The action of the O’Neil/ Namah Government is not legitimate. To use Section 105 of the Constitution which is not about deferral is outright abuse of our Constitution. There are specific provisions on deferral under Section 246 which provides for deferral under a State of Emergency and in such a case it can only be in 2 month time frames with report back to Parliament after each 2 months (Section 239 (3)).
If the rolls and the security issues warrant a State of Emergency (which I do not agree with) then it could be implemented in that way. If the Electoral Commissioner reported that more time was needed for the rolls then that also would be acceptable (but two months of intensive work would solve the roll problems that are common every election).
However, it turns out that the so-called report to Parliament today did not come from the Electoral Commissioner’s Office. Whose report was it? It was yet another lie which was presented as if it had come from the Electoral Commissioner. (I was quite “confused” as I said on the Floor because only three days earlier I had heard the Electoral Commissioner, the Defence Commander, and the Police Commissioner (3 senior long-serving public servants) tell the Australian Shadow Minister for Foreign Affairs Julie Bishop that they were ready to proceed with the elections).
The last week has been a black week in PNG’s history that we will live to regret. With the Judical Conduct Act implemented (after the lie that implementation would be deferred) resulting in 2 senior judges being referred to Tribunals by Parliament; and now the deferral of elections for 6 months (after the lie that the elections would not be deferred); one wonders what will come next.
What more will they do in the determination of a few to “test the Constitution”. Will they eventually attempt to suspend the Constitution? Namah has repeatedly said that not all countries have a Constitution and ours was written by foreigners? Where are they leading this nation?
The attempted military coup in 1997 failed and Sir Michael Somare felt pity for the young soldiers and released and pardoned them under the Power of Mercy provision (Let us not forget that neither Prime Minster Skate nor Prime Minister Morauta used the provision to help the soldiers between 1997 and 2002). The military coup of 1997 failed but the political coup of 2011 and the progressive attack on the Constitution (the glue that has held this Nation together) has been insidiously successful so far. Where are they leading this nation?
There is a limit to the tolerance of the people of PNG and I think we are getting very close to that limit. But how it will evolve is hard to predict – we are a very fractured society of over 800 tribes who have been held together by the Constitution. The events since August 2 last year have completely undermined our Constitution and we are told that we must “test” our Constitution. Without the Constitution as supreme we are in danger of becoming a dictatorship or disintegrating into anarchy ruled by warlords. Where are they leading this nation?
CAROL KIDU DBE MP
LEADER OF THE OPPOSITION