PORT MORESBY: Opposition Leader Don Polye says he is very concerned with the preparations for the 2017 General Elections.
There are four reasons to justify my concern and they are as follows:
1. I do not know whether the current progress on the common role update will be absolutely ready as the National Elections is only three months away. Because the law strictly stipulates that Common Roll update must be in its final state of prepared form three months before the election. In that way three months is given to the parties, voters and the citizens to scrutinise whether all their names are in the Common Roll or those fake ones can be deleted. If there are some errors or discrepancies, two to three months period is a good time within which the correction can be done so that the spirit of the law is in order that Common Roll update is done or final in less than three months. At the moment what the Electoral Commissioner Mr Patillias Gamato is doing is such that he will achieve that legal requirement. The Common Roll update is progressing very slowly and we believe that there is a lot of rigging taking place especially by those MPs in the PNC government or candidates aligned to the ruling party. They have started the rigging process by putting in names that are not true or deleting names of those that are not their supporters. I call on Mr Gamato to be transparent, responsible and effective in doing the updating;
2. I have a very serious concern. It is a concern of the people of PNG as to the printing of ballot papers. I have checked it with the Government Printing office. I have written letters to them. I am yet to receive their response that the government printing office to do the printing for all the ballot papers. I have reliable information that the ballot papers will be printed overseas. I have an indication that it will take place in Indonesia. This is for the first time since Independence will we see ballot papers which are very important legal documents printed outside of the country with no good reason. There is no justified reason for Mr Patillus Gamato and the government to do the printing of the ballot papers outside of the country. I am very concerned. I argue, criticise and condemn this act of printing legal papers overseas when we have capability in the country. Since independence, the government printing office has been printing all the ballot papers. They have done an excellent job comparatively and competently. Why all of a sudden printing the ballot papers outside of the country? There is no economical, legal or any good justified reason to support what the government is instructing Mr Gamato to do. The only reason why Patillus Gamato intends to print ballot papers outside of the country is he is facilitating PNC government under Peter O’Neill to rig election by producing duplicated ballot papers that they will be sending in for whoever they want them to win because our people will be voting out PNC candidates. This action is done only to support PNC candidates. They will be voted out through the normal, democratic and fair process of election. PNC candidates will be rejected by the people. This is why Peter O’Neill has resorted to abusing and manipulating Mr Gamato to produce ballot papers overseas. I condemn it. I also ask the people of this nation and the candidates to stand up against this corrupt act by the Electoral Commissioner. I ask the Electoral Commissioner Patillus Gamato to refrain from what he is doing. It is evil, illegal and wrong. He is destroying the normal, fair, transparent and democratic process and work of the Electoral Commission that we have credibility and integrity in it. He is taking the commission into a lot of disrepute and questions;
3. We know there will legislative changes in the next session of Parliament. I call on the Electoral Commission and the government not to manipulate the electoral process. They will manipulate the Parliament to increase the nomination fee from K1000 to K10,000 and under the same law they will reduce the election period from eight weeks to four weeks. This is a direct attack on democracy. It infringes on the democracy and constitutional rights of those seeking to contest for public offices. Their intention has a mission. Their mission is to drive this legislative change in the next sitting of Parliament to making sure PNC members come back home through electoral fraud or a rigged election process by putting in a corrupt law and make their candidates easily win back their seats so I call on the people of PNG to stand up against this. I call on Patillias Gamato to be responsible. Him asking me the Leader of the Opposition to mobilise numbers to vote out that legislative bill is not good enough. That is my job as a legislator. He does not have to come and teach me how to do my job. He has to do his own job. He is not supposed to be listening to the government. He should be doing his job independently. He should not bow down to any politician like the Prime Minister or the Cabinet as he is a constitutional office holder. He should be bold and decisive. For instance, he should have said the nomination fee is K1000 and the Issue of Writ is on April 20 and the campaign period will be eight weeks. This is the announcement that he should be making. He should not be playing politics by telling me to mobilise numbers to stop the bill from being passed. He has come to politics already. I ask him not to be seen as an incompetent officer. He must do his job. The way he is speaking is he sounds like Peter O’Neill. He sounds exactly like Peter O’Neill. He has told me to mobilise numbers. That is what Peter O’Neill always tells me to. He knows that he has numbers on his side so he tells me to mobilise numbers and stop it. It is not about mobilising numbers. It is about what he is doing is right or wrong. Is the Electoral Commissioner discharging his duties as a constitutional office holder of the State by the authority of the Constitution? Is he compromising himself by degrading the office he is in charge of by subjugating himself to political influence under a corrupt Prime Minister? These are the questions which Mr Gamato should digest into his conscience and as much as he can, he must uphold the constitutionality and independence of the Electoral Commission and;
4. Submission of Form 29 by intending candidates is illegal because it is illegally done ahead of Issue of Writs. Those forms should be filled in after the Issue of Writs. Writs are issued and candidates are nominating themselves. This is what they should be doing. Them doing now is illegal. They should not go there to fill in their bio-data unless Writs are issued. What is happening now is the Electoral Commission will extract the information of potential nominees and make it available to Peter O’Neill so that he will lure all these candidates with money. They will go around sabotaging other candidates and their parties. So what the Electoral Commission is doing is it is corrupting the normal, democratic system of election. This is not fair. Him getting nominations ahead is illegal. He supposed to be getting that after the nomination but he getting it before the Issue of Writs. He is doing it to feed Peter O’Neill with information of candidates. That is wrong. He is plotting to sabotage other parties and their candidates to ensure PNC wins majority of the seats. This is not democratic. It is a Dictatorship and Communism. He is abusing this office. This is a beginning of rigging the election.