Laif i sot tumas
The 'lost generation' of Bougainville: the women speak up

Sam Koim, weak-kneed Aussie politicians & rumours of treason


ON Thursday, with anti-corruption protests in full swing in Papua New Guinea, Port Moresby’s rumour mill was running in overdrive and belching the smoke of conspiracy theories.

One of the most lurid of these was that Sam Koim, the sacked head of corruption-busting Task Force Sweep, was to be arrested on his return from Australia that day and charged with treason.

Mr Koim had been in Australia as a guest of Transparency International and during his trip he had meetings with senior Australian officials and foreign minister Julie Bishop and appeared on one of the country’s most influential current affairs television programs.

Bishop had subsequently issued a statement cautioning against political instability in PNG while totally ignoring the pernicious issue of high level corruption and the related sidelining of officials like Koim who were trying to do something about it.

It was a low point in Australia’s often cloth-eared diplomacy around the tough issues related to PNG, and it did not go unobserved by PNG activists.

Well, at two o’clock on Thursday afternoon, Air Niugini flight PX004 from Brisbane touched down at Jacksons airport and Sam Koim disembarked – and went home.

Later he used Facebook to make this statement:

I heard the rumours about my arrest whilst in Australia. I arrived into the country yesterday afternoon.

Although any thinking legal mind with the facts would see my travel and could hardly link it to a criminal offence, I would not be surprised if they go down too low for that.

If it relates to my trip to Australia, then my representations, reasons and media interviews are on record including the post on my Facebook wall since Tuesday evening.

I see many rumours stating that Treason would be a possible charge. If that is so, it is a public crime and I would make myself available publicly for a public interview where police can conduct the record of interview at a public place so that everybody would know it.

I stand prepared to be charged for this cause. This is the cause I chose to live for, to which I am prepared to sacrifice if need be.

I thank you all for your prayers and support.

God Bless Papua New Guinea.


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Name Supplied

Politicians and members of public alike who are pro-O'Neill are critical of police for trying to arrest the Prime Minister with an arrest warrant.

What they are not coming out clearly about is whether they want the Prime Minister to get away with allegedly committing crimes against the State and be excused for his criminal acts because he is the PM?

If this is what they are not saying, God help us all. Are those who are protecting the PM not the worst criminals against their own country?

The warrant of arrest is not issued for the arrest of prime minister. The warrant is in the name of Peter O'Neill. Because Peter O'Neill is the PM, all due courtesy and decorum was accorded to him initially instead of being arrested.

He was advised by letter under the hand of the deposed Police Commissioner Kulunga and invited to voluntarily present himself to the National Fraud Squad to be interviewed by the Police.

How much more polite and respectful could the Police have been to him. Remove the title PM and Peter O'Neill in the eyes of the law was like everybody else.

There is no special procedure for the arrest of a big man. Once a person is a suspect in a criminal offence, title does not matter however it may have been earned academically, professionally or by popular vote.

In fact the Police did not have to give him that courtesy at all. When Police obtained a warrant of arrest to bring Peter O'Neill in for questioning over his alleged involvement in the Paul Paraka scandal that he is said to have authorised by letter bearing his signature, any lawyer worth his salt who spent his practising career in criminal law would immediately know that the possible charge would be one of official corruption.

Under section 87 of the Criminal Code, a person cannot be arrested and charged with official corruption without a warrant of arrest.

Did the Police have any choice over the need for arrest warrant? No. They had no choice because it is mandatory. It is the mandatory requirement for this offence that the suspect must be arrested with warrant of arrest before he is charged.

Otherwise his arrest can be deemed unlawful if a charge is laid without warrant of arrest. Thomas Eluh, an experienced Police Prosecutor, knew what he was doing, but he was prepared to give Peter O'Neill the courtesy of both verbal and written invitation. He did not have to do that but he did it.

I am disappointed that the two Constitutional Office Holders literally earn their bread and butter doing criminal prosecution and defence work in our Courts, namely the Public Prosecutor and Public Solicitor, cannot come out of hiding and clear the air in support of Thomas Eluh on the correct legal position of the controversial arrest warrant.

