Graft rampant: MP

National, Normal


CORRUPTION is eating away the very fabric of Papua New Guinea society and the situation demands swift and urgent remedial action to avert a potentially more devastation state of affairs, Imbonggu MP Francis Awesa said.
Mr Awesa, who is also the deputy leader of PNG Party, made this remark last week at Buiyebi jail, outside Mendi, while witnessing the release of nine prisoners on parole.
The release was first in many years after the provincial parole office in Mendi became non-functional due to politics and funding problems in 2003.
Mr Awesa warned that if State law enforcing agencies failed to perform their constitutionally mandated duties and responsibilities effectively, PNG could be heading for serious problems as many citizens become frustrated and resort to open defiance of the rule of law.
He was concerned that corruption was ravaging the entire Government machinery at an alarming rate equivalent to the HIV/AIDS endemic.
Mr Awesa said it was incumbent on all law enforcing agencies to act fast and decisively to put PNG’s national interest ahead of personal, parochial and political interest to uphold the rule of law at all levels of the communities with urgency.
He expressed pity that it was unfair for ordinary citizens committing petty crimes to be quickly arrested, charged and imprisoned for long terms when some politicians and senior Government officers were getting away scot-free by corrupting the system people depended on.
“Law enforcement agencies must get their acts together and enforce the laws equally irrespective of one’s status.
“Just as justice delayed is justice denied, failure by the law enforcing agencies to act swiftly to corruption and fraud in itself amounts to corruption.”
At the national level, Mr Awesa said he wrote to the Minister for Justice and Attorney-General Dr Allan Marat last year to review and appoint members of the committee on Power of Mercy to screen and release well-behaved prisoners on parole to reduce overcrowding in prisons and ease the high cost of looking after them.
Subsequently, a committee was appointed, headed by retired National Court Judge Sir Kubulan Los as its chairman with its first lot of prisoners released on parole nationwide last November.
Mr Awesa also urged serving prisoners to follow the fine examples set by the nine prisoners released.