Bougainville News from the Speaker : ” A week in politics is a long time “

Kubu

 ” We have a generally happy, relatively well-to-do and forward looking population. If there is a bridge to build or a catalyst to work up and apply much of this work and action falls fairly and squarely on the laps of leaders in the VAs, communities, churches but utmostly on the political leaders in the House.

I can see and tell you about positive, progressive changes we are making in the Legislature as one of the three arms of Government and in the parliamentary service which is the administration that serves and supports the MHRs, including Ministers. For now I just want to say that the Bougainville House of Representatives – the People’s House – will be an important catalyst for improvement and positive change in the way MHRs play and deliver their roles.

When we are clear what we expect of our elected leaders it also becomes much more clear how we should serve and assist them.”

A LETTER FROM KUBU, BUKA From Simon Pentanu Speaker of the House AROB

Most of us that greet the red rubberball-like sunrise to begin the day here may think (or be fooled into thinking) that the world is like this everywhere.

Buka town yesterday was choco-blocked with moving and mingling crowds that descended here from south, central, west and north to compete, watch and meet in the boxing/kick boxing tournament hosted in town.

The shouts and sights of encouragement for the competitors chasing to pummel and kick each other to the floor in the limited ring space was a spectacle for many that crowded around to watch. If there weren’t any tournament rules the pairs of these fist and leg combatants should be all declared winners.

Thanks to the tournament organisers like Robert ‘Imam’ Semoso, Buka town was a winner. Buka Market was the busiest I’ve seen on a Saturday and the women were doing a roaring trade in kulau at 50t to K1 per green fresh nut, in peanuts and other edibles. The shops nearby were doing likewise selling carbonated cold drinks in cans. Taxis were very visible moving bodies around town and beyond.

I don’t know who won the tournament in the ring. Or which Region won most bouts. But everyone went away in the happy knowledge that it was a good day enjoyed by all. No one was killed. I didn’t see any body bags being carted out of the tournament area.

We are so blessed and fortunate in Bougainville and in this country that we do not have to face the wrath and mindlessness of suicide bombers killing and maiming us. We do not have to wake up to the news and the scene of chaos and death and see authorities cleaning up maimed body parts which is not unusual in places like Iraq, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Syria and, not infrequently, in the Holy Lands. France too, it seems has been marked out as the brunt of terrorists wrathe, anger and pay back.

Turkey has had its share of bombings. As if that isn’t foolish, ghoulish and despicable enough some of its soldiers and airmen just rolled into the streets in tanks ploughing into defiant crowds and took to the air with choppers and fighter jets and dropped explosive bomb on their Parliament which killed a lawmaker. There are other countries in the region that are steeped in a precarious balance when it comes to sanity and stability.

Are we too harsh on ourselves? After spending exactly one year, one month in the presiding role in our House I think we often are. This is also how long it has taken me to move into the speaker’s residence at Kubu. The long wait is unacceptable but it’s not something that has stressed me and I haven’t dropped dead. There are more important and urgent matters to do with our people to attend to than moving into a house. From this experience however, my assurance is I will never put my successor through the same waiting experience.

We have a generally happy, relatively well-to-do and forward looking population. If there is a bridge to build or a catalyst to work up and apply much of this work and action falls fairly and squarely on the laps of leaders in the VAs, communities, churches but utmostly on the political leaders in the House.

I can see and tell you about positive, progressive changes we are making in the Legislature as one of the three arms of Government and in the parliamentary service which is the administration that serves and supports the MHRs, including Ministers. For now I just want to say that the Bougainville House of Representatives – the People’s House – will be an important catalyst for improvement and positive change in the way MHRs play and deliver their roles. When we are clear what we expect of our elected leaders it also becomes much more clear how we should serve and assist them.

I would like to think that PBA’s role and its efforts in hosting the June 15 AROB Day annually is an important catalyst and pointer in this direction.

The recent period leading up to the Court ordered resumption of the National Parliament meeting has attracted a lot of good and bad attention. It also included a short period of madness in UPNG campus which also spread to other campuses and violence in some towns. An innocent student’s life was taken away in his sleep at UNITECH. For what! UPNG campus was closed before more buildings could go up in flames. A combined effort of PBA, NCOBA, ABG officials and relatives and friends has seen Bouginville students come home.

It’s a seven day itch and wait for the Oppostion from Friday 15 July to Friday 22 July. For those that want to see the back of the incumbent PM they require some miraclulous intrusion into the minds of MPs still in the Government ranks to find out how they will vote on the Motion of No Confidence. But it won’t be difficult given that this is very obviously and obtusely a numbers game. I don’t think you even need the guesstimates of number crunchers of yesteryears that used to add and substract from 109 MPs then, when the numbers were close.

If the Motion is called up and taken to its conclusion we will have the coalition Government numbers on the right and the opposition and its stock of numbers on the left of the Speaker’s Chair. From where the Speaker is sat he looks straight down the middle of the Chamber to the Bar of Parliament at the back and the back entrance into the Chamber. In the past this is where backbenchers were allocated seats. They had a role to play then including providing the numbers to decide when the VONC hung in the balance. But not today. The backbencher in the PNG Parliament is an extinct species.

As I sit and write this in the surroundings of a picturesque setting looking out from atop a cliff dwelling to the main entrance into the Buka Passage, I just received a text saying the Government and coalition numbers are at 91. This is an increase from what I was told by another friend from Port Moresby yesterday. I don’t expect to be told the same numbers by different people.

A week in politics is a long time. A week in politics trying to shore up numbers to oust a Government that is confident of its rank and file support is not easy. For the Government they can well say this will turn out to be a Vote of Confidence.

In the intervening days in trying to decide whether or not to cross the floor, jump ships, sit aloft a fence or stay put, some Members will have either cooked their goose, or shot themselves in both feet or will have had their proverbial cake and eaten it too.

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