Monday, 26 March 2007


(as at 26th March 2007, as we get to hear of them)

Provincial seat

Charles Lepani

There is some doubt as to whether Mr. Lepani is in or out of the elections for the provincial seat. We have heard both. But on the understanding he maybe in, we can say Charles Lepani has spent most of his working life outside Milne Bay.

He is a corporate-career person.

He would have the ability and experience to be a governor.

He is linked with the old-style Pangu grouping, the bully-beef club etc.

His last posting was as PNG High Commissioner in Canberra.

He does not have a reputation for bringing development to Milne Bay.

He is from densely populated Kiriwina. He is at the end of his working-life.

Iairo Lasaro

Mr. Lasaro is/was thought to be with the New Generation Party. He is an ex-governor, and old style politician.

There is some debate about whether he will run in the provincial or Alotau Open seats.

But Charlie Abel is said to be the New Party candidate in the Alotau Open, and Napolean Loisi is the New Generation Party endorsed candidate for the Milne Bay Provincial seat.

On the other hand, a recent press statement said Mr. Lasaro had been invited to join the Rural development Party.

He is at the end of his working-life. But older customary candidates may well do well if the electorate shows disillusionment with modern management.

John Luke Critten

John Luke is a wealthy businessman; he is the major shareholder in the Nako fisheries group. He is a politician of the old school, linked with the political scene in Port Moresby. He is a sound-businessman, who has the experience, and intellectual ability to be a governor.

There is no doubt, he has contributed to the economic development of Milne Bay.

His particular geographic strength would be in the Samarai Murua Electorate, where he has done business and brought development.

There is some talk he does not enjoy the best of health.

It is also rumoured his running will split the vote of Titus Philemon, and give preferences to Tim Neville.

Nevertheless he is a strong contender, if he were to campaign in all parts of the province. But he is not an energetic campaigner, and may suffer because of that.

He is from Switzerland. He is at the end of his working-life.

He failed at the last election.

Leah Sharp

A strong new contender.

Modern, progressive woman, lawyer, from Molima.

Part of the Sharp, Star Shipping family. Her family built their business in East New Britain, but they have now moved some assets back into Milne Bay.

The Star Shipping contribution to Milne Bay marine transport infrastructure and development has under-written progress in the province for the last five years.

This candidate is focussed on women, youth and business. Perceived political wisdom is that women are no more capable of organising on gender lines than men, and the women's vote will not happen.

Very competitive, and could set the tone of the campaign.

Napoleon Liosi

The New Generation Party candidate.

Former General-Secretary of the Public Employees Association.

Spent most of his working-life in Port Moresby. Old style conservative unionist.

Not known for any particular contribution to Milne Bay development.

No private sector or commercial experience. He is at the end of his working life.

No obvious reason why he could defeat some of the stronger candidates he faces, unless the issues politics of the New Generation Party can defeat the government National Alliance pork-barrel.

Tim Neville:

PNG Resources Party. Family has timber industry connections. Mr. Neville is known to oppose export logging in Milne Bay, and was strongly anti-corruption in 2002 at the time of forming the government. He is pro- oil palm expansion. He vigorously opposed Conservation International after it was revealed by consultants the Milne Bay Marine Conservation Project wasted $US 800,000.

Mr. Neville now has 10 years experience as the Governor of Milne Bay.

He is in a strong position.

In addition, Milne Bay looks a lot better than most other provinces and that happened on Tim Neville's watch.

But Governor Neville's re-election chances are now not so strong, because there is disillusionment in the rural areas that he has failed to deliver development.

Because of Mr. Neville's stand on corruption, and because he fell-out with Somare, Moresby cut-off Milne Bay project funding.

There are some powerful candidates beginning to show their hand.

Mr. Neville has support from business, because of the fear of the unknown nature of alternative candidates, and their likely preference for old-style politics and pork-barrelling.

He is not strong in the Samarai-Murua electorate, and Titus Philemon, who is strong there, is running against him.

Opinion in the Esa'ala Electorate is that he has not delivered there too.

