Sunday, August 19, 2012

Basil commends and urges watchdog to dig deep and wide

Bulolo MP and deputy leader of Opposition Sam Basil today (Sunday August 19) commended the enforcer of the Leadership Code - the Ombudsman Commission – for its proactive response on his call for public accounting on funding of elections.
“I am pleased that that acting Chief Ombudsman John Nero has taken my public call on parliamentary leaders and political party executives to account for their election campaign funding seriously,” Basil said, following an EMTV news item featuring Mr Nero’s public comments on Saturday evening.
The head of PNG’s watchdog said on TV that the Ombudsman Commission would investigate the use of District Services Improvement Programme funds by both ousted and returned MPs. 
Open MPs are chairmen of their joint district planning and budget priorities committees which determine priorities for disbursement.
It is estimated that the 89 Open MPs had access to some K27 million each from 2007-2012 in DSIP funds. 
That equates to an expenditure of at least K2.4 billion for the five years of the eighth Parliament. Equitably divided annually, that’s K480 million. 
“The figure of K500 million estimated by the un-named international observer is a very serious issue," Basil said.
" As I said previously, we in Papua New Guinea Party have made no secret of what was spent – and we can honestly and transparently point to the source(s) of these funds.
“But the question of who spent the K470 million, where the source of these funds are, and who was responsible in making them available strikes at the heart of integrity of returned Members of Parliament.”
The vibrant Bulolo MP said that the public needed to know where the monies came from.
“Did they originate from the public purse? How were they authorised? And by whom? Were Public Finance (Management) Act procedures followed in their disbursement, transfer or re-allocation – and in accessing these public funds?
“And if the funds were foreign, have these been made known to the Registrar of Political Parties? What were the purposes these foreign funds were given to political parties and/or candidates who might now be Members of Parliament?
“No returned MP – including Prime Minister Peter O’Neill, Treasurer Don Polye, Petroleum and Energy Minister William Duma, Public Service Minister Sir Puka Temu – and even the provincial governors - can hold their heads high until an investigation dispels these dark clouds hovering around.
“Naturally those of us who were in the O’Neill-Namah Government must be the first to face the music. 
"But the investigation by the Ombudsman Commission must extend to use of other State Assets like departmental vehicles, aircrafts and sea vessels.
“I am also calling on the Ombudsman Commission to make public their own investigations into the NPF Inquiry, the Cayman Islands deal, the Sandline issue, who gave the order for the assassination of the late Theodore Miriung, and the multiple-breaking of PNG domestic laws, invasion of Solomon Islands airspace and sovereignty, and breaches of other international aviation laws in the apparent state-aided clandestine escape of former Solomon Islands Attorney-General Julian Moti.
“And what is going to happen to the K800 million debt exposed by former Prime Minister Sir Mekere Morauta in the abuse of Independent Public Business Enterprises to borrow to fund PNG’s stake in the multi-billion ExxonMobil-led PNG LNG Project?
Basil said that these and many more costly controversies involving the public purse affect leadership integrity and could be – if not already – the cause of public distrust in political leadership.
“Leading PNG statesmen in the current O’Neill Government – and newer MPs – cannot be trusted by the public unless all these matters are aired and resolved publicly by the relevant Government authorities,” the Bulolo MP said.
“The Ombudsman Commission as lead agency in enforcing the Leadership Code must mobilise other sister agencies to intensely and expeditiously investigate these matters.
“If Mr Nero and his colleagues in other law enforcement agencies do this, the people’s negative perceptions and attitudes will settle and confidence can be restored in political leaders."

Saturday, January 21, 2012

Basil calls for unity on Indonesian military jet incident

Minister for National Planning and Monitoring Sam Basil today urged the nation to remain united over the Indonesian military jet incident involving the Falcon jet.   

“No nation, however large or small, however rich or poor, however large or small its army, should be allowed to intimidate, coerce, manipulate and dominate another,” Basil said. 

