The Swamp Ghost

Museum boss 'iced'
The National [ October 4, 2007 ]

The National Executive Council (NEC) has suspended National Museum and Art Gallery director Simon Poraituk to allow an investigation into the alleged anomalies at NMAG. This was disclosed yesterday by Culture and Tourism Minister Charles Abel, who also said that Mr Poraituk had been replaced by Vincent Kaupa, an NEC appointee. The investigation would look into the findings of the Public Accounts Committee on the operations of NMAG.

Mr Abel said the PAC had uncovered serious irregularities in the management of the National Cultural Properties and the War Surplus Materials at the NMAG. He told reporters during a news briefing the issue had been hanging over their heads, prompting him to look for the submission that was previously prepared for NEC.

Mr Abel said he resurrected the submission and NEC approved its recommendations, among them the suspension of Mr Poraituk and the appointment of Mr Kaupa while a probe was being conducted. He also expressed concern that no action had been taken over the allegations and recommendations until now. Mr Abel said appropriate steps were followed when he prepared the submission to NEC.

PAC's specific recommendations to parliament amongst other matters included: *NMAG be thoroughly investigated and restructured to effect operational efficiency, management control, standards and accountability, *The NMAG board of trustees and the director be terminated; *The director and staff involved in the export of World War II relics, protected cultural and biological specimens including the popular "Swamp Ghost" be referred to the police for criminal prosecution here and abroad; and *The director and the leaders implicated in the illegal heritage trade are referred to the Ombudsman Commission for further investigation and referrals to the leadership tribunal.

As acting director, Mr Kaupa will take immediate steps to safeguard all funds and assets of the museum and facilitate the probe by appropriate Government agencies.

          B-17E 41-2446 art by Jack Fellows via IHRP

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