He is strong in Kiriwina, but Charles Lepani from the Trobriands Islands, could pose a threat to Mr. Neville, if Mr. Lepani tries to run, in the provincial seat.

But Goodenough Island has not benefited from development over the past 5 years, and is still a development "disaster".

The new North Coast Road could deliver Alotau Open, but the in-land Rabarabas may not be convinced.

A lot may ride on the preferences.

The Governor does not appear to be cashed-up, his record for delivering development has yet to be fully seen, but he may roll-out some convincing projects before June

He is an inconsistent communicator.

But it is not the urban-based chattering e-classes he has to convince. It is the rural-electorate.

He was brought-up in Papua New Guinea, has panache, and he knows his way around.

A strong competitor who could win, if he delivers sufficiently before the elections.

Titus Philemon

He belongs to the Peoples' Progress Party.

Former Vice Minister for Forests. Pro-logger.

Former governor, voted in after Josephine Abaijah lost a vote of no confidence in the Provincial Assembly.

He would be the main beneficiary from the rural dissatisfaction arising from the lack of development. And this view places him as a strong candidate.

He landed the Austaid funded Gurney-Alotau, East Cape Road project and the bridges projects that put in essential infrastructure while he was a governor.

Old-style politician, who probably does not have the skills to thoroughly modernise Milne Bay.

A professional politician, with no personal wealth or business.

Lots of political experience, but he has been in the wilderness for 5 years, so is that enough in 2007?

Dr. Westin Seta.

A press statement said he had been invited to join the Rural Development Party.

Former Medical Superintendent Alotau Hospital.

Member of the Christian Life Church.

Towards the end of his professional life.

No previous political experience.

Alotau Open

Alan Baniyamani

a lawyer from Goili. He has spent most of his time outside Milne Bay. A virtually unknown candidate on a packed race-card.

Charles Abel

Kwato mission Abel-family antecedents.

Good electoral brand, although some talk of customary enmity and back-biting undermining that image.

Accountant businessman modern, successful.

Rumours he is the New Generation Party candidate, but not confirmed. He will set the tone of this contest.

He is focusing on youth networks and as the demographic show 50% of the population under 18, with the 18 to 30 percentile being critical, this is important. Very competitive.

But a lot will depend on the preferences as gender could be important, if the women's vote remains reasonably solid.

Clive Rumulus

ex- deputy governor in the Titus Philemon government. A PPP candidate. Old-style politician. A strong contender in the context of the failure of modernism.

Diana Halstead

Cairns-based businesswomen from Aihioma. Her family owns and operates a dive-boat business in Cairns that tours into Milne Bay. She has been walking around the electorate for two months or so.

She enjoys the support of women leaders. But will women vote as a block? Will other women candidates split the vote, and a man walk through the gap? Perceived political wisdom is that women are no more capable of organising on gender lines than men, and the women's vote will not happen.

Donald Newaget

ex High school teacher. He has tried twice before, as a candidate, and lost. Now said to be aligned with Homare Yawari, Governor of the Southern Highlands in an attempt to put together a new party.

Douglas Tomarise

A Port Moresby-based National Alliance candidate. NA is due in Alotau about the 17th of April to unveil their candidates.

NA is cashed-up, but that may not be enough against other strong candidates. On the otherhand, he could benefit from the pure power of of NA money and the LPV system. A lot will depend on how NA deals in preferences, particularly with the women vote.

Gerald Lage

a landowner from Sagarai who has run unsuccessfully, before.

No obvious reason why he should attract votes outside his own area.

Goine Loko

wife of David Loko, recently appointed CEO of Telikom, daughter of Margo Doilegu of Aihoma. No obvious reason why she should attract votes outside her own area. Perceived political wisdom is that women are no more capable of organising on gender lines than men, and the women's vote will not happen.

Henry Benoma

Businessman, owns a small guest house in Alotau. No obvious reason why he should attract votes outside his own area.

Isaac Tialabe

The sitting member. Samml-businessman in Alotau.

He has very little profile in Alotau civil society and does not appear to be responsible for any identifiable new development in the electorate since 2002.

But was outspoken and progressive on the floor of parliament on a number of issues including school fees.

