Kramer ‘ambushes’ PNG’s chief ombudsman, challenges integrity

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PNG Chief Ombudsman Richard Pagen
Incoming MPs listen to Chief Ombudsman Richard Pagen at an induction session in Port Moresby yesterday ... “I have done my job to refer people. We are not here to fight anyone. We are here to support service delivery for the 9 million [people in the country]." Image: PNG Post-Courier

By Jeffrey Elapa of the PNG Post-Courier in Port Moresby

Madang MP Bryan Kramer, who held the police, justice and later immigration portfolios in the outgoing givernment, is no stranger to publicity stunts.

Yesterday, he “ambushed” Chief Ombudsman Richard Pagen in the State Function Room of the National Parliament during the new MPs’ induction process.

Last week, the Deputy Chief Justice Ambeng Kandakasi had announced the appointment of a leadership tribunal to investigate allegations of misconduct in office against Kramer.

As Pagen was speaking to the new MPs on their roles and responsibilities and the work of the Ombudsman Commission, Kramer found it an opportune time to pick a “verbal spat’ with Pagen.

After Pagen had finished his presentation, Kramer asked several questions that “pickled” the integrity and reputation of Pagen and the Ombudsman Commission.

Kramer told Pagen that the commission had lost many leadership tribunal cases and that his [Pagen’s] own integrity was also in question when a staff member had raised allegations against him and he was still holding office.

The Chief Ombudsman told Kramer that he was at the Parliament induction programme to talk to collective Members of Parliament and not to debate with him.

‘I don’t want to argue’
“Member for Madang, I’m addressing a crop of leaders and I don’t want to argue with you. Do not raise conflict of interest questions here. Your leadership (tribunal) is coming,” he told Kramer.

Pagen said he was not appointed to be a “briefcase carrier” but to perform his constitutional duties and he performed his duty without fear or favour.

“We are here to work with the leaders. If you fear us then, it is because you have done something wrong,” he said.

PNG Police Minister Bryan Kramer
Member for Madang Bryan Kramer … questioned the integrity of Chief Ombudsman Richard Pagen”. Image: LPNG

The Chief Ombudsman said that as a constitutional office holder his job was not to “carry a whip around” and hunt for leaders to be punished.

He said he made sure that there were prima facie cases to refer members of Parliament to the Leadership Tribunal and so far four cases had been thrown out.

“I have done my job to refer people. We are not here to fight anyone. We are here to support service delivery for the 9 million [people in the country]. We are technical people here to give you advice,” he said.

Pagen said they were there to help make sure the leaders perform their duties of serving the people honestly and transparently.

MPs told to be ‘transparent’
In a separate news story, the Post-Courier reports that Pagen urged MPs to be transparent and not to be involved in actions that would question their integrity and of the office they occupied.

Pagen told new MPs and those who were continuing that the office they held now was for the people and their position must not be demeaned by their actions.

He said the integrity of the office and the position they occupied as leaders must be maintained at all times.

“The integrity of the country must also be preserved,” Pagen said.

“We must not use the office for personal gain.

“In the Melanesian society, we have come from a wider family connection and relations and it is essential that the relationship does not creep into the office.”

Jeffrey Elapa is a PNG Post-Courier reporter. Republished with permission.

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