Dion Becomes Deputy Prime Minister with ‘Regionalism’ in Mind

In a surprise move which will generate a wide range of reactions across the nation, Prime Minister Peter O’Neill will announce today that his Deputy Prime Minister will be Hon Leo Dion, Governor of East New Britain Province.

It’s an interesting move – particularly because Leo Dion is a senior Member of Don Polye’s Triumph Heritage Empowerment Party, the party which returned 12 elected MPs – the second highest of any party after Peter O’Neill’s People’s National Congress.

It is precisely because of this that many were tipping Don Polye to be given the post of Deputy Prime Minister.

As leader of THE Party, it was a claim that was rightfully his. In addition to Polye’s experience and quality, it was a decision that should be quite straight forward.

However, it appears that Peter O’Neill after consultation with his coalition partners – including Don Polye, have agreed to nominate and support Leo Dion to the second highest office in the country.

Although Leo Dion is a quality choice too – he has the experience, respect and leadership qualities required – from the perspective of purely the numbers’ game which is so crucial in PNG politics, it is a rather illogical decision, and one that must have been made with a few distractions in mind – most importantly in this instance – the idea of ‘regionalism’.

Governments in PNG have crumbled in the past because of their lack of wisdom in terms of balancing ministerial allocations and state agency and institutional appointments in line with the commanding idea of ‘regionalism – which is ingrained in every Papua New Guinean. It is an expected corner-stone of PNG politics.

It would be fair to say that Don Polye, although deserving of the post of Deputy Prime Minister, would have been very much aware of the implications of having two MPs from the Highlands Bloc occupying the top two posts in government.

This scenario would have been too easy a target for what appears will become a Belden Namah-led Opposition – and for any opposition for that matter – including the populace of the country’s other three regions.

Despite this, the Deputy Prime Minister will still come from Don Polye’s THE Party, and Don Polye will still retain its leadership while picking up the prize Treasury and Finance Portfolio – ironically the same one he was stripped of by Peter O’Neill late last year.

Although I think this decision will be sustainable in the short-term in terms of government stability, the true test of this allocation will be when the window for votes of no confidence opens after the initial 18 months of Peter O’Neill’s government based on the principle of “reconciliation, unity and trust” is over.

Most importantly here too will be how Don Polye’s electorate of Kandep reacts to the decision now – and also over the next five years. They, out of all Papua New Guineans, would feel the most slighted after this decision as it would very much be their view that their man should have been Prime Minister by now – and most certainly, Deputy Prime Minister in 2012.

~ by Tavurvur on August 8, 2012.

17 Responses to “Dion Becomes Deputy Prime Minister with ‘Regionalism’ in Mind”

  1. I appreciate the move by the CEO of this beautiful country PNG.As a PNC follower agree with the Prime Minister because if his deputy would be Don Pomb Polye then there would much talks around the country for PM n Deputy oming from the same region. Its a good news because Don will still be the leader. of THE Party and Financ Minister aswel because at the end of the day that’

    • ‘Tangue John’ – It is an interesting move. And a smart one too. Hopefully it pays off again for Peter O’Neill. Rgds, Tavurvur.

  2. Wow, this is very interesting. So now that Hon.Dion is DPM, who will be incharge now of the Provincial Assembly? Or will he still be Head of the Provincial Assembly and Second in Charge of Government?

    • ‘Stern Cootes’ – It’s an interesting decision. The prerogative is Dion’s. No doubt we will here something on this in the coming days. I don’t think it’s impossible – but the leaders of ENBP may have a kivung to discuss the situation. Rgds, Tavurvur.

  3. Don Polye was clearly the ideal candidate for DPM post, but I knew it would’nt turn out that way because we would want to uphold regionalism and equal distribution of power throughout the four regions. I was tipping Patrick Pruaich but Hon Lion Dion is very much ok because he a senior member and experienced. Now we have equal power distribution which is good.

  4. That’s an interesting move by PO.I was hoping to have a Papuan as the DPM because of the fact that PNG’s already got the other three regions represented. GG from NGI, PM from the Highlands and the Speaker from Momase.

