Amkat Mai Does the ‘PNG Shuffle’ – Dumps Polye for Namah
In a development that has sent shock waves through Don Polye’s Triumph Heritage Empowerment Party (THE), and has again reminded both political actors and observers of the unpredictability of PNG politics, Amkat Mai has dropped a bombshell by announcing his immediate defection from THE Party to Belden Namah’s PNG Party.
Amkat Mai, a longtime lecturer at Divine Word University, was endorsed by Polye’s THE Party to stand as a candidate for the West Sepik Provincial seat.
After polling 14,000 votes, double the number of votes of his nearest rival – sitting National Alliance MP Simon Solo, and even before the completion of the primary vote count and the beginning of the elimination process – Akmat Mai announced his decision to immediately switch allegiances to the PNG Party.
In what can only be described as a slap in the face to Don Polye and his THE Party, Amkat Mai has once again highlighted the fickleness of political loyalties in PNG as a result of the nullification of the Organic Law on the Integrity of Political Parties and Candidates.
On commenting on the Mai’s defection, Dr Alphonse Gelu – the Registrar of Political Parties and Candidates, stated:
“Despite being endorsed by a party but you want to shift alliances to another, em prerogative blo individual member nau. So that’s the danger that we were saying that, that’s what will happen.
My office, we cannot do anything about this. We are powerless.
Before that Supreme Court ruling, we can impose penalties but right now, we can’t. Political candidates are not bound in any way to stick to a party.”
It’s an admission by PNG’s somewhat anorexic watchdog which has the potential to create significant challenges for political parties to hold on to key electoral winners in their push to have the numbers before the return of the writs on July 27 – in four days time.
Although the ‘PNG Shuffle’ is most certainly a worry for party leaders, I don’t think we will see that many more follow Mai’s lead, primarily because the divisions caused by PNG’s constitutional crisis will drive the formation of the new government.
Those most likely to be enticed to mutinous actions and switch captains will be first term MPs, particularly those of small to medium parties who will find themselves isolated and overwhelmed with the possibility of leading skeletal holograms, and also those fresh-faced or returning MPs aspiring to fast-track their political aspirations at the expense of loyalty.
Johnny Blades (@JGBlades) July 22, 2012
Akmat Mai has shown that the ‘PNG Shuffle’ is well and truly still in play and does have the potential to change the numbers game in PNG politics. Already, there are signs that a number of winning candidates from other political parties are considering their options – we can only observe.
The next few days will be a hive of activity as political parties wrestle, tempt, block and guard their numbers.