 “That is one of the pillars that hold up the United Nations and the basis upon which Deputy Prime Minister  Belden Namah raised the issue on the November 29, 2011 incident.”
 Basil was referring to the much-publicised issue on an intercept by two Indonesian military jets on the Air Niugini-managed Falcon jet. 
Namah and his business partners together with Minister for Police ohn Boito and Basil were on-board as well flying over Sulawesi in the Indonesian air space when the incident happened. 
 “I am urging Papua New Guineans not to be swayed by malicious and untrue suggestions that the Falcon jet was carrying US$250 million," Basil said.
"That is a red herring – a mere diversion from the real issue. 
 “The Falcon jet was chartered by the Bewani oil palm project and was ferrying business partners in the project which included Deputy Prime Minister Belden Namah, Minister Boito and myself.
“I was there because the trip offered insights into oil palm project management which is useful in the light of the Tekadu oil palm project in my Bulolo electorate as well as the Markham Valley oil palm project in Morobe generally – not to mention that as National Planning and Monitoring Minister I would sooner or later have to deal with oil palm-related issues.
“As a commercial chartered aircraft, all of us were subject to the rigorous checks required under customs, immigration and civil aviation laws of the various countries where we landed. 
"That includes declaration if any one of us was carrying more than the equivalent of K10,000 in cash which we all complied with.  
"“With the kind of portfolio held by Boito and my own strong stance in fighting corruption shown in the Investigative Task Force Sweep, why would we be a party to money laundering or any kind of illegal activity for that matter?
“If there was the slightest sniff or suggestion of money laundering or illegality of any kind, I personally would have distanced myself from the trip.”
The Bulolo MP added: “Spearheaded by Mr Namah, we formed the new O’Neill-Namah Government that wants to see issues like lying over shares one holds, resisting and delaying legitimate Ombudsman Commission processes through the court system, unexplained missing Taiwan dollar-for-Ddplomacy funds, breaking multitude of PNG, Solomon Islands and international aviation laws highlighted in the Defence Force Inquiry into the Julian Moti Affair and extensive waste of funds in the Commission of Inquiry into the Department of Finance with no one charged or prosecuted to date.”
 Basil said that the Deputy Prime Minister, a national leader of Papua New Guinea hasdexpressed concern based on what was observed and the reports of the pilot and co-pilot on the incident involving the two Indonesian military jets.  
A diplomatic note has given to the Embassy of the Republic of Indonesia who have in turn responded suggesting discrepancies in dates approved when the Falcon jet would be using Indonesian air space and as justification for the actions of their military jets.
Prime Minister Peter O’Neill, as executive head of Government has accepted the response subject to clarification on the dates and assured the Republic of Indonesia on the importance of amicable bilateral relations between our two countries.
Basil said that he personally finds the Indonesian Embassy response shallow and wanting.
Referring to the Occurrence Report - O471-11 Apparent Intercept by Military Jet Aircraft over Indonesian Airspace by Captain Christopher Smith, Basil said that the Falcon jet despite being on course and on altitude was given a traffic alert on their traffic collision avoidance system and a resolution advisory which caused Captain Vincent Kipma to disengage the autopilot. He had to make a steep climb “to avoid a collision”.
 Following the “bizarre confrontation”, Captain Smith radioed Ujung control asking if they had the Falcon jet’s overflight permit which was issued on November 27, 2011 and valid for seven days.
The report states: “After several minutes, they responded with an affirmative. A phone call was then placed to Universal Weather from the flight phone explaining the engagement and to check the validity of the Overflight Permit. 
"They acknowledged that it was valid and said they would follow up with Indonesia on their end.”
Basil concluded: I agree there is a discrepancy. 
"Someone is not telling the truth – and the truth as a way of sipping out despite best efforts to cover up – even by nations.

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Basil levels charges against Morobe leader

BULOLO MP Sam Basil has levelled serious corruption allegations against his Morobe Governor Luther Wenge during debate on the National Anti-Corruption Strategy statement in parliament yesterday, The National reports.
Basil, who is National Planning Minister and deputy leader of PNG Party, made the allegation against Wenge who is in government ranks.
Last week, PNG Party leader and Deputy Prime Minister Belden Namah went on national radio calling on Prime Minister Peter O’Neill to resign.
Wenge, who took the floor to debate the issue, alleged that corrupt people included politicians and public servants.
Basil raised a point of order, then, pointing fingers at Wenge, said that the governor was involved in corrupt dealings with land sales in Lae.
Wenge denied the claim, adding that those pointing fingers should be investigated to see whether they were clean.
During debate, Wenge said that corruption had become a part of PNG life from small people, to churches, public service and members of parliament.
He said he supported the statement from the Prime Minister Peter O’Neill, adding that it would be a huge task in tackling corruption but at least a start had been made.
Wenge said when politicians choose their own district administrator because the person had contributed pigs to his election gathering that was corruption

