THE PNG Media Council has urged Papua New Guineans to confront Parliament and reject changes to the Constitution that would weaken the powers of the Ombudsman Commission.
The so-called Maladina Amendment – named after its mover, Esa’ala MP Moses Maladina – would remove the Ombudsman’s power to issue directives preventing payments from public funds to officeholders it believes are using those funds improperly.
The Ombudsman has previously used the provision to stop MPs applying public money for their own personal or political activities.
The amendment to the Constitution has the wide support of politicians, passing the second reading 83-0 three weeks ago, but is drawing increasing public opposition. It will come before Parliament again in May for the final vote.
The Media Council has called on the public to say no to the change.
“The amendment can be stopped by all of us acting together because the majority of the people are against this change,” he said.
“Mr Maladina does not have the mandate to bring this to Parliament. It follows then that Parliament did not have the mandate to bring this constitutional change onto the floor to be voted on.”
Mr Kanekane said any move to weaken and remove the powers of the Ombudsman must be treated with suspicion.
“At a time when the economy is about to undergo a major transformational change, the public expect their leaders to discuss and enact laws to strengthen and improve the efficiency and effectiveness of organisations like the Ombudsman Commission and police, so they can be assured that their increased wealth is protected.
“The Maladina amendment does nothing to give us any confidence that these institutions are being strengthened, as he claims,” he said.
Leading PNG lawyer Peter Donigi has said the Maladina Amendment may be unconstitutional because Parliament does not have powers to amend the Constitution.