Domestic Politics. Papua New Guinea press review

The oldest party of Papua New Guinea (PNG), which stood at the origins of the country’s independence, Pangu Pati, has changed the style of politics in the Goroka (Eastern Highlands Province) by-election bringing together candidates contesting in other Government coalition parties together during its political rally. Before making the announcement of Aiye Tambua as the Pangu candidate in the Goroka by-election, Prime Minister of Papua New Guinea and Pangu Pati Leader Hon. James Marape said that he believed in working closely with the young generation of leaders who believe in themselves and carry on from the pioneer leaders of this great nation. «History is history and we must look forward to the future because the future belongs to the youths and those that are ahead of us, that’s why James Marape believes in the foundation of building next generation Papua New Guinean leaders,» – said party leader Mr Marape. [1]

Ialibu-Pangia (Southern Highlands Province) Member of Parliament and former Prime Minister Peter O’Neill says that the Government has been urged to stop using the coronavirus pandemic as an excuse to ignore other «pressing issues». In the opinion of Peter O’Neil, the most pressing issue was the contracting economy. Mr O’Neil also pointed out funding shortfalls in healthcare, education and law and order, and the continuing delay in paying public servants. « There can be no excuse for not meeting national financial obligations, particularly as the government has borrowed more than K2 billion to meet COVID-19 promises […] at the same time, the country has missed out on State revenue because of their near-killing of the resources sector, » former PM said. Mr O’Neill also O’Neill doubted whether James Marape would keep his promise to revive or finalise major resources projects by September 2020. [2]

In turn, Opposition Leader Belden Namah filed a Supreme Court application challenging the constitutionality of the National Pandemic Act (2020). Mr. Namah is asking the courts to strike out the law under section 41 of the Constitution [Proscribed Acts] and declare it unconstitutional. According to the opposition leader, law goes against principles of good governance, accountability and violates the rights of citizens guaranteed under the Constitution. Mr Namah highlighted Sections 7 and 51 of the National Pandemic Act to have constitutional implications that remove parliamentary control of public expenditure and bypassing established acts of PNG Parliament, for example, the National Procurement Act (2018) and the Public Finance Management Act (1995). «This is basically saying that the National Executive Government, the Prime Minister and the COVID-19 Controller can do anything they want. They can go outside the procurement process and the public finance management act and raise funds and expand it as and how they see fit, » – Belden Namah said. [3]

However, in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysian police arrested Indonesian businessman Djoko Tjandra, who also worked in Papua New Guinea and was also known as Joe Chan in PNG and holds a PNG passport. Northern Province (Oro Province) Governor and MP Gary Juffa, who raised the alarm since 2012, warning the previous PNG Government about dealing with the man wanted by Indonesian authorities, had received zero attention from the government then. «The previous Government of Peter O’Neill has been knowingly harbouring him and doing business with him,» Mr Juffa said. According to Mr Juffa, the recent arrest of Tjandra, in Malaysia, should signal an investigation into those persons involved, politicians and public servants alike. [4-6] [1]
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