THE BEST POLICE COMMISSIONER IS THE PERSON WHO WILL FIGHT FOR THE RULE OF LAW

by PAUL AMATIO

I have seen many recommendations on the police commissioner’s position in the media. The names include Gari Baki, David Manning, Mathew Damaru, Fred Yakasa, Andy Bawa, Thomas Eluh, Peter Aigilo and others to name a few.
The events of 2011 were a precursor to the situation we have now and we cannot afford to ignore our history. Indeed, we do so at our own peril. The Honourable Police Minister knows too well the perils of a police force that is politically aligned, undisciplined and uncontrolled that exists to serve the interests of the few and not the law or the Constitution or the government even. So I think it is important that we all pause and take a look back at the hole we just crawled out of and rethink our nominations and recommendations, not only for the police commissioner and his deputies but also for any other departmental head.

In 2011, while Grand Chief Sir Michael Thomas Somare was in Singapore for medical treatment, a coup was planned to remove him from the post and appoint a new prime minister in his absence. At that time, Mr Sam Abal was acting prime minister. While these machinations were going on at the political level, there was a similar move afoot to secure the security forces of the nation. A new Defence Force Commander was appointed and a new acting police commissioner was put in. The restructuring was also done within the police force with certain officers marked for transfer in or out of NCD depending on their respective positions in relation to crime and corruption.

The changes in the police included Joseph Tondop from Met Supt/NCD to Met Supt/Lae, Fred Yakasa from a/Deputy Commissioner Operations to Chief of Bougainville Police, Peter Guinness from PPC/Morobe to Met Supt/NCD, and David Manning to Director SSD.

The former two (Yakasa and Tondop) declined the transfer orders from Joseph KUPO (then acting Commissioner) and requested to remain. At the same time, the Supreme Court ruling sought by GC Sir Michael Somare was announced clearly stating that the take over of government by Peter O’Neil and Belden Namah was illegal.

I was in Port Moresby at the time and I can still recall the euphoria of the people on the streets of Port Moresby when Somare was deposed. Nobody cared that the move was ILLEGAL. I am not saying in any way here that the Somare government was a clean and corruption-free government. What I am saying is that people did not care that the PROCESS of removing that government was ILLEGAL and UNLAWFUL.

The police and the military at the time maintained neutrality but up to a point. When the Supreme Court Ruling came out, it became obvious immediately that O’Neil and his cronies – yes, cronies – had no intention of succumbing to the rule of law claiming that a majority of 2-1 on the Supreme Court Bench was not a majority rule at all! And so, the police were mobilised to take control of the street of NCD. The illegal government claimed that they had the support of the people – which they did – but they failed to say that their actions were unconstitutional, illegal and unlawful. And the people blindly welcomed them as saviours. Well, over the last seven years PNG has reaped the fruits of that stupidity and our country is now in such a mess that I will be long dead before it is alright again. As the saying goes, be careful what you ask for – you might get exactly what you deserve.

A small group of police officers realised that this was not what the law was. This was in fact against their oaths of office and a breach of the constitution. This small group of policemen were supported by a small group of politicians and senior people who resented the illegality of the illegal government. The majority of these police officers came from the now disbanded NCD Armed Robbery Response Unit. This was an elite unit comprising of tough coppers who within the space of 6 months brought armed robbery in NCD to ZERO in 2010-1011 by rapid response and apprehension.

Two senior police officers namely a/Deputy Commissioner Fred Yakasa and Superintendent Joseph Tondop. Commissioned officers assisting them included Inspectors Fred Tundu, George Kakas and Fred Bare. The total number of men was around 75-100 only compared to the influx of Mobile Squad members from PNG into NCD and that police already in NCD. All of these men have suffered persecutions, unemployment, career destruction and personal suffering. Just because they chose to stand up and be counted as someone who stood for their Oaths of Office, the Constitution, the Rule of Law and the Legal Government of the day by rejecting bribery, corruption and lawlessness.

All other police officers whom I have named above were nowhere in sight and chose to conveniently forget that they were first and foremost POLICE OFFICERS who had taken an Oath to protect the Constitution and obey the lawful directives of the legal Government. They deliberately chose to forget that O’Neil and cronies were not a legal government! I know a lot of money was going around then so maybe they were given money to forget the law and their country and their Oaths?
If the county needs a police chief now who will stand for these things and support the Governments vision to TAKE BACK PNG and make it THE RICHEST BLACK CHRISTIAN NATION ON EARTH then you need to select a commissioner from among one of these officers.

For me, I stood by Fred Yakasa then and I stand by him now as the best possible candidate for the position of Police Commissioner for Papua New Guinea under this new government.

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