By BEVERLY PETER
A JUDGE says that the public has a right to know how its elected and appointed leaders use and abuse public funds.
Judge Stephen Kassman said this was doubly important especially in an election year when the public was deciding which leaders to vote for.
Kassman said this in the National Court in Kokopo, East New Britain, when refusing former Kokopo MP Ereman ToBaining’s application to restrain Kokopo MP Emil Tammur from publishing the audit review of the 2015 to 2016 Kokopo services improvement programme (DSIP) funds.
He also noted that Tammur had waited until the eve of the general election to deal with the audit report. ToBaining sought the order saying any publication of the audit would defame him and infringe on his rights as a candidate for the Kokopo Open seat.
He said the publication would have political and administrative implications against him and amount to interference and intimidation or harassment on him.
ToBaining sought to restrain the audit from being published because in 2019 the Finance Department’s internal audit compliance division had found that his administration had awarded contracts to various companies, including his own company M-Jovie Ltd.
In the application, ToBaining said he was informed that Tammur, on Jan 1, sent a document titled “Kokopo District 2015 and 2016 DSIP Audit Review Information Paper” to the Kokopo city authority board to consider it for public consumption.
He asked the court to suppress that document from being publicised until after the election.
Kassman said the case was based on allegations as there was no evidence before the court.
“There is no evidence to indicate that ToBaining had wrote to Tammur demanding him not to publish the audit report and Tammur refused to do so,” he said.
“The Finance Department secretary may have already taken steps to forward the audit report to the police and the police might have already considered it.
“I am not satisfied that ToBaining has identified his substantive course of action other than claiming his Constitutional rights to stand for public office.”
Ex-MP Potape withdraws suit against EC
FORMER Hela governor Francis Potape has withdrawn his suit against the Electoral Commissioner (EC) Simon Sinai and Hela returning officer (RO) John Tipa after the appointment document was provided.
Potape filed the suit challenging Tipa’s appointment, alleging that Sinai had not made a new appointment because Tipa was also Hela’s RO in general election 2017.
On May 13, the court ordered the Electoral Commission to provide the documents of the appointments of ROs for this year’s election to prove that new appointments were made.
Sinai, through his lawyer, served Potape and the others (election hopefuls for Komo-Margarima Tuguyawini Peter Philip, Tari-Pori Justin Haiara and Ramond Kua) the national gazette containing Tipa’s appointment in affidavit last Monday.
Potape’s lawyer Paul Harry further wanted to obtain a restraining order on Sinai’s decision of appointing Tipa and to file a judicial review.
Deputy Chief Justice Ambeng Kandakasi responded that this could not be done on a defective application and if he wished to do so, to file a new writ.
“If there is a question of the appointment of ROs, the proceeding must be filed for judicial review,” he said.
“People with integrity and impartiality must be appointed into such position to reduce those last-minute pressures in court and all the related parties.”
Kandakasi said the commission delivered once in every five years and must be prepared in advance.
PNC refields Rufina for Central
By AILEEN KWARAGU and YVONNE KAMBIBEL
PEOPLE’S National Congress (PNC)’s Rufina Peter was nominated to try and wrest Central for her party in the general election 2022.
It will be Rufina’s second bid for the seat after losing in the last election (2017).
“I joined PNC because its policies are in line with what I wish to do for Central,” she said.
“The party’s maturity and leader (O’Neill) have motivated me to strive on politically.”
Rufina said focusing on socio-economic developments in the local level governments and the district wards would be her priorities.
“Public infrastructure and public utilities have been lacking for years,” she added.
Rufina said finishing among the top five in 2017 had taught her to be prepared for this year’s election.
“It (2017) was a great experience for me,” she said.
“It has moulded me as a positive-thinking candidate for the end-game,” she added.
Meanwhile, former Kairuku-Hiri MP Paru Aihi was nominated on Thursday with other hopefuls to contest the new Kairuku Open seat.
Aihi, who is contesting for the fifth time, said the constituents had suffered enough in the past decade.
“Things have deteriorated,” he added.
Aihi, a former banker turned businessman, first contested in 2002 and was runner-up to long-time MP Sir Moi Ave whom he beat in the 2007.
He won again in 2012 but lost his seat to incumbent MP Peter Isoaimo in a by-election in 2014 after going to court following allegations of election bribery.
Aihi was the higher education, research, science and technology minister under late Grand Chief Sir Michael Somare from March-August 2011 and education minister under O’Neill from Aug-Dec 2012.
He was the man who delivered the Free Education Policy in 2012 and was determined to win back his seat and continue his work but lost to Isoaimo.
He is contesting against Isoaimo and other challengers on a PNC ticket.