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All the members: A PNG Attitude Special Feature


PosterTODAY WE BEGIN to profile all the newly-elected politicians in the Papua New Guinea parliament. Each day we’ll examine one or two provinces to take a close look at the people who will run PNG for the next five years.

The information in this series is derived from public sources and, in some cases, may not be accurate. We invite readers to offer corrections and additional material by contacting the editor here.

To begin this series, it is possible to already make some general remarks about the group of 111 men and women who will chart and steer PNG’s course during a critical time in its history.

First, they are remarkably well-educated and professionally accomplished.

Secondly, the vast majority of them have a political party attachment (despite the inevitable shuffles that will occur), which shows how the party system is now becoming entrenched in PNG – due both to better organisation and more astute selection of candidates.

Thirdly, there is reasonable stability between the composition of the last parliament and the one to be shortly convened. To be an incumbent these days is of great benefit, probably reinforced by the ability to hand out sweeteners to the local electorate using public funds.

Fourthly, there are some new idealists represented in these profiles, and also some old rogues. We’ll leave it to you to determine who’s who in that particular zoo.

And so to the first province, where all seats have been declared….


Leo DionLeo Dion (East New Britain, Triumph Heritage Empowerment Party), the sitting member, has been provincial governor since 2000. He is a committed supporter of tourism in the region. “East New Britain is a very safe place and my people are very proud of our culture and we are very friendly,” he said recently. In 2006 he was the only parliamentarian to oppose increased allowances for MPs and judges. “I’m totally against these increases and strongly call on the people to rise up and reject the move,” he said. The people didn’t.

Malakai Tabar (Gazelle, Melanesian Liberal Party), the sitting member, retained the seat after a close contest. He is president of the parliamentary group on population and development.

Ereman ToBaining JrEreman Tobaining Jnr (Kokopo, People’s National Congress) is the son of a former two-term East New Britain Premier. Tobaining, 42, from Balanataman in the Raluana area, is a successful engineer and owner of MJovie Limited. He was urged to stand by local churches and community groups. He said that he would fight for quality health care, fair distribution of wealth, and improved law and order services and infrastructure. He also said he would fight against corruption.

Paul TienstenPaul Tiensten (Pomio, People's United Assembly), one of PNG’s most controversial politicians, holds a masters degree in resources law from the Centre for Energy, Petroleum, Mineral Law and Policy at the University of Dundee. Before his political career began in 2002 he was director of petroleum in the PNG Department of Petroleum and Energy. Under Michael Somare he was respectively trade and industry minister, foreign affairs minister and national planning and district development minister, losing his portfolio when Somare was toppled last year. In 2008, a Singaporean businessman alleged Tiensten had personally profited from a payment of $19 million from Taiwan in a bid to strengthen diplomatic relations with PNG. Tiensten admitted to meeting Taiwanese officials, but denied the allegations of corruption. In 2010 labour and industrial relations minister Mark Maipakai alleged that the Office of the Minister for National Planning and District Development had been involved in a $81.4 million fraud, together with four landowner associations in Kikori. Tiensten denied the allegations. In November 2011, Tiensten was arrested by Task Force Sweep, a corruption investigation body established by Peter O’Neill. The charges against Tiensten related to the misappropriation of funds, conspiracy to defraud the state and abuse of office for his part in approving a K10 million payment of subsidies to airline company Travel Air. Tiensten fled to Australia last September when summoned for questioning, and then was arrested upon his return in November. The matter is ongoing. Tiensten is also facing charges of diverting K3.4 million of government funding to Tolpot Services Ltd, of which he was both a shareholder and a director. The case has yet to be tried.

Allan MaratAllan Marat CBE (Rabaul, Melanesian Liberal Party) was the first Papua New Guinean to obtain a law doctorate at Oxford University. His thesis was on the Official recognition of customary responses to homicide in Papua New Guinea. Marat served as Somare’s Minister for Justice and Attorney General. In 2010, he caused a stir when he stated that major mining projects in PNG brought little benefit to local communities, workers or businesses. Somare consequently asked him to resign immediately, which he did. When O’Neill became PM he reappointed Marat to his former position.


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Bob Cleland

I was impressed when I was in Rabaul and Kokopo in April this year. Kokopo is clean and tidy, the Tolai people look happy and made smiling eye contact when my friend and I were walking, looking, shopping etc.

Many offer a 'Good morning' which I sometimes replied to with 'Bona Malana' (Good Morning), which often caused a pause for brief conversation when I hastily switched to Pisin!

On the second day, I took courage to say I was ADC Kokopo in 1969-70. By this time a small group had formed and we always felt welcomed.

I was told that anyone without a job - especially Chimbus and Sepiks - were deported to their homes. This, they said, is why Rabaul/Kokopo is now a safe place for tourists.

The national government was unpopular with just about everyone, which didn't worry them because they were happy with their provincial government to which they gave credit for their present contentment and tourist-welcoming attitudes.

I hope Ereman Tobaining takes after his father. Vin was a great guy.

In Paul Tiensten's bit, you mention charges relating to Tolpot Services.

Our ship visited Karlai plantation only a week before these were announced. Karlai was Catholic Mission owned before being transferred in trust to a local consortium of four village groupings.

It is very run down and looked to me as if it would need multiple millions to get it going again. The K3.4M was going to assist that rehabilitation.

Robby Less

I wonder where Ereman Tobaining Jr got his engineering qualification from. There's nothing on record at the Engineering Associates Registry.

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