Despite all the anger, and the fear and anxiety that is being expressed on social media, on the street, everywhere that Papua New Guineans are gathering, I believe there is room for quiet confidence that the days of the most corrupt Prime Minister in the nation’s history are numbered.
Watching and listening from my expatriate exile in Australia, it seems to me there are a number of factors at play that point to the Prime Minister’s demise.
The first is that it is clear that the police and the judiciary are doing their job (with a few minor hiccups caused by the Prime Minister in an attempt to pervert the course of justice).
I sense a deep anger in the Royal Papua New Guinea Constabulary at the way the Prime Minister has tried to use them, and an equally strong commitment to see that the law takes its course through the exercise of their constitutional duties.
The last-minute appointment of a new police commissioner has added fuel to the fire. Some police are talking about trying to charge more NEC members with conspiracy to pervert the course of justice – a pointless and dangerous exercise, but nevertheless reflective of the anger in the force.
The sacking of the RPNGC lawyer by the new Attorney-General has also only made matters worse for the Prime Minister. Mr Nicholas Miviri, is a serving police officer with the rank of Superintendent, and he has been replaced by a civilian. Miviri is an accomplished and respected lawyer, having also served as a Public Prosecutor.
The court hearings themselves are also an indicator that all is not going well for the Prime Minister’s lawyers, especially Judge Kariko’s comments on why there should be a stay order against perfectly legitimate warrants.
The talk amongst private lawyers is that come the 25th, the Prime Minister’s case is likely to be thrown out, possibly as an abuse of process because of the grounds on which it is being argued.
As well, a number of actions ordered or orchestrated by the Prime Minister are likely to be found in contempt of court.
The Prime Minister has no friends in the judiciary, as everyone knows, and his possible courses of action in the courts are extremely limited and all are likely to be counter-productive.
Nor will the decision to sack Kerenge Kua have helped his cause. Kua is an NA strongman politically mentored by Sir Michael Somare. And Somare and NA have VERY close links to the highest levels of the judiciary.
Nor does the Prime Minister have any genuine friends in politics. One or two might stand by him as he dies a miserable political death, but that will only be so they inherit the leadership of PNC. And they should be aware that this may in itself be a poisoned chalice.
The rest will stand there smiling, with their left hands out and their right hands behind their backs holding daggers just airing for the right moment.
Smiling might not be the right word. Youtube videos of EMTV news show some pretty strained smiles – grimaces, really. A more uncomfortable lot I have never seen.
Ministerial sackings and party reshuffling have been a feature of the demise of a range of Prime Ministers, and there is no reason to believe that this time around is any different.
It won’t be long before all those smiles grow teeth and start biting the hand that is feeding them.
Furthermore, there have been rumblings amongst some politicians that the Prime Minister has been too greedy – for example the estimated K500 million scammed out of the illegal and corrupt Oil Search/Elk-Antelope/UBS deal is still sitting in a secret bank account in Hong Kong rather than being shared around.
Of course that may have changed in the last few days given the strength of rumours about planeloads of cash coming in from the Highlands and elsewhere.
Conversations with public servants else tend to confirm that they are growing angrier and more frustrated by the day, and some may well join in protests planned for the coming days (pending police permission), or may at the very least down tools and stay at home.
Commentary on social media, which the Prime Minister is desperately trying to muzzle, has moved from being evenly divided about him earlier this year to totally opposed.
Although social media provides absolutely NO real measure of the depth and spread of opposition to the Prime Minister in broader society, the rapid growth in attacks and the silence of even his most ardent trolls andy trolettes is telling.
A notable feature of social commentary is the questions about the Defence Force. It should be clear that although the Prime Minister has used his unrivalled talent for nepotism in this arena too, it has been to no avail. The Defence Force, like the Police, will do its Constitutional duty once again (with the possible exception of a few in Taurama Barracks).
The overwhelming majority will listen to wise heads and former colleagues like Jerry Singirok and Belden Namah.
All this is not to say that the Prime Minister doesn’t have any tricks up his sleeve, and that he is without some options.
His problem is that the longer he hides like a cornered rat in Parliament House, and the more he resorts to extreme measures, the worse his position will become.
A permanent all expenses paid room in the BomBom Grand looms.
Given that this is the man who illegally deported me, I have some bias. But I hope that my more distant perspective from expat exile in Australia counteracts that.
Lau egu bese, bona varavaras, lain bilong mi, I hope I won’t have to wait much longer to see you.
I have faith in ordinary Papua New Guineans and the resilience of Papua New Guinea as a nation.