“The Race Has Began”. This was an editorial title in one of the PNG’s newspapers announcing the beginning of the election campaigns by intending candidates for the 109 seats in the PNG parliament. The electoral commission has announced that the registed list of candidate is around 2000 and expected to climb – up to 3000! Some seats are being contested by more than 20 candidates!
In Papua New Guinea, it seems anyone can contest for the national elections. Regardless of whether you are a convicted criminal, have been convicted of abuse of power in public office, have been referred to the Ombudsmen Commission for misconduct in office, sports star or just any person who has the required nominating fee of US$400, you can do your campaign and join the race. And if you win, you get refunded UD$2500! No wonder so many are in the race.
I would expect those with serious medical conditions would put health before politics. But in PNG, politics comes first. A sitting MP, who had stroke announced from his sick bed in the hospital that he will contest the elections to defend his seat. A few weeks ago I read that a certain MP did not appear in court on medical grounds because his medical condition was such that he could not walk or speak. The description of the medical condition sounds like a stroke to me. I wonder if this is the same MP? Now fully recovered to contest the elections. No names were mentioned so I do not know if it is one and the same person.
Although the law requires one to be physically present in the province in which you wish to contest a seat and nominate there, an intending candidate in one of the PNG’s province was nominated by proxy. His supporters have not sighted him so are wondering where he is.
Public tranport have also been disrupted as candidates hire out the buses to move their supporters around and conduct rallies.
With the booming commodity prices for copper and oil, PNG is expected to increase its earnings. And it has been increasing for the government in the last 2-3 years or so. And if you get into parliament, you have all these monies at your disposal. You can steal these monies. It’s OK! It’s called “mis-management” in PNG. And do not worry about being prosecuted and jailed. The Ombudsmen Commission has too much on their plate. They are a toothless dog. They bark but will not bite.
In PNG there are two sets of laws. One for you and I. And a separate one for leaders, MPs and those with fat bank accounts. You and I go to jail for stealing. They don’t!
And if it will make you feel confident about stealing public money, let me tell you a fact about PNG’s history of convicting and jailing corrupt leaders (either private or public) – in the 30 years since independence from Australia, no leader, has ever been convcited and jailed for stealing public money!
That’s right no one. ZERO! 0. Nil! Nothing! Blank!
So go head. Nominate and contest. No worries. That’s PNG politics. Democracy gone berserk!