A COURT application by the Ombudsman Commission to prevent Parliament from deliberating on the proposed increase on nomination fee and petition filing fee has been refused by the Supreme Court.
This means the recent amendments to section 103(2) of the Constitution and section 87 and 209 of the Organic Law on the National, Provincial and Local-Level Government elections by parliament will remain.
The Ombudsman Commission last month filed an application for an injunction to prevent Parliament from debating, deliberating and voting on National Election nomination fee and petition filing fee.
The Supreme Court refused the application last Friday on grounds that it could not interfere with Parliament to deliberate on the proposed increase in nomination fees from K1000 to K10,000 and petition filing fee from K5000 to K20,000.
The proposed law was to amend section 103(2) of the Constitution and sections 87 and 209 of the Organic Law on National and Provincial and Local-Level Government Elections. The Government needs two-thirds majority (75 MPs) to pass the constitutional amendment at the last session of Parliament starting on March 28 before the National Election.
Prime Minister Peter O’Neill has welcomed the Supreme Court decision saying it would enable Parliament to decide if election nomination and petitioning fees would be adjusted.
He said the proposed amendments would strengthen democratic process to enable true contenders to stand for elections, and would help prevent the malicious use of the court system after elections.
“The proposed changes are commonsense and the Supreme Court has made its ruling.
“It is now up to the Parliament to debate and then to vote on this issue, as is the democratic process of our country.
“Ours is a robust democracy, a democracy where the rule of law is respected and protected, and this has been reinforced by the Supreme Court decision.
“The proposed amendments to electoral laws will mark an important point in the ongoing evolution of the electoral process in our country.
“A natural evolution of any economy is that prices and costs will increase over time.
“Election nomination fee has not changed since 1992, while incomes have increased since 1992, consumer prices have increased since 1992 and it is only natural that other costs increase over a quarter of a century.
“Too often we have seen our electoral process manipulated and distorted by people who are not seeking election, but are playing a strategic game to manipulate the outcome for other candidates.
“We want serious contenders to stand for elections, men and women who are serious about representing their people and serving the collective interest of the nation.”
PAPUA NEW GUINEA is mourning the death of a legend who had contributed immensely in the media industry of the nation.
The long time radio personality and host of the PNG FM 100 most loved Talkback show, Roger Hau’uofa, silently passed away at his wife’s Lare village at Kairuku in the central province on Saturday evening.
Late Hau’uofa clocked over 50 years in radio broadcasting from the PNG National Broadcasting Cooperation (NBC) to Kalang radio, now FM 100.
His name became sysnonymous to radio in PNG as he hosts the PNG Talkback program featuring many development issues covering a wide range of topics including Economical, Political and Social agenda\’s giving everyone an opportunity to participate and be heard on an open forum on National Radio.
Mr Hau’uofa however succumbed to kidney failure. He will be greatly missed by his family and friends and the nation as a whole.
Opposition Leader Don Polye today joined the chorus of condolence on the passing of Hau’ofa and expressed his sympathy to the families and relatives.
He described his death as a huge loss to the nation’s media industry.
“He had a distinctive voice with his fluency in English. His used to critically analyse important issues affecting the country and created forums on the radio airwaves to prompt policies and legislations to address them,” he said.
Polye said late Roger had left a legacy with over 50 years of experience which young presenters would aspire to live by.
“He was a strong advocate for democracy, rule of law, good governance and systems of governance amongst others.
“His relatives and families should be proud of his contribution to the nation,” he said.
He said his prayers were with them at this time of sorrow.
Meanwhile, Polye said lifestyle diseases had been a silent killer, causing deaths to many productive citizens.
He calls on fellow citizens to take healthy food especially cereals, nuts fruits and vegetables.
He discourages them eating protein with ‘too much fat.’
Polye, a gym goer, has challenged them to do physical exercise as it is healthy for their hearts.
A YOUNG Papua New Guinean was sentenced to 22 years in prison by the Australian court for willful murder.
Sigaragh (Steven) Baea, 22, murdered the mother of his old school friend allegedly over jealousy.
The Age reports that Baea must serve at least 17 years for the fit of rage in which he stabbed Prasad Somawansa 38 times in her Hoppers Crossing home on the night of February 18 last year.
Baea and Mrs Somawansa’s son, Wishhasad, were at primary school together and rekindled their friendship early last year when they crossed paths in the street.
About a week after that chance meeting, Baea arrived unannounced at the Somawansa home and stayed for dinner, only to return later that night and murder Mrs Somawansa, whose son had been paged by his SES unit and whose husband was in Brisbane on work.
During the attack, Priyantha Hewage telephoned home and realised his wife of 22 years was in trouble when she answered the call. Mr Hewage heard his wife say “You go out, you go out, you go out” and then three times called out “Dos”, the name she called her husband.
Baea lived in Australia with his family as a young child but endured a troubled life when his family returned to Papua New Guinea. Justice James Elliott said Baea found it a shock to see that his former classmate was brought up in a loving, supportive household.
“You found the experience of witnessing two loving parents supporting their son in his life and studies quite confronting,” Justice Elliott told Baea in the Supreme Court on Tuesday.
“You were jealous of Wish’s life.”
Justice Elliott said he could not determine the exact reason Baea murdered Mrs Somawansa with a kitchen knife he always kept on him, but found it a brutal and unprovoked attack.
“It was a vicious, gruesome and cowardly attack. You stabbed this defenceless woman in her own home violently and repeatedly … you only stopped stabbing her once she fell to floor, which is where you left her.”
