The National, Wednesday July 3rd, 2013
By JEFFREY ELAPA
THE proposed amendments to section 145 of the Constitution are very dangerous for the country and its democracy, the Opposition said yesterday.
Prime Minister Peter O’Neill announced in Lae during the People’s National Congress convention that several amendments would be introduced to “promote transparency in a vote of no-confidence against the government”.
The Opposition is now calling on O’Neill to withdraw his government’s proposed amendments to the Constitution affecting the sitting days of Parliament (Section 124) and a motion of no confidence in the prime minister (Section 145)
These particular sections were inserted in the Constitution after careful deliberation by the Constitutional Planning Committee to contain corruption and get rid of despots who wanted to hang on to power at all costs, Bulolo MP and Deputy Opposition Leader Sam Basil said.
To amend these sections would be a violation of an important tenant of the Constitution and democratic government, he said.
“The recommendations of the CPC need to be read again by the Prime Minister and all Members of Parliament as the reasons why certain provisions were incorporated into the Constitution,” he said.
Another Opposition spokesman, Tobias Kulang, said the government’s continuous tampering with the Constitution to entrench itself deeper in power “is serious cause for concern and a very dangerous move indeed”.
Kulang said after successfully moving the grace period from 18 months to 30 months, they now wanted to make it impossible for someone to move a vote of no-confidence by introducing this new law that would require an intended mover to secure the signatures of a third of MPs and to give a three months notice.
“The opposition is very concerned because this government is moving very quickly to remove key features of the Constitution that make democracy work in this country,” Kulang said.
“Apart from tampering with the Constitution, it has systematically weakened the opposition to such an extent that there is no opposition.”
He said a key institution such as the Ombudsman Commission was left unmanned for an extended period until the opposition raised the issue in the media.
“Altering the Constitution without proper national consensus through proper nationwide consultation and proper intellectual and genuine debate among the able and learned of the country is a blatant abuse of power and very dangerous for this young democracy.
“The nation must be concerned because we now have a situation where a majority of MPs have been reduced to fear of not accessing their development funds as the trend is now and they will not speak up against such critical issues.
“If the government of the day performs and the people are happy and satisfied, then it does not have to feel threatened and embark on such crazy things.”