Header Ads

THE BASIL STANDOFF

by ROBERT SALMON MINAK 

Every story has 2 sides. The story we know has Hon Sam Basil and Co. referring Hon Bryan Kramer to the Parliamentary Privileges Committee. Kramer has had Basil in his crosshairs since the day after Basil left for government.

The range of issues Kramer has been raising have popular resonance. Truth be told, I am beginning to believe in Kramer's consistency in "shaking the monkey filled corruption tree". And its getting heated!

Now, in the glamor of all that we are made to see, we may not realise certain aspects of a game as murky as politics. Someone once said politics is a game of convenience. No permanent friends, no permanent enemies. Nothing personal. All for show.

Just in July 2017, Pangi Party leader Basil, now Oneill's minister for Facebook, authored and promoted the slogan "Friends to all enemy to one". The one enemy being PM Peter Oneill.

How fortunes can change so quickly in PNG. As you read this, Oneill and Basil are now friends. Strange bedfellows?

That is the nature of the game. Everything has a price tag in politics. Marriages and divorcess of convenience dictate the game.

Now, if we care to remember, recent history (last year) has Kramer, working as a strategist plotting the Pangu Party resurgence. Basil and Kramer were running the engine of Pangu and performed extremely well in the National Elections.

When Oneill secured a return to the PM seat, Basil switched sides with a faction of Pangu MPs. Kramer remained on the other side with Hon Sir Mekere Morauta and a handful of young MPs.

Oneill bought Sam Basil and co to keep United Resource Party's William Duma humble. Duma wielded the balance of power before Basil made the move. Part of the reason was that the opposition had 46 MPs (the Alliance then). Oneill was on nervous grounds. Duma flips and Oneill would have been history (Manumanu land deal investigations was O'Neill's political leash on Duma). So, by bringing Basil's herd into camp, Duma's leverage was neutralised with the net effect cementing Oneill's position.

Word is that Basil was promised the Deputy PM's post. We all know he didnt get it right? To hand over DPM to Basil within the safety net period is suicidal. There is no political need for PM Oneill to rush the DPM position to Basil. Time will come. The promise still remains. That is Oneills carrot. Duma wants it too but Basil is primed for it....for now.

Just a few weeks ago, facebook accounts, Vincent Moses, Talitha Rosenberg, Michael Pasingan, Eddie veda and few others circulated news of a cabinet room altercation between PM Oneill and Education Minister Hon Nick Kuman.

Kuman rubbished those versions as fake news. But the ferocity of the words he chose to deploy in his rebuttal were serious words. He would have chose to ignore them(like Oneill does). But Kuman saw the need to officially respond. When a cabinet minister responds to "fake news" then you can bet your bank balance there is an element of truth about it.

Now, roundabout that time last month, the PM was caught offguard in another "fake news" incident in Brisbane Australia during the annual Australia/ PNG Business Council meeting. Economist Paul Flanagan and a team of scholars from a think tank released a dossier highlighting the negative effects of the PNGLNG project. While he totally rejected it as fake news, his deputy, Hon Charles Abel, indicated the article had substantial merit and conceded its findings.

Shortly between those events, Sam Basil and Pangu publicly re-arffirmed their commitment to Peter Oneill. Few days later, Oneill promoted Pangu Deputy Hon. William Samb to "assistant PM". This is a nothing ministry( but leave that to another time). So far the winds of fortune are slowly but surely blowing Pangu's way.

This is where Pangu's fortune engineer comes in. Enter Hon Bryan Kramer.

Hon Kramer's no holds barred frontal assault on Basil and the latter's response with equal tenacity is pushing Basil deeper into the Oneill ranks.

Basil is a leader of almost 12 years standing. Being no slouch when it comes to facebook attacks on fellow MPs he is taking particular offence on Kramer's posts. He has a thick skin. Is he hurt?. Is he putting up a facade?. If acting hurt and reacting in the manner he is makes him Oneill's darling, its a win for him.

If one cares to look carefully at Kramer's dumb'n'dumber post on Basil really, there is nothing there. Kramer's referral while. premised on a misconstruction of the law, is political. Kramer knows how it will play out and so does Basil.

While the Privilleges committee recomendation may struggle to stand up in court, it only makes Kramer and Basil's fight look genuine (Even if it were, politics is too good of a game to be taken seriously at the personal level. Its a game of ideals where the best strategist wins. Nothing personal, just plain old politics).

Basil has the nation at heart. He is as patriotic as they come. He will die for this country without a second thought. By being in government he is closer to the throughs of the throne than he has ever been in his entire political career.

Remember, when he first joined government, word was that ministers in cabinet treated him with suspicion. They found his criticism of government harder to forgive.

But its many months now, and thanks to Bryan Kramer's pen (keyboard or mouse) Basil now finds a comfortable seat at Oneill's table.

Peter Oneill is enjoying the sideshow. He would love nothing than to see two former buddies locking horns on an epic scale. He just doesnt want to play any part of it. Choosing to watch from the fringes, he has appointed DPM Charles Abel to manage the proceedings.

But this fight has far reaching consequences for Oneill if he under estimates the intent of the catfight. That is the other side of the story.

Bryan Kramer, may never be friends with Basil any more but Kramer shaking Basil's branch so hard is causing Basil to gravitate closer and closer to the monkey king atop the tree.

Intentionally or not, Basil's reacting to Kramer's facebook post is working in favor of Basil.

Whether this is a ploy by the opposition and Basil or not, only time will tell. But like everything, politics has two sides. Dont be blinded by the picture they show you. Keep your minds open. It's politics....played as a game of convenience all the time..nothing personal.

The author is a Lawyer and Writer who has written several books on PNG. Please follow him on his blog over HERE