Ambassador Donigi Challenges Mr. Moses Maladina MP to a Public Debate

Press Statement

By definition a constitutional amendment implies that an error exists in the Constitution that needs to be corrected.

I say there is no error in the Constitution that needs to be corrected.

I say the Parliament has limited powers to only make laws that are consistent with the Constitution. I say that Parliament has power only to alter the Constitution and no power to amend the Constitution. I say all constitutional amendments since independence are unconstitutional but all alterations are constitutional.

The 2006 Constitutional amendments to Sections 12, 127 and 130A of the Constitution and the provisions of the Organic Law on the Integrity of Political Parties and Candidates (OLIPPAC) destroy the basic structure of the Constitution, compromised the principle of separation of powers between the Executive, the Parliament and the Judiciary and lays the foundation for a Police State or a dictatorial government to be established in Papua New Guinea.

Mr. Maladina proposes to amend Section 27 of the Constitution by removing certain powers of the Ombudsman Commission and not to alter it by augmenting the powers of the OC. These are the topics for a public debate.

I challenge Mr. Moses Maladina to a public debate to be coordinated by the Vice Chancellor of the University of Papua New Guinea. The rules of the debate are to be determined by the Vice Chancellor. Mr. Maladina must accept my challenge or withdraw all his proposed constitutional amendments from the floor of Parliament.

Ambassador Peter Donigi CBE LLB 16 March 2010

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12 thoughts on “Ambassador Donigi Challenges Mr. Moses Maladina MP to a Public Debate

  1. I don’t agree with the Ambassador’s “definition” of amendment. It sounds like he is using semantics to alter the actual meaning of a constitutional amendment.

    The constitution should be followed, but you cannot expect every item on the constitution to remain effective as a country modernizes. Amendments need to be made in order to keep the constitution current and fair in the present society.

    If anything, the Ambassador should make a motion to preserve the core constitutional rights, similar to the America Bill of Rights. This lists core liberties allowed of all citizens. Other sections of the constitution are amended constantly as they define and regulate societal boundaries.

  2. Regardless of the context which Ambassador Donigi defines the key words, I think his call for a public debate on issues of national importance is a great move.

    Civil society must play its part to keep our decision makers honest in their dealings of significant public interest.

    I congratulate Ambassador Peter Donigi for the initiative and add my support to the challenge for Moses Maladina to a public debate on his proposed amendments on the powers of the Ombudsman Commission.

  3. From todays National …

    University to host Donigi, Maladina public debate
    Source:
    By JASON GIMA WURI

    A PUBLIC debate on the proposed constitutional amendments now before Parliament will be held at the University of Papua New Guinea main lecture theatre (MLT).
    Member for Esa’ala Moses Maladina, who had successfully moved for the amendments to go past the first reading in Parliament, had accepted the challenge by lawyer Peter Donigi to a public debate on the matter.
    While allowing the public debate to take place at the MLT following a written request from Mr Donigi, UPNG Vice-Chancellor Prof Ross Hynes said he would not be involved in moderating the public debate.
    “The moderator must be someone who is independent and who has relevant status to such a debate,” Prof Hynes said.
    That person is yet to be identified including the date and time for the debate.
    Prof Hynes, however, only indicated that the public debate would take place on the week after March 19.
    In his letter to Prof Hynes, Mr Donigi said: “I understand that Mr Maladina will likely call for a second reading of his constitutional amendments at the next sitting of Parliament which is scheduled to start on May 4.
    “It would appear, therefore, that we only have a short window of opportunity to debate this issue before it is presented for its last and final reading before passage by Parliament,” Mr Donigi said.

  4. Great! I agree that is a great initiative that should be extended to all issues of national concern including bills that seemingly get bulldozed thru Parliament. Such debates should be extended to pending Bills/amendments such as the bill on Women Representatives.

    I propose also that the good initiative be extended to Party leaders of the political parties in the country to debate on issues of national and global significance affecting PNG. This is akin to presidential debates in the US where the voting populace in PNG can assess the character, experience, judgment, and intellect of the potential candidates for the prime ministerial portfolio (who are political party leaders in our Westminster Parliamentary system) and can make an informed choice of which party and candidate to support to lead the country into the future.

    Issues in this debate should range from climate change and climate refugees, carbon trading, poverty, international trade, illegal migrants, regional conflicts, international terrorism, transnational crime, international financial crisis and China’s preponderance in the region.

    A Town Hall style debate forum where everybody in the community is invited to attend, voice their opinions and hear responses from public figures and elected officials is preferable.

    I say let’s push for it to become a necessary process of civil society engagement and political awareness where citizens can meaningfully have a say in decisions that affect them.

