By STAFF REPORTERS
THE 67-member Opposition flexed its muscles in Parliament yesterday by putting its own MPs in the important private business committee, but a scene of chaos ensued when it failed to remove Speaker Job Pomat.
At least four MPs almost exchanged punches while abusive language was hurled by MPs on both sides to the cheers of the 200 occupying the public gallery.
Pomat walked out of the chamber at one point when he could no longer control the MPs, but was asked to return by Prime Minister Peter O’Neill and Opposition Leader Patrick Pruaitch.
There were not enough seats on the Opposition side for the 67 MPs who had to find seats on the Opposition benches occupied by 42 MPs.
After Pomat walked in around 2.15pm, Rabaul MP Dr Allan Marat led them in a prayer. Then Pruaitch moved that the standing orders be suspended so that he could move a motion to remove Pomat. When Pomat resisted, there was an uproar in the House.
Pomat reasoned that the process of removing a Speaker was not explained in either the Constitution or the Standing Orders.
Pomat argued that it would set a bad precedent if he allowed the motion to be debated.
“I want to bring integrity to this House to handle due process. Today I have no grudges but tell me (the section of) the Constitution and the standing order to remove the speaker then I will agree with you,” he said.
Vanimo Green MP Belden Namah told Pomat that they should not be dicatated to in Parliamet.
Pomat said he was only a layman and not a lawyer.
East Sepik Governor Alan Bird said the appointment of the Speaker, in the Westminster parliamentary system, was at the discretion of the MPs.
“There’s precedent where speakers have been removed in the past by the same methods that we are trying to employ,” Bird said.
“You need to respect the number we have on the floor. You are a man of integrity. We respected you when we voted you in and in the same manner we want to remove you.
“You have to respect your chair and to do that, you need to allow the motion.”
MPs on both sides shouted at each other. Tambul-Nebilyer MP Win Bakri Daki and North Fly MP Donald James stood up and almost exchanged fists.
Another shouting match erupted between Daki and Namah in which a swear word was used. It was not withdrawn or an apology offered.
During the commotion, Pomat walked out followed by the Government MPs. The Sergeant-at-Arms who was going to remove the mace was almost manhandled.
Pomat returned at around 3.45pm.
The Opposition then moved to have the members of the private business committee replaced, before Parliament was adjourned to 10am today.
By STAFF REPORTERS