BY KEITH JACKSON
IT PROMISED A bulmakau and produced a scrawny old kakaruk. Earlier this week a Leadership Tribunal - convened with great flourish, populated with three eminent overseas judges and conducted at substantial cost - found PNG’s prime minister guilty of 13 charges of misconduct in office.
Sir Michael Somare – the Grand Chief and so-called Father of the Nation – had failed to lodge financial returns dating as far back as 20 years, and had not properly submitted others.
This was at least arrogance. There had been plenty of opportunity to set things to rights.
It was also, and worse, a snubbing of the laws of PNG. And it was a wilful disregard of the spirit of those laws.
For this abject failure by the nation’s most prominent person – a man who occupies an office of great distinction and great responsibility – the punishment (if punishment is an appropriate word for the merest touch with a feather) is suspension from office up to and including Monday 4 April.
"There was no serious culpability warranting dismal," Tribunal chairman Roger Gyles said. His New Zealand counterpart agreed with him. Dissenting judge Sir Robin Auld (UK) did not.
Sir Robin described the PM's attitude towards the charges as "a disregard bordering on disdain for his constitutional obligations" and the Ombudsman Commission.
"It would be bad enough in the case of any leader, but it is particularly reprehensible for one of his high standing and influential involvement in the initiation of the leadership code," he said.
The Tribunal's majority decision is a joke.
Were the two majority jurors aware not just of the law but of the context in which this law is applied? High office = higher culpability. (Think Marcus Einfeld. Would a person of lesser consequence have been consigned to gaol?) Sir Robin understood this.
This Leadership Tribunal outcome is an insult to the people of PNG and to their great nation.
In this case the odd man out was right.