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Old 20-01-2003, 09:41 PM
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Elections & the Electoral Office

TODAY (Monday January 20), results of the weekend’s Motu-Koitabu elections in Port Moresby are being announced — and the nation now knows of the dates for the fresh Southern Highlands elections.

All this puts elections and the role of the Electoral Commission back under the public spotlight as the courts continue to hear disputes about the results of last year’s National Parliament and Local Government Elections.

In this article, acting Electoral Commissioner Andrew Trawen explains the importance of elections and the role of the independent Electoral Commission of Papua New Guinea:

EVERYBODY likes to vote for the best man or woman — and she or he is never a candidate.

That is an old joke about how most people always complain about everything and how a government or this and that leader is bad — then do not bother to vote in an election to change things.

The joke is true — and elections are not something to joke about.

The choice of the people through elections and the ballot box is the only legitimate or lawful foundation of any government, and to protect its free expression is the job of the Electoral Commission.

The most common way people give up their election power is by thinking they do not have any.

It is our job at the Electoral Commission to always remind our people about the importance of elections and the power of their vote — to do good, or do bad for our country with whoever they elect.

We go to elections to pick good lawmakers for our National Parliament or local government to choose what will happen to us in the future or change our destiny.

Whenever any form of government or an elected lawmaker becomes destructive to life, freedom and the search for happiness, it is the right of the people to change him or her or abolish that government — and to elect new lawmakers through the democratic process of elections to form a new, better government.

It is the Constitutional right of our people to elect who they want to establish what form of government they prefer, and change it as they please, the will or choice of the people — exercised through the ballot box — being the only thing important.

Good government must never be a substitute for government by the people themselves through democratically-held elections.

Never doubt the power of elections and how a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world through elections.

The 1968 General Election saw the first large group of our Founding Fathers elected to the old House of Assembly under the colonial Australian Administration.

The colonial Australian Administration did not think Papua New Guineans would be ready to be independent for another 100 years, to quote an Australian Minister responsible then for the Territory of Papua and New Guinea.

A few of this large group of our Founding Fathers elected in 1968 formed the original Pangu Pati after that year’s General Election — and started planning early Independence for our country.

The 1972 General Election decided the question of early Independence, despite a strong anti-Independence and anti-Pangu campaign by powerful, conservative Australian plantation owners in the country — supported at first by the colonial Australian Administration.

The will of our people was demonstrated through the ballot box.

All this is on record in old newspapers in the library of the Post-Courier, our country’s oldest newspaper, which still has copies of newspapers in Papua New Guinea that go back to as early as the 1920s.

The Mission of the Electoral Commission is to help the people of Papua New Guinea continue to have their say in who will govern our country, through elections.

We encourage our people to take part in elections to elect good lawmakers for the benefit of our children, grandchildren and descendants.

The Electoral Commission believes with the Free World that there is no safer place for the greatest power of society but in the people themselves.

If we think the people are not well-informed enough, the answer is not to take power from them, but to inform them by education.

So the Electoral Commission is setting up an Information and Community Liaison Unit with the help of the Australian Electoral Commission under an 8-year AusAID project to build up our Electoral Commission and strengthen democracy and free and fair elections in Papua New Guinea.

The Electoral Commissioner, Reuben Kaiulo, initiated this AusAID project immediately after the 1997 National Election to strengthen the democratic process of elections in Papua New Guinea.

Up to now, election community awareness efforts by the Electoral Commission are done in media advertising, marketing and news campaigns or programs at election time only.

Once the Electoral Commission Information and Community Liaison Unit is set up, our election awareness campaign will be a proper, unending yearly program — not just a one-off election-time project.

The Electoral Commission has not been able to set up an Information and Community Liaison Unit up to now because we do not have the expertise to do so and do not have the money to hire media consultants over a long period of time to help us do this.

Setting up our Information and Community Liaison Unit is an important milestone for the Electoral Commission because it is our job to continue to remind our people about the importance of free and fair elections — and the power of their single vote.

It is our job to tell our people that it is illegal and immoral to give up their vote for temporary favors of beer, food and money during elections.

We must not let 10 per cent of this country, the troublemakers, give the rest of us, the 90 per cent, a bad reputation. Elections must be free without threats and bloodshed.

It is our job to tell our people that the philosophy of elections is about electing good lawmakers who earn their lawful fortnightly pay honestly — and are unselfish, humble, and giving without expecting any special, personal favors or anything extra in return for what they are elected to do.

God Bless and Protect our country and all of us from badness.


Tarcissius Bobola
media assistant
Office of the Electoral Commissioner
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Old 20-01-2003, 09:52 PM
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Press Release January 19 2003

RESULTS of the general election for the Motu-Koitabu landowners of Port Moresby held on Saturday (January 18) are being announced tomorrow (Monday January 20).

Mr Gabi and his election workers — from the Electoral Commission itself and part-time help recruited for the election — finished all counting by 11.30 last night (Saturday January 18).

Mr Gabi has not announced the results up to now because he and his workers are double-checking all counts to make sure they are right.

The first count was done for the Korobosea electorate at 12pm yesterday (Saturday January 18). Counting in the other electorates began at 5.30pm when voting finished.