Monday, December 5, 2011

Basil spotlights Sir Arnold’s legal inconsistencies

National Planning and Monitoring Minister Sam Basil has called on former Chief Justice and Governor of Madang Sir Arnold Amet to stop “preying” on judges’ ‘emotions and opinions’. 
Basil said that Sir Arnold should realise that he was no longer on the bench as the chief  justice but a politician and a member of the opposition.  
“His continuous media circus is not only contemptuous but subjudicial to the pending Supreme Court decision on the validity of the events of August 2 in Parliament,” he said referring to Parliament’s declaration of vacancy and election of Ialibu MP Peter O’Neill as Prime Minister. 
“Let the judges do their job and stop preying on their emotions and opinions,“ an incensed Basil said. 
“The insinuations that he is portraying through the media pre-empts the outcome of the Supreme Court decision and such does not paint a good picture on the independence of the judiciary. 
"He talks as if the judiciary is in his steal pocket. 
"That is contemptuous and subjudice.” 
Basil, Bulolo MP, said that Sir Arnold seemed to enjoy conducting trial by media with full page advertorial in the newspapers, setting out his legal arguments as he did it over and over again.
 “It is surprising that he has all of a sudden become the self appointed guardian angel of the Constitution,” he said. 
“Some one should look back and see that not too long ago, the following happened:   
  • He allowed the nomination of Sir Paulus Matane as the Governor General at the eligibility vote stage, directly breaching the Constitution which was later nullified by the Supreme Court, and had a senior statesman in the likes of Sir Paulus walking off the public life disgracefully;
  •  He was part of the Somare-led Government’s unexplained adjournment of Parliament sittings, yet said nothing about the Constitutional requirements as affirmed by a majority Supreme Court ruling of which he was the sole dissenting one;
  •  He was a part of the Cabinet that delayed and frustrated the appointment of two medical doctors on the medical condition of Sir Michael Somare for more than three months. Effectively the country was without a permanent chief executive officer for more than three months but Sir Arnold would not arise to defend the spirit of the Constitution;
  •  He even attacked the judiciary just to protect the former kitchen cabinet ministers who were suspended by the Supreme Court pending their leadership tribunal. Now he is becoming the best buddy for the judiciary, making representations as if he had secured the Supreme Court decision in his favour;
  •  He was the controversial legal advisor to the previous government, protecting and advocating the cause of corrupt politicians within government, which was the cause of frustrations that led to the change of government. His controversial advice and the heavy reliance on it by the former Prime Minister and Grand Chief Sir Michael Somare cost the old man his political career, loss of the Prime Ministership and finally the dishonourable dismissal from Parliament.                                            Basil added: “May I remind him to check his hands whether it’s clean before crying foul at the current O’Neill/Namah Government that is trying to address the immediate needs of our people that had been neglected by the previous government.                                                                                         “We respect the judiciary to make its own decisions and we as Government will manage the consequences. The judges are Papua New Guineans and they live in Papua New Guinea. Please leave them alone to do their job.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Sam Basil reflects on the ‘oppressive’ 9 years under National Alliance

National Planning and Monitoring Minister Sam Basil today called on Papua New Guineans not to be quick to forget nine years of oppressive, manipulative and back-stabbing regime under National Alliance.

 Basil said that the people must not allow National Alliance Party to think they are suffering from memory loss or amnesia on their antics while in power.

 "Their nine-year reign was an oppressive, manipulative and back-stabbing time for MPs aligned with them.

 "It is common knowledge – and well-documented in press publications and broadcasts, parliamentary Hansard and court files just how twisted and evasive their regime was," Basil said.

 "Start with the Julian Moti case in which directions from the Prime Minister's Office resulted in breaking multi-laws – domestic as well as international."

 "Look at the way NA swept under the carpet allegations of PNG Cabinet Ministers' involvement in the Taiwan diplomatic scandal in which money changed hands.

