Friday, April 27, 2012

Is it in Papua New Guinea’s National Interest to Appoint another Electoral Commissioner just weeks before the National Election?

Firstly, whilst legal scrutiny is encouraged, the motive and timing of scrutiny is in essence of paramount importance, and MUST be seen to be in Papua New Guinea’s National interest. It has been insinuated by certain individuals advising the Government of Peter O’Niell that the current Electoral Commissioner, Mr Trawen’s reappointment was flawed. Whether it is a fact or an assumption that the Electoral Commissioner’s reappointment was flawed, is a matter to be contested in the Courts of Law. However, at this critical moment in time, the country is gearing up for the National Elections, and many ordinary as well as corporate citizens would not be too impressed by another legal challenge which will most certainly transpire as a result of any calculated decision to sideline the current Electoral Commissioner to ‘justify’ the deferral of Elections by another six or more months.

Mr Trawen has been working in the Electoral Commission for many years and he is a very experienced elections officer and Public Servant. He was the Deputy Chief Electoral Commissioner prior to his appointment and reappointment. If his reappointment was flawed, the Appointments Committee can reappointment him and correct whatever needed correcting retrospectively. 

One is amazed at this current regime and Parliament for the number of retrospective legislations it has made since a new Government came into office less than a year ago. If really there were flaws in Mr Trawen’s reappointment, then in PNG’s National interest, why not correct these flaws retrospectively?  It would be stupid and outrageous if a completely new appointment was made at this time. Obviously, that appointee will be seen and perceived as a “rubber stamp” of the current regime and will most likely do more damage to this important Constitutional Office than good!

Secondly, it was further insinuated that it only took 5 minutes for the then Prime Minister, Grand Chief Sir Michael T Somare to reappoint Mr Trawen as Electoral Commissioner. The point is: whether it took 5 minutes to reappoint him or one hour is immaterial as the then Opposition Leader ( who happens to be a member of the current regime) could have been party to the decision and not only the PM at that time.
[ View Government Gazette 3rd February 2010. ].  Or download the Copy here. (pdf)

It is a normal administrative procedure for the Chairman of any committee to make announcements on behalf of the committee. Apparently, the Prime Minister at that time was Grand Chief Sir Michael T.Somare so, as Chairman of the Appointments Committee, it was proper in his capacity to make the announcement of the Electoral Commissioner’s reappointment.

One can in no doubt argue that these insinuations raises more suspicion about the TIMING of such "revelations" and at this juncture we as citizens can see that there is a clear undercurrent of selfish agenda which has got nothing to do with PNG National Interest.

Here is a quote by a famous American Politician for one to ponder on:

“You can fool some of the people all of the time, and all of the people some of the time, but you can not fool all of the people all of the time”. Abraham Lincoln, (attributed) 16th President of USA (1809 - 1865