A number of development failures have occurred on his watch:

failure to secure land for Water Board Alotau sewage-farm;

failure to establish new produce market in Alotau (lost Incentive Fund bid),

failure to establish new fisheries wharf in Alotau (lost ADB bid),

failure to get AULLG to pick up the rubbish regularly in Alotau, despite the Provincial government providing 2 dump truck packers.

The Governor says that Mr. Tailabe did not work well with the provincial government.

Jonas Sodias

Melanesian Liberal Party.

Lisia Ilibeni

from Nubi, West Suau. Came second in the last elections to Isaac Tiatabe. So is a strong contender. He is connected with Sagarai-Gedisu logging interests and the Padipadi oil palm scheme.

Rhonda Anakapu

Alotau businesswomen. Owner operator of Kikiwa Holdings service station, member of the Milne Bay Chamber of Commerce. No obvious reason why she should attract votes outside her own area. Perceived political wisdom is that women are no more capable of organising on gender lines than men, and the women's vote will not happen.

Samuel Leguna

an artist. No obvious reason why he should attract votes outside his own area.

Sarah Ronald

An owner, and inspirer of Raven Estates. Raven Estates is a bold and innovative venture in customary land development. There are now questions about the way it has been managed, after the previous manager left the company. No obvious reason why he should attract votes outside his own area. Perceived political wisdom is that women are no more capable of organising on gender lines than men, and the women's vote will not happen.

Wekina Mark

said to be running with Bob Danaya's party (Danaya is governor of the Western Province. No obvious reason why he should attract votes outside his own area.

Esa'ala Open

Laurie Wilson

Alotau-based lawyer from Dobu Island. Mr. Wilson is a sole practitioner.

He has kept his links with Dobu, and is well-known.

A solid candidate. But no political experience.

There is no apparent reason why he should beat the sitting member.

Mark Banasi

Ex Major from Defence Force from Gaula, Dobu retired into his wife's village near Sehulea, on Duau.

Not known to be wealthy. Lives as a villager.

A solid candidate, but no political experience at provincial or national level. Lost at the last elections.

There is no apparent reason why he should beat the sitting member, as he lost to him at the last elections.

Moses Maladina

The Sitting Member. He lived in Port Moresby between 2002-5 and commuted regularly to his wife's home in New Zealand.

His father's family are from Molima, on Ferguson Island.

His mother is from Baiyer River in the Western Highlands.

His mixed parentage, and his managerial experience makes him a formidable national politician if he holds onto his seat.

Former CEO of Airniugini.

Deputy Prime Minister. He almost became prime minister, but fluffed it, was sacked by Somare, and he went into the wilderness.

There was no PEP in his electorate between 2002-5. (payback?)

He started a whole sale/retail private venture with LLG participation at Esa'ala.

There is a lot of grumbling going on in the Esa'ala Open about the lack of change, and broken promises.

It said he is spending big, in the run-up to the elections.

But whatever they say, Mr. Maladina is an ambitious politician, who will give the new contenders a run for their money.

Peter Niesi

From Sawedi, Ferguson Island. Journalist, who worked for the Post Courier and the Ombudsman Commission. Potentially a strong candidate. But does not appear to have financial backing or paryy links at present.

Inoisi Baloiloi

Former manager of a government hostel in Port Moresby. There is no apparent reason why he should beat the sitting member.

Kiriwina -Goodenough Open

Brian Pulasi

The sitting member. A school teacher. He was the Minister for Higher Education, nut got shuffled-off. There does not appear to be any new development in the 2002-7 period in this electorate.

Kiriwina Goodenough is an isolated over populated under developed area, long neglected by politicians.

William Ebenosi

Rural Development Party candidate. Former member; half Dobuan from Sawedi Village. Know for helping people, building churches etc.

We are not hearing who else standing in Kiriwina-Goodenough, & will publish information as it becomes available

Development issues

1. North Coast Road: it is said that an extra K3 million has been obtained for this project that is under construction. This is a vote-winner.

2. Gurney airport infrastructure: The K3 million for Gurney airport international flight infrastructure is only just beginning to be accessed.