 "Look at how they kept manipulating the Speaker to gag debate on pertinent issues in Parliament and their bulldozing of then Attorney General and Justice Minister Dr Allan Marat to sign off on a legal and highly technical heads of agreement on gas – a new industry and venture in PNG.

 "Millions of kina has been paid out to appease landowners in the gas wells and economic corridor without following proper procedures.

 "Note also the way NA MPs tried to delay facing Leadership Tribunals through the courts only to find that their delays had no substance and the then Prime Minister was found guilty of misconduct in office."

Basil said that with that kind of track-record in governance, what sort of regime can PNG expect if they are returned to power.

 "Look at the way they have been panting for power since they were thrown out: instead of forming an effective opposition and keeping the O'Neill-Namah Government accountable and transparent, they are going around calling themselves Ministers still," Basil said.

 "I feel sorry for those who might want to re-join NA after breaking ranks with them to join us to oust them from power. You may be courted now but you will be mercilessly and drastically struck down if they secure power."

 Reiterating his earlier comments, Basil said: "MPs and political parties  who joined wih Peoples National Congress and PNG Party to form the O'Neill-Namah Government are not blind and deaf.

 "They know and are mindful of the reasons they broke ranks with an NA-led regime. No great transformation has changed any of the key NA players behind the mooted change. 

 "They are the same and the same fate awaits any naïve enough to empower them.

 "The gap has been created for the new generation of leaders to take this country forward.  One or two steps back will only allow the old guards to repeat their old ways of doing things.

 "If Sam Abal cannot be the Opposition Leader then I call on the likes of  Francis Potape,  Isaac Joseph,  James Marape, Fidelis Semoso or other young and vibrant leaders from the Opposition to take control just like what we did when we were in the opposition.

 "The world doesn't end with the old guard. We young, vibrant and visionary leaders must prove our worth and rise up whether in Opposition or in Government. We owe it to our voters back home to perform to the best of our ability."

Basil decries neglect of Opposition

National Planning and Monitoring Minister Hon Sam Basil today called on Wabag MP and former acting Prime Minister Sam Abal to take the reins of the Opposition immediately.

 "If Mr Abal does not assume the chair as Leader of Opposition, I am challenging the young MPs to take up the challenge and assume the positions instead of leaving a unhealthy vacuum in the highest democratic institution of the nation," Basil said,  reiterating his call from yesterday.

 Basil's call follows a chaotic disarray among ousted former Government Ministers and MPs today when Speaker Jeffery Nape ousted Pomio MP Paul Tiensten as a parliamentarian.

 The lack of coordinated approach by the ousted MPs who were in Government previously was evident as they looked for direction and leadership.

 "These MPs are neglecting their duty to ensure that we have a vibrant democracy in which the Government-of-the-day is daily held accountable for decisions that are made," Basil said.

 "The neglect in duty while Pomio MP Paul Tiensten was evading the strong arm of the law without any leadership guidance is the reason why he missed three Parliament sessions which resulted in his disqualification as a Member of Parliament."

 Basil said: "We, young MPs who were in the Opposition for four years, were served well by our veteran MPs in New Ireland Governor Sir Julius Chan, Moresby Northwest MP and (now) State Enterprises Minister Sir Mekere Morauta and Lae MP Bart Philemon who is now Public Service Minister.

 "They provided stability of leadership and groomed us to know our duty as Members of the nation's supreme law-making body of Papua New Guinea – the Parliament or Legislature.

 "It is now time for MPs in their third or second term of Parliament and are in the Opposition to wake up, snap out of their hangover of power and positions and perform their routine and necessary duties as legislators.

 "Abal is a seasoned MP. Grand Chief Sir Michael Somare saw fit to give him the acting Prime Ministership on a golden platter. Now it is up to him to show Papua New Guinea the credentials that Sir Michael saw.

 "As I said yesterday the world doesn't end with the old guard. We young, vibrant and visionary leaders must prove our worth and rise up whether in Opposition or in Government. We owe it to our voters back home to perform to the best of our ability."

