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PNG Parliament Speaker Errs in Law : Isifu

 PORT MORESBY:  WE have become enemies unto ourselves, fighting each other unnecessarily at great cost to our people while real culprits continue to plunder our resources at our backs, riding on our ignorance and weak laws, says Wewak MP, Hon. Kevin Isifu.

Speaking for the first time since events of “Friday the 13th” in Parliament, Hon. Isifu who also holds the important office of the Constitutional Law and Reform Commission (CLRC) as Chairman said PNG was too big for anyone person neither the Prime Minister James Marape nor the Opposition Leader Belden Nama, neither the Speaker Job Pomat nor Peter O’Neill but strongly held that all actions of leaders in this country must conform to the National Constitution and laws governing institutions of State.

“We will perish and disintegrate if we failed to do that. Already we are setting a bad precedence for our children who will curse us for our greed and self-centredness today.

“As CLRC Chairman, I feel that it is my duty to state the position of law in relationship to adjournment of Parliament to December 1, 2020 and the subsequent recalling of Parliament by the Hon. Speaker.

“Our people are watching our behaviours as politicians in disbelief, anger and for some, sadness.

“Our actions in blatant manipulation and abuse of our good system have left many wondering, what has gone wrong.

“I did not attend the Parliament session on Tuesday (Nov 17, 2020) because my conscience was not clear being the Chairman of the CLRC,” Hon. Isifu said.

Significant observations (in law) by CLRC Chairman from the events of “Friday the 13th”:

• Only a Minister can move a motion to adjourn Parliament as stipulated under S.2 (1) (a) (i) of the Organic Law on Calling of Meetings of Parliament;

• Pertaining to the above, the Clerk of Parliament and Deputy Speaker presiding committed a procedural error in reaching a resolution to adjourn Parliament to December 1, 2020;

• Constitution under S.100 proclaims the independence and sovereignty of Parliament and so “it is the Parliament that can rectify its own mistake not any other persons or individual. Alternatively, reference can be made to the Supreme Court to give its interpretation on the Organic Law and Parliamentary Standing Orders.

• But there is NO LAW that authorises the Speaker to recall Parliament if there was a procedural or substantive error in law committed by Parliament;

• It is NOT CORRECT in law to state that because there was a procedural error, sitting of Parliament continues;

• The “recall” of Parliament by Speaker implies two things; i) Office of the Speaker is above the Parliament and performs checks and balance on Parliament and can overrule decisions of Parliament, ii) Office of the Speaker can exercise judicial powers in interpreting Organic Law and other laws and give effect to it simultaneously. The actions of the Speaker is unprecedented in this context;

• There is NO DISTINCTION of powers and functions between Office of the Speaker and Deputy Speaker under S.108 of the Constitution as they are both EQUAL. Except that to “uphold the dignity of Parliament, maintain order in it, regulate its proceedings and administer its affairs and to control the precincts of Parliament as defined by or under an Act of Parliament”.

• These laws DO NOT confer on the Speaker or the Deputy Speaker the powers to RECALL Parliament under any circumstances;

• Parliament can ONLY BE RECALLED by the Head of State on two occasions: i) after and following a National General Election, and ii) State of Emergency or War;

• The Speaker had failed to uphold, maintain, without bias and prejudice to perform his Constitutional duties under S.108 when he short sightedly recalled Parliament to convene on Tuesday, November 17, 2020 where; i) denied the rights of the 60 plus Honourable Members of the House “fair representation” by not giving them ample time to present themselves in Parliament, which is a breach of his Constitutional duty under S.108 of the Constitution, ii) the Speaker failed to allow the Opposition to exercise their Constitutional Duty to debate, question, cross examine and challenge the national budget before it is passed. Consequently, the Speaker failed to uphold, maintain, and independently, without bias or prejudice, perform his Constitutional duty as provided under S.108 (1) of the Constitution.

“As an elected leader, I am fed up with being seen by our people as l, constitutional rapist, power and money hungry bunch of lawbreakers who are only there in Parliament to exploit this country. After we break the laws, we run to courts to seek refuge and shelter.

“We continue changing political alliance for self-interests and use catch phrases such as “in the best interest of my people” and yet, their interest through policies and laws such as the Bill I am pushing through Parliament as former Minister for Provincial Affairs and Local Level Governments on Decentralisation is ignored or brushed aside.

“Given successive constitutional crises we have been facing as a country since Independence in 1975, especially on the election of the Prime Minister we must seriously consider change of laws to allow who we change Prime Ministers from now going into the future. It is time people must directly elect the Prime Minister so that he or she focuses on managing the business and affairs of the country instead of looking for resources to maintain numbers to stay in power,” Hon. Isifu said.


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