Contractors are this week picking-up the tender documents from Port Moresby Civil Aviation Authority.

On the whole the management of the airport renovations by the Milne Bay Provincial Government has been quite poor. The bureaucrats and politicians have allowed CCA to drag its feet.

3. Gurney subdivision More generally, the Milne Bay bureaucrats have let CCA off the hook, and have failed to develop the sub-division at the airport by having the land there advertised.

This is really a part of the bad management of land issues in Milne Bay by both politicians and officials.

Without the sub-division advertised the private sector cannot do its job of development.

4. Cairns - Gurney air link:

So far, the same politicians and officials have failed miserably to bring in the Cairns-Gurney air link.

Although all is not lost. Some quick negotiations before the elections could bring-in the bacon.

The Cairns - Gurney air link is vital infrastructure for the tourist industry in Milne Bay.

Governor Neville will carry the political punishment for this, which is partially unfair, because all the Open Members are equally responsible.

We now know that the East New Britain Provincial Government paid Air Nuigini a K100,000 subsidy to have a flight from Cairns to Kokopo. Such a subsidy is not unheard-of to kick-start a new route. Air Niugini simply say: offer to pay us and we will look at it.

5. Governor a poor communicator: Some of the fault here lies in the poor communication links between the Governor, Milne Bay politicians, their staff, officials, and business.

Politicians who spend time out of the province, and do not have competent personal staff to handle their business communications, have only themselves to blame.

Communicating is important. Try getting a web-site! Learn to do e-mail and make sure your staff are e-literate.

The electorate is becoming more sophisticated and demanding high standards.

6. East Cape Road & Magi Highway. The sealing of the road from near Gumine to near Bubuleta was a major accomplishment. But the road is beginning to break-up towards East Cape, near Gumine, and the last 13 km or so were never sealed.

The sealing of the road is a major accomplishment. It brought the province into the 21st century and inspired.

7. Power generation: new generators have been installed in the power-house to cope with rural electrification along the East Cape Road and the expansion of Alotau.

This is important infrastructure. But the powerhouse is very noisy and pollutes the surrounding area.

8. Oil Palm & bio diesel: the attempt to lease out land on Woodlark island for an oil palm scheme has all the signs of being poor development.

The land allocation issue has been handled without transparency.

The environmental and forestry procedures are very complex.

The social impact of importing large numbers of outsiders to Woodlark Island problematic.

The environmental assessment of clear-felling a forest known for its ebony and hard-woods for oil palm, looks bad.

bio diesel: The bio-diesel plant on a Harbours Board lease raises the whole question of why a palm-oil based bio-diesel, and not a coconut oil bio-diesel?

Milne Bay exports about 1200 tonnes of copra p.a. But the potential is closer to 25,000 tonnes. That is all smallholder based. So why oil palm? Why not coconut-diesel? What has happened to the planning process and priorities?

There seems to be no thought or planning.

Merely an opportunistic grab, close to elections, at a poorly documented offer of development, that Papua New Guinea sees all too often. Simply not good enough.

Cargill's staff, informally, are saying: "no one has approached us to sell them crude palm-oil". There is a rumour that the crude oil palm will be supplied by Mecca 44. But Mecca 44 is a Cargills contractor only.

So where will the crude-stock come from?

Woodlark Island FFB would not come on stream for 4 to 6 years.

Many of these questions should be answered in the environmental plan.

The environmental plan has been published, but the Governors office gave it to a political party organiser, and it is not available to the public.

9. Skills Development Trust Fund

The Asian Development Bank made available US$ 20 million for technical training, especially for rural youth.

It is necessary for the provincial government to sign an agreement with the ADB to access these funds.

We are told that no agreement has been signed.

The pork-barrel


With the elections now two months away sitting MPs are beginning to distribute gifts to their electorates.

Once the writs are issued on the 15th of May, the electoral laws come into effect, and successful candidates have to very careful, if they do not want their election invalidated by the court of disputed returns.

Gifting by sitting members is happening throughout Papua New Guinea.