Barbara Short

Thanks Kevin and Peter for your comments.

Yes, Kevin, the last thing I want to see in PNG is blood-shed. But I thought Kristian had a good point.

I spoke strongly against allowing Wilmar to take over the Sepik plains. I'm glad you agree, Kevin. It is not the type of development that we want to see in PNG.

Peter, I understand what you are saying. The end of Somare as Chief Minister is not that far in the past. I know he did put many of my old students into positions of authority and I've heard that some did a good job and others did poorly.

Peter, you have come slowly to a top position in PNG. I know about the feelings that you refer to. I understand how they could impact on your life and position at this time. I hope the good Lord looks kindly on you and that you are able to show good leadership to all.

Fortunately there is a group of ex-Brandi students now working to get themselves organised to see what they can do to help the school. I'll keep you posted!

Peter Aimos

Hi Barbara, As one of your former students at Brandi, please allow me to say this.

What is manifested now re lack of attention by the O'Neill Dion government to major economic and infrastructure development projects in the Sepik region can only be appreciated when we view such concerns through the 'PNG' mindset and mentality. And that is the payback and revenge system.

Irrespective of what most commentators suggest, the truth of the matter is that this mindset is written in our 'stone-head' and will continue to remain for at least, I guess, the next ten generations before we expect to see any tangible sense of nationalism or patriotism being demonstrated in our approaches as opposed to the 'regionalistic, tribalistic or linguistic' attitudes we are embracing as the norm at present.

Most non-Sepiks, when asked, would tell you that the Sepiks had their opportunity when Somare was the PM, so there is no use complaining now. And to most Sepiks it is also viewed as 'revenge time'.

Kevin O'Regan

Barbara, we have gone a long away from the original article whereas we are having a trial by media in Moresby and Lae about the guilt or otherwise about the current PM.

Yes the Sepik area distresses many of us but if the current developments taking place around the country be continued by whomever I are sure the Sepik region will have its turn.

No I do not particularly like the oil palm industry and I are totally totally opposed to the land grab under the guise of development under the SABL fiasco.

But it is not only Lae and Moresby that are sharing in the current developments, with major infrastructure occurring in Madang, Hagen, Jiwaka, Hoskins airport and the numerous feeder roads in most provinces...

If the Sepik region is being poorly done by, the people need to start getting up their elected representatives a bit more.
Take care.

Barbara Short

Hi Kevin, I'm very pleased to hear the port and airport in Lae are going to last a long time. But I'm back embedded with the Sepiks (on Facebook) and the Sepik is a part of PNG cut off from Lae. The Sepiks can't use the port and airport in Lae when they are leaving the Sepik. The Sepik seems to be the "place that time forgot".

At the moment I'm very depressed about the state of Brandi High School. They say there are over 1200 students at the school but there is no longer a functioning Mess for the boys. It has rusted away. At last reports they were giving raw food to the boys and they had to work out how to cook it for themselves.

Of course Boram Hospital is also in a very bad state. They have tidied up the town for the planned visit of the Japanese Prime Minister. It will be a bit embarrassing if he gets sick and has to go to Boram Hospital.

OK, the Sepik could get a better port if they allowed Wilmar to take over 100 000 hectares and build the biggest oil palm plantation in the world. Have you had a look at what they have done to parts of Indonesia? Of course the villagers would probably all become landless peasants. Sounds grim to me.

Kevin O'Regan

Barbara, I love you and respect you as you as a former asples PNG many years ago and I follow you contributions with respect on many subjects. But on this last comment you are wrong.

The infrastructure being placed now will stand for many many years, And I am qualified to know the difference between good and shoddy workmanship.

Kristen. Good summary and I would love to sit on the opposite side of the table some time and exchange views.

Andreas. Very good summary but you summed it all up in the fourth last paragraph... none of us wish to see "chaos and bloodshed on the streets of Port Moresby or any other centre"...,. and that is where we are heading.

