PRIME Minister Peter O’Neill and has abolished limited preferential voting and revert to the ‘first past the post’ system.
We do not know the reasoning behind this regressive Christmas gift to PNG by the O’Neill government but well-placed sources confirm the Cabinet decision.
This decision does not come as a surprise to PNG, the land of bountiful tolerance and willful ignorance because the O’Neill government has lost its popularity on all fronts: economic mismanagement, grand scale corruption, evasion, deception, lies, and manipulation are among its hallmarks.
O’Neill himself has the National provident Fund case, the Paraka affair, the UBS leadership tribunal and the PNG Power Generators case still hanging over him and yet continues to run down this country with the assistance of conniving MPs.
Early indications of O’Neill’s People’s National Congress (PNC) party’s fate in the national elections due in 2017 were seen in four by-elections.
Three of the four MPs who won were not PNC candidates. Despite that, O’Neill boldly made known at a gathering in Ijivitari when endorsing a convicted briber that “he (O’Neill) would be around for a long while so people have to get used to it.”
The abrupt, unconventional and unconstitutional passage of the 2016 Budget and the early adjournment of the parliamentary sitting exhibits what O’Neill has become.
To O’Neill and his gang of bandit), power means everything. It ensures their survival, wealth and protection from prosecution, and history has shown how successful they have been.
With the approaching national election and the collective consciousness of national issues generated by social media, these bandits have to devise a strategy to stay in power.
They replaced the Electoral Commissioner with a new person who, with due respect, had no exposure at the national level. He just moved in and removed all serving experienced officers, displacing them at a time when elections are just around the corner.
Consistent with these moves, the limited preferential voting (LPV) system has been abrogated. It was introduced to prevent election rigging and to give a wider opportunity to votes to select the candidate of their choice.
Melanesian cultural alliances and tribal solidarities inhibit the free exercise of people’s voting power and the LPV system was introduced to offset this. Through it, the most preferred candidate of the entire electorate was selected, not the candidate with the biggest tribal base.
What the O’Neill government is doing in reverting to the first past the post is to make it easy for corrupt politicians to win the elections by systematically paying off all the voters. It will also provide opportunities for them to hijack the election process once they are in the lead.
There are also rumours that O’Neill will defer the election until after the 2018 APEC meeting in PNG.
The fact that the Electoral Commission received no to little funds for 2017 election preparations in the budget seems to confirm this view.