MARTIN KOMBRI | PNG Perspectives
IN DEVELOPED DEMOCRACIES like England, Australia, New Zealand, the United States and elsewhere, people who hold public office and become the subject of allegations and investigations for any misconduct in office often either readily resign or step aside to allow for due process of the law to take its proper course.
This they do out of respect for themselves and their own integrity and the integrity of the office they hold and the institutions they are part of as well as respect for the law.
This is most noble, respectful and a demonstration of true leadership in difficult times for the sake of good administration, governance and the greater interest of the nation.
The tradition of voluntary stepping down, in light of allegations and accusations of misconduct in office or criminal conduct of a public office holder, became part of PNG’s democracy and tradition.
At least two leaders, as far as we are aware, respectively resigned and stood down from office in such circumstances.
The first leader was Opai Kunangil. What he did is recorded in the decision of the court (Supreme Court) cited as SCR No 2 of 1982; Re Opai Kunangil Amin (1991) PNGLR 1.
The other leader was Sir Julius Chan who decided to step down as Prime Minister during the 1997 Sandline mercenary crisis.
Since then right up until this month’s general election, it is unfortunately fast becoming the norm for most leaders in PNG, who are the subject of allegations and investigation for misconduct in office and or criminal offence, to continue to occupy their respective offices and continue to function and are readily applying for stay or injunctive orders.
Some of them are even interfering into the proper conduct of investigations and proper conclusions of such investigations.
Others are doing everything they possibly can to remain in office, continue to function and in most instances are either committing more misconduct in office – from tempering with evidence, interfering with witnesses, swindling funds – or otherwise seriously abusing their powers knowing that they may not last long in those offices.
Martin Kombri is a PNG lawyer This article was originally published on Sharp Talk and PNG Perspectives