Read my message properly... let the courts and laws of Papua New Guinea run their course.... please.

Barbara Short

I agree with you Kristian, I think we do have "a more ambitious class of national bourgeoisie (for want of a better word), who are attempting to grow the national economy, and critically their share of it - by means fair and foul."

You hear it said that O'Neill and his friends were trained at UPNG. I know lecturers at UPNG were trained at various universities overseas and I have the feeling that the type of development they have been teaching is all "western development" where large multinationals are invited in to set up business which returns good profits for them and probably ensures plenty of "gifts' to the politicians who helped them.

The "appropriate economic development" model has been tossed aside. It was probably thought to be "too hard" and there were no gifts involved.

You are correct when you say the overseas multinationals will build the roads and the ports and other infrastructure where-ever they need it. It may seem like development to some but when the company has finished doing business the infrastructure will probably have reached its use-by date.

I am starting to notice that more of my students from the 1970s are now willing to return to the towns and villages and help the people in any way they see is good for them. This is the type of development I like to see.

It is something being done for the people and involves social development as well as economic development and the people involved have a love of the village people and just want to do anything they can to help them improve their standard of living, their health and their education.

It should stop the tragic "drift to the towns and cities" created by the neglect of the districts.

Kristian Lasslett

Kevin, I think, raises an interesting point. Are we observing in O'Neill, or at least epitomised in O'Neill, a more ambitious class of national bourgeoisie (for want of a better word), who are attempting to grow the national economy, and critically their share of it - by means fair and foul.

If there is indeed a drive now to not simply facilitate foreign capital - with a cut for local intermediaries - but instead seize larger proportionate shares of the national economy, does this in turn have contradictory effects.

On the one hand it appears to be prompting greater concern with developing the built environment, means of transport, and means of communication to improve the turnover time of capital, and to create new opportunities for accumulation. On the other hand, there is increasing potential for more grandiose frauds, speculative bubbles, and indeed dictatorial moves.

Related to this, if we are seeing more ambition to grow and monopolise the national economy, this gradually changes the fault lines of conflict, between us (PNG) and them (foreign exploiters), to something more complex, and in some respects difficult to challenge.

Andreas Hara Wabiria

PNG went to the 2012 polls with very high hopes. For such a time as these perilous moments in PNG's short history as a nation-state (when we are currently witnessing our freedoms of movement, speech, assembly, and information being threatened and even actually violated by the police force, and institutions and honest workers like Sam Koim are threatened with treason), have we elected our MPs (or so we thought), but the way I see it, PNGs hopes to see our MPs forcing the change and saving PNG from the brink of civil anarchy has been misplaced.

I say this because O’Neill’s PNC is the biggest party on the floor of Parliament. PNG is a land of the unexpected and politics is a funny business here. A majority of those who currently surround O’Neill have been ‘floor-crossers’ in the past so if they do it again this time maybe PNG will see a change and our constitutional rights reinstated. But that change has to come from within PNC.

The other coalition partners do not feature in the scheme of things to set the ball rolling for that change because they have all been intimidated, demoralised, and their group fragmented to a point where they cannot even think of any alternative except what is fed them by the O’Neill fear and propaganda machinery.

Voters need to remind their leaders (if not seek explanations from them) of their take on the following seemingly corrupt and fishy deals and hope that maybe these questions will provoke them from slumber and come to their senses and cross the floor of Parliament:

1. The K75Million contract awarded for the supply of medicines have not been fully explained by team O’Neil therefore all MPs still supporting O’Neil have to tell PNG. The issue is, has been, and still remains: “Why was the contract awarded to a company which was not even on the short list? Was there pressure from the top? Has an under-the-table deal been done which would make this contract illegal? The Health Department Secretary, Minister, O’Neill and most commentators including the Doctors Union, whose leadership has gone on a paid holiday throughout Asia with the suspects, would want to dangle the issue of ISO accreditation. But that is not the issue. The issue is whether the Public Finance Management Act has been breached and due process disregarded. Even the argument put forward by the O’Neill government and doctors that the manufacturers are reputable and ISO accredited is beside the point and a clever trick by the O’Neill government to mislead the public. The manufacturers’ credibility, although it may be questioned, is not the issue here. O’Neill, Malabag, Pascoe, Ngagan, Vele and company still have to explain to PNG.

