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30 January 2017

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Thanks Michael and appreciate your feedback. The two sentences you pointed out was meant to convey exactly what you noted.

If you have the chance, read the links in the original article on Dev-Policy ANU for this article. It has the necessary explanation in line with what you stated.

Taking the whole article in context with the supporting links will clarify any misunderstanding. The article overall supports your concerns.

No doubt it's cheaper to print PNG ballot papers in Indonesia but how efficient the printers and delivery will be is anybody's guess if this article from the Jakarta Post about printing their own ballot papers is any indication.

PRINTERS SHOULD REPLACE DAMAGED BALLOT PAPERS: KPU [The Jakarta Post]

Printing presses that reproduce ballots should be held responsible for damaged ballots found during logistics sorting in preparation of the April 9 legislative election, insisted East Nusa Tenggara (NTT) General Elections Commission (KPUD) head Johanes Depa.

'€œThis is a commitment that both the KPU and the printing companies have agreed on from the very beginning, so there is nothing to worry about. They will replace the damaged ballots,'€ he said in Kupang on Wednesday, when asked about the high incidence of damaged ballots discovered during the sorting process in NTT.

Johanes received reports that 1,405 ballots were found damaged with ink stains and tears, 275 of which were to be used to vote for House of Representatives (DPR) candidates for the Kupang regency electoral district.

Another 780 damaged sheets were intended for the Regional Representatives Council (DPD) polls, while 127 more were slated for electing NTT Regional Legislative Council (DPRD) candidates.
Meanwhile, in North Timor Tengah regency, there is still a shortage of 600 ballots, which the printing companies must fulfill, with many more reported in other parts of NTT.

'€œVarious regions in the province have reported so many problems relating to ballots, from incorrect quantities, tearing, misprints, even ones that had been pre-marked for particular candidates,'€ he said, as quoted by Antara News Agency.

Johanes added that the printing companies would take responsibility for damages due to technical factors, while the KPU and the printers would jointly replace those damaged by force majeure.
He hoped that all KPUD would report their findings immediately so that incidents like this could be addressed sooner.

Logistic issues have continued to spring up all over the country, despite the KPU having introduced safety measures ahead of the elections. (tjs)

Bal, as usual you provide a timely and thorough synopsis of PNG's current political scenario, which I appreciate and find informative.

However, two sentences have left me with an impression that this article remains academic discourse and less of a critical assessment of the important political history of 2015-2016.

Firstly, "The bloody protests of 2016 exemplified the growing discontent."

While there was violence and some injury during the student marches last year labeling them as violent does not do justice to the activism, the unity and clear stand which students took up until the point where they were attacked by police.

Let's make these points very clear:

1. The discontent was very widespread throughout society. That there was little physical support from civil society towards actioning the discontent meant that small groups, such as the students groups, could be more easily disregarded and branded as 'unlawful'.

2. There was no bloody protest until the police fired the first shots at unarmed students. And, even after that, I do not recall any retaliatory action towards police or university staff and management which may be regarded as bloodshed during the protest.

The students willingness to take part in the 'unlawful assembly' at UPNG Forum was an important point in PNG history. We should be faithful to reporting it.

Rather let's refer to the moment during the protest march at Waigani when violence and bloodshed was 'the direct result of a draconian and brutal police action which was ultimately condoned by the prime minister's silence, and for which much later was particularly lacking in the Melanesian custom of reconciliation'.

This was one of the most telling stories about the protest, the time and the current government.

Secondly, and in relation to the above, the escalation to violence was the result of a complete failure and lack of the sense and sensibility to use appropriate mechanisms for dialogue between the protesters and the government, through the university authorities.

The second sentence needs some expansion because it hints at the key driver throughout this troubled time.

"In the absence of the anti-corruption team, Task Force Sweep, some have even wondered if the prime minister will ever get prosecuted. O’Neill is confident that PNC will return to power."

My interpretation of this sentence is this: The rule of law and justice that is seen to be done is absent particularly as it pertains to the highest office in the nation.

Followed by the apparent rationalisation by the holder in this office that he/they can do what ever he/they wants to do and come back to do it again after the next election.

The prime minister of Papua New Guinea, Peter Paire O'Neill, considers himself beyond the reach of the law.

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