Panguna - we have not learnt enough
When the last old kiap dies….

Namah case a 'waste of money & court time'

Kramer - waste of money
Opposition leader Belden Namah - lost a bid to overturn James Marape's prime ministership

| The Kramer Report

PORT MORESBY – Last Friday, a bench of five judges of Papua New Guinea’s supreme court handed down a unanimous decision dismissing opposition leader Belden Namah’s challenge to the election of James Marape as prime minister on 30 May 2019.

Namah claimed Marape’s election was unconstitutional because the speaker failed to comply with section 114 of the constitution and section 7A of the parliamentary standing orders.

Section 114 of the constitution states that, unless provided by constitutional law or the standing orders, all questions before a meeting of parliament shall be decided in accordance with the majority of votes of the members present at the meeting and voting.

Namah was essentially arguing that, because there is no procedure in the standing orders for a candidate to withdraw his nomination for prime minister, the speaker breached section 114 of the constitution when he made the decision to allow O’Neill to withdraw his nomination.

Instead, it was argued, the speaker should have put the question to parliament to decide by majority vote, consistent with section 114 of the constitution.

Namah also argued that the speaker breached section 7a of the standing orders by allowing the prime minister to be nominated by a member of parliament and not by political party.

Standing order 7A relates to the procedures to elect a prime minister, and states that the speaker shall call for and accept nominations duly moved and seconded by a party or a member that may nominate a member of parliament as a candidate for prime minister.

After hearing all arguments, the supreme court held that section 134 of the constitution states the court does not have powers to question whether or not procedures of the standing orders have been complied with, unless the procedure is provided by constitutional law.

The court also ruled that Namah failed to satisfy the court that there had been any breach of the standing orders in the election of James Marape.

Kramer cartoon
Bryan Kramer makes fun of the opposition leader's misery in an empty room

On the issue of whether the speaker failed to comply with section 114 of constitution, the court ruled that a member of parliament ought to have raised it at the time by putting the question to the speaker and asking whether O’Neill could withdraw his nomination.

Because no question was put to the speaker, section 114 was not breached.

The chief justice also made reference to standing order 284, which states that, in any matter not provided for in the standing orders, the speaker shall decide.

On the issue of breaching standing order 7a, the court held that the order states that a party may nominate a candidate but did not state that only a party may nominate a candidate for prime minister.

They held that any other member of parliament could also nominate a candidate.

Following the decision, opposition leader Belden Namah staged a press conference in Vanimo.

He deceptively stated he welcomed the decision of the supreme court.

“Perusing this case and coming to a finality of it, it’s a great relief. I want to thank the judiciary for a very good decision that has come out today, it is a precedent decision, a unanimous decision by the court,” Namah said.

He then went on to make a misleading and mischievous statement that the supreme court had set a precedent to say that parliament reigns supreme, and that the majority on the floor of parliament reigns supreme in as far as separation of powers are concerned.

Nowhere in the 58-page judgement did the supreme court say that parliament or the majority of members of parliament reign supreme.

The court did not hand down a precedent decision. It simply explained to Namah that section 134 of the constitution prohibits the court from questioning any procedure of parliament unless it breaches constitutional law or procedures provided in the constitution.

It also said that Namah had failed to prove any breach of standing orders or constitutional law.

The court dismissed his case and ordered him to pay costs.

Interestingly enough, another current matter before the court filed by Peter O’Neill raises similar constitutional procedures on whether the deputy speaker, by entertaining Namah’s motion to adjourn Parliament to 1 December 2020 was in breach of constitutional law.

Section 2 of the organic law states that only a minister may set a date and time of the meeting of parliament. And Namah is not a minister.

There lies the problem for opposition. Particularly when you have a fool as opposition leader and spokesperson.

It’s my respectful view that Namah’s case was a nothing but a waste of money and the court’s time.

Will O’Neill’s case fare differently?

The only real winners in these cases are the lawyers.


Feed You can follow this conversation by subscribing to the comment feed for this post.

Philip Kai Morre

Some lawyers are making money out of political and constitutional crisis knowing that lose or win is not their problem. They make more money out of ignorance, in the case of Belden Namah and others.

Lawyers have to be honest and advise their clients whether to proceed with the court case or not rather than wasting money and resources.

Even magistrates and judges should not waste time prolonging cases that have no meaning or beneficial to the people.

What benefit do we get out of these court cases that have no meaning at all? It's time Belden Namah and other politicians came to their senses. The court house is not a place of solving political problems.

Lindsay F Bond

The Trump dalliance has drawn out for some months whereas the Namah court application has longer lingered.

That said, respect is evident. For example, "Governor Juffa commended opposition leader Belden Namah for exercising his democratic right in challenging prime minister James Marape’s election and appointment".


However, one matter may have been dormant but not dead.


About PNG officeholders and events in 2011, some seem in general, murky.


Proceedings are still alive relating to Namah's seizure of parliament in 2011 - KJ

Lindsay F Bond

How many elementary schools could have been funded at the level of expense caused by the hearing, not to mention sheer waste of business time.

So many persons having to read word upon word to ensure full comprehension.

And then to find the litigant in need of an elementary lesson on standing orders. Surely PNG has more capable choreographers?

Verify your Comment

Previewing your Comment

This is only a preview. Your comment has not yet been posted.

Your comment could not be posted. Error type:
Your comment has been saved. Comments are moderated and will not appear until approved by the author. Post another comment

The letters and numbers you entered did not match the image. Please try again.

As a final step before posting your comment, enter the letters and numbers you see in the image below. This prevents automated programs from posting comments.

Having trouble reading this image? View an alternate.


Post a comment

Comments are moderated, and will not appear until the author has approved them.

Your Information

(Name and email address are required. Email address will not be displayed with the comment.)