Corruption costs billions, trashes economy
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My frustrating Peter O'Neill years

Peter O'Neill (being restrained by a policeman left of centre) storms the supreme court in his successful bid to come to power in 2012


VERONA, ITALY - Last Friday an arrest warrant for Peter O'Neill, former prime minister of Papua New Guinea was issued. It caught him by surprise.

O’Neill locked himself inside the Crown Plaza hotel in Port Moresby, refusing to cooperate with the courts.

It is Ali Baba abandoned by his 40 robbers, who are now conveniently trying to hide their complicity or participation in his crimes.

When I was vice chancellor of the Papua New Guinea University of Technology (UNITECH) from 2012 to 2018, I met O'Neill only a few times and always in passing.

During these meetings, I tried to convey that I came to PNG only to contribute to university development and was not at all interested in politics, Pacific Games, APEC or any other of the white elephants he loved to herd.

O'Neill loved to talk big, steal big and then lie about it to cover it up.

The main purpose of the big events such as the Pacific Games or APEC was to assure sufficient kick-backs on the building contracts for infrastructure, which inevitably had to be built for the occasion in Port Moresby.

Afterwards the management was so weak that an all-you-can-steal buffet occurred for him and his associates.

Evidently, in the process, he wrecked the economy, with the non-mining sectors declining every single year he was in power - from 2012 to 2018.

I’m sure he was not happy when I pointed out in a lecture at James Cook University that, in order to achieve the goals of Vision 2050, economic growth must be kept above 5%, a goal he never achieved.

Who can forget how O'Neill literally barged into the supreme court and took power in 2012? How he rigged the 2017 elections? How he tried to curtail the judges by proposing a ludicrous Judicial Conduct Act? And how this was only stopped by protest of the UPNG students?

His regime was never legitimate and a total disgrace.

I am afraid I was unsuccessful in convincing O'Neill of my intentions not to be involved in PNG politics.

In his paranoia before APEC, he decided to get me, as well as the other foreign vice chancellor, dismissed and, in my case, arrested.

Corruption has a way of turning things upside down: the guilty roam around freely, and the innocent go to jail.

The last time I saw him, at the end of 2017, he insisted that I should "keep the students out of politics".

Although I do not share this idea, I assured him that we would revise the SRC constitution in order to introduce some checks and balances, which would make it harder for students to call an indefinite boycott every time they saw something they did not like in the university administration or the government.

After all nobody, including the students, wants to prolong a boycott culture. Of the six years I spent in PNG, there was only one year - 2015 - that there was not a class boycott at the universities, often lasting two weeks or longer.

As a result, many students dropped out and missed their only chance to get a higher education.

Evidently, he did not share my approach, deciding instead to suspend the SRCs, in the case of UNITECH indefinitely.


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William Dunlop

The great thief in all his majesty still thumbing his nose at all and sundry.

William Dunlop

I had some policing experience with the Royal Ulster Constabulary as a Special Constable in 1965/66, being recommended for a commendation to Sir Richard Pim, the then Inspector General of the RUC.

Pim was formerly a commander in the wartime Royal Navy, later an aide to Sir Winston Churchill in his wartime bunker in London. Slainte.

William Dunlop

Are there any real policemen with balls left in PNG? Serve the warrant on O'Neill, handcuff him and take him into custody.

Then interview him, charge him or release him, bail him or lock him up and confiscate his passport.

Then it's for the courts to address the matter and decide the outcome.

You do not need bullshitting mauswara gammon lawyers greasing the courts prior to a hearing. Em tasol. Slantie.

JK Domyal

The police are armed with a warrant of arrest from the court, rather than going to social media to inform the accused – the good former PM.

Why can't the police get into his hotel room and complete the process?

It seems, even in PNG police fear to go near P O'Neill, even when the bodyguards were stood down.

Once the police hierarchy respond to O’Neill’s legal counsel requesting information before answering the arrest warrant, then it would be seen that the police themselves are questioning the warrant of arrest document and the court that issued the warrant.

Could the police do the right thing now?

David Kitchnoge

In true Peter O'neill fashion, he has now told police to produce the charges to his lawyers first before arresting him. Even after the courts have issued a warrant of arrest based on the prima facie evidence presented to them.

Should all citizens now do exactly the same? Should we tell police to show us the charge before arresting us? Should we all now turn the important role of policing into a farce?

Police have no reason to not execute the warrant issued by our courts and simply move in and arrest him. And use force if necessary. This is how they do it on every sucker on the streets but usually with brute force.

William Dunlop

Ali Baba O'Neill. Chief in Nicholas Monsarrat's 'Richer than all his Tribe'. It's many many years since I called him to account. Slainte.

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