PNG Post-Courier

PORT MORESBY, Papua New Guinea (March 11, 2010) – IT’S been a flurry of words and retorts by our leaders in and outside Parliament in the past few days as expensive reports on probes into two sensational issues have been published.

Well, two reports have been tabled in Parliament but only one has been published to the wider audience outside Parliament, after lawyers for parties "interested’’ in the Commission of Inquiry into the Finance Department won a temporary restraining order against media publication.

The Government had a major victory in Parliament yesterday. It used its great majority to reject the Moti Affair report tabled by the Ombudsman Commission.

It may well be that the Moti issue will fade away slowly now, given that the controversial former Vanuatu attorney-general was acquitted in an Australian court recently.

Prime Minister Sir Michael Somare was quick to disparage the quality and intentions in the Ombudsman’s report.

He rubbished the Ombudsman Commission’s integrity and objectivity and denied he had given any directions for the lawyer to be smuggled clandestinely to the Solomons Islands. He discounted the evidence of one man as a discredited source. See related story.

Observers say it was a great pity that two of the key witnesses to high-level machinations over Moti have died since the affair shot to fame.

When the Government attacks the Ombudsman Commission integrity and intentions, it is in effect criticising its own judgment. The Chief Ombudsman, Chronox Manek, was chosen with their agreement. He is the man who dealt with this matter in his previous role as Public Prosecutor. Mr Manek narrowly escaped death several months ago when ambushed outside his home by gun-packing criminals. Now he is savaged by his own government.

The nation is waiting to see what will be done to ensure that we are not pitched into international scrutiny and embarrassment if such a matter occurs again. Obviously our police must be schooled to use the up to date legislation, not the older one. And military and police must be given a clearer picture of how to react to such a challenging situation. Somehow, we must learn from the Moti affair. Badmouthing the independent watchdog will not help

PNG Post-Courier

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