Politics or Business – PM’s Stern Ultimatum To Leaders

[This is a scanned copy of ‘Hiri’ a newsletter printed in March 1978. The ‘Hiri’ was published by the then PNG Government Office of Information. Below the scanned images are retyped text from this article. Click on the images below to see larger versions]

Politics or business – PM’s Stern Ultimatum to Leaders

Prime Minister Somare stunned the nation when he outlined a new anti-corruption leadership code to Parliament this month.

In the new measures, top leaders have three months to decide whether to sell their business interests or stand down from public office. Mr. Somare’s announcement caused considerable public debate.

‘none of us are saints – we must beware of temptation’

Government Ministers, permanent heads of Government departments, and heads of statutory bodies have been given three months to decide whether to sell their business interests or stand down from public office.

In a controversial new leadership code announced by Mr. Somare in Parliament this month, the business and property rights of leaders during their periods of office have been restricted to “enable the nation to get its priorities into line and to protect decision makers from the pressures of deciding between national and private goals”.

Mr. Somare said some leaders may need time to think the issue through but as far as he was concerned, there was only one choice.

He said the new code stemmed from his observations of some disturbing trends since the formation of his second National Coalition Government.

“I have become convinced that there are dangerous tendencies at work and if allowed to continue, these tendencies will corrupt our policies, subvert our efforts at national development, and set us on the wrong road,” Mr. Somare said.

“To speak plainly, I have become convinced that am increasing number of top national leaders, both in politics and the public service, are becoming too closely involved with foreign business interests”.

“I am gravely concerned that we are putting ourselves in positions where we are bound to be tempted to put personal gains above the national goals”.

“As the elected leader of the Government, it is my job to take effective steps against dangers of this kind”.

Mr. Somare said that in many countries, the process of Government and administration has become sick and rotten through outright corruption and the pursuit of personal interests by so-called national leaders. In many of these countries it had become traditional for political leaders and senior government officials to expect to retire as extremely wealthy men and women.

Often these countries were totally under the control of private business interests and pay-offs to public officials were taken for granted.

“I am determined that this will never happen in Papua New Guinea and I expect full and unqualified support from my fellow leaders”.

“We have a tradition of honest government but I see signs that we could easily go the wrong way.”

Mr. Somare said that the business interest of leaders did not always corrupt in an obvious way but more often in a clever roundabout way with no outright dishonesty or evil intent by the leader involved.

“None of us are saints and we should not put ourselves in a position where, to do our job honestly, we have to go against our national interests”.

Mr. Somare said foreign operators, salesmen of expensive machinery, consultants, and a whole variety of business representatives were all too ready to befriend national leaders and offer them benefits.

“Let me assure you, it is not because of the leader’s personal charm, management ability or financial resources. It is because he is a powerful man in the Government who may be able to do the businessman a good turn. The pay-off will come later”.

“The steps to avoid these dangers will not be easy but they are essential”, Mr. Somare said.

People’s Progress Party Leader, julius Chan, has warned that the severe restrictions of the code would remove capable people from responsible positions.

He said he believed the acquisitive instincts of a few would not be checked by penalizing all leaders and their families by requiring them to dispose of assets which have been acquired over many years.

Mr. Chan said he supported the idea in principle but believed that some aspects of the code needed clarification.

Opposition leader. Sir Tei Abal, said the Opposition supported the new code but believed it was being imposed about five years too late. The Opposition has pushed for such a code 5 years ago but had been told by Mr. Somare that it was not necessary, Sir Tei said.


So only one question from me to a man who made such a song and dance about corruption 32 years ago. Why are the Chinese building you a palace in Wewak?


18 thoughts on “Politics or Business – PM’s Stern Ultimatum To Leaders

  1. Immanuel, that was very interesting indeed. Another question of interest is the total COST of the palace. That includes the operating cost as well as construction cost.

    It can be speculated to be in millions of US dollars (billions of kina).

  2. Bloody Hell !!! It simply makes me sick,what is the bloody matter with these bunch of money hungry thieving stealing corruptive manipulative animals!!

    My renting and carrying on comments on truck loads,boatloads and planeloads of mainland Chinese coming to PNG because Somare and his government turned a blind eye is correct.
    Lets all do a search for all other Politicians past and present who have built themseves palaces similar to the Grand Thiefs;What about those bureacrates who have been receiving ‘the brown parcels’ over the years
    under the guise of 1st /2nd/3rd secretary of this and that,CEO of this and that; 1st,2nd 3rd director of this and that etc etc.
    What about those who have used our money ,stealing from the various goverment “setup” over years to the Members electrate funds, set themselves up in business since 1975.
    God! the whole place stints of rot,no wonder we are made poorer by their pathetic corruptive practices.
    Elections are coming up ,I am not so sure if I can vote for anyone,I simply do not trust anyone not even a so called christian.
    Maybe I will vote myself..hah hah!

