It embarrasses many Papua New Guineans to explain to anyone why the average politician in his/her country seems undeterred by public opinions of any kind. Unlike some democracies, where politicians caught in misconduct cases will either resign, or step down to be investigated, but not so in PNG.
In such cases to date, an implicated MP usually denies publicly any adverse reports about his alleged actions. The errant politician will accuse the media of being misrepresented, misquoted by inexperienced journalists; and that local papers are spreading false stories to discredit his reputation.
The MPs involved do not even feel disgraced at all, or feel compelled to temporarily step down from office to await investigations (if any). Despite public outrage, politicians unashamedly hold on to their jobs with the prime minister failing to take tough action to ensure parliamentarians (mostly in government) do the ‘right thing’ under the circumstances. Over the years, successive prime ministers have all failed in this regard.
The citizenry today do not even bother about writing another useless letter of complaint to their local MP. It is a complete waste of time. Except for a handful, most ‘pollies’ are just big disappointments to their electorates. The so-called ‘big men’ are either too busy doing something unrelated to their constituent’s interests, or simply ignores the complainant as a mere trouble-maker.
As for the PNG Ombudsman Commission (OC), it may soon be made powerless if the government has its way. The OC started off well with a new Chief Ombudsman's (CO) appointment with ’gusto’. The new incumbent discontinued master’s studies in
The familiar trend under all former
Is there any secret written deal between the government and OC? I do not believe there is, even if that is a perception now. The CO has found out what all his predecessors were frustrated about. He is doing his best but is being swamped by the magnitude of the job.
On the whole, the OC has to date done a sterling job, but it must do more than what it is doing now, or not doing; to put away some bad politicians behind bars. It will need the help of the Attorney General’s office and all law enforcement agencies working as one team.
However, if that is not bad enough, the government now plans to pass a bill to further regulate the watch-dog. It shows the government has something to fear to curb the powers of the commission. If this regulation bill is ever passed in parliament then PNG will experience more gross political abuses of power. The end state will be the PNG Ombudsman Commission becoming a mere ‘paper tiger’ with no powers to stop ‘crooks’ occupying public offices in future.
In addition, PNG needs a chain reaction to be started by committed Department secretaries, government board chairmen, public and private sector, civil society and the general public to point-blankly tell their MPs just …’where to stick it’. This may be just what it will take to stop them.