The National

PORT MORESBY, Papua New Guinea (Dec. 14) – Papua New Guinea this year has witnessed numerous members of Parliament found guilty of assault and placed on suspended sentences.

We members of the public have every reason to be less than satisfied with many members of our Parliament.

Too many parliamentarians are members of the House in name only.

There is a constant minority of elected representatives that appears to have little concept of the role or functions of Parliament.

And far too many members don’t even have a rudimentary grasp of most of the rules and regulations that apply to the people’s assembly.

The exceptions are those provisions relating to allowances and parliamentary payments.

If we are to have confidence, belief and respect in our Parliament, then we have to have sound reasons to do so.

The members are, after all, what makes Parliament tick, and they have the responsibility of bringing down laws and implementing policies that are beneficial to us all.

This year has seen a level of alleged and actual misbehavior that may well prove to exceed any noted before.

There are the corruption charges and the slow and painstaking efforts to bring these under the magnifying glass and determine the truth.

We have seen members ousted from the House, stripped of their seats, and found guilty of a variety of financial and mismanagement charges.

There have also been those members who have offended in other ways. One member has this year faced community allegations of illegally arranging for a massive payment to recompense him for his supposed wrongful dismissal from an urban body nearly eight years ago.

That matter remains to be solved. The same member later faced the courts on assault charges, and he was found guilty, and given a good behavior bond and a suspended sentence.

He is now involved in an alleged rape case, which in turn may lead to charges of perjury.

This member continues to represent his electorate, and govern his province.

We have often written of the need for members to recognize that they must -- not should, but must -- establish a code of behavior than can serve as an example to their people and by extension the whole country.

For if members of the House continue to ignore that necessity, the survival and growth of democracy in PNG will ultimately become questionable.

December 15, 2004

The National:


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