Is it time for prime minister Peter O’Neill to step down?
Momis says attack on exploration proposal is “nonsense & lies”

Fraud squad ready to pounce but police chief sacks investigator


WHILE Papua New Guineans awaited the next move in the developing drama of whether the Police fraud squad would knock on the door of Peter O’Neill, the prime minister's man acted.

Yesterday afternoon, head of the Police Fraud and Anti-Corruption Directorate, Mathew Damaru, was suspended from duty by Police Commissioner Gary Baki.

Mr O'Neill had said his office should be respected and not demeaned or questioned with false allegations and it seems the Police Commissioner was listening.

Mr Damaru's removal from his post follows the recent arrest of Attorney General and Justice Minister Ano Pala, Supreme Court judge Bernard Sakora and O'Neill lawyer and confidante Tiffany Twivey.

Mr Pala was charged with attempting to pervert the course of justice last October. It is alleged he prevented police from arresting the prime minister.

On Friday, having just returned from overseas, Mr O’Neill said that, although nobody was above the law, concrete evidence to sustain charges must be provided in court.

He said there was no evidence of financial benefit, or corruption that has given anybody any financial benefit, adding that to question a ministerial position was unacceptable unless the matter has been fully investigated.

Mr O'Neill said PNG cannot have a vigilante style of police operation and that it is the responsibility of the Police Commissioner to take appropriate action.

“He is the only one tasked by the constitution and has the ultimate power of running the police force,” Mr O’Neill said.

“I don’t want to be seen as interfering with police work,” he said, “they are simply doing their job as far as I am concerned and it is for the Police Commissioner to make comments.”

It seems that those words were enough to see another corruption busting law enforcer removed from office.

It is now about two years since a warrant was issued for Mr O'Neill's arrest. A range of legal tactics, including stay orders, has been employed to enable him to avoid this outcome.


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William Dunlop

Gary Baki - You are a disgrace to Papua New Guinea and the uniform you are wearing.

When I think of the men of distinction and honour who have been Commissioners in the past, now rotating in their matmats (graves).

To name but two: at 5 ft 17 in, the late Brian Holloway, and my very dear friend, the late Pius Kerepia.

Chris Overland

Whenever a politician loftily proclaims, as O'Neill has done, that he is acting to protect the dignity of his office and secure the respect it deserves, then you know you are hearing authentic bullshit. Em i mauswara tasol!

His unwillingness to submit himself and his actions to judicial scrutiny have passed far beyond the point of merely trying to protect the office of Prime Minister.

His fellow members of Parliament would have to be either impenetrably stupid or themselves hopelessly compromised to not understand that O'Neill is consciously and conspicuously seeking to evade the very justice system he is supposed to defend.

In any truly functional democracy he would have long been removed from office by his peers. Alas, PNG does not have a properly functioning democracy: it is now in the hands of the venal, incompetent and corrupt.

Tragically, the great mass of Papua New Guineans are either utterly indifferent to the capture of their country by these people or, even if aware of the problem, evidently feel powerless to do anything about it.

If this latest grotesque abuse of process goes unanswered then I fear PNG is doomed to failed state status.

Paul Oates

I'm not convinced that withdrawing from the general election process is in any way positive or productive. All that does is give the initiative to those who are already part of the problem.

What has to be done is two simple things. Get to know the facts and talk to everyone who will listen. Discuss what is going on and spread the information as wide as possible. Hold public information meetings. Join a political party that has ethical standards.... err.. if you can find one.

Secondly, get to know who is reputable and honest and will stand as a candidate and support them in their quest both before and after the election.

If enough people do this it will turn the tide. Why else is there a political cry against the media and information systems? They're afraid that the true situation will be found out.

The issue starts with the individual at the kunai roots and not at the top. Waiting for a saviour to come and save you and your country is about as much use as the elderly dementia patients who wait at a false bus stop for a bus that never comes. They know they are doing something right but don't ever go anywhere. Of course I understand they get to meet new friends everyday and are never late for dinner.

Michael Dom

Barbara, please don't supply excuses for Gary Baki.

Why is it necessary to prevent O'Neill from clearing his own name at the appointed court meeting?

The PM could still do this voluntarily. He does not need to be arrested.

At the very worst, if the charges against him are proven false then Damaru and Gitua would be seriously implicated.

Why is it necessary to fire them?

No, Gary Baki is guilty as sin.

When this fiasco is over Gari Baki and Peter O'Neill may take up retirement and residency at Bomana, but in a separate section away from the honest criminals.

Barbara Short

The trouble is that corruption has crept in and affected many people in PNG, either directly or indirectly, whether they are holding a government job or not.

I feel O'Neill should have set up a Royal Commission into the Paraka payments so that the truth of the matter could have been exposed.

Gari Baki is a senior fellow who probably feels he is doing the right thing by suppressing Damaru. He would be an old timer who was brought up during the times when the Government was something you could trust.