    • ‘R Lan’ – I don’t think a Papuan DPM was ever on the cards. Apart from Puka Temu, there has really been an absence of quality MPs from the Papuan region who are in the right place at the right time. Right now, the Papuan Bloc is probably the weakest bloc in PNG. Rgds, Tavurvur.

      • Thanks for that info. This proves that the PM is more concerned about political stability that will benefit all scope of life in PNG. This approach will therefore lead to a balanced Ministerial allocation. Any news on that? Thanks..

  5. Despite all odds against it I thought the PM would offer DPM to the Papuan Region based on regional representation as well as the number of MPs supporting him. Tavurvur’s assessment that there is a lack of ‘quality’ leadership from the Region is a slap in the face of people like Ano Pala, Titus Philemon, Kila Haoda etc. That is an unfair assessment. If PNC decided to keep the DPM (as NA did in 2007), obviously Ano Pala would be the ideal choice. I believe PM decided that the DPM should rightly go to THE party, and he chose to go for regional balance. ogg

    • ‘Osia Gideon’ – I stand by comment that there is a lack of quality leadership from the Papuan Region. Maybe I should have been specific – there is no problem with having Papuan Members of Parliament; but there is a huge problem when you step above that platform to ministerial level and above.

      Apart from Dr Temu – leadership and experience becoming of a post such as Deputy Prime Minister, and even PM, is severely lacking amongst the current Members.

      Kila Haoda is a first term MP and an Independent at that – he will not even be given a second glance for the post of DPM, let along a Minister in this government. He needs more experience. Titus Philemon has the experience, but lacks the factor of loyalty. He needs to prove himself all over again.

      Ano Pala is only in his 2nd Term now, but has the added experience of being a former Minister. I don’t think he will be given another portfolio by O’Neill due to his performance as Minister for Foreign Affairs/Immigration being close to abysmal.

      If PNC did decide to keep the DPM post, then it would not have gone to Pala at all. Benny Allan and Bob Daedae all rank higher up the PNC list than Pala does, and there are quality Ministers who also outshine Ano Pala – e.g. Charles Abel (who I forgot, and is from the region and I think he would make an excellent DPM). Ano Pala is not at all the “obvious” choice by a long distance. Rgds, Tavurvur.

  6. Very interesting appointment considering Don Polye being the party leader and deserve the DPM job. However, I understand the wisdom here. Congratulations to Leo Dion and Peter Oneill

  7. Tavurvur, thanks for the updates. The PM hinted a few days ago that PNG would be pleasantly surprised of who the DPM will be. Indeed I am very pleasantly surprised that Dion has become DPM. He deserves it. He has been a loyal politician and a good governor for East New Britain. ENB has progressed in terms of development because of his quality leadership. A few years back he was the only politician that refused blatantly a payrise for MPS. I think he would make an excellent DPM.

  8. Mt. Tavurvur, I’m sorry but I have to disagree with you again. You are entitiled to your opinion,even if how one-sided it may seem. I disagree with your use of the term ‘quality’, maybe inexperienced but certainly not (poor) quality as you imply. Congratulations to Leo Dion for taking the DPM post, against all odds. I think we all know the reasons why he got the nod ahead of Party Leader. I also disagree with your assessment of the potential DPM candidates from within the PNC, unless your have picked the PMs brain.



    • ‘Ogg’ – I’ve justified my stance on why I think what I’ve said. If you disagree, at least provide us the courtesy of explaining why. If not, then I really can’t see your point holding any value. This is a blog – not a FB group where one can simply state “I disagree” and leave everybody in the dark as to why exactly one disagrees in the first instance. I value differing opinions, hence why I approved your comments on my blog. I would appreciate a justified response. Rgds, Tavurvur.

  9. Tavurvur, just detracting a bit here-I see the PC has cut and paste bits and pieces of your blog post. Poor journalism at its best!

    • ‘Finah’ – Yes, unfortuntely, this has happened. I have sent off a 3 page letter to the Editor of the Post-Courier, to the reporter in question, and will also be forwarding a copy onto the Chairman of the Board who is based in Australia. Rgds, Tavurvur.

  10. congratulation Ereman Tobaining Jnr for being the new governor of enbp….we hope for a change in our province.

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