Son of former Australian naval officer is PNG's newest politician

12/07/2012 07:22

Ronny Knight, the MP-elect for Manus, signs his declaration papers with PNG electoral officials looking on.

Picture courtesy of Qwentan Kiliwi Chollai.


The son of a former Australian naval officer is Papua New Guinea’s newest MP as the country slowly begins to declare winners from its problem-plagued general election.

Ronny Knight, 47, the son of Australian naval officer Ron Knight (Senior) who was stationed at the Royal Australian Navy HMAS Tarangau base (now the PNG Defence Force’s Lombrum naval base in Manus province) on Los Negros Island in the 1960s, was declared the MP-elect for the Manus Open seat.

His election came at the expense of a former Somare and O’Neill government minister Job Pomat, whose 634 votes when counting went into the final elimination round fell short of Mr Knight’s 1083.

Mr Knight’s parents became PNG citizens when the country gained independence from Australia in 1975 and runs a family business that has interests in stevedoring and tourism.

One of few PNG candidates in this general election who are active Facebook users, he took to social media to thank supporters and voters.

“To all my Facebook friends, my family, brothers, sisters and laus (sic), thank you for your congratulations and from the bottom of my heart wuroh (thank you)! I am flooded with inboxes and texts and calls and to answer them would take months. I am so humbled and proud to be considered fit to lead such a great province. I will do my best with your help and assistance. Love to you all,” he posted.

He was runner-up to Mr Pomat in the 2007 general election and his victory in his second shot at PNG national politics gets the New Generation Party, headed by veteran politician Bart Philemon, on the board.

While it is early days yet the loss of Mr Pomat dealt a blow to the bid by Prime Minister Peter O’Neill and his People’s National Congress (PNC) to form government, though the party quickly filled the gap when the Manus provincial seat was won by its candidate Charlie Benjamin, an MP in the 2002-2007 parliament.

The declaration of the two Manus seats comes a week after Mr O’Neill retained his Ialibu-Pangia seat in the resource-rich Southern Highlands province, whose victory together with that of Mr Benjamin means the PNC now has two politicians.

Counting is yet to start in 42 of the 109 seats remaining in the PNG parliament but as of last night some of the key players in the government formation period next month were leading in their respective electorates. These include Don Polye (by 9514), Puka Temu (by 735), Powes Parkop (by 1665), Sir Julius Chan (by 360), Sir Michael Somare (by 3366), Anderson Agiru (by 2897) and Andrew Kumbakor (by 1194). Controversial politician Belden Namah is running second to independent candidate Willie Inaru, who has opened up a 2338 votes lead on the PNG Party parliamentary leader.