What we have heard about so far:

Aitape: 15 land-cruisers distributed
a MB electorate a container of outboard motors
a MB electorate a regional candidate handing K500 in notes
East Sepik 200 outboard motors distributed for a cocoa-project.

What does the law say?

PNG Criminal Code :

"Corruption & Improper Practices at Elections


A person who-

(a) gives... any person any property or benefit of any kind-

(i) on account of anything done... by an elector at an election...;or
(iii) in order to induce any person to endeavour to procure the
return of at an election, or the vote of any elector at an
election; or

(b) being an elector ... receives ... any property.... on account of anything
done ... at an election...

is guilty of a demeanour"

What should a moral voter do?

A religious person will have a faith-based moral code, that teaches: do not break the law, do not accept stolen property, do not accept property that is given in immoral circumstances.

Should a moral voter accept a gift from a candidate at the time of an election?

1. Gifts that clearly fall within the Bribery section of the Criminal Code are unlawful and should be refused.

The matter should be reported to the police, the Electoral Commission, the Ombudsman Commission.

2. Gifts that are suspicious, that is may or not be an actual breach of the Criminal Code, could well be unlawful.

The wise person will refuse these gifts, and report to the the police, the Electoral Commission, the Ombudsman Commission.

3. But what of gifts coming from sitting members at this time. Are not these lawful, being distributions from public funding that has been voted by Parliament?

Could be so.

But many people see these as "bribes".

They say:

"why didn't they distribute the gifts before, instead of waiting to the two months before the elections? The whole exercise smells. We know the way these people operate".

4. But should a person reject a gift that has the appearance of state-sanction?

The distributions of gifts from District Support Grants and other "slush-funds" comes from tax payers money.

It is state funding, collected through the tax-system, and distributed through a system that has the sanction of law (although it is often misused).

What was Christ's position?

"And they asked him saying:

"Is it lawful for us to give tribute to Caesar?"

But he perceived their craftiness and said unto them, "Why tempt me so? Show me a penny? Whose image and superscription hath it?" And they answered and said "Caesar s"

And he said unto them ,

"Render therefore unto Caesar the things that are Caesar's and unto God the things that are God's"

What sort of candidates should we vote for ?

time to lift our game!


"Honesty" is an issue in this election.

This is the election that could bring Milne Bay into the 21st century, with modern development.

Or we could get ourselves lumped with sleezy-politicians in the pockets of the loggers, beche de mer and sharkfin buyers.

The top issue is corruption.

Papua New Guinea is a rich country, but there is too much corruption that is holding back development.

The "binge-spending", pork-barrel, by the government at the time of the elections, is a species of bribery, and is corrupt.

They want to buy votes.

It is very unfair. Sitting MPs have access to state/taxpayer funding to "bribe" voters, but other candidates cannot access taxpayers money.

Only vote for candidates:

  • who will support a Supreme Court challenge on the validity and legal consequences of the "binge-spending", and ask the courts to disqualify MPs who have used taxpayers money to "bribe" the electorate in the run-up to the elections.

  • who oppose corruption and will support an Independent Commission Against Corruption. Watch out for candidates whose parties do not support an ICAC. If there is no firm commitment, forget them.
  • who you know to be free from vice, no adulterers, drunks, ex-criminals, no domestic violence

  • with a genuine religious-base to their lives. Reject the hypocrites, those who say they were saved, but you suspect are carrying on regardless.

Beware of the political parties.

All the parties are associated with the current rotten system.

Now its election time the parties realise the electorate is not so stupid, and they are beginning to make concessions, throw pieces of meat, but can they be trusted?

Are political parties honest?

Can the candidate deliver development?


  • LLG elections are very important. LLGs are under-funded in the present system so this work is very hard. LLG councillors need special talents to deliver development where funding is short. Of course they need the strength to change that unfair system.

  • We need to have honest LLG councillors, a religious-base to their lives, fair and efficient managers running the LLGs. They should be responsible people, well-known for their integrity.

  • Not open to bribes from logging companies. No drunks, adulterers, wife-beaters etc

  • A track record of delivering development in their own village.

  • Modern managers, who communicate well.

