Executed for helping the wrong side
10% to churches, yes, but is the timing right?

The opportunist who came & now must go

Shila Yukuli Paia
Shila Paia - "Is O’Neill above the law? None of us is above the law. We call on him to be prosecuted and to comply with legal proceedings"


ADELAIDE - I am a proud Papua New Guinean who will always stand very tall and speak boldly, loudly and clearly knowing that PNG is one of the best democracies.

In this context I have some observations to make on the saga of the attempted arrest of former prime minister Peter Charles Paire O'Neill, another critical moment in the history of PNG’s political development.

Unfortunately, we once again see heightened evidence of corruption and power manipulation at the expense of PNG’s potential to develop and to fully use its natural, human and social resources to become a prosperous country.

According to available evidence, O’Neill had a calculated personal agenda when he entered the doors of PNG’s parliament in 2002 as the member for Ialibu Pangia in the Southern Highlands Province.

O’Neill was soon entrusted with the portfolio of labour and industrial relations by the government of Sir Michael Somare. But the new man had other ideas and was transferred to the post of public service minister in 2003.

His ambitions worried Somare ahd O’Neill was dropped from the ministry in 2005 whereupon he took his People's National Congress out of government, later that year emerging as opposition leader.

He tried a vote of no confidence in Somare and lost it - but O’Neill was never one for giving up and changed tactics. After the 2007 general elections, he rejoined the Somare government and regained his public service ministry.

O’Neill was on a mission of his own and no road block was going to stop him. There was a land of milk and honey out there and he was determined to land on it. It came a lot closer in 2010 when he was appointed finance minister.

Then, in 2011, Somare fell seriously ill and was hospitalised in Singapore for many months. The decent Tei Abal took over as acting prime minister but, wary of O’Neill, demoted him to the works ministry. But Abal was no match for the wily Southern Highlander.

O’Neill now was more determined than ever to secure the top job and joined a movement to unseat Somare, succeeding in tipping out of office the convalescing prime minister, 94 votes to 70. Somare challenged O'Neill in the supreme court, which ruled that Somare was the legitimate prime minister.

This precipitated a constitutional crisis when O’Neill refused to step down and for several months PNG had two prime ministers, two police commissioners and political chaos. The governor-general intervened and called an election in 2012, from which O’Neill emerged victorious as head of a coalition government.

There were still challengers in the ranks who sought to depose him, but by deft use of his ability to expand the ministry and reward local MPs with large grants, O’Neill remained in power. He was tough, ruthless and always did his groundwork. He was now seated on what he believed was his rightful throne.

But a turning point came in 2019. It could have been that O’Neill became too much the autocrat. It could have been that some powerful colleagues believed he had gone too far in enriching himself. It could have been that the country was hurtling into bankruptcy. But whatever the cause, a turning point was reached.

James Marape - previously a close confidante - baulked, and quit his position as finance minister.

O’Neill reacted by trying to recast his ministry with loyal supporters, sought to forge new alliances, using parliamentary procedure to try to thwart those seeking to oust him, resuming his usual practice of using the courts to force a pathway, exerted his dwindling authority on the media and even ‘promising’ to resign in favour of an ageing acolyte. All the while he ignored the constitution as he fought to retain his job.

It was all too late.

In his defeat on the floor of parliament, O’Neill fought to the last breath. He had reached the promised land and touched, tasted and accumulated the milk and honey. This last fight was for his ego.

Peter Charles Paire O'Neill’s tenure at the top was accompanied by dealings the PNG public are entitled to know about but O’Neill has thoroughly buried much of the detail. What evidence exists is for royal commission, police and courts to dig up.

He accomplished his mission. He played his game efficiently. He has his milk and honey. But now his ego is scratched and his friends are few and we Papua New Guineans, who have been the losers, want to see justice and fairness and prosperity return.

Is O’Neill above the law? None of us is above the law.

My war cry - as it should be for all young Papua New Guineans - is that this time, for once and for all, O’Neill needs to be prosecuted.

And we call on him to comply with legal proceedings.


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David Kitchnoge

It's good to see many Papua New Guineans coming out and expressing disgust at bad behaviour.

But the proof of the pudding is in the eating.

Would and could we now graduate to the next level and actually start rejecting bad behaviour when no one is watching us?

