Are we prepared for PM’s retirement?

Letters, Normal

The National – Thursday, June 23, 2011

THERE is no doubt Prime Minister Sir Michael Somare is a respected leader inside and outside PNG.
So what will happen if he decides to call it a day?
Will the current political scene remain stable?
Will investors have the same confidence it has in Sir Michael on his successor?
Will his departure from politics spark political power play that will turn mate against mate and leave the government in tatters?
The government needs to tell us what happens next if Sir Michael calls it quits.
Out of respect for the prime minister, politics is being played at a moderate level at this stage.
What will happen, if he throws in the towel, without blessing a new heir ap­parent to the NA leadership throne?
Will an imminent leadership tussle lead to the ineffectiveness of Parliament?
Let’s recall what happened in 1999.
Parliament had lost its capacity to effectively check the executive and was adjourned for seven months until July 1999.
Senior parliamentarians ex­press­ed alarm over the possibility of the military intervening in politics to support Sir William Skate.
By June, the government was close to bankruptcy and international banks were unwilling to lend money to Papua New Guinea because of its loss of fiscal control.
This was all the result of instability in government.
While the context is not related, the same result is likely.
Politics in PNG is unpredictable.
As such, we must, while we have the opportunity, to put in measures that will ensure stability.
To start of with, Acting Prime Minister Sam Abal should point the way forward without Sir Michael.
More importantly, what will happen if he passes on while he is overseas?
I predict imminent chaos by opportunists, so I suggest everybody concerned starts preparing for the worst possible outcome if our Grand Chief does not make it out of ICU alive.
I know many will criticise my concern, but we seriously need to be ready on all fronts.
While many will downplay this suggestion, we must accept reality that Sir Michael is an iconic figure among many Papua New Guineans.
According to my understanding, no other leader has touched the lives of so many like Sir Michael.
He is, after all, the father of this nation.
While so many have criticised him of late, if you were to visit villages and settlements, and ask the people about Sir Michael, you will hear nothing but passionate and patriotic praises.
Forgive me if these concerns are naive, but this is Papua New Guinea, and anything can happen when a leader of his stature leaves politics.
Our leaders must ask these questions so as to ensure there is a smooth transition of power.
There must be political stability as we move into 2012 and face one of the most important elections of our short history as a nation.


Really concerned citizen
Port Moresby