IT embarrasses many Papua New Guineans to explain to anyone why the average politician in his/her country seems undeterred by public opinion of any kind.
Unlike some democracies where politicians involved in misconduct cases will either resign or step down to be investigated, PNG politicians do neither of that.
An implicated MP usually denies publicly any adverse reports about his alleged actions.
The errant politician will accuse the media of misrepresentation, local newspapers are spreading false stores to discredit his reputation, etc.
The MPs involved do not even feel disgraced at all or feel compelled to temporarily step down from office to await investigations (if any).
Despite public outrage, politicians unashamedly hold on to their jobs with the Prime Minister failing to take tough action to ensure parliamentarians do the “right thing” under the circumstances.
Over the years, successive prime ministers have all failed in this regard.
The citizenry today do not even bother about writing another useless letter of complaint to their local MP. It is a complete waste of time.
Except for a handful, most politicians are a disappointment to their electorates.
These so-called “big men” are either too busy doing something unrelated to their constituents’ interests, or simply ignore the complainants as trouble-makers.
As for the Ombudsman Commission, it may soon be made powerless if the Government has its way.
The OC started off well with a new chief Ombudsman’s appointment with “gusto”.
The new incumbent discontinued his master’s studies at a prestigious Australian university to take up his political appointment under a newly elected government after the 2007 elections.
He publicly reminded the politicians and senior bureaucrats the commission will do its job without fear or favour and keep public office holders on their toes.
In recent times, his earlier passion has somewhat waned.
The familiar trend under all former chief ombudsmen repeats itself as political inertia takes over.
Does this sound familiar?
Yes it does and the Government knows this but will not fix the problem as it works in its favour.
As with most State institutions, the commission has limited resources with so much to do to clear a huge backlog of outstanding cases.
With little capacity and money, the OC has become impotent and toothless.
Is there any secret written deal between the Government and OC?
I do not believe there is, even if that is the perception now.
On the whole, the OC has to date done a sterling job but it must do more than what it is doing now, or not doing, to put away some “bad” politicians behind bars.
It will need the help of the Attorney-General’s office and law enforcement agencies.
However, if that is not bad enough, the Government now plans to pass a bill to further regulate the watch-dog.
It shows the Government has something to fear to curb the powers of the commission.
If this regulation bill is ever passed in Parliament, then PNG will experience more gross political abuses of power.
The end result will be the OC becoming a mere “paper tiger” with no powers to stop “crooks” occupying public offices in future.– Reginald Renagi Port Moresby