Not O’Neill’s place to amend Constitution

Letters, Normal

The National, Monday October 21st, 2013

 I WRITE to commend opposition leader Belden Namah for filing a Supreme Court reference or interpretation of the constitutionality of the O’Neill government’s decision to amend constitutional provisions relating to the vote of no-confidence and the number of the parliament’s sitting days as well as the number of signatures required to give notice to a vote of no-confidence motion. 

First, the Constitution establishes that the three arms of the government (the legislature, judiciary and executive arm) shall operate separately and independently from each other. 

The meaning is clearly understood by everyone in this country and we do not need to go to law school to understand the principles of separation of powers. 

Second, the Constitution that PNG adopted at independence in 1975 is not a creature of the parliament. 

It was drawn up outside the parliament through a nationwide consultative process of public engagements, spearhead by the Constitutional Development Committee. 

This means that the people of PNG endorsed and approved the wording, structure, intent and the spirit of the Constitution.

Third, the intent and spirit of the Constitution is clear that it did not want any of the arms of the government to be too powerful and authoritative over one another. 

However, the prime minister used the parliament to give himself more powers, thus the executive arm clearly diminished and defeated the intent and spirit of the Constitution. 

The prime minister is morally and ethically wrong, and lacks decency for he is using the parliament to rewrite and reword the letters of the Constitution to give advantage and convenience to the executive arm, which he is the leader. 

He has to go to the people to get the powers as the Constitution is the property of the people, not the parliament. 

Fourth, the parliament is a creature of the Constitution, not vice versa. 

Therefore, the prime minister must go to the body of people who created the Constitution if he so desires to amend it. 

The same Constitution also gives powers to the judiciary to interpret it and its enabling laws. 

Therefore, I have trust and confidence that the Supreme Court will discharge its ruling accordingly without fear or favour. 

Finally, I have said it and will say it again that Belden Namah and Peter O’Neill have created a new culture of parliamentary behaviour where the parliament is used to gain powers it never had on Aug 2, 2011. 

They made a mockery and laughing stock out of our Constitution and hence, O’Neill’s actions and conduct today still indicate a do-not-care attitude towards our system of government and democracy. 

We, as a nation, ought to be mindful and aware of this. 


Yapi Akore

Kagua-Erave, SHP