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Dr. Yasause charged with murder of rugby star

PORT MORESBY, Papua New Guinea (The National, March 4, 2011) - Murder suspect Dr. Theo Yasause was short-listed for, at least, three departmental head positions, including that of the chief secretary, before he was arrested by police following the shooting death of rugby league star Aquila Emil last month.

This came to light on Wednesday when cabinet appointed Margaret Elias as permanent secretary for the prime minister and the National Executive Council (NEC). By virtue of the post, she automatically assumes the post of chief secretary as well.

Elias beat Yasause and a former deputy secretary of the Prime Minister’s Department, James Melagepa, to the post.

The National learnt that Yasause had applied for and was short-listed for the position of secretary of Commerce and Industry and Education as well – appointments for which were still pending before cabinet.

The National learnt that all selections were made and the short-list finalized before the shooting incident which landed Yasause as the main police suspect.

Yasause, a doctorate holder, was formerly head of the Office of Climate Change but it was closed under controversial circumstances by the prime minister and he was subject to an investigation and was cleared of all the charges.

After the fatal shooting of Emil in the early hours of Feb 4 in Port Moresby, police arrested and charged Yasause with wilful murder.

He had been denied bail and remained a remandee in Bomana prison.

Wednesday’s cabinet decision on the chief secretary revealed that government jobs, however senior, were unattractive.

The position of chief secretary, the top of the public service bureaucratic ladder which carried the most attractive terms and conditions, was publicly advertised but attracted only five applicants.

Only Elias was a serving departmental head. The National learnt that the other four were retired former public servants.

Even the acting chief secretary, Manasupe Zurenuoc, was said to have not applied for the job and so was not considered. He would revert to his substantive position as secretary for Provincial Affairs.

There were fewer than 10 candidates for each of the other heads of department positions advertised-Education, Commerce and Industry and Agriculture and Livestock.

There were no permanent appointments made at Wednesday’s meeting but the short-listed names would be considered when NEC next convenes.

It was almost certain Yasause would be dropped from the short-list.

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