admin's picture

Offended by speech by Enga governor Ipatas

By Robert Palme

PORT MORESBY, Papua New Guinea (PNG Post-Courier, Mar 2, 2009) - A humiliated Prime Minister, Sir Michael Somare, left Enga in a hurry last Friday, upset over remarks hurled at his government by Enga

Reports say his cabinet ministers were also upset over the remarks by Mr. Ipatas and all this after they were received by him and his people in a rousing welcome a few days earlier for the National Executive Council meeting.

Sir Michael took his ministers to the Enga capital for the meeting, the biggest political event ever in that province, and when it was over, he and his ministers left without staying for the celebration to mark his 40 years in politics and sharing the cassowary dish that was prepared for him, his ministers and the Waigani officials that day.

One hundred pigs, 30 cassowaries and 20 goats were on the menu to feed Sir Michael and his ministers and farewell them the Engan way

Sir Michael was reported to have been upset at remarks made in a speech by Enga Governor Peter Ipatas at Thursday’s dinner which was hosted by the NEC.

Transport, Works and Civil Aviation Minister Don Polye downplayed the event when he told the media after the PM’s departure that there were more pressing issues for Sir Michael to attend to, including the nurses strike, which was "more important" than a localized issue.

However, another senior minister said, "Who is he (Ipatas) to humiliate the Cabinet. I was about to stand up and say enough ... I was standing and he (Ipatas) sat down."

In the speech that upset the NEC, Mr. Ipatas questioned the capabilities of the Joint District Planning and Budget Priorities Committees (JDP&BPC) to properly account for millions of kina given to them.

Mr. Ipatas also challenged Sir Michael why the funds were given to these committees without going through the established provincial government system. On Thursday Sir Michael gave the local Enga MPs more than PGK142 million [US$54 million] for projects and for the JDBPCs to coordinate the spending.

Mr. Ipatas told the dinner that for the national government to put millions into "untested entities is madness."

The governor said while he was happy that so much money had been put into the province, he questioned the capability for the districts to properly account for the funds.

He questioned how the Government saw fit to put PGK10 million [US$4 million] into a pyrethrum project in Laiagam when the factory to process the pyrethrum was owned and operated by the provincial government and the provincial government was taking a lead in reviving the commodity.

Mr. Ipatas said the next day that he would seek legal advice to sue a radio reporter and the station that ran a story that the NEC had been threatened.

Mr. Ipatas, when addressing a crowd at home village, Irelya, said the people of Enga show their hospitality to the NEC when they first arrived.

Mr. Ipatas said there was no threat to the Prime Minister or the Cabinet members and the news report allegation would harm the good image of Enga and its people.

He said the answer to the sudden departure of Prime Minister Sir Michael Somare on Friday with his ministers was known only to the cabinet and no that they were not threatened.

On Friday he apologized to his people, including school children who lined up early to welcome the NEC, but the Prime Minister and the Cabinet did not attend.


Rate this article: 
No votes yet

Add new comment