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PNG’S O’NEILL SLAMS ‘NATIONAL’ FOR BIASED REPORTING Prime Minister says Malaysian-owned newspaper favors Somare

PORT MORESBY, Papua New Guinea (PNG Post-Courier, Oct. 31, 2011) – In Papua New Guinea (PNG), Prime Minister Peter O’Neill has expressed disappointment over The National newspaper’s coverage of the special reference brought up by the East Sepik Provincial (ESP) executives, saying it gave prominence to the former government rather than a balanced report to both sides.

[PIR editor’s note: The reference challenges the legality of the Peter O’Neill-led government formed in Aug. 2.]

Mr O’Neill said in a press release which he sent to Post-Courier only.

"The National newspaper’s coverage was biased. It gave prominence to the Opposition lawyers’ arguments. The Government’s case was not covered properly," Mr O’Neill said.

Just before Mr O’Neill departed Perth for Sydney, he said the former government was riddled with massive corruption and was over thrown by an overwhelming 72 vote.

He said his Government had been in power for only two months and during his time, it had made much progress in fighting corruption and had put in place groundwork for good governance.

"The achievements of the O’Neill-Namah Government needed to be given prominence rather than publishing materials that provided a corrupt Government which was voted out," Mr O’Neill said.

He said he respected the judiciary but maintained his Government was voted into office in full compliance with the provisions of the constitution and the standing order of Parliament.

[PIR editor’s note: The National, owned by Malaysian conglomerate Rimbunana Hijau (PNG) Group, a major player in Papua New Guinea’s logging industry, reported recently on controversy over it’s sister company’s logging activity in the Pomio region of East New Britain and offered an editorial on the matter.]

Mr O’Neill is in Australian for the Commonwealth Heads of Government (CHOGM) meeting and will return to Papua New Guinea tomorrow.

On Wednesday, he will call a National Executive Council meeting which will discuss with the Government lawyers what option to take in response to the court decision on the special reference by the ESP provincial executives.

Mr O Neill said his visit to CHOGM was a big success in that he had fully participated in all official engagements.

Mr O’Neill had private dinner with his counterparts from Australian and New Zealand and had also met the Australian Opposition Leader.

They head fruitful meeting on all bilateral matters.

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