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Somare era ending in a very messy way

BY KEITH JACKSON

AT FIRST the news was hopeful. Prime minister Somare was out of intensive care, he was due home within days, he would soon make an appearance in parliament.

All wrong. Or false. After all, it had also been claimed he’d gone to Singapore merely for a 'health check'.

It was about a month ago that Sir Michael had a heart valve replaced in Singapore. Open heart surgery is always serious. In a 75-year old it is very serious. The surgeon was reputedly the best in the city-state. He treats 87-year old Lee Kuan Yew and other top Singaporean politicians.

But Sir Michael’s initial operation did not go entirely according to plan. A second procedure was required to correct post-operative problems. And then a third. The prime minister remains in bed in  hospital – where he is said to be recovering gradually and even chatting with people.

But last Thursday acting Prime Minister Sam Abal refused to disclose his condition or say when a recovery might be expected.

In the best of circumstances, Sir Michael is unlikely to return to office in less than six months. In reality, he seems unlikely to resume the job again.

Now PNG’s opposition leader Belden Namah has proposd that constitutional provisions be invoked to enable parliament to elect a new prime minister.

This reasonable proposition drew the expected interjections and points of order from government members that Sir Michael is the father of the nation and should be respected.

Mr Namah had carefully prefaced his words by wishing the PM a speedy recovery. He also acknowledged that Parliament granted leave of absence to Sir Michael on 17 May. But he argued that the Constitution requires a specific time frame for such leave, that it must not be open-ended.

Amid heated exchanges by MPs from both sides, Mr Namah asked why Section 142 (5) (c) of the Constitution could not be evoked because it was likely to take much longer for the PM to recover.

Mr Namah’s points and questions were derailed by disruptive points of orders from the government ranks and the line of enquiry was eventually overruled by acting Speaker Francis Marus.

Mr Namah says cabinet must advise the Medical Society of PNG to appoint two medical practitioners to examine Sir Michael and provide a report to parliament whether in their opinion he is fit to perform his duties.

“Instead this government has attempted to buy time to extend their grasp on power,” he said. “There is a proper process according to law that should be followed.

“The Members of the Opposition demand that the people must loudly demand that the NEC commence the proper legislation processes to obtain and provide medical reports to Parliament of the PM’s fitness,” he said.

It seems the Somare era is ending messily and with great uncertainty about the future leadership of PNG.

That’s a shame for Sir Michael; and it’s hard to see that it’s in the national interest of PNG.

Sources: PNG Post-Courier and Pacnews

Comments

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Peter Kranz

So what has happened to Sir Michael? He was supposed to have returned to PNG three weeks ago. There has been virtually no news of him or his condition since he went to Singapore.

And where is Speaker Nape? Missing since the start of Parliament and no one knows his whereabouts according to the papers.

Curiouser and curiouser.

Tim Koeser

Somare reminds me of prize fighter who decided to fight one too many fights, like Muhamad Ali...

I had that impression when he decided to run again in 2007. Having had told everyone in the Sepik that he wasn't going to run, he inexplicably did.

If I were his closest adviser I'd tell him to leave PNG politics to others and enjoy the rest of his days writing his memoirs and spending time with his grandchildren.

But Somare has always been a driven man. His drive hasn't gone but his body is betraying him. It's sad really...

Reginald Renagi

Icarus - The sheer speed of passing flawed legislation by parliament in recent times is not a good indication, or a measure, of effective functioning of 'The People's Assembly'.

This happens for several reasons. The government always uses its greater numbers to bulldoze certain controversial legislation through.

This is done through fear of the Opposition or middle-bench MPs putting up a good strong debate to either block the bill's passage, or expose its negative aspects for people to openly criticize the government's bad decision and actions.

The other sly way for the government to get away with what they want is giving themselves a pay rise.

This usually happens when a motion is unexpectedly moved by the 'Government Whip' or the Leader of Government Business on the floor of parliament.

The motion is rushed without proper debate with the ulterior aim of catching those MPs in Opposition and or the Middle-bench MPs completely 'off-guard', so the bill does not get much resistance.

So in the end, the Opposition who is supposed to represent the people's concerns are also caught in a trap.

Hence, while they know it is ethically wrong to accept a bad bill, but is now seen as being 'guilty by association' by the public.

The people perceive it to be conspiring with government to get themselves a raise at the expense of the people.

The government feels secure in their knowledge that they have spread the risk of the people's wrath by also involving the Opposition and Middle-bench MPs in their wicked plan.

Icarus, I am also like you on the present status of the two Bills mentioned: Maladina Bill and the MPs salaries.

But I will find out and post on this forum to update all, including myself.

Icarus

Reginald - I respect your decision to work with the Opposition, and I believe you are better versed than I in parliamentary matters.

I understand that there has been very little democratic parliament in the last few years. But there have been some startling achievements whenever there was.

Please clarify my honest confusion about two motions that were debated and to my knowledge (from reports in media) passed relatively quickly, without debate:

1) The Maladina amendments first (and second?) reading - which some have argued remove another set of dentures from our Ombudsman - was passed by a majority of 83 members.

2) The 100% increase in MP salaries was passed without dispute.

If you look at it another way the PNG parliament is extremely effective, because we can pass legislation without having to spend that much time in parliament at all.

Reginald Renagi

Keith - The national interest is bigger than one man, leader or region. PNG is a ship drifting at sea with no captain.

The country is failing in many areas and those left to run the state ship do not care at all.

Parliament is empty when only the Opposition Party arrives early, sits and waits for nearly an hour before it rises to do any business.

There are either no quorum or the government fails to provide the numbers needed, and the quality of debate when discussing important issues affecting the country leaves a lot to be desired.

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