Outside court, Mr Somawansa, with his father standing next to him, said no sentence could make up for their loss. He had no answers for why his mother was attacked.
“I just find it hard to understand how someone like that would do such a thing and how I could trust someone else if someone I thought was once a friend would do that to my own mother,” he said.
“She was a beautiful person, she was loving, she was caring and she always wanted to do good for everyone else. I just wasn’t privileged enough to spend more time with her and to care for her and to repay her for making me who I am today.”
The court heard Baea spent most of the following day in church contemplating what he did, before admitting his crime to police and then pleading guilty to murder.
He told police that after Mr Somawansa dropped him off at a shopping centre, he returned to the Somawansa house to look for his myki card. Mrs Somawansa asked him to leave as she was on the phone to a friend.
Justice Elliott said Mrs Somawansa had shown Baea only hospitality and courtesy, and that it was plain by her family’s victim impact statements that she would be “greatly missed”.
Despite that, the judge said he could not be satisfied Baea had “murderous intent” as he walked to the house, although he was clearly angry.
Baea was effectively abandoned by his parents as a teenager in Port Moresby, when his mother returned to Australia and remarried and his father began a relationship with another woman, which left Baea to raise his younger sister.
Baea was in Australia after visiting his mother when he met Mr Somawansa. He was due to return to Port Moresby three days after the murder.
THE sale of loose cigarettes and packs containing less than 25 cigarettes will be illegal next year.
This is according to section 24 of the Tobacco Control Act which was passed by the National Parliament last October and certified on January 26.
According to Post-Courier reports, the Health Secretary Pascoe Kase said yesterday that smokers and their suppliers have about 12 months to prepare for the reform.
“I have directed my department to act immediately to draft a National Executive Council submission and an instrument for the consideration of the Governor-General who has the power to issue a Notice under the Act nominating a date Section 24 comes into operation. This date will be made 12 months from the date of the Gazette Notice. This will give affected companies time to prepare for the reform,” Kase said.
“I want to be very clear about the transition arrangements for section 24 of the new Act. When in operation, this section forbids the sale of cigarettes in packets less than 25 and the sale of loose tobacco of less than 25 grams.”
“Implementation of a reform can be a complex process as change becomes known, accepted and made part of a new way of doing things. Since the Act was certified on January 26, the Department of Health has been working to ensure a smooth implementation process. This means realisation of the intended reforms at a pace that also recognises the need for a transition period for affected business to prepare themselves to make some changes to their businesses practices to meet the requirements of the new law.”
“The purpose of such measure is to discourage young people from buying tobacco products or to make them less attractive to young people. It is the smaller, and therefore cheaper packages of tobacco product which tend to be more likely to be bought by young people who often have less available money to spend,” said Mr Kase in a media release.
FIVE prominent lawyers have been appointed as Judges to the National and Supreme Courts recently at the Waigani Court House in Port Moresby.
These five judges, in order of their seniority by the dates of their appointments are Justice Leka Nama Nablu, Justice Robert Lee Lindsay, Justice William Neil, Justice Terence Harold Foulds and Justice Jeffery Leonard Shepherd.
Presiding over the ceremonial sitting in welcoming the five new judges was Deputy Chief Justice, Gibbs Salika as the Chief Justice Salamo Injia was attending funeral service for late Governor-General Sir Michael Ogio.
The Court room was not filled to capacity but the ceremonial sitting proceeded on a high note with families, friends, National Judiciary Services staff, Media and spouses of the newly appointed judges witnessing the occasion.
In welcoming the five new judges as members of the National Judiciary, Alfred Manase, one of the senior lawyers and a Council member of the Papua New Guinea Law Society, said the demands placed upon each of them by the home grown constitution would be at times very trying and difficult.
“As you would have now realised, the demands placed upon each of you by the home grown constitution, and its people will be at times very trying and difficult. Dispensing justice in accordance with law in PNG is no easy task but one that requires commitment,” he said.
Manase encouraged them to serve this nation with honesty.
“As you join the current judges of the Court, place your trust, confidence and have faith in the grace of our Lord God Almighty and serve the National and Supreme Courts in this nation with honesty and integrity,” he said.
Manase said Justices Nablu, Lindsay, Neill and Shepherd need not reminding of the constitutional mandate or duties as they have been performing and serving this country tirelessly over the years as lawyers but welcomed Justice Foulds.
POLITICIANS ought to walk their talk and provide for their constituents says National and Supreme Court judge, Justice Panuel Mogish.
The Post-Courier reports that Justice Mogish made the remarks after observing the appalling state of court facilities during circuits to sub-registries in the Central Province.
“Court houses falling apart. No power, no water, no toilets, poor remand facilities for the Correctional Services, empty chambers and broken furniture. My challenge to provincial authorities to be true to what you say and deliver,” Justice Mogish said during the opening of the Legal Year in Central Province on Tuesday.
Help in subsidising expenses was also suggested. According to Justice Mogish, last year K 300,000 was spent on a single circuit to the province, with most of the money going to transport and accommodation.
“Why not build accommodation for visiting court parties to cut down on expenses?”
He added that they were only nine pending cases at the province’s National Courts. This reflected local police inability to do their jobs because of lack of necessities such as transport.
“Plenty of criminal activities are being committed in remote areas. But police are handicapped,” he said.
He said allocating money to such infrastructures would greatly help visiting court parties from the nation’s capital in dispensing justice.