The information in this series is derived from public sources and, in some cases, may not be accurate. We invite readers to offer corrections and additional material by contacting the editor here.
Patrick Pruaitch (Aitape Lumi, National Alliance) has had a political career so rich in controversy that it’s hard to get it into a pithy comment. Pruaitch has been part of PNG’s political landscape since 2002. He was groomed by Michael Somare as a future PM and, after Somare stepped down in late July, has become acting party leader until a permanent leader is chosen later this year. After being appointed Forest Minister in August 2002, it was alleged Pruaitch enjoyed the generous patronage of the giant Malaysian company Rimbunan Hijau. For his part, Pruaitch defended the company at every turn, even taking out press advertisements to deny claims it had been logging without legal permits and claiming it to be "one of the most committed logging companies in PNG”. In addition to Forests, he has held the portfolios of education, state enterprises, communication, lands, national planning and finance. In June 2010, the Supreme Court ordered his suspension from office as Finance and Treasury Minister pending a leadership tribunal into allegations of misconduct. His appearance before the tribunal still hangs over his head with no indication at this stage of when it will be held.
Akmat Mai (West Sepik, Triumph Heritage Empowerment Party) was for many years a lecturer at Divine Word University. After being endorsed by Don Polye’s THE Party, he announced midway through the count that he would defect to Belden Namah’s PNG Party. So far that remains his main political claim to fame. One of our contributors has written: “I know this man from back to front. He used to called me One Bush as my Enga Province and WSP share same forest and land border. I was with him for years during my time in university. He is open and kind to everyone.”
Joe Sungi (Nuku, National Alliance) is a newcomer to national politics who was previously Provincial Administrator of the West Sepik. “This parliament is going be an exciting one,” he said. “It will be made up of some old and new members of parliament. We will have a big mixture. It’s good to have the wise people with us. I think what the country needs now is a search for good managers and good leaders. We should not create parliament as a social club.”
Solan Mirisim (Telefomin, Independent), local businessman from Telefolip village, defeated the PNG party incumbent to take this seat.
Belden Namah (Vanimo-Green River, leader PNG Party). Where does one start? There’s already more than enough material for a fascinating biography. One of the more outrageous characters in a political culture that sometimes defies comprehension. A soldier who was gaoled for sedition. An entrepreneur who commandeered the forests. A property investor in the Pacific. A gambler at Sydney casino. Mysterious flights intercepted by Indonesian air force jets. A challenger of the constitution, parliamentary procedure, the courts… Yet a man who commands a large and loyal following in PNG. And he’s been in parliament only five years.