PEOPLE have lost faith in parliamentary democracy because it’s not working as it should be and it’s not keeping the government and bureaucracy accountable, says former Prime Minster and senior statesman Sir Rabbie Namaliu.
I see our democracy, our parliamentary system, as being at the crossroads. The next election will be more critical than any since Independence. I say that because the people of Papua New Guinea, as I read them, have basically lost faith and trust in key aspects of democracy.
Sir Rabbie, who served more than 40 years in various capacities as a senior civil servant and public offices, including a 15-year term as a MP, said the total lack of parliamentary accountability “troubles our people greatly’’.
He was speaking at a fund raising dinner in Port Moresby for the Social Democratic Party headed by NCD Governor Powes Parkop.
Sir Rabbie, who recently announced his retirement from public life including politics, told diners that Mr Parkop was a leader of high standing and integrity and was a “breath of fresh air, not only in the NCD but on the national political stage’’.
“He is one of a number of young leaders who have the capacity to provide our nation with a vision and with good, dynamic and honest leadership,’’ Sir Rabbie, who was a principal adviser to Sir Michael Somare in the 1970s, said.
The National Parliament is not working as it should and as the Constitution intended. It is not meeting as frequently as it must do and when it meets, sittings are cut short for short term political advantage. The role of the Opposition has been diminished through a lack of proper resources and infrequent meetings of Parliament.
Sir Rabbie said Parliament was no longer in a position to keep the executive government and the bureaucracy accountable.
I sense that the total lack of parliamentary accountability troubles our people greatly. What troubles them even more is the perception that leaders are abusing their office for personal benefit and at times, political party benefit. And they do so because they are not held accountable through the parliamentary process.
They are even more troubled when they see evidence that public servants are abusing their positions not only for personal gain but at the expense of providing basic and essential services to the people, such as medicines and health services.
The nation must have parties with strong and good leaders and with enthusiastic and committed members. . . . and political parties who actually stand for something substantial, and not just getting their hands on political funds and the privileges of office!
It had been said that the declaration that parts of the laws on the integrity of political parties was unconstitutional was a setback for the party system.
But the nation could develop the political system and the role of political parties without breaching the freedoms and liberties guaranteed by the Constitution, Sir Rabbie said.
* Spotted in the Post Courier