Friday, September 23, 2011

Motorcyclers thrill at Bulolo Show

BULOLO District in Morobe staged its first ever cultural show on the Sept 16-18 coinciding with the country’s 36th Independence anniversary celebrations. 
Thrilling the crowd at the Bulolo Show.-Pictures by PETER BOYD

The event was staged in Mumeng Town.
Traditional singsing groups from the six LLGs of Bulolo, Mumeng, Buang, Watut, Biangai and people from other parts of Morobe who live in Bulolo and Wau like the Kabub singsing group took part.
Bulolo MP Sam Basil meets rider Daniel Hargreaves and others as show committee chairman Stanley Komunt, of MMJC (centre) looks on

Bulolo’s own sons and PNGs famous artists Lister and Amon Serum performed live to entertain the show goers.
Other entertainment included a string band competition, greasy pole climbing, inter LLG tug of war.
The highlight of the day was without a doubt a visit from Morobe Motorcycle Club riders who stopped halfway through a two day fun race from Bulolo to Edie Creek and back to Lae.
Waterfall near Buang on Snake River

The large crowd was witness to a display of wheel stands, jumps and riders riding without too much skill or control. 
The invitation to participate in a race at Independence weekend was extended to the MMC several months earlier by show chairman Stanley Komunt and it proved a great success.
Ploughing through a quagmire

The 'fun' race started with a small but enthusiastic group of riders in Bulolo on the Saturday who rode to Wau via PNGFP tracks and overnighted at the Wau Adventures headquarters, home to Tim and Danielle Vincent. 
Crossing the Snake River...hoping not to fall

The first day’s easy riding determined the starting order for the grueling second days riding. 
Day two saw local favourite and PNG'S No.1 bike Rider Daniel Hargreaves take a commanding lead in the first of the days special stages, a savage hill climb to the summit of Mt Kaindi at 7800ft and back to Wau. 
Rider about to crash near summit of Mt Kainti, at 7800 ft, outside Bulolo enroute to Hidden Valley

This section took its toll on riders and bikes with several riders crashing and Tim Vincent of Wau Adventures, PNG'S Premier Adventure Tourism Company, suffering badly bruised ribs - forcing him to pull out of any further racing.
Ow! That hurts!

Leg two was the reverse of the first day’s course from Wau to Bulolo and convincingly won by Suzuki rider Michael Schulz with a clear gap to Hargreaves, who was unable to maintain his first afternoons pace.
A steep descent

A short third leg from Bulolo to Mumeng saw the riders cross the line within a minute of each other, the tarmac riding not being to anyone's liking as the thought of crashing on tarmac was enough to deter anyone from risking life and limb - all riders knew that the last section of 94km from Mumeng Station to MMJV Headquarters at 9-Mile Lae would require all their energy and attention. 
Riding in fog is an unbelievable experience, the forest is dead quiet except for the bikes' sound

Thirty minutes were spent entertaining the crowd at the Bulolo Show and taking advice on the route ahead from MP Sam Basil, one of the few people who had actually driven down the Snake River to Buang and Gabensis.
The route chosen followed the Snake River past Buang, Wagau and onto Gabensis on the Bulolo Highway - a distance of 65km, and finishing off with a 30km road stage.
Village people close to Wagau - experiencing a motorbike for the first time in their lives

The only problem was that so much fun was had at Mumeng entertaining the crowd that riders lost track of time and were very late leaving Mumeng. 
Heavy fog and fading light slowed the bikes to a crawl for over an hour past Buang and Wagau.
Drops on either side of the overgrown track were vertical and deadly and any thoughts of racing were set aside with safety of riders paramount. 
Several of the bikes had no lights and this meant extra care needed to be shown.
What should have taken two hours took five hours and at 8pm the bikes arrived at MMJV headquarters with riders exhausted having commenced riding at 9am that morning.
Minister for National Planning and Monitoring Samuel Basil officiated at the show which was attended by over 3, 000 people.
Basil thanked the show chairman Stanley Komunt and his committees and all the sponsors for making the event a success.
Major sponsors:
  1. Bulolo District - Joint District Planning & Budget Priority Committee (JDP&BPC) – K85,000 in cash
  2. Morobe Mining JV (MMJV) K20,000 in kind
  3. Hornibrooks NGI Limited – K5,000 in cash
  4. Bank of South Pacific (BSP) – K3,000 in cash
  5. Island Mobile Hirecar
  6. Lae Biscuits company
  7. ArmSec Limited
  8. Digicel PNG
  9. NBC Morobe
  10. Zenang Chicken
  11. Bulolo District Administration