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RESPECTING THE OFFICE OF PRIME MINISTER

by DAVID LEPI
While the PM’s warrant of arrest saga has dragged into another kaleidoscope of a turn, valuable lessons can be learned from this experience. I particularly came across two important lessons.
First and foremost, it is extremely important to note that never allow personal vendetta and political ambition get in the way to overthrow a mandated government by using state apparatuses and slip in the law.

Perhaps not only legitimate but the most dignified and honourable manner in taking on a government in our parliamentary democracy is on the floor of parliament and square it out using smart political maneuvering, tactical statecraft or popular policy intervention in amassing the required strength in numbers to form a government or overthrow a government through the vote-of-no confidence. Resorting to other shabby and malicious means is for the weak and desperate.

It is said that in natural selection the weak always try to bring down the strong given their apparent inadequacies but this should not inherit in politics. It is like you resorting to poison-tipped bullets in conventional warfare- a thing totally degrading to humanity and utterly outlawed by the Geneva Convention.

Of the executive arm of the government the Office of the Prime Minister is the highest office on the land and its decorum must be respected. It is not to say that the Prime Ministers are immune to probe but the manner in which the warrant of arrest was pursued on the current PM is very alarming and is a concern now for anyone holding the Office of the Prime Minister in the future.

We have just witnessed people with intent and purpose known only to them have vehemently attempted to have the PM resign over unfounded allegation and accusations that are yet to stand the test of law in simply by a way of an arrest. We all have different opinions on how Rt. Hon Peter O’Neill is wielding power from the esteemed office but the argument here is squarely on protecting that office. The Office of the Prime Minister and the PMs in the future must not be subjected to false accusations, charged and forced to resign all based on unfounded allegations.

The warrant of arrest on the Prime Minister was defective all along. Even a person with little knowledge of the law could easily pick apart the warrant was clearly defective right from the start. The irony at that time and now begging answers is why the magistrate issuing the warrant at the District Court couldn’t pick up the defects there and then and safe us the trouble- and of all people the warrant was issued by a very learned person and a proponent of the law itself in none other than the Chief Magistrate Eliakim.

Could we simply brush it aside as an oversight on her part or pick on the bones as a deliberate ploy in the making? This question would likely pop up should there be an enquiry into the issuance of the warrant of arrest. Interestingly, it didn’t stop there. Another exponent of the law in former Attorney General Kerenga Kua and his band of merry man decided to peddle the defective warrant of arrest on the Prime Minister and plunge PNG into unnecessary years of legal turmoil. Now one would ask were there any relationship between Kerenga Kua and Magistrate Eliakim? And to what end our two esteemed people colluded?

The second thing I noticed is that the media summarily pass judgment when anything coming out into the open for public scrutiny or consumption. Gone are the days of investigative and balanced reporting. Whilst some media outlet have maintained professionalism and impartiality all along certain overseas based news agencies and the social media often took the case out of context or sided with their sponsors in pre-empting an uncanny judgement. This portrays a very bad image to the country and far greater damages particularly to the Prime Minister. Media outlets indulged in this unethical practice must now be responsible and promote the true sense of justice in fair and balanced reporting.

Whilst it is open for any interested party to apply for a new warrant of arrest against the Prime Minister as provided by the law, we must appreciate and accept the ruling of the three-man bench Supreme Court and allow reason and better judgment. One should not take this personally with resentment and start spilling it again on the media and pretend to be a do-gooder.