THIS is a statement I forwarded to The National two weeks ago but, as you can see, it is provocative and it was not published.
The Hon Ano Pala should resign as a Minister for Justice and Attorney General because he has been arrested and charged with serious criminal offences of conspiracy and attempting to pervert the cause of justice.
As a lawyer, Minister for Justice and Attorney General and the principal legal advisor to government he has an obligation to preserve and protect the integrity of these high offices.
This is an ethical and moral duty and obligation to protect the integrity of these two high offices of a minister and attorney general. This has nothing to do with his right to presumption of innocence.
To continue to contend that he will only resign if he is found guilty misses the point. He cannot continue to discharge the duties of this office whilst he has this cloud hanging over his integrity. He will have conflicts of interest in many instances.
In fact by insisting on holding on to these offices, he is ‘demeaning the integrity of the high offices of a Minister and Attorney General and his personal integrity as a leader,’ under the leadership code as well.
The allegations are serious and the fact that he has been charged is also sufficient grounds for the Prime Minister to decommission him as a Minister.
For the Prime Minister to say that Mr. Pala is entitled to continue in office as a Minister and Attorney General until a court finds him guilty is wrong. The Prime Minister has a duty to preserve and protect the integrity of these offices by decommissioning Mr. Pala. These are also basic conventional practices of integrity and good governance.
To continue to insist on hanging onto office in these circumstances is tantamount to corrupt practice.
Prime Minister Peter O’Neill also should step down from office and voluntarily submit to the due process of the rule of law by being interviewed by fraud squad offices.
He and the office of Prime Minister is not above the law. He cannot continue to contend that the evidence to support the issue of the warrant of arrest is not credible and that fraud squad investigators are rogues and therefore he is not prepared to demean the integrity of the high office of prime minister.
All of these are mischievous and miss the point and are design to mislead the people of PNG and the wider public at large. He must know that he is not fooling the international development partners by this ‘circus’ of trying to frustrate the due process of the rule of law.
Whether the evidence is credible is a matter for the court of law. One court at least considered it to be credible ‘prima facie’ to have issued a warrant of arrest, so it is not to the point for the Prime Minister to keep misleading the public.
The office of Prime Minister is not above the law. He must simply submit to the due process of law and allow the system of justice to determine if in fact he is guilty or innocent.
In fact by continuing to use the court system and other senior institutions of the state to frustrate and avoid submitting to the basic due process of the rule of law that every other citizen of this country, including senior judges and ministers and lawyers the Prime Minister is ‘demeaning the integrity of the office of Prime Minister and his personal integrity as a leader’ under the leadership code.
Again, I join other senior leaders and statesmen such as Grand Chief Rt Hon Sir Michael Somare, Rt Hon Sir Mekere Morauta and other ordinary citizens of this country and call on and urge the Prime Minister to respect the people of this country, the institutions that uphold the rule of law and submit to the due process of the rule of law. Senior leaders must be the first to submit to the rule of law and lead by example.
Also to continue to insist on holding onto office in these circumstances is tantamount to corruption.
The Commissioner of Police Gari Baki should refrain from purporting to exercise powers of the office of the commissioner for police until the courts of law determine the serious charges that the offices of the fraud squad officers have laid against senior leaders.
He should get good competent legal advice and not knee jerk react because he runs the risk of being charged with contempt and perverting the cause of justice. Two former commissioners of police have already been so found guilty of contempt by the courts.
It all seems so obvious to reasonable Papua New Guineans that the police commissioner Gari Baki is determined to ensure that the fraud squad officers do not continue to investigate, charge and prosecute senior leaders in government.
Again, it is worth repeating that no individual is above the law, whatever public office one may hold, whether it be Prime Minister, Minister for Justice and Attorney General, Senior Judge or Police Commissioner or a senior private lawyer.
I believe the public at large would like to see the offices of the law enforcement agencies and institutions doing their job faithfully and diligently without fear or favor and bring to justice all implicated in breaches and violation of the rule of law. They should not be interfered with for corrupt and ulterior motives in the guise of administrative processes.