PORT MORESBY, Papua New Guinea (The National, July 30) - The Papua New Guinea Government-owned Kumul aircraft touched down at Madang Airport and whisked away newly elected Madang Open member Buka Malai to Wewak as the National Alliance continues on a shopping spree for potential party-supporters.

[PIR editor’s note: Radio New Zealand International reports that the use of the government’s executive aircraft – allegedly to fly newly-elected lawmakers to Wewak, capital of East Sepik province and hometown of prime minister Michael Somare – is currently under investigation by the government ombudsman.]

The proclamation of Mr. Malai was the only one declared in Madang yesterday afternoon after the candidates obtained a court order that suspended the counting. Malai is an independent candidate and a close friend of Bogia member of parliament and National Alliance Party strongman John Hickey, who accompanied him to his proclamation ceremony before being whisked away to Wewak last Saturday afternoon.

Malai garnered 8,512 votes to beat his nearest rival and local Madang businessman Nixon Duban Philip with 7,239. Returning officer Goll Damud proclaimed Malai at 1:05 p.m.

The new Member thanked his family and attributed his victory to "God’s grace and guidance. The country needs good Christians and simple leaders to bring it back on the right track," he said.

Addressing his supporters outside the DWU Modilon campus gate, Malai said he would take a "bottoms-up" approach because "since independence, there had not been any co-operation among leaders and this had resulted in the people suffering."

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