Leave Sir Michael Somare alone

Editorial, Normal

The National – Tuesday, June 14, 2011

WE can appreciate the concern that the Somare family have for their head of the house, Grand Chief Sir Michael.
While hospital visits can have their own therapeutic effect, visits can produce the opposite effect when they involve work.
This is what the Somare family is dead against.
Sir Michael is a heart patient.
He has just gone through no less than three heart operations.
It would be a major problem for any person, young or old.
At his advanced age, this operation would have been particularly risky.
He is recovering slowly particularly because he has a problem with his lungs as well which has to be attended to as well.
We would expect that people from executive government, from the ruling National Alliance party, and from his East Sepik electorate give their prayers but allow him time to recover fully before attending to any duties.
What we cannot understand is the feeling that somehow Sir Michael is still in charge of government and that he should interfere or countermand some of the decisions made by acting Prime Minister Sam Abal, the latest being the sacking of Don Polye and William Duma from cabinet.
Last week, we learnt that the duo had flown to Singapore to visit the prime minister.
If this is indeed true, this is way over the top and, if indeed they went to visit the PM, it is terribly unfortunate because it appears to be very insensitive and disrespectful.
Even if the visits were for nothing other than to pay the old man and the family a curtesy call, it would still place the prime minister in a stressful situation.
He would have to discuss with them what is happening in the party, would he not.
He would have to ask after why they were sacked and what options are available to them.
It places him in a terribly awkward position and, more especially, it places him in a stressful position.
This is not a position that anyone should place Sir Michael in because any rise in blood pressure and increase in stress levels is risky for him.
He has done enough.
He has made his decision, as he is empowered to do under the constitution.
In his wisdom, Sir Michael has decided against the constitution of his own NA party to appoint Sam Abal, who is not a regional deputy, to be deputy prime minister and then as acting prime minister while he sought medical treatment abroad.
By virtue of that decision, Sir Michael authorised Abal to carry on the full duties, responsibilities, powers and privileges of the office of the prime minister.
He did not divide the powers and give only some to Abal while maintaining some for himself – to use to countermand any possible abuse of powers by Abal.
Having transferred powers, Sir Michael has also accepted the consequences of his decisions.
Whatever choices or decisions are made by Abal also must have the support and blessing of Sir Michael.
Whether he agrees with Abal’s decisions of not is a secondary matter.
When Abal sacked Polye and Duma, he exercised the full powers of the prime minister.
There is no other person living for those affected to appeal to.
If, in sacking Polye and Duma, he has acted in contravention of the constitution of NA, then his action is superior to that of the party constitution because he is empowered by a higher authority – which is the national constitution.
The only thing which can undo his decision is if he has acted ultravires the national constitution itself.
Even if he is sacked by the NA or a branch of the party, as was claimed last week by some executives of the Enga branch of the National Alliance, he can still continue to hold the powers of the prime minister until parliament elects the next PM.
This is all to suggest that Sir Michael Somare ought to be left alone to recuperate fully.
He has left no vacancy or a vacuum in the leadership structure so that he must be disturbed every so often.
He has made his choice and we must leave with his choice.
In the meantime, his family’s wishes must be respected. There must be no visits, particularly if there is any chance that such a visit might create any tension or stress in Sir Michael.
The National wishes the founding father a speedy recovery.