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Mateship (Australia’s word of honour) and Kokoda

Out of corruption’s shadows, a winning election strategy?

O'Neill and ParakaPETER S KINJAP

YOU may remember. At around this same time five years ago, Peter O’Neill and his People’s National Congress team were promising campaign rallies that they would curb high level corruption in government.

They established Investigation Task Force Sweep (later disbanded) for this purpose, and it did an excellent job – too good it seems – in exposing and prosecuting corruption and malfeasance.

Along the way, when the equally effective police fraud squad got too nosy, police commissioner Garry Baki applied a special “vetting” to high profile cases under investigation.

The “vetting” turned out to be more of a smokescreen behind which cases related to prominent people could be hidden.

The bond between law firm boss Paul Paraka and Peter O’Neill is not so hidden. Paraka, who has since started his own political party and is himself a candidate, was arrested on 23 October 2013 on allegations relating to improper payments from government to his firm.

It is believed these payments totalled more than K200 million, a lot of money for a private law firm to be paid by government. The Paraka case continues at a glacial pace and the prime minister is glued to it.

Progress on the case might be slow but Papua New Guinea has not forgotten the Paraka saga nor the (unrelated) case of the National Provident Fund involving Jimmy Maladina and, again, Peter O’Neill.

No-one knows what really happened with the NPF; our media couldn’t seem to get to the bottom of it. The Post-Courier created a page on its website specifically for compiling NPF stories but it has disappeared.

Investigative journalism is not a favourite pursuit of our mass media. The job security of reporters is more important.

The original allegation against Paraka, concerning an amount of K71.8 million, was brought before parliament by then opposition leader Belden Namah.

Namah dragged prime minister O’Neill into the issue and reported the matter to police alleging two other ministers, finance minister James Marabe and treasury minister Don Polye, were also involved in the payment.

The letter reportedly signed by Peter O’Neill and stating “…have all the outstanding legal bills owed to Paul Paraka Lawyers settled forthwith” was allegedly an instruction to facilitate the payment.

We should note here that O’Neill has strenuously denied that the signature was his.

For his part, Paraka said politicians lied about the case and maintained the matter could be resolved in open dialogue. He said it should not have been investigated.

But Namah laid a complaint with then police commissioner Tom Kulunga who referred the case to Task Force Sweep, under the leadership of lawyer Sam Koim. That investigation revealed that Paraka was paid more than the K71.8 million and that the payments had been over a period of seven years.

Paraka argued the payment were for legitimate services provided to the government.  “What is the criminality of the business being paid for the services it rendered?” he asked.

Don Polye, speaking on a Radio FM100 talkback show, said he had facilitated the K71.8 million payment as Treasurer on instructions from Peter O’Neill.

On the other hand, finance minister James Marabe said when he had been presented with a bill for more than K36 million from Paraka Lawyers, he consulted O’Neill who told him not to pay.

O’Neill continued to deny signing the letter directing the finance secretary to release the payments.

The matter remains before the courts. The wheels of justice turn slowly, but grind exceedingly fine.

So five years ago, as excited as newly married couples, PNG’s major coalition partners framed the Alotau Accord which pledged to bring to parliament legislation covering money laundering, whistleblowers, freedom of information and an independent commission against corruption (ICAC) as their promise to curb corruption.

To date, none of this has happened. Instead the government successfully legislated a cybercrime law which has a draconian provision affecting social media.

PNG is now heading to the polls, putting power in the hands of the people to choose leaders who will either fight corruption or breed corruption.

The marriage between People’s National Congress, THE Party and National Alliance has now broken down and the ill will is so great they seem unlikely to reunite in seeking to form the next government

So, if PNC emerges in the strongest position, who will it wed this time in order to form government? Could it possibly be Paraka’s GRUF (Grassroots United Front), stading candidates in all 111 seats?

You be the judge.


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Peter Kinjap

Jimmy - so true! "Their evil deeds will be their lifetime record and sad history for PNG."

Peter Kinjap

This corrupt regime is taking the country into economic turmoil.

Will Self

Yep, we are well and truly on the road to disaster. The GRUB party is the new form of organised criminality. If you thought the current government fostered corruption, you ain't seen nothin' yet.

Jimmy Awagl

Crooked leaders corrupting the nation and misappropriating public funds now turn innocent and decide to contest the national elections.

Their evil deeds will also be their lifetime record, since they have cases to be answered, either to defend their evil deeds or to be thrown into the ditch.

The people will decide on their future with God's wisdom and knowledge at the polling booths.

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