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Police storming of parliament a sign of things to come?

Bryan Kramer at parliament houseBRYAN KRAMER MP

MADANG - On Tuesday 23 November, just two days after APEC summit concluded, more than 300 police and correctional services personnel stormed parliament house, smashing windows, furniture and assaulting parliament security guards.

They were protesting unpaid allowances for providing security during APEC.

The incident occurred around midday, two hours before parliament was to convene at 2pm for the opposition to respond to the government's 2019 budget that had been presented a week earlier.

The storming of parliament was broadcast around the globe and also sent shock waves through PNG's political establishment. Not since the Sandline Crisis in 1996 had security forces personnel converged with hostility on parliament house.

The incident in 1996 had been led by the PNG military, challenging the Chan government's decision to engage overseas mercenaries to engage in the Bougainville conflict. It was planned and led by Major General Jerry Singirok who was pressuring then prime minister Julius Chan to resign.

However, this time the issue was a civil dispute in which police and correctional officers were angry at the O'Neill government's failure to settle unpaid allowances. Eyewitnesses confirmed they were shouting that they had enough of the corrupt O'Neill government.

After the incident, parliamentary officers and government members were quick to suggest the opposition was behind the storming of the Haus Tambaran.

When the media sought a response from Chris Hawkins, the APEC CEO and O’Neill’s chief media officer, he suggested they contact the opposition.

As parliament convened at 2pm, the speaker of parliament, Job Pomat, announced he wanted an investigation into who was responsible, making reference to the opposition.

Two days after incident, the police commissioner staged a press conference and implied I had something to do with the protest.

This has been referred to since, including at last week’s Mining and Petroleum Conference in Sydney.

So what credible evidence was produced to establish my involvement?

Short answer - none.

If I had command and control over 300 plus security forces, I would not have wasted their time breaking glass windows and stealing water coolers, I would have suggested they carryout sweeping arrests of corrupt politicians, senior public servants and foreign cronies associated with O'Neill - an act they would not have to fear being arrested for as the PNG constitution provides them with such powers.

If anything the incident should be a stern warning to members of parliament, public servants and foreign cronies who have enriched themselves at the expense of our people.

The incident, while regrettable, is only the beginning of what is yet to come.

In February 2019, members of parliament will be afforded the opportunity to remove a corrupt prime minister and form a new government which will be committed to addressing the serious socioeconomic issues affecting our country such as the cost of living, unjustified and misused tax increases, collapsing health services, the influx of foreign nationals who have become overnight millionaires on public funds, an education system pushing out 50,000 school leavers without real employment opportunities, a kina losing its value and a country sinking in debt.

These, combined with escalating law and order issues, are symptoms of social and economic breakdown caused by systemic corruption.

Come February 2019, should O'Neill and his cronies continue to highjack and corrupt our democratic processes, then all bets are off. I will travel the length and breadth of the country to awaken the nation that these people must all be brought to account.

While there are many critics who are quick to brand me as a first time member of parliament, what they forget is how much ground I've been able to cover in just one year. What is certain is that in 2019 O'Neill will be removed from office whether by democratic process or by the will of eight million Papua New Guineans.

Photo: When security forces stormed parliament they damaged every office on my wing except mine, which was left untouched.

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Lindsay F Bond

Today in PNG Attitude, Marlene Potoura laments the loss of “innocent people who were assassinated in Bougainville by rebels who had lost what the true fighters were fighting for.”

Also, MP Bryan Kramer attests a “stern warning to members of parliament, public servants and foreign cronies who have enriched themselves at the expense of our people.”

Transparency International urges that “all forms of corruption must be ended to secure the basic rights of all people and ensure a world where everyone can live in dignity.”

With no longer the prospect of a political diversion such as APEC, the nation that wants of itself, the people of PNG are staring at the meaning of trust.

What murk, what fog of PNG’s political dawn prevents better understanding? Is it not only the vapours of vacuous suggestions from ‘well-oiled machines’, is it statements that are of the stones that tower between villagers in remote places, is it the self-gratification of ears yearning a tok that is less than widely understood?

PNG people have a prodigious ability to take action. Hope is action will align with sound reasoning, with appreciable input from the greater cohort of voters (did women participate in that storming of Parliament Haus?) and with spiritedness that emerges such as at Christmas gatherings, where the light shining for peace and goodwill for all, is matched with the PNG constitutional word ‘equity’.

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