NOOSA – It became clear yesterday that prime minister James Marape was not going to easily relinquish his office, nor Papua New Guinea’s government, to the Belden-O’Neill syndicate which had been conspiring for some months to seize the reins and the treasury.
In a telling revelation on his Kramer Report blog, police minister Bryan Kramer stated:
“Behind the scenes, I have been tracking the likes of Sam Basil, William Duma, Charles Abel, Sir Puka Temu, Sir Julius Chan, Paias Wingti and Chris Haiveta, expecting them to make a play for a change of prime minister.
“I was very much aware that Basil was in secret talks with O’Neill and Namah, who were so desperate to change government they would mislead Basil into crossing the floor. Basil believes he will be the next prime minister, so does Sir Julius Chan and O’Neill.”
Kramer also said that, because there are strict protocols parliament must follow, a vote of no confidence cannot be held before Thursday 10 December.
While Kramer himself does not believe the vote will materialise, two boxed statements on his blog gave an indication of how Marape will initially act to consolidate his position.
And the second, “NEC to meet next week to decommission 13 Minister and Departmental Heads as the Marape Govt cleans house.”
So this week is going to be busy for Marape and his supporters as they build a defence against the would-be usurpers.
The first step will be to decide who the firm supporters are and who which waverers are to be won across.
One thing Marape won't have to contend with is a visit by Australian prime minister Scott Morrison who, at Marape's request, has postponed his trip to PNG which was to be on Wednesday and Thursday.
This will be closely followed by the appointment of a new panel of ministers which Marape will hope has the clout to attract other MPs to his side so forming a loyal parliamentary majority.
The political machinations in Port Moresby are being watched closely throughout PNG and social media has been running hot with opinion. The minority view suggests that Marape has achieved little in his 18 months as prime minister and he should go.
For many of these people the grant of K10.2 million to Niugini BioMed Ltd, a new start-up that claims to have found a cure for Covid-19, was the last straw. The public response to the payment has been one of distrust and suspicioun.
Robin Suang commented on Facebook: “Government in its first year failed to stop the leakage in the economy …. The country is in a bad state due to a lot of mismanagement in the economy.
”The BioMed saga was probably the wrong thing to do at the wrong time. So sad that the government could not have a true economic recovery plan and a Covid-19 diagnostic plan on how to maintain and sustain employment, and decrease law and order.”
But, for the most part, Papua New Guineans are sceptical of a new political arrangement featuring a bunch of old players – and suspected crooks and spivs.
Many people said they believed resource companies, fearing Marape’s intention to claw back foreign investment, are behind the move to get rid of him.
Lyaki G Pai wrote that “the faithful and remnants remained - the corrupt withdrew. Nature is doing justice and will bring back this government.
“The entire nation has only seen the tip of an iceberg in terms of change and has trust and faith in Marape’s government,” said Peter Karl. “God’s timing is right to separate the bad from the good.”
“We all know that it was the last government that ran our country into a mess,” wrote Kentagl Wai Morong. “The current government has been trying its best to clean up.
“Yet some of our so called leaders think it is in the interests of the nation that they move to the opposition. Nogat sem blong ol. [Don’t they have any shame?] Our government has the people at heart and our good Lord will bless our government.”
Terence Leo Paul Mai stated bluntly: “You’re either supporting the vision or supporting division. These clowns have just made known their intentions. Time to separate the real patriotic leaders from the clowns.”
“The recent event on the floor of parliament is a blessing in disguise; it is a reality check,” wrote Peter Maime. “It is good for the Marape government to take stock of how it had managed the country in the last 18 months and plan for the remaining months of this parliamentary term.
”It also reveals who was in the government for his own reasons and convenience. Marape still has the powers to make changes to his cabinet if he wants.”
Gerryson Ijape offered some tactical advice: “One PM going against five wannabe PM candidates will see some noise at the other side.
“Simply take your time and use the 12 vacant ministries, including the deputy prime minister space, to your advantage and lure the monkeys on the other side over. I'm sure the majority of the MPs that flocked blindly to the other side will easily sway back.”
Brian Kuaisombi agreed, “Desperate times call for desperate measures. Hence the appointment and decommissioning of ministers will be used as a lethal weapon against Namah and O'Neill so as to lure unstable and confused monkeys back to Marape.”
“All the very best to James Marape and his remaining cabinet members in the decisions they will make in tough times for our beautiful country,” wrote Stella Pomat.
”James Marape seems a very responsible leader so we’re hoping to see some positive results. Peace.”
“Clear the swamp,” said Elwyn Pupang Pilyo. “They have shown where their loyalty lies so feel free to sweep them all out.”