Time for PNG politicians to respect the integrity of their public offices

17/07/2012 22:38


By Martin Kombri

In developed democracies as in the case of England, Australia, New Zealand, the United States and elsewhere, people who hold public offices who become the subject of allegations and investigations for any misconduct in office, often almost readily either resign or step aside to allow for the investigations and the due process of the law to take its proper course. 

This they do out of respect for themselves and their own integrity and the integrity of the office they hold and the institutions they are part of as well as respect for the due process of the law. This is most noble, respectful and a demonstration of true leadership in difficult times for the sake of good administration, governance and the greater interest of the nation.

The tradition of voluntary stepping down, in light of allegations and accusations of misconduct in office or criminal conduct of a public office holder, became part of PNG's democracy and tradition. At least two leaders, as far as we are aware, respectively resigned and stood down from office in such circumstances. The first leader was Opai Kunangil. What he did is recorded in the decision of the court (Supreme Court) cited as SCR No 2 of 1982; Re Opai Kunangil Amin (1991) PNGLR 1. The other leader was Sir Julius Chan who decided to step down as Prime Minister during the 1997 Sandline Crisis.

Since then up to this point in time, it is unfortunately fast becoming the norm for most leaders in PNG, who are the subject of allegations and investigation for misconduct in office and or criminal offences, to continue to occupy their respective office s and continue to function and are readily applying for stay or injunctive orders. Some of them are even interfering into the proper conduct of investigations and proper conclusions of such investigations.

Others are doing everything they possibly can to remain in office, continue to function and in most instances are either committing more misconduct in office – from tempering with evidence, interfering with witnesses, swindling funds or otherwise seriously abusing their powers knowing that they may not last long in those offices.  

  • Martin Kombri is a lawyer by profession and is an active member of the Sharp Talk Facebook discussion group. This posting was originally published on Sharp Talk.