media. We see this every day. PNG has a long relationship with Australia and is working with that country to increase the funding support to the grass roots at provincial level.

Friend of PNG please do not put this country down by suggesting PNG is on the verge of becoming a dictatorship. Australia once had a constitutional problem in the 1970s. But it blew away over over the years.

Peter Warwick

Reg - You are right. If I read the literature correctly, Sir P did not nominate himself. Is that right If so, who did nominate him?

Reginald Renagi

Sir Paulius Matane, through no fault of his own, has been dealt a death blow by the ruling regime and must now reject his forced appointment (or was it a fair election?).

The Vice-Regal will earn the public's respect if he stands on his own principles of the government doing the right thing by the people and our Queen (Liz II).

PNG democracy has become a total sham in recent years under the present regime. I wholly agree with Peter Warwick - in why have a "Mama Law" if we can't even adhere to it.

Peter Warwick

Bruce - You always bring some king of obtuse emotion into your postings. The sole issue at stake here is that the GG was re-appointed via a constitutionally flawed process.

The fact that Sir Paulias has been a great GG, and deserves the highest recognition for the way that he has conducted the office, has no bearing on the issue.

We all may have personal and private views on Sir Paulias (I was exceptionally pleased he was re-appointed), but they are personal and private and have no bearing on the fact that there was a flawed re-appointment.

He will have to live under a cloud, and I would have thought that, as he was re-appointed in a flawed manner, that he would have rejected the appointment, or accepted it (for continuity's sake) pending a recast of the appointment process).

He is, after all, the Head of State and gives Royal Assent to matters of this kind, and he would be entitled and indeed obliged to reject the appointment if he thought that he was re-appointed unconstitutionally.

The other candidates did not get a look in, thus denying the people of PNG an alternative. Whether they were good enough is not the issue - they did not get a barrier in which to run the race, and were scratched forcibly.

This is the stuff of banana republics, where the rules are simply ignored, and if PNG continues to ignore the rules, it will do so at its own peril.

I wonder what Liz II is thinking of all this, and I wonder if she will reject the appointment as unconstitutional.

I grew up under a constitutional monarchy, served in the Oz Army for 20 years (swearing allegiance to the Crown), and thought it was all worthwhile. I am starting to think the whole thing is a sham (I lost my respect for knighthoods when Bill Skate was made one).

If we cannot follow the Constitution, then why have one ?

Bruce, keep the Kleenex tissues out of the equation.

Friend of PNG

The PNG government has painted itself into a corner. If the election of the GG is unconstitutional, it means that all bills signed into law for the next six years will be unlawful if the issue is taken to court.

PNG may be on its way to a Bainimarama Fijian republic. Even now the government states that a second swearing in of the the GG is not necessary. They have dealt the Queen out of the

The government is taking a path of no return. The opposition can bide its time before putting the government on a chopping block.

Bruce Copeland

The only worry I have about the placement of Sir Paulias Matane as GG is that the present Governmment may know he will sign into law the controversial bills before parliament. Bills require the Royal Assent.


Bruce - I agree. I think he has been manipulated in the vote, perhaps because some of the alternative candidates posed a threat to the Government.

He has written many interesting books and claims he is the first PNG person to visit all the continents of the world (including Antarctica). I asked him why this was important, and he replied that he wanted to widen his knowledge and understand more about the world.

His view is that only with a better understanding of the world as a whole can PNG start to address its problems and not be so insular.

Bruce Copeland

Sir Paulias is a good man. At present the ball is completely in his court. If he declines and re-nominates, he will be a national hero and swept back into the office of the GG.

He used to say on his TV program, Chitchat, that God loves you and so do I. He supports the family message of Positive Living though politics of AusAID funding has held him back. But his message is always based on Family.

That is why AIDS Holistics people love him.

Bruce Copeland

Opposition Leader Sir Mekere Morauta has said that he and other members of the Opposition expressed their disgust in Parliament when the Prime Minister and Speaker announced
the re-appointment of the Governor-General with no election taking place.

Since then Sir Mekere has said he expected Sir Paulias to decline the “appointment” and to request the Prime Minister to refer the matter to Parliament so that a proper
election can take place.