How many of us would rather do our jobs with a smile and accept a wage from our employers as fair compensation without accepting tips from customers?

How many of us would be patient enough to wait in the queue and be served on a 'first-cab-off-the rank' basis and not jump the line at the first opportunity?

As a public figure, O'Neill deserves the scrutiny and condemnation, particularly of his continued efforts to circumvent justice. But our four fingers point right back at us for every finger we point at him.

Phil's discussions on ethics here in PNG Attitude is very timely.

Bai yumi maus tasol or bai yumi soim lo pasin tru tru!

Hane Elijah

Peter O'Neill will be remembered as the captain who sank a great ship. But let's not just stop there.

Under his leadership, corruption became rampant in nearly just about every ministry, department and state owned enterprise - and more.

People entrusted as state trustees just ran riot, cutting deals left, right and centre, enriching themselves and their cronies.

Notably were those closely connected with APEC and at NCDC with the yoga scandal, NID, Forestry, Lands, NHC, NAC, Kumul Holdings, Electoral Commission, etc.

All these crooks need to be brought in and sent to Bomana. Then we can truly Take Back PNG.

Bernard Corden

When the legal avenues fail he will resort to assistance from the medical profession just like Tricky Dicky following Watergate.

Peter Tanda

Peter O'Neill is trying his best to use the same tactics to avoid going to court. But this time he must know that the systems he once manipulated has recouped.

State sovereignty is slowly being restored and this means no matter how hard the former prime minister fights, he will be locked up in jail.

Harry Topham

The trouble with egoists is that they refuse to accept their inevitable fall from grace and that they will be eventually brought to account for their past misdeeds.

In O'Neill's case the old saying, “A rooster one day, a feather duster the next", would seem to be apt.

Philip Fitzpatrick

The verdict seems to be unanimous - lock the bugger up and throw away the key.

And what better way to make a point about corruption James Marape?

Hopefully the police will receive a shot of testosterone soon.

Elliot Raphael

Lest we forget.."the law will finally catch up with you."...

Daniel Hilary

He just got too greedy and it finally caught up with him.

Daniel Kumbon

Can someone explain why that MP wept like a child in the chambers of parliament when Peter O'Neill resigned.

And why his people of Ialibu Pangia rub mud on their bodies and mourned for days as if he had just died?

I clapped and cheered when Will Genia scored for Australia against Georgia in the Rugby World Cup because he is a countryman who is making me proud while playing at the international level.

But I can't understand why some people support wrongdoers who the majority think should be put away for life.

Matthew Paia

He is hiding because the evidence against him is overwhelming before the court.

Malachi Kelly

Good ! He needs to be ripped off and be prosecuted ... he deserves to be in jail ..m


Peter O’Neill deserves to face the full force of the law. He has damaged PNG beyond repair.

It will take the next two or third generations to recover from the financial harm that he has caused to the citizens of this beautiful nation called PNG.

He deserves to be investigated, charged, prosecuted and locked in gaol for life.

Shila Yukuli Paia

Good and decent Papua New Guineans now need to take advantage of the international media influence in order to bring justice to those who are reaping the country! O'Neill now needs to be prosecuted as a matter of urgency. This will at least make way for his other cronies to follow suit. The public must speak and make history to end corruption. Now is the time to act.

Alphonse Mek

The job is great and outstanding my beloved sister.... Do and say whatever you can.

Alex Yaga

He must be held responsible for all his ill-doings. Investigate an empire built from people's sweat. Give back all the people's asset to the people.

Bernard Corden

"If there were no bad people there would be no good lawyers" - Charles Dickens

Porap Gai

Hi Shila - It sounds great. O'Neill, now with an arrest warrant in his name, it can't be long before he will be prosecuted.

I just suggest that the judiciary demands that he reimburse PNG's money, assets and resources that have been misused under him in the high office of PM.

Francis Nii

Free and innocent men do not run and hide from the law, only criminals run and hide from the law.

But the running cannot be forever. Justice will prevail.

William Dunlop

Very well-spoken. Now it only takes policing with balls to complete the mission. Slainte.

Lindsay F Bond

Summation of stunning sumptuousness. Winners will the wiser be?

Simon Davidson

A very insightful essay and commentary that puts a new spin on Peter O’Neill dreams of grandeur and his demise.

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