By GYNNIE KERO
A recent decision by the National Executive Council (NEC) to drop Dr Clement Malau as the East Sepik administrator will mean more setbacks for the province, according to East Sepik Governor Allan Bird.
He mentioned that one of them was an announcement he had made earlier to investigate the books of the province.
Bird said the provincial executive council (PEC) had appointed Malau on merits.
He said one of the reasons given by NEC to drop Malau was that he was not a Papua New Guinean citizen and that was “totally false”.
Addressing the media in Port Moresby on Friday, Bird said: “Malau is from Malu village in Ambunti, Ambunti-Dreikikier district.
“He has a permanent home in the village. Even if he is Australian-based, when was that grounds for disqualification?
“So what if his family lives in Australia? There are several ministers whose families live abroad.
“Since when did we start discriminating in our appointments because of where a person chooses to keep their family?
“The PEC and I would like to appoint the best person to the position. Where he is from, where his family lives and who his friends are should not factor in our decision-making. We want a neutral person who will help us rebuild our public service.
“In terms of oversight, I will not appoint my wantok or relative to such a position and I expect the same from all our elected leaders. In the meantime, we will have to appoint an acting PA and await advice from our lawyers and from the Department of Personnel Management.
“I want to make it clear to the Sepik people that I will always pick the best person for any job if I am given the choice.
“The better their qualifications and experience, the more likely they are likely to be appointed.
“I take a very strong position on issues of transparency and good governance and for me, this is non-negotiable.
“Malau is not my relative or wantok, we have no relationship whatsoever prior to his appearing on the shortlist. But I have the utmost respect for anyone who has gone to Harvard University or a similar institution and has the kind of work experience he has.
“This is a great loss to our province and a sad day for PNG decision-making.
“The NEC, after some heated debate because of strong resistance from our two Sepik ministers, rejected Malau.
“Malau is a humble man and one of our brightest and best sons.
“The fact that he applied for the position in the first place was a huge bonus for the province in the view of the PEC, four of our MPs and myself.
“If the NEC can reject a candidate like Malau, a very accomplished former secretary for Health, the first Papua New Gunean to be employed by the Wealth Health Organisation and someone who has worked extensively overseas, what does that say of the NEC?
“The PEC picked Malau because of his track record, he is a professional who has no political affiliations and he has no links to anyone in the administration.”
By GYNNIE KERO