2. The awarding of contracts for the South Pacific 2015 Games village at a very inflated price needs further explanation. Was the extra funding added at the eleventh hour used by the Chinese contractor to pay any politician?

3. Has Parliament approved the more than 6 billion Chinese soft loan? Was the Treasury Department involved as it should have been, in the negotiations of the terms and conditions of the loan and if not then who did? Did O’Neill in the company of a particular state minister and an ethnic Chinese businesswomen based in Port Moresby make a secret 24-hour round trip to China on a private jet? Was that trip to ‘negotiate’ this 6 billion loan. Whether it's a soft or hard loan, did Parliament get to make any input?

4. I can go on and the list is unending. I will not bore you again with the Parakagate or UBSgate issues which also need to be explained by the MPs to their constituents, the seven million PNGeans.

The Office of the Prime Minister, and all other public offices and the individuals who occupy them, must not only actually conduct themselves in an honest and transparent way, and abide by the ‘rule-of-law’ but must be seen to be doing so.

To do otherwise only brings into disrepute and questions the integrity of the respective offices of the people of which they are only occupying by permission.

To a reasonably educated citizen of this beautiful country, the recent actions by O’Neill only create distrust among the masses, who can and will rise up if they are driven to the wall.

Some of the questionable acts of O’Neil seemingly to cover-up his alleged crimes are:

1. The appointment of a person as Police Commissioner, who is an experienced career officer and maybe a very good and honest cop but, who has been on the outside for the last two years looking in and as a human, may normally have an agenda to get even against the hierarchy at Kone HQ. Has O’Neil capitalised on this deep rooted professional hatred and used the same tactic as he has done in politics to divide and rule the leaders of Enga, Hela and Western Highlands (Ipatas v Polye, Agiru v Marape, Wingti v Duma)?

Was he appointed to ensure O’Neill is not arrested and any citizen's uprising is nullified with brutal force? Has O’Neill politicised the Police (and Army) and, in doing so, destroyed the career and reputation of a good cop that is Acting Commissioner Vaki?

2. Does the strategy employed to preserve O’Neill include the sacking of Police Prosecutor Eluh and Police lawyer Nicholos Miviri to Mawa and now lawyer Bonner, all at the eleventhhour? Are these acts related and are they part of the brief given to the Commissioner (and Attorney-General Pala for that matter) by O’Neill as condition for his (their) appointment? (FYI, Pala has admitted on national television that was his brief and it was an “achievement” to appoint Mawa from Miviri as Police/state lawyer).

3. Is the rumour (it may be true) of the imminent arrest of Sam Koim for treason a part of that strategy to create fear, intimidate, and silence the critics of O’Neill?

4. Again the list goes on, such as - the sudden calling of Parliament; its sudden adjournment after only two hours of sitting (MPs including O’Neil cannot be arrested three days prior to and after a Parliamentary session); and intimidating, threatening and harassing of the public who gathered at market places and bus stops etc in Port Moresby, Lae and other major centres in PNG.

Though O’Neill has employed the full force of the constabulary at his disposal as well as the best (?) legal minds in the country, the wheels of justice have turned and can't be stopped. Next week the court will hand down its decision on the validity of the arrest warrant and PNG will know, and those in Parliament know better, what will be the situation after that.

If the recent change of leadership in the PPP and other developments at the haus tambaran are any indication, coalition partners are positioning themselves to take over the prime ministership. These are signs that the O’Neill Government as we know it will be no more.

If the changes forced from within Parliament or the courts fail, PNG has only one hope and that is to show people power …a scenario that must be avoided at all cost.

Acting Commissioner Jeffrey Vaki can become a hero and saviour of PNG and wrestle PNG from the gates of Hell.

