Pacific Media Centre Newsdesk
Papua New Guinea’s new Police Minister Bryan Kramer, once the Opposition MP scourge of the former Peter O’Neill-led government, is continuing to use his social media outlets in an effort to “clean up” governance as a minister.
After ex-Police Commissioner Gary Baki staged a press conference at the Police Headquarters to announce he would be applying to the lawcourts for a restraining order against the National Executive Council (NEC) on its decision last Friday to revoke to sack him and appoint Francis Tokura instead, Kramer was quick to use social media to add some “transparency” around the controversy.
Baki issued a press statement titled: “Acting Commissioner Baki to seek restraining order against Government on appointments”.
But minister Kramer replied on his Facebook page that “with due respect to the former Commissioner, the title of his press statement is misleading on account he is no longer the Acting Commissioner.
“In fact he is no longer a member of the force and should not have staged a press conference at Police HQ in Police uniform,” Kramer said.
In his public statement, Baki read out his 8-page media release at a news briefing and Kramer respnded point by point:
Baki stated: “Why did the government not follow due process and appoint them as substantive Commissioner and Deputy Commissioners instead of in acting capacities?”
Kramer: “All appointments whether temporary or substantive shall be made by the Head of State, acting with and in accordance with the advise of the National Executive Council given after consultation with the Public Service Commission and any appropriate Permanent Parliament Committee, which in this case is the Permanent Parliament Appointments committee. It may take about two weeks to a month for due process to be observed so that substantive appointments can be made instead of acting.”
Baki: “So the Police Minister and the government is playing with the lives of careers of police officers.”
Kramer: “Am I playing politics with the lives of career police officers? Hardly, it is more a case of their career expired/retired by operation of law.”
Baki confirmed in his press statement that his contract had expired on May 7, 2019, while the contracts of Deputy Commissioners Jim Andrews and Raphael Huafolo had expired on July 4, 2019.
Section 91 of Police Act states Commissioner and Deputy Commissioners shall retire in accordance with the terms of their contracts. In this case all three contracts expired giving effect to the vacancies in office and need for urgent acting (three month) appointments.
Baki claimed that when his contract expired, he was reappointed Acting Commissioner on May 8, 2019, by the O’Neill-Abel government.
Process not followed
Kramer said that Baki had correctly stated that “all appointments whether temporary or substantive shall be made by the Head of State, acting with and in accordance with the advise of the National Executive Council given after consultation with the Public Service Commission and any appropriate Permanent Parliament Committee. This is provided for under Section 193 of Constitution.”
However, did Baki’s appointment as Acting Commissioner follow due process by being in accordance with Section 193 of the Constitution?
Kramer said the “short answer is no”.
In a meeting with Baki, following his appointment as Minister for Police, Kramer requested that he be provided documentation supporting his appointment. He explained he had submitted an application for re-appointment to the then Minister of Police Jetla Wong.
However, due to political impasse around the same period Wong had failed to submit his application before NEC.