  3. Thank you Emmanuel for the information. What rot! I guess, “big man” in PNG means that one must be accorded such luxury at the expense of ordinary citizens, especially our children, women and rural population. Any such info on the sons?

  4. Looking at your scanned image I notice that the publication states that to compensate for the burden this would impose on leaders they would get a 20% or 30% pay rise. Looks like they took the pay rise and forgot why they were getting it. Was this just a scam to increase politicians pay while looking responsible? It’s an old political ploy to sneak something like this in with a popular announcement.

  5. Shades of a lesser Mugabe.
    Although Mugabe’s digs rival that of French Palaces with gold fittings and imported and rare antiques.
    with his palaces and Rolls Royces.
    But then again PNG is still a democracy, I think
    with the leaders still subject to the laws of the country unlike Zimbabwe which is a dictatorship.
    Food for thought

  6. A young father in one of the settlements in Kiunga told me a very amazing insight. He bought one of the Dailies last week and told me this;
    In the line “the Grand Chief”, you just have to remove the ‘C’ and replace with a ‘T’. He told me that’s how he reads this line whenever it ccomes up in the Papers.

    Am sure you know how the new line reads…
    Guess it goes with what Manu is putting up.

  7. The amount of speculation in this article and its comments is quite alarming and it is unfortunately becoming a trend with “news” today. A BILLION KINA PALACE? Really? Last time I checked the USD to PGK was 2.3. That would make it a 500 million USD palace according to your calculation AJ. I don’t know anyone who spent a half a billion USD on a house even with “operating costs”.

    People should also take into consideration that the political landscape in PNG was vastly different 30 years ago. A young hardliner Chief Somare has been tempered and stalled over the last few decades by an indifferent parliament that has fallen further and further into corruption. He has done many things for PNG which people have forgotten. It is unfortunate that the short attention span people have nowadays cause them to look no farther than the end of their nose. The last 10 years might not have been the best for PNG or the Grand Chief, but do not forget the past.

    If you ask me, PNG should not complain about foreign labor either. EVERY country in the world imports labor of one form or another and PNG needs to learn to cope. If local PNGians do not work to upgrade themselves and work hard, they will fall behind. The world is a big place and the nature of technology and culture today has us all connected. PNG needs to get competitive and get there fast or it will be eaten up. The sharks are already circling PNG. There is no time to sit around chewing betel nut.

    1. If it was so difficult for him to work with other people in Parliament who wanted other things then why would he accept an offer from the Chinese to build him a house in Wewak?

      This is not an issue of Chinese labour it’s an issue of corruption and inappropriate gifts to leaders.

      (I suppose we should also forgive Somare as well for being able to travel to Singapore for health services which the rest of the country can’t and will never enjoy?

      People have died unnecessarily because of misappropriation of funds and corruption. But more so because of just plain bad politics).

  8. This arose as a quotation by John Emerich Edward Dalberg Acton, first Baron Acton (1834–1902). The historian and moralist, who was otherwise known simply as Lord Acton, expressed this opinion in a letter to Bishop Mandell Creighton in 1887:

    “Power tends to corrupt, and absolute power corrupts absolutely. Great men are almost always bad men.”

    Another English politician with no shortage of names – William Pitt, the Elder, The Earl of Chatham and British Prime Minister from 1766 to 1778, is sometimes wrongly attributed as the source. He did say something similar, in a speech to the UK House of Lords in 1770:

    “Unlimited power is apt to corrupt the minds of those who possess it”

  9. This is the result of many many years of hard toil, personal sacrifice. PNGs prosperity should reflect on the person who strived to achieve it.
    Go and sweat it out like Sir Michael did, and maybe you will have your own palace.
    Shame on you, as if its your money. Losers.

  10. Thanks Red, we can do what we can in our own way to build this nation. Not everyone has to be a politician to change PNG.

    So Red please explain to us what Prosperity PNG has to reflect this hard work? The only thing we can see is his and his family’s prosperity. Trust me I know what its like to be a family in politics and I know how hard it is to be prosperous when all you do is the right thing.

  11. Crikey Manu,

    Red’s awful quiet for some reason. Now let me see? Whose money are we actually talking about here Red? Perhaps you can help the rest of us understand where the money actually did come from? After all, isn’t it a known fact that MS hasn’t tendered his tax returns for many years?

    Wasn’t it MS’s excuse that the accountant forgot to send them in but when contacted, the overseas accountant said he wasn’t actually working for MS at the time and didn’t know anything about it?

    So who could Red be getting his information from? The official records? Nope, they don’t exist. The accountant? Nope, he’s not in on the story. Umm.. who did you say you were talking to recently Red?

    Perhaps we need to stir up ‘Tim the phantom Tree Hugger’ and get some lively debate going?

    Hellooooo out there. Anyone home?

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