ABOLISHING DEPARTMENT IS WRONG AND CORRUPT


by
PAUL AMATIO

PART ONE - This National Gazette G279 dated 04th May 2021 titled Abolishment of the Department of Police and the Office of the Secretary for Police was signed into effect by the Governor General. Hence there is now no police department and no departmental head for the police. What we now are left with in this country is a State Entity called the Police Force named the Royal Papua New Guinea Constabulary headed by a Commissioner for Police. This presentation represents my views of why this is a disastrous move for this country.

Prelude

It appears that the clock has now come full circle. When James Marape became PM I and many others went out and celebrated. The guy was a practising Christian, he resigned from government over very good reasons, he publicly prayed and cried to God, he displayed and preached a determination to bring PNG back from the brink, he promised a revitalised PNG becoming “the richest black Christian nation on earth”, he vowed to pursue and prosecute all who had stolen from the government and were involved in corrupt practises, he promised to table the APEC and the 2015 SP Games reports and many more.

I always have given him the benefit of the doubt. But NO MORE! 

PNG must now wake up and realise that O'Neil has not gone from government. He is still there. We are now seeing a government that clearly shows that Marape has not discarded the coat he inherited from O'Neil. He is no different. The applied a new coat of paint which has now faded and the true colors are now coming out. The lies, deceit, corruption, theft and misappropriation of public monies, appointment of cronies and incompetents to public offices using excuses and justifications that do not hold water, passing of legislation that is unconstitutional (Pandemic Act), not funding public offices enacted by law (ICAC), failing to acquit monies donated for PNG and many more all hallmarks of Peter O'Neil which PNG rejected. Marape has been doing all these.

It is now abundantly clear that James Marape is neither a fit nor suitable Prime Minister. He must be removed from this prestigious office…and now! All parliamentarians who profess to be anti-corruption must recognise this act accordingly. Or will our cries continue to be ignored?

A bit of background

I can recall that prior to a certain time, and while I was still a young constable, all positions within the police force were occupied by uniformed members of the RPNGC. That is from the most junior office clerk to the person in charge of salaries of finances. There were no civilians in the RPNGC. Given that, a decision was made by government to address this and release uniformed officers back into the streets to do actual policing while all financial positions were taken over by civilians. To enable this, the office of Secretary for Department of Police and Department of Police were created. And instead of opting to follow the PNGDF or CIS, it was decided that the Police Commissioner should wear both caps.

This in my view was a very wise decision as it ensured that the RPNGC was managed and run along the same high criteria was other government departments. Everyone will agree that the police force is one of the most important arms of state. Without it, the state would collapse overnight. Therefore it is important that the head of such an important institution must be on par with other government department heads.

Following James Marape’s decision to allow the abolishing of this position, it now relegates the position of police commissioner (or any other senior police position) to that of a security guard who although has little to zero knowledge of management, administration or operation is promoted up the ranks to this high office based on his years of service and on the job experience. This will not prepare the person for the huge complexities of running and managing such a critical and vital organ of state. How can a person without a proper grounding in the theories of management in major organisations be expected to understand or integrate the various tasks needed to align the organisation to achieving a government vision that is also complex and requires cooperation, resource alignment and integration with other government departments? 

While I have seen and read many learned lawyers write and post on FB this makes no change to either the composition of the police establishment or how it is managed, I do not agree. I think they are covering up and attempting to justify a corrupt act in order to facilitate a more corrupt one while at the same time denigrating, demoting and undermining the Police Force.

In my opinion, the “Abolishment of the Department of Police and the Office of the Secretary for Police” demonstrates:

1. That the Prime Minister is a rubber stamp for another or is scared of that person. Why? This situation is exactly what Kramer promised to do as soon as the Judicial Review against Manning’s appointment was lost and it has now been done. I theorise that this demonstrates a critical weakness on the part of Marape that Kramer knows and is perhaps taking advantage of. Is there something about Marape that Kramer know which if released will destroy Marape? I don’t know but two actions by the Prime Minister on the same matter both not in the national interest but in the interest of Kramer seem pretty suspicious to me.

2. That James Marape is the reincarnation of Peter O'Neil. Marape accused O'Neil of these very same things - for passing laws and making decision designed to circumvent events, suit cronies and political expediency, not the country. Faces, locations, positions and mannerisms can change but character and personal traits will remain infinitely recognisable.

What are the Benefits of changing laws and regulations

The Constitution of PNG states that all laws passed by parliament must be for the benefit of the people of PNG.  This includes subsidiary legislation like regulations and establishment or abolishing of departments and any amendments to them as well. 

There is ONLY one benefit in making this legislative change. And that is to ensure that someone who does not meet the criteria for appointment as the head of a government department under the PSMA gets appointed as Commissioner for Police. 

That is what Bryan Kramer promised to do and that is what is happening.

Some effects of the abolishing of the Department of Police

The abolishing of the Department of Police and its Secretary raises too many questions that need to be answered. Some of these are particularly important to this nation. The effects of this move are many and profound but the most critical is:

1. Has the cabinet realised that by making this change, the have effectively terminated the employment of all the civilian staffs of the police force who are employees of the Department of Police and not of the Royal Papua New Guinea Constabulary? It will be interesting to see the wording on the employment contracts of senior civilian staff.

2. Why has there been no public consultation whatsoever with relevant and key stakeholders including DPM, Finance and Treasury, police executives, Police Association, PEA and similar?

3. Was this done to get around the requirements for the Police Commissioner who was also a departmental head as secretary for the department of police to possess a tertiary qualification?

4. Is the Royal Papua New Guinea Constabulary now a second or third class institution that is only fit for school drop outs without need for improvement, advancement and modernisation to bring it up to par with similar institutions worldwide?

5. And if the Police Commissioner is the head of a State Entity, is he equivalent to a departmental head? And if so, do the requirements for appointment of a department head as per the DPM requirements and criteria apply to his appointment also? More to the point should they or should they not? And if not, then why not?

Following this obviously ill thought decision and its ramifications, what will now happen?  Will the government now publish a new set of criteria for the appointment of a police commissioner? Only a grade 12 or 10 certificate with several years’ experience and some doggy papers from internet school or 6 month courses? When we are already in the 21st Century? How does that benefit the RPNGC going forward and in the face of the breakdown in law and order being experienced in this country now? How does that equate to a formal education from a recognised institution? 

How well versed will such a person be with the multiple and multi-faceted requirements of policing in the modern era? What kind of police experience is necessary? A skewed or blinkered view of the whole does not make one a good manager as someone who has no experience of general policing will never ever be able to address the chaos in this country now. 

TO BE CONTINUED TOMORROW IN PART 2

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