By ISAAC NICHOLAS
DEPUTY chairman of the Parliamentary bipartisan committee on the anti-Asian riots Theo Zurenouc and two other MPs have tendered their resignation as committee members amidst suggestions chairman, Jamie Maxtone Graham, was removed just as the committee was going to uncover illegal Asian links to politicians.
Mr Zurenouc, who is Finschhaffen MP, Sohe MP and vice-minister for Public Service Anthony Nene and Bulolo MP Sam Basil handed in their resignations to the Clerk of Parliament yesterday to protest Mr Maxtone-Graham’s dumping.
Before Parliament rose on Tuesday, Leader of Government Business Paul Tiensten moved a motion to remove Mr Maxtone-Graham and replaced him with Ijivitari MP David Arore.
Many MPs were surprised with the move.
Mr Zurenouc said he believed the chairman was doing a great job in getting to the root causes of the riot.
“We are now going backward in trying to diffuse this time bomb,” Mr Zurenouc said.
He said this was a kind of a pay-back for Mr Maxtone-Graham’s stance in supporting the Opposition to move a vote of no-confidence against the Prime Minister.
Mr Nene said he also decided to resign from the committee because there was no consultation.
Mr Basil said he was suspicious about the removal of Mr Maxtone-Graham.
“Maybe we are about to uncover some politicians and Government ministers who have invited certain people into the country or are in a joint venture with these foreigners.
“We are elected MPs and not rubber stamps to be used by Government for its own convenience,” Mr Basil said.
Mr Maxtone-Graham told a media conference that he was disappointed with the decision to remove him.
“I did not beg for the job. This is an issue that came about in May when Papua New Guineans went on riot targeting Asian-owned and operated businesses.”
He said Parliament, in its wisdom, established the committee to get to the bottom of the issue.
He said an interim report would be presented to the new chairman in a handover ceremony.