Bishops slam arms of government over row

National, Normal

The National, Friday 18th November 2011

A Catholic Bishops conference has expressed concern over the conflict between the executive and judicial arms of government.
“Politics and governance exist for the benefit of the common good of the country and its people,” the bishops said in a statement.
“When politics and the exercise of political power are at the service of the common good, then it is an honourable profession.
“However, when it serves self-interest, then trust is eroded and we end up with individuals and small groups occupied with their own political survival at the expense of every other person.
“When public autho­rity fails to seek the common good, it abandons its proper purpose and delegitimises itself.
“Jesus refused the oppressive and despotic power shown by some rulers (Mk 10:42), but he did acknowledge that temporal power has its place (Mk 12:13-17).
“As Christians, we too object when political authority is abused and the common good is betrayed. 
“We support the life of democracy and the rights and privileges found in our national Constitution.
“We affirm that an independent judiciary is critical to the rule of law, and the rule of law is critical for the establishment of an orderly safe and free country.
“The Constitution of PNG recognises and establishes three independent arms of government – the parliament, executive and the judiciary.
“Under this principle of the separation of powers the three arms of government are expected to respect each others’ independence and to co-exist in their duties and responsibilities for the common good of the people.
“We see now a situation where conflict among politicians has led to conflict between two arms of government.
“It is not what we want to see in this country.
“The recent decision by the National Executive Council to suspend the chief justice appears to us, and too many fair-minded people, to go against the independence of the judiciary.
“The court should be allowed to complete its business and establish the freedom of the truth.
“The country is already facing problems of corruption, poverty, unemployment, law and order, and many more.
“It is not a time for political instability and infighting.
“We appeal to our leaders to exercise power in a responsible way so as to restore trust in the leadership of our nation.
“We appeal to all involved in this dispute to place the peace and good of the nation above self-interest,” they said.