None of us know the full truth about what went on during the time when Paraka lawyers got away with so much government money.

I'm sure lots of other people have got away with lots of government money. Some have ended up in prison like Paul Tientsen but there are many who got away with it and are still involved in government one way of the other.

The other big problem is nepotism and I think it will be a long time before stealing of government money and nepotism is stopped.

Francis Nii

Most grass roots of PNG are not thoroughly informed of the Parakagate and all the related matters to date including the warrant of arrest for Peter O’Neill and his consistent lies and pervasion of the course of justice and the bribing allegation involving Justice Sakora.

I am surprised that many nurses in Kundiawa Hospital are not fully aware of the whole saga. If the nurses are not fully informed then the grass roots in the rural areas are in the dark. May be they heard or knew something about it but not in full.

If the masses are fully aware of what has been happening, people will revolt against O’Neill and his regime not through violence but in some other peaceful way to show their anger and frustration.

We need people like Noel Anjo to carry out massive awareness like he did before. Certainly O’Neill’s puppets like Gary Baki and others will not entertain public gathering and awareness meaning that other ways have to be used to inform the people, especially the grass roots. I think the people will rise up when they are fully informed.

One way for the people to show their anger and frustration is boycotting the 2017 election by abstaining from voting. People peacefully staying back in their homes and are not casting their votes. That can happen if the people are thoroughly informed of the whole saga and the relentless pervasion of justice by O’Neill if he, O'Neill is not arrested before the election.

Marcus Mapen

I have been comparing all the prime ministers of this country since independence in 1975 and giving them a rating between ten (10) and one (1). Number 10 for who I think is/was the best so far and 1 for who I think was the worst. I have had Michael Somare on 10 at one end and Bill Skate on 1 at the other, but this man (O’Neill) has forced me to add another category – zero (0).

Des Martin

Where is a charismatic leader who can rally mass demonstrations against the corruption slowly destroying the PNG. God help the place given the evil doers running the country.

Paul Oates

‘You can fool all the people some of the time, and some of the people all the time, but you cannot fool all the people all the time.’ US President Abraham Lincoln

In the absence of some factual information, it is often possible to deduce the facts from the circumstantial evidence that is available.

The body tasked with monitoring politicians, the Ombudsman Commission seemed to have become powerless after the Chief Ombudsman was attacked and the Commission starved of resources.

When Peter O’Neill first came to power it is known that he personally gave an undertaking that he would institute an anti-corruption body to 'root out and pursue corruption in PNG wherever it was occurring’.

The appointment of a Task Force Sweep was applauded on all sides as a first step in the process of ridding PNG of the endemic corruption everyone knows has happened but the relevant authorities seemed powerless to contain or stop.

Lacking suitable funds to operate in a secure environment, the Task Force was reportedly broken into and its computer information stolen. Nevertheless, the Task Force continued to operate.

However when the Task Force obtained a warrant to arrest the PM over claims improper payments had been made to a legal firm Paraka Lawyers, the Task Force was suddenly disbanded and has since tried to continue on a voluntary basis. An Independent Commission Against Corruption (ICAC) was then contemplated and mooted as about to be set up as an alternative.

PM O’Neill has consistently maintained he was only protecting the Office of the PM however when the Police Commissioner Vaki approved the operation of the arrest warrant he was immediately sacked and replaced by the previous Police Commissioner Baki who had been sidelined in an Intelligence role.

The media were then targeted by some politicians with the view that they needed to be ‘controlled’. Social media was also claimed to be at fault and needed to be ‘controlled’ in the ‘national interest’.

The police were then prevented for executing the arrest warrant and various legal actions used to delay any further attempts to resolve the matter.

Then came the recent court decision to disallow the previous legal blocks to operate arrest warrants on high profile people. Immediately, the fraud squad undertook to arrest and charge some high profile people seemingly very close to the PM. The obvious next step was to arrest and question the PM.

Clearly the PM who has always maintained his innocence, could easily step aside in favour of the Deputy PM Dion and simply clear his name. Why he refuses to do this or merely respond to questions the police wish to ask has never been determined.

Before the existing arrest warrant for the PM could be put into operation, the Police Officer in charge of the Fraud Squad has now just been suspended by Commissioner Baki. No explanation has since been issued as to why this action has been taken.

So what possible conclusions can be deduced from this incredible series of events?

…were you lying then, are you lying now, or are you not in fact a chronic and habitual liar?’ Charles Laughton in the 1957 film ‘Witness for the Prosecution’.

`Robin Lillicrapp

Only postponing the inevitable, methinks.

Daniel Kumbon

Where is the Governor General of PNG, His Excellency Sir Michael Ogio? Can he save the nation from imminent collapse? Who else is there?

Where are the rest of the members of parliament? Can one of you in government make even a statement to sooth the anxieties of the masses?

Australia better be prepared to take in political refugees from your former colony.

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