PNG ‘shamed’ in Solomons

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THE Department of Foreign Affairs has remained tight-lipped about the near-fatal car crash involving Papua New Guinea’s deputy high commissioner to the Solomon Islands, Peter Mirino, in Honiara last Saturday.
But a Foreign Affairs official said it would bring “shame to the nation” if it was proven that Mr Mirino was under the influence of alcohol at the time.
“If the alleged reports by the Solomon Star that he was drunk are confirmed, then it will bring shame to the nation because it is a matter of national interest,” the senior foreign affairs officer, who requested anonymity, told The National last night.
The Solomon Star reported on its front page on Monday that Mr Mirino was hospitalised after being involved in a fatal car crash on Saturday morning close to the National Museum at Point Cruz.
Mr Mirino was allegedly drunk and had had an argument with his wife, during which she was injured. He had taken her to the hospital for treatment and they were returning from the hospital when they crashed, the Solomon Star reported.
According to department protocol, when an incident or accident occurs, an overseas mission must file a report to the department. But although four days have lapsed since the accident, until 4.06pm yesterday Port Moresby had yet to receive a detailed report from the PNG High Commission in Honiara.
The Department of Foreign Affairs, when contacted yesterday afternoon, said: “At this stage the only information we have established is that reported by the Solomon Star.”
It is understood that Waigani will only act when an investigation is conducted by the mission and a report compiled.
However, our source said: “This is an unusual case and warrants an immediate recall of the diplomat by the minister.
“Diplomats who do not abide by moral and ethical principles and conduct themselves in such a manner that brings embarrassment to the people and nation of PNG, should be recalled and disciplined,” the source said.
It is understood that repairs to the vehicle, which will most likely be written off, will cost PNG taxpayers “more than K200,000”.
The source said “the department must now deny or confirm if the diplomat was under the influence of alcohol or not and end the speculation and avoid further shame”.
The High Commission office in Solomon Islands refused to discuss the incident with the media.
PNG’s High Commissioner to Solomon Islands, Aiwa Olmi, told the Solomon Star he did not want the media to continue covering the issue.
Mr Olmi urged the media not to “make a big fuss about it” and allow the authorities to investigate.
“I think what has appeared in the front page of the newspaper was enough,” the high commissioner said.
However, he said that in such circumstances it was likely that the diplomat involved would face disciplinary actions and an investigation would be carried out before it can be acted upon.
Foreign Affairs Minister Sam Abal could not be reached for comments.
This is not the first time the conduct of officials in Honiara has brought shame to PNG.
Last year, a woman travelling with a senior diplomat in a vehicle died in his arms.
The woman died of a heart related illness, and a police investigation cleared the diplomat of any wrongdoing.
Days later, the same diplomat was involved in a fracas with a woman who smashed the windscreen of the PNG High Commission’s vehicle using a golf club.