New Speaker Signal of Trust in O’Neill’s Coalition
Papua New Guinea has elected our Prime Minister of the 9th Parliament. Peter O’Neill returns to the Prime Minister’s post, in the most legitimate manner a prime minister can be chosen, and assumes the country’s top post exactly one year on from when he first replaced Sir Michael Somare via a parliamentary coup.
In doing so, Peter O’Neill remains the 7th Prime Minister elected by the Parliament in an official capacity, and simultaneously demonstrates that he is control of PNG with an impressive win of the parliamentary votes available – 94 in favor and 12 against.
But it wasn’t just O’Neill’s overwhelming win which took center stage yesterday. One of the more interesting developments was the election of the Speaker – the Member for Finschhafen, Hon. Theo Zurenuoc.
My followers on Twitter would know that I was tipping the Member for Unggai-Bena, Hon. Benny Allan, to be put forth as O’Neill’s choice for the role of Speaker.
(@Tavurvur) August 02, 2012
Benny Allan ticked all the boxes, and out of all of O’Neill’s men, he suited it best:
He’s a strong and independent leader. He had the experience – he’s entering parliament for his third term. He holds a relatively safe seat – which would make the task of Speaker easier to bear. He’s from the Highlands Bloc. He also wasn’t a Minister in O’Neill’s previous Cabinet, so there were no commitments or ‘unfinished business’ holding him back.
And most importantly, he’s a People’s National Congress’ man (following a defection from William Duma’s party for the election) which would have worked out well for O’Neill’s coalition without conceding too much ground to PNC’s partners in what can be a volatile environment.
But that’s exactly what happened – Peter O’Neill conceded ground to one of his coalition partners – Sir Julius Chan’s People’s Progress Party, via quite the unusual move of nominating Theo Zurenuoc as his choice for Speaker.
Although an unusual move, it’s also a move that signifies just maybe how the new government may operate. And if this is the case, then the signs are good.
@Tavurvur its a good sign for stability. DPM should now go to Polye.—
(@opaconsulting) August 03, 2012
My view was further validated by the PNC-endorsed Member for Moresby North-East and first time MP, Hon Micheal Malabag, who posted on his Facebook wall today:
“Finally it is over n PNG has a new Government under the leadership of Peter O’Neil.
Many people may not like this coalition arrangement but time will tell as this new Govt sets about its business of managing this Country.
Based on trust PNC Party did not push for the speaker’s position but I am sure the new speaker will restore the decorum of Parliament n protect our Democratic Institutions.”
Theo Zurenuoc comes from an established family of political and public service leaders. Although he may lack the experience, he has the leadership qualities required to aptly fill the function and duties of the Office of the Speaker of the National Parliament.
Although his election was indeed a surprise, it is a good sign for the future of Peter O’Neill’s coalition. Hopefully, PNC’s trust is repaid in full over the next five years by People’s Progress Party, so our people will enjoy a government which we deserve.