The alternative in my most humble judgement will be chaos and bloodshed on the streets of Port Moresby and nationwide, during which the Police rank and file will take sides with their wantoks and tribesmen, and Jeffrey Vaki and Peter O’Neill will be left on their own.

All concerned friends and citizens of PNG needs to convince their MPs that, beyond the Parakagate affair which has caused the current crisis, at least to preserve the integrity and impartiality of our institutions such as the RPNGC and Task Force Sweep, and honest and committed servants serving PNG within those organizations.

This power-hungry prime minister, Peter O’Neill has to go and they have to vote with their feet on the floor of Parliament come August 16.

Thank you and God Bless Papua New Guinea.

Peter Kranz

Just look at the shenanigans uncovered by ICAC in NSW alone in the past few weeks. Both sides of the political spectrum are up to their necks in the pekpek.

A wise man once said 'Let him who is without blame cast the first stone.'

Kevin O’Regan

I have been trying to keep quiet these past two weeks watching the current political saga unravel around us and are becoming considerably alarmed by the mob hysteria being created mostly by PNG Blogs and to a lesser extent other sites.

The ones endeavouring to create mob rule and protests mostly for the sake of protesting all need to take a step back and look around us.

I live in Lae and there has been more development taken place, taking place and planned over the past two years than has taken place over the last forty two.

The new Lae port is almost ready (yes constructed by the Chinese, so what). It is a world class facility that has been constructed on time without landowner issues, people issues or wage issues.

Our roads are being fixed! Yes there were some dubious contracts issued at the beginning but now that it is back under the watchful eye of the works dept construction is proceeding at a very fast pace by contractors that are performing.

Work is due to commence on the Nadzab extension ( yes again by the Chinese) but would it be better to have 100 citizens and under-resourced private contractors with a broken down backhoe each, I think not.

PNG Blogs is trying to incite protests in front of the Japanese Prime Minister during the Melanesian Arts Festival in Moresby to protest about our present PM… how pathetic after the Japanese have just“donated 40 odd million of new plant and equipment to our works and PTB departments… very smart for a few brownie points. For goodness sake let’s at least keep our troubles in house so to speak.

I was here during the reign of the late PM Skate and the Sandline debacle but neither of the two PMs at the time ever had this trial by media. OK we never had mobile phones, and other electronic devices such as now but surely we could and should let the courts and laws take their course.

I do not know PM O’Neill except by sight and I’m not a stooge or crony. Who am I to pre-empt whether he is right or wrong but let the courts and our system do their work, not trial by media where all we are hearing are inflammatory and unproven libellous statements.

I see us risking losing the progress made the past two years, the PNG Games, maybe the South Pacific games for next year and the Commonwealth Heads of Government hosting.

I ask all citizens to step back and take a big breath or two. Peace.

Barbara Short

I spent 13 years teaching in PNG and have maintained friendships with many of my students for the past 30 years so have kept up with PNG affairs, but I still find it difficult to comprehend the level of corruption taking place in PNG at the moment.

Since I became "embedded with the Sepiks" on their group Facebook site their old grannie figure has learnt a lot.

Some police are willing to say how much they are being bribed to do the will of politicians. Lawyers with morals are willing to refuse to do illegal things which the politicians are asking for. The police and lawyers are being compromised in ways that, as far as I know, are not common in Australia.

What is happening in PNG is very different from the types of corruption we have been concerned with lately e.g. politicians helping their mates to make millions from coal mines and politicians gaining financial support from developers.

I can imagine how Julie Bishop would find it very hard to understand what is taking place in PNG at the moment.

Australia fell into a nice little trap when it set up this refugee holding centre in Manus. It was just like us taking a bribe.

All I feel I can now do is pray for the honest ones, for Sam Koim, for the police willing to speak out about the bribes and the other lawyers willing to refuse to do the bidding of the politicians.

One day PNG will "right itself" and probably show us a thing or to. One Sepik has just commented on the honest lawyer ... "I salute you. Fear no man."

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