Acting Electoral Commissioner Mr Andrew Trawen this afternoon (Sunday January 19) asked Electoral Commission Operations Manager Mr Michael Malabag to prepare a letter thanking everyone who worked in the election.

Mr Trawen says Mr Gabi and his workers had done a great job to finish the election quickly with no fuss, disorder or trouble.

Mr Trawen says the Motu-Koitabu nation must be praised, too, for what he describes as their civilized, educated behavior in the election.

News reporters checking on election developments this morning (Sunday January 19) were surprised to learn that the election was over and counting had finished last night (Saturday January 18).

Earlier today (Sunday January 19), Mr Trawen sent a report on the election to Inter-Government Relations Minister Sir Peter Barter.

Sir Peter is responsible for local government affairs in the National Government.

The Motu-Koitabu election is costing the Electoral Commission K70,000.

The elected Motu-Koitabu lawmakers are to serve in the Motu-Koitabu Council for four years.

The previous Motu-Koitabu general election was held in 1999.


Authorised by

Andrew Trawen
Acting Electoral Commissioner

Please contact our media assistant Tarcissius Bobola at this Email address if you have any query and visit our website www.pngec.gov.pg for past Press Releases on this year’s election

Photo: Mr Gabi
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Old 20-01-2003, 10:09 PM
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Press Release January 2003

THE Electoral Commission today (Sunday January 19) announced the dates of the new Southern Highlands elections for the six that failed in July last year.

The elections are for both the National Parliament and all the local governments in the six National Parliament electorates.

They will cost the country K4.2 million.

Election boss Mr Andrew Trawen, pictured below, says he had decided to hold the National Parliament and local government elections at the same time because there is not enough money to pay for separate elections.

Mr Trawen, the acting Electoral Commissioner, was speaking at the Electoral Commission headquarters in Port Moresby this morning (Sunday January 19).

Inter-Government Relations Minister Sir Peter Barter, who is caretaker Southern Highlands Governor, wanted the local government elections to be held separately, says Mr Trawen.

Under the timetable announced by Mr Trawen today (Sunday January 19):
  • Election orders called the writs are to be signed and given by the Governor-General and the Minister for Inter-Government Relations next month on Thursday, February 20, for the supplementary elections to start officially with new nominations, and campaigning.

    The nominations for last year’s elections are no longer lawful.

    The Governor-General gives the writs for the National Parliament elections and the local government ones are given by the Inter-Government Relations Minister.
  • The new nominations close Thursday, February 27.
  • Campaigning continues until Friday, April 25.
  • Voting starts Saturday, April 26, and finishes Friday, May 9, for counting to start.
  • On Tuesday May 27, the Electoral Commission returns the election writs to the Governor-General and the Inter-Government Relations Minister for the elections to finish officially.

The Office of the Governor-General has officially accepted the election timetable proposed by the Electoral Commission.

No election can go ahead under the law without the Governor-General’s okay, says Mr Trawen.

Mr Trawen says the timetable for the fresh elections had been worked out by the Electoral Commission after a lot of questioning and checking in long talks over three months with:
  • Police Commissioner Mr Sam Inguba;
  • Southern Highlands Provincial Administration officers;
  • The Prime Minister, Sir Michael Somare; and
  • Sir Peter Barter.
Sir Michael had appointed Sir Peter as the caretaker Southern Highlands Governor to do his best to:
  • Restore services in parts of the province cut off from contact by lawlessness that started in last year’s elections;
  • Win the hearts and minds of good Southern Highlands leaders and people; and
  • Restore peace, order and security for the fresh elections to go ahead.
Originally, the supplementary elections were programmed cautiously by the Electoral Commission to start last November. Voting was to be held this month (January).

That was cancelled when police said it was still not safe for the elections to be held.

Mr Trawen says the fresh elections are now being held during the first-term school holidays in April-May to avoid any disruption to schoolwork.

The lawful, normal process for elections will be used again, says Mr Trawen.

He repeats that the supplementary elections will not go ahead if Southern Highlands leaders and police cannot guarantee security for the elections to be held in peace.

Mr Trawen says various Southern Highlands community leaders have assured him personally that the fresh elections will be held in peace.

Even so, he and all Electoral Commission staff remain cautious about the supplementary elections because they and no-one else in Papua New Guinea want a repeat of the violence, killings and lawlessness that spoilt the Southern Highlands elections last year.

Mr Trawen says voters, the general public, election officials, ballot boxes and election papers must be protected.

The fresh elections are for the Southern Highlands Provincial seat, Koroba-Lake Kopiago Open, Tari Open, Kagua-Erave Open, Komo-Magarima Open, Imbonggu Open and all local governments in these six National Parliament electorates.

The Electoral Commission was forced to fail the elections last year because:
  • Lawlessness, violence and killings stopped voting in many areas;
  • Some or all ballot boxes with votes were destroyed by candidates and their supporters; and
  • Ballot boxes, with votes, had been stolen or illegally transported by candidates and their supporters — and the lawfulness of the votes was questionable.

Andrew Trawen
Acting Electoral Commissioner

Please contact their media assistant Tarcissius Bobola at this Email address if you have any query and visit their website www.pngec.gov.pg for past Press Releases on this year’s election.
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