Sir Paulias Matane has done an outstanding job as
our Governor General. It would be a travesty for
him to spoil his good name, integrity and standing
by not insisting that the due process is followed in
electing the new Governor-General.

Bruce Copeland

There has been considerable comment in the media on the vote for the G-G.

I wish Sir Paulias had declined and nominated again. Then he would surely be re-elected as the G-G.

If the matter goes to the Supreme Court and a decision goes against the government, Sir Paulias is in a weak position to be re-elected.

I hope he is re-elected. I write as a parent of PNG citizens and a friend of the nation as the ongoing family Positive Living message shows. It may be too late for him to decline.

Bruce Copeland

The headline and editorial of 'The National' confirms
that the vote for the Governor-General was deeply
flawed. The vote to accept a nomination is not a vote
to elect according to the Constitution.

As well, the vote to elect requires a secret ballot. This
obviously did not happen. I would be sad if the chances
of a great man like Sir Paulias to be re-elected have
now been spoiled forever.

Bruce Copeland

The law as explained by the unnamed legal counsel for the Prime Minister, appears quite in order. An incumbent G-G can be elected back into office by a two-thirds majority agreeing to it.

Yet the Government had more than a two-thirds majority and need not have bulldozed parliamentary process the way it did so that its own backbench and a few of its front benchers were incensed by the tactics.

The vote to accept nomination was used to elect the incumbent G-G. The other nominees were excluded as if they did not exist.

A vote to accept may well mean that the same members who voted to accept nomination would also vote for the incumbent G-G at the appropriate time. It was unanimous for Sir Paulias.

But that may not be so. Some may have voted to honour the work of a good man and Grand Chief. But they intended to vote for someone else. We will never know.

They may have voted to show approval for his vice-regal and humanitarian approach over the last six years.

I would be pleased if Grand Chief Sir Paulias Matane were
re-elected with the dignity of both office and his person.

But the other nominees have the right not to be summarily
excluded. They are senior dignitaries too.

Reginald Renagi

Sir Paulius Matane has being re-elected through a flawed procedure that smacks of being an unconstitutional move by Parliament. Well, what's new in a dysfunctional 'Haus Tambaran' like ours?

There is a good chance that the other three G-G candidates may take the matter to court on a charge that parliamentary business was conducted under trickery. Thus, the court case may delay the G-G appointment and it will no doubt be a long drawn-out affair.

What it could also mean is the Queen of PNG, living in London's Buckingham Palace, may not be in too much of a hurry to accept the PNG G-G designate's accreditation.

It's sad as, through no fault of his own, our Vice-Regal has unfortunately been placed in this embarrassing, somewhat untenable position by Michael and his boys in the spirit man's house.

Under these circumstances, maybe it is best that Sir Paulias Matane does not accept this second-term job that has already being tarnished by the silly games in Waigani.

Bruce Copeland

The knights are all good men. Procedure should have allowed for the incumbent to move graciously into the top job. This is not going to happen.

I feel sad for all nominees including Sir Paulias Matane. If he is to become Governor-General again, I will rejoice.

All nominees deserve better than this. The position of Governor-General should be free from all the political dog-fights of the day.

Bruce Copeland

You misunderstand, Colin. The knights are not fighting. They are just seeking proper procedure and are confused at what has happened.

A vote to accept the nomination of Sir Paulias became a vote to give him another term. Please get your facts straight.

Take care with snap judgments from overseas.

Colin Huggins

How very interesting! "Knights" all fighting each other for the role of GG! In days of yore they would be 'jousting' for a horse!

A job that equates to 'sycophantic' proportions from/to the "lord and master", Somare!

I guess the real estate people in Cairns will be delighted with the events in Port Moresby. All so sad but amusing at the same time! Look out Mugabe, Somare is going to outdo you!

I feel so sorry for the people of PNG when this stuff is being played out to the detriment of the decent people of that country.

They all have no such thing as shame with what they are doing. Didn't someone say the "money was the root of all evil"? Certainly is being carried out 100% by politiciuans, would be GG's and senior bureaucrats in PNG.

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