Post Courier asks are proposed law changes sinister or good?

Post Courier editorial, April 9 2010

WE ARE told that the proposed amendments to the Forestry Act is for good of the seven million people in PNG and there is no sinister motive by Forest Minister Belden Namah and the National Forest Authority in trying to amend the Act.

At the same time, Parliament is dealing with the amendments to Ombudsman Commission Act and we are told that there is nothing sinister about the amendments. 

However opposition to the proposed changes to the two laws are already mounting.

In the case of the Forestry Act, there is talk on the street that, the Minister is trying to centralise power for himself so that he can control the vast forest resources in PNG.

And in the case of the Ombudsman Commission Act, there is also talk that Parliament was trying to take away the powers of the Ombudsman Commission to stop leaders and public office holders from wasting public funds, abuse their office and allow them to trade on the stock market.

We predict turbulent times in the days ahead and should anything happens, the blame must rest with Messrs Maladina and Namah. Maladina and Nemah, before they push radical changes like these in Parliament, need to take in account some things.

Ignorance of the the laws of this country is a big problem. So any attempt to change any part of the constitution or the existing laws will always be viewed with suspicion.

Secondly, the people must be given the right to have their say on any amendments to the existing laws . 

Thirdly, there are systems and procedures put in place for any Parliamentarian or government for that matter, to use, when proposing changes to our laws. This is to allow for the proposed amendments to be scrutinised properly by professionals and changes made to ensure that the proposed amendments are not harmful or dangerous to PNG and its people.

Short cuts like the one employed by Mr Maladina, to introduce the amendments as a Private Members Bill raises questions in the minds of the people.

Good governance, transparency and accountability are key issues here, lest we forget.



The fact that corruption is on the increase despite the existence and operation of the Ombudsman Commission (OC) gives rise to many questions about the effectiveness of the OC. Is the OC truly an effective institution, has the OC reduced corruption. Obviously the answer is no.

The OC's role has been two fold, first to protect against mal-administration and second to monitor the leadership code.

For the first part the 'Finance Inquiry' clearly proved that massive corruption exists in the public service and it continues to increase. We hear that corrupt practices in other areas of Government have not been addressed by the OC e.g. the health department and the issue of the purchase and supply of medicine. The OC has therefore failed in its duty to protect against mal-administration since its inception on Independence.

We however, hear that it is focusing more on the leadership Code matters in recent times. This is well and good but have they succeeded in reducing corruption by Leaders. Again the answer is no.

Perhaps it is time to review the OC and its operation.

We hear for example that Parliament has not been sitting its required time period, what has the OC done? We hear that there are bank accounts held by corrupt government officials offshore e.g. in Singapore, what has the OC done? Why has the OC not referred those implicated in the Moti saga to the Public Prosecutor?

Under the currently law, without the Maladina Amendments, I can assure that nothing...nothing will ever happen..and perhaps in 5 or 6 years if we are lucky the OC might comeback with a response..but by then it will be too late!

With the Maladina Amendments the OC has no choice but to act within 30 days apon receiving a complaint. Under the Maladina Amendment the OC has the powers to issue directives.. powers which they do not presently have.

Those who wish to make a comment read the Amendments carefully first before commenting. My observation is that people like Peter Aitsi and Noel Anjo have not properly read the Amendments and do not entirely understand the true nature of its impact on the OC.