A Kiap’s Chronicle: 15 – Around the Sepik
B'ville bureaucracy: Where the Peace directorate fights over chairs

Sam Basil rats on his voters - & on representative democracy


Sam Basil yesterday - apprehensive
An apprehensive Sam Basil fronts a media conference yesterday afternoon

NOOSA – The defection of Pangu Party leader Sam Basil and eight members of his parliamentary team (plus four independents) to the O’Neill governing coalition has sent shockwaves through Papua New Guinea.

It was yet another example of how money does more than talk in PNG politics  – it first shrieks, then poisonously embraces and finally squeezes even the best principles out of weak and venal leaders.

In this case, Basil misled his own people in Bulolo and Morobe who voted for Pangu in huge numbers in an explicit rejection of the O’Neill government.

He has deceived them in an act which leaves people in his own electorate and throughout Papua New Guinea justifiably feeling they have been betrayed.

The move, foreshadowed two weeks ago by Basil’s now former colleague Bryan Kramer MP and denied at the time by Basil, strengthens the government benches and leaves the opposition – which after the election looked strong and viable – in tatters.

The response on social media was immediate and angry. “And so it ends,” wrote @masalaifrog on Twitter, “the hope of thousands murdered in its infancy. Such is life in PNG.”

New Zealand journalist Johnny Blades‏ reacted with a pungent, “Excuse me I have to go and puke.”

Blades had interviewed Basil for Radio New Zealand International in a story aired on 17 July in which Basil warned that O’Neill’s Peoples National Congress “was ready to pay a million kina each to any newly-elected independent MPs to join its coalition.

"That [successful] independent candidate must understand why he was chosen by the people to represent them,” Basil said. “And he or she must not sell the voters' rights to a political party that voters do not want to come back into power."

Now it seems Basil has done precisely that.

Around the same time in July Basil attacked O’Neill as “a spineless leader”, a term the Post-Courier newspaper chose as a headline.

Basil’s now hollow words resonate with that rancid hypocrisy that it seems only politicians are capable of emitting.

Within minutes of Basil’s appearance with O’Neill at a media conference yesterday afternoon, rumours were flying around PNG social media that there was something untoward – even blackmail – involved in the decision.

The chat led Transparency International PNG to remark caustically on Twitter: “Blackmail is a punishable offence under the PNG Criminal Code; unfortunately it does require courage (now in short supply) to come forward.”

Meanwhile Nelly, commenting on Twitter, seemed to sum up the feelings of thousands of disappointed Papua New Guineans and friends of PNG when she wrote: “It's sad: he airs the opposition's difficulty accessing funds [and being] punished for criticising government. [Is this the way forward PNG? People continue to suffer.”


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`Daniel Kumbon

Those who fight corruption should be clean themselves - Vladimir Putin

Vanessa Gordon

What a huge slap in the face to those that trusted him with their votes, with their future and their children's future! Hard lo tok tok!

Pawa Kenny Ambiasi

Very sad news for all of us.

Lindsay F Bond

Intelligent Opposition, now more so and trustworthy, clear of tricksters.

Of the unexpected? Could that chameleon cohort echo an encroachment of Troy? So belying intelligence? Possible...but naaah.

John K Kamasua

This was predicted by learned commentator before even the rumors came out in social media.

Very "interesting" time ahead for politics in PNG!!

Gibson Habuni

September 11th Will definitely be the darkest day for PNG as well. The most shocking news I've ever heard, definitely there is a Dark Side to Sam Basil, wonder what does Peter know about the deep secrets of Sam Basil.

Max Phin

Was it Abraham Lincoln that said "the best way to destroy an enemy is to make him a friend"?
With time, we'll see who destroys who.

William Dunlop

Carpetbaggers all we are, Are we.

Hail 'Ceaser' O'Neill the maus water Gammon man blong ol.

What' he needs to bear in mind is, There are no pockets in a Shroud.

And I wonder how far away the Grim Reaper is in the scheme of things.


Paul Oates

Surely Will, you don't need to join the government to permit the budget to pass?

True, an intelligent opposition negotiating with the government could ensure an even better budget - KJ

Francis Nii

"Friends to all enemy to one - Peter O'Neill" - Hon Sam Basil MP for Bulolo and Pangu Party leader. What a hypocrisy of the century.

Bernard Corden

Money doesn't talk it swears - Bob Dylan: It's all right Ma , I'm only bleeding.

Paul Oates

Eh tu Brute!

Lindsay F Bond

What's in it for Pangu defectors? Was it only some feeding flow of cash or does it include membership to methodology of election 2022? Maybe also police protection from disaffection among voters? Or is it truly that also their electors have crumbled to a sense of the inevitable of folding kina?

Money, ministries, prestige & power would just about sum it up - KJ

Will Self

It is simple. O'Neill did not have enough members to pass the budget. Now he does.

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