  5. For those of us who are greatly interested in this debate but are not able to be in Moresby, could someone who will be there be so kind as to post the main points and conclusions on this web site? Such is the power and value of the internet!

    Thank you,

    Peter

  6. I agree that this is real, practical politics in action and should demonstrate a healthy way forward for PNG. Peter Donigi is to be congratulated for speaking out and standing up for his country in a time of desperate need.

    The only problem I foresee is that a debate in Moresby is disconnected from most of the PNG people.

    What should now happen is a concerted effort to advertise, televise and broadcast this debate on all publically accessed TV and radio stations and in the local PNG newspapers. Rural residents and those in other PNG towns and cities desparately need to become interested and involved. They need to start asking what their local member thinks and how they will vote on this issue?

    Who would initiate and promote interest in this debate however? The PNG Opposition or perhaps some public spirited NGO’s and business leaders? Perhaps the press may find that this important issue is a great way to sell newspapers?

    Now is the time for action by all true PNG patriots to stand up with Mr Donigi and be counted.

  7. I think the question is what outcome will the public debate acheive if it is done in front of accademics. One would think the appropriate forum would be the Supreme Court, at least there..a decision can be made with regards to the validity of the Bill. Unless of course the debate will ‘alter or amend’ Mr Maladina’s veiw so that he withdraws his Bill…which I doubt.

  8. Hi Di,

    There appears to be a bit of confusion concerning Moses Maladina’s amendments. Section 27 which people have been talking about relates the powers of the OC to issue directives is a constitutional amendment which was passed last week and is now law. If there is an issue about that law it will have to be dealt with in court. However, the Bill that is still presently before the Haus is the Organic Law on the Duties and Responsibilties of Leadership.

    However, I’m to sure about Donigi’s definition of ‘amend and alter’. Both words have been used interchangeably in the course of amending laws in Parliament.

    Cheers, Sue

  9. Hi Emmanuel,

    I’m assuming the scenario where Parliament does not sit the required number of days as required by the Constitution.

    If a complaint was made to the Ombudsman, Section 20 of the Maladina Amendment would compel the Ombudsman to act within 30 days upon receiving such a complaint, and further the Ombudsman would have the power under Section 20 to also issue a directive to the Speaker to recall Parliament so that the Constitutional requirement for the number of sitting days for Parliament is achieved.

    Under the existing law however, the Ombudsman firstly is not legally obliged to consider complaints within a given time frame, and further the Ombudsman does not have the power to issue such directives to order the Speaker to recall Parliament where there is an obvious breach.

    Sure one can argue that the Maladina Amendments will enable Politicians to engage more freely in business but the Section 8 of the Maladina Amendments is quite clear in that a Leader concerned must still notify the Ombudsman of all his business transactions. In addition a Leader, his spouse and children are prohibited from entering into a business dealing where there is a conflict of interest.

    The current Organic Law on the Duties and Responsibilities on Leadership was suitable in 1975 when most of the then Papua New Guinean Leaders were not involved in the business sector. However, lets face the fact, today like in Australia most Papua New Guinean Leaders have investments and business interest in one form or another.

    After reading the Maladina Amendments I can see positives. Can someone point me to specific negative points in the Amendments rather than generalizing.

    1. Sony,

      Just referring to your second last paragraph,”However,lets face the fact,today like in Australia most Papua New Guinean Leaders have Investments and business interest in one form or another”;

      Past and present Parliamentarians used their position to get into their present portfolios.They have learned from being there (their time in the parliament) how to get themselves into business and all that goes into wheeling and dealing in their investment and their investment partners .
      Now,whatever amendments/alteration they make,will it bring the greedy,money laundering,thieving and crooked politician/s to bear?!
      You mentioned “like in Australia”,just in case you do not know;in the land down under,they have what I call “Checks and Balances”.The picture I painted above and if it was a Politician in Australia,I tell you,he/she will be found out and the Police and other authorites will come down heavily on them.Even if they currently in parliament or or not,the long arm of the checks and balances in Australia will always come looking for them to put them through the justice system.
      The question is will the amendments/alterations of the section 27 do any good,improve our “checks and balances and any way??

      I lament and I will continue to pray,God,please intervine in the affairs of my beloved mother land;”Opinim tingting bilong dispela ol Lain na givim ol wisdom bilong kamapim gutpela ol laws long helpim Papua New Guinea”Amen na Amen.

  10. I am interested in the views expressed by Mr DONINGI on this blog. I would like to have contact with him. may you provide me with his email address.
    please email it to me using my email address.
    thank you tru!
    Canisius Ranaipe Numara
    Manila Philippines

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