  • Do not vote for candidates who
  • cannot fix the potholes in the road
  • cannot get the wharf repaired
  • cannot get the grass cut on the airstrip
  • cannot keep the aid post stocked with medicines & building and orderly houses repaired
  • cannot see the schools have proper class-rooms, chalk, pencils and paper, and the teachers are paid regularly, their houses repaired, and the teachers stay on the job, and not run-off to Alotau
  • cannot pick-up the rubbish
  • cannot control the drunks and gambling
  • cannot control the dogs & pigs
  • cannot organise sports, and look after youth
  • do not support women's groups
  • cannot support the village and land courts

Provincial seat.

In Milne Bay a governor runs what is really a state "business" worth about K40 million year. The governor must have real business management skills.

In addition a Governor must be able to pull-in development from the PEP Public Expenditure Program, and the aid donors.

If the candidate cannot do these things, and or has no experience in these fields, forget about them. They will be disasters, and we will slide back to what we were before.

The danger in the present elections is that "bribery" will allow the old-style inefficient leaders back in.

You should only vote for a person who is a success in private or public life (no losers), or is capable of inspiring others to manage the province, through leadership and example.

Beware: there will be a lot of has-beens, "third-time losers trying their luck", party-hacks trying to make the numbers up for their parties.

You should stand firm and vote for either

a proven manager, who has a record of successful business, or administration

or a charismatic leader, with a workable vision, who is capable of inspiring others to develop the province.

Open seats

the qualities for an open candidate are similar to those for the provincial seat.

But the emphasis here is "team".

Open members are part of a "provincial team". They need to be able to work together with other provincial MPs, LLG presidents, and provincial public srvants.

Open candidates should be modern managers. They have to be able to understand the law and the Constitution.

They should be people who are successful in their way of life: business, government, church etc.

They should have achieved some thing in their life, so they can share that experience with their electorate.

election context

First: preferential votes will determine the elections.

If the NCD by-election shows anything, the National Alliance, big parties, benefit from the LPV system.

Second: this is Milne Bay, and not NCD.

Papua New Guinea politics for the past 5 years was dominated by the Sepik mafia, because Highland MPs in 2002 failed to get their act together and use their obvious numbers to control the government.

2007 could see the Sepiks loose power, and a power shift to the Highlands.

Milne Bay politicians were not successful in penetrating the Sepik-power base after 2002.

Overall they all did poorly in accessing development funding, and there were some real mistakes that could have been avoided had they worked together. or been efficient and vigilant.

Our MPs fluffed a number of development opportunities.

Challenges to Somare, by Mr. Neville and Mr. Maladina failed and cost the province dearly.

The political reality was if you were not in the inner circle, you did not get anything.

As the political morality of government and its association with questionable deals and incidents was very clear, to stay out side of the inner circle was a good moral choice, if it was deliberately made.

The governor of the Eastern Highlands managed to stay-out, or on the outer, and turned his province around. So it was not impossible to stay away from the dirty centre, but bring development..

Mr. Pulasi, from Kiriwina Goodenough was a minister, but was shuffled-off.

In a way, the quiet achiever was Mr. Wesley from Samarai- Murua, who kept a low profile for 5 years, but it is said now, is reasonably cashed-up, in the run-up to the elections.


The issue for the voter in these elections is whether to break with the politics of the "big-man", and the pork-barrel (offering money etc as an incentive to voter), that in the past has dominated Papua New Guinea electoral politics.

The alternative is to choose "better management", more modern and efficient leadership.

Unfortunately, that was the issue that Mr. Neville and Mr. Maladina won on in the last elections.

They presented themselves as "modern managers".

The electorate's perception, so some claim, rightly or wrongly, is that they did not deliver. The perception is they "failed".

This line of political theory says that gives an opening to the old-style politicians again.

This is because the perception is that voters feel let down. And they may want to go back to a political model they are use to. A "customary" leader, who understands customary obligations and is not "too managerial".

This is where candidates like Titus Philemon, Clive Romulus , Lisia Ilibeni and other grass-roots politicians have strengths.

So will we go



back to the future?