Before evaporating, self-styled anti-corruption group issued manifesto
19 November 2013
Last Wednesday's Opposition-inspired anti-corruption rally didn't happen and yesterday's stop work protest was a debacle. But before everything went belly up, VINCENT MOSES ("on behalf of all anti-corruption activists") issued this statement....
AS CITIZENS OF THE Independent State of Papua New Guinea, we are becoming increasingly alarmed and concerned about recent statements and actions taken by police in support of an increasingly unpopular and openly corrupt government.
The Metropolitan Superintendent of the National Capital District, Andy Bawa, who is a member of the NCD Law and Order Committee, announced [last] week that, in the interests of public safety, peace and good order, there would be no protest march or strike yesterday.
He said members of the public found congregating in public places would be arrested and charged by police for loitering and/or unlawful assembly.
We believe this statement released by police contravened certain basic rights of citizens as enshrined in the Papua New Guinea constitution:
1. The right to freedom of expression (s46)
2. The right to freedom of assembly and association (s47)
3. The right to freedom of movement (s52)
The intention by social media and anti-corruption activists was to stage a peaceful gathering where a public debate and discussion session would be held.
The debate and discussion would have been between the people and their elected leaders and also between the leaders in government and opposition to freely and openly discuss growing concerns about corruption and its ever increasing impact on the daily lives of the people.
At no time was a call made for a protest march. The police had taken our clearly articulated and explained position and twisted it around to suit their own agenda and that of the government of the day.
Whose interest is the police force serving? Is the police force in existence to serve the public or to protect and serve an increasingly corrupt and suppressive regime? The police force is no longer independent but highly politicised.
While we understand and appreciate the duty of police to maintain public order and safety of lives and property, we see their actions as being harsh and oppressive on the freedoms, liberties and basic rights of the citizens.
The correct action to take would have been to allow the forum to proceed and to provide security to ensure the event was peaceful and orderly.
If police suppress our rights and freedoms and do not allow us to publicly gather to freely discuss and debate issues of national importance then what other avenues do we have? Without a public voice from the people either praising or opposing government decisions, how will the government know what their people’s views are and whether or not they are on the right track?
There must be avenues where average Papua New Guineans are able to interact with their elected representatives. Members of Parliaments in other countries are accessible to their people through all forms of media on a 24/7 basis but this is not the case in PNG.
Why are the MPs in this country so afraid to face and interact with the people? Is it because they have things to hide?
It has become evident that as the decisions and actions of this government have become increasingly unpopular with the public, so has their attempt to control, suppress and manipulate mainstream media through threats and intimidation.
The interference is so blatant and obvious it is shameful and scandalous! Demotion of respected senior journalists, deportation of others and even directions from the Prime Minister’s media unit to private media organisations are sufficient evidence of media control.
The control and suppression of mainstream media has forced citizens with access to social media to utilise this medium to discuss and air their views.
Many of the issues revealed and discussed in social media are damning against this increasingly unpopular, oppressive and outright corrupt government because there is yet no control on social media.
Is this the reason why politicians are becoming increasingly unsecure and wanting to resort to legislation to further suppress the people?
Our Police and Defence forces are already politicised. Private media and civil society organisations are being threatened and silenced as citizens stand back and watch corruption spiralling out of control in this country.
Deals are made in boardrooms, bedrooms and pubs and clubs to benefit wantoks, cronies and foreign corporations for a slice of the pie but the people are not allowed to speak up. Is this a government “of the people, by the people and for the people” or is it a government for cronies, wantoks and foreign corporations?
We demand that:
1. The prime minister (and acting police minister) Peter O’Neill, finance minister (and acting education minister) James Marape and treasurer Don Polye step aside;
2. The prime minister and the two ministers relinquish their ministries to allow police and state agencies to investigate various allegations against them all;
3. Only when they are cleared of all allegations against them by an independent competent authority preferably from outside PNG, can they be allowed to resume their substantive positions.
Vincent, I feel your only hopes at the moment lie with Task Force Sweep and Sam Koim and with the settling up of an Independent Commission Against Corruption which can investigate any allegations of corruption in a court situation with powers to set in motion the prosecution of any person who is found to be corrupt.
If the people who are leading this social media push can speak to the police and defence forces and get them to understand what types of corruption you believe are going on, then maybe you have a chance at organising a public rally.
If you get the Opposition members and Gary Juffa behind you, then that should also help.
Corruption is "very catching" and it is obvious that it is going on at all levels of the government and in private enterprise. It is becoming entrenched and the more entrenched it becomes the harder it will be to eradicate it.
If ASIO had been more aware of it over the previous 35 years you would think that Australia could have done more to stop it.
I doubt if "an independent competent authority from outside PNG" would be able to help you. I think the ICAC must be set up as soon as possible and do the job now. But it will take a long long time to hear all the cases that I've heard about already.
Posted by: Mrs Barbara Short | 19 November 2013 at 11:20 AM