IN a previous post of mine I mentioned about a convicted rapist marrying the victim. Well here is another one. A former member of parliament, found guilty of rape was cleared to run for the national elections in Papua New Guinea – while serving a prison sentence. Guess what? This particular candidate won. He has been declared as the member elect of Rai Coast electorate, Madang Province. Prior to him being convicted of raping a underage girl, he was the governor of Madang Province.
He was allowed to contest the elections because of some “law technicality”. Simply put, because he had appealed against his conviction he was given the green light to run for public office. Now, my logic tells me something is not right here. Why allow him to run for national elections even if he has filed an appeal? He was convicted by a court of law and found guilty of rape! I do not see the logic of allowing a convicted rapist to run for public office just because he is appealing. His appeal does not mean that he was falsely accused. If the courts after hearing his appeal finds him innocent of the charges then he can be cleared of all charges and stand for elections. Otherwise, his nomination should have been refused.
But, in Papua New Guinea it does not matter if you are murderer or rapist or have stolen millions of public monies. You can still hold public office! Something is definitely not right here. Are Papua New Guineans just plain ignorant and do not care or a such a good Christians that they forgive and forget so easily? When it comes to public office, people of questionable characters should not hold public office at all.
The election of James Yali back into parliament while serving prison sentence makes a mockery of the court system in Papua New Guinea. This loophole in the law must be rectified ASAP. I also wonder if the people of Rai Coast, those who voted for him knew what they were doing. The implications of their actions.
That being said, it is comforting to note that the Commissioner for Correctional Services, Richard Sikani has stated that James Yali will not be allowed to leave the jail to go the parliament house to take his oath of office when Parliament meets. He will need a higher court order to that. I also must agree with the Post Courier in their Editorial that James Yali should not be allowed to hold the Bible in his hand and swear to God that he will uphold the Constitution of the Independent State of Papua New Guinea and the laws of Papua New Guinea as a Member of Parliament. It is the same laws the he promised to uhopld in 2002 when he first entered parliament then breached his own oath and committed a serious crime which a court of law has found him guilty of.