By ISAAC NICHOLAS
ANGORAM MP Arthur Somare has decided not to refer the two daily newspapers to the parliamentary privileges committee to force the names of two ministers and an MP allegedly involved in the escape of wanted criminal William Kapris to be made public.
Mr Somare has now changed tact and has moved a motion for the Speaker to request the newspapers to publish those names.
The Public Enterprises Minister explained his change of tactics last Friday.
“At that time, I believed that such action would provide an ideal opportunity for those who felt that they were wrongly accused, to defend themselves and avail themselves to whatever legal remedies they saw fit.
“Since then, the advice that I have received suggests that such action would not achieve that outcome and the privilege would in fact thwart any legal recourse that a wrongly accused member or minister may have against the author of such newspaper reports.
“My motion therefore now, is to move that this Parliament through the Office of the Speaker, request the newspapers that ran the stories mentioned, to name those ‘government ministers, Members of Parliament and high-ranking officials’ named in the affidavit and be published as a matter of public interest.”
He said he was responding newspaper reports:
* The National, Feb10 and Feb11 edition [front page]; “Politics Involved In Bomana Escape”;
* The National, March 2 edition [front page] “Three Politicians Funded Escape”; and
* The Post-Courier, March 3 edition [front page] “Ministers, Members of Parliament and high-ranking officials were involved”
“General and ‘sweeping’ allegations about ‘Government ministers, MPs and high-ranking officials’ being involved in criminal acts like the Kapris robberies, in my view, constitute reckless and malicious journalism intended to make everyone of us a suspect and, thereby, call into question our personal integrity and innocence, as long as you or I fall into the category of being a Government minister, Member of Parliament or a high-ranking official.”
But sources told The National Mr Somare felt pressured to change tactics because some MPs within Government were questioning the motives behind his move.
“Some Members were wondering what Mr Somare or the Government would achieve in this exercise.
“It is not in the interest of Government to have names extracted from a police investigation that is still under way.
“Whose interests will this serve?” one source asked.