Swamp Ghost sale illegal
Post Courier [ September 15, 2008 | Read Article Online ]
THE National Executive Council (NEC) decision to allow the Swamp Ghost wreck to be exported is an illegal decision and the NEC has actually participated in that conspiracy by giving an approval which it has no legal power to make.
This was said in a joint statement issued yesterday by the deputy chairman of the Public Accounts Committee and Governor of Western Province Dr. Bob Danaya and Member of the PAC and Governor of Eastern Highlands Mal Kela Smith.
Both governors said this decision by the NEC showed very clearly the collapse of the rule of law in Papua New Guinea.
“And, all citizens can now see that the NEC is prepared to ignore thelaw and embrace and approve illegal transactions and acquisitions of State property by foreigners who themselves have no certification to work in PNG and who on — sell our heritage for profit confident that they will never be called to account,” the governors said.
They said the NEC decision totally ignores the law and advice given by the Attorney General, the State Solicitor, the PAC, O’Briens Lawyers and the Gubon Lawyers that the sale was illegal, the export was illegal and the removal from Agaiembo swamp was illegal.
The governors said the NEC has not only endorsed a conspiracy to illegally acquired public property by foreigners who have no capacity to restore or preserve the wreck and also completely ignored the fact that the wreck is sub judice in the National Court.
“Further, the NEC submission was intentionally misleading and deceitful as it again stated that the wreck was to go to March Field Museum in California,” they said.
They said on August 4, the museum again said there was no such arrangement and also had no knowledge of the Swamp Ghost or its exporters and intended to write to the PNG Government protesting that the name of the museum was again being used without its knowledge.
The governors asked to know which destination the Swamp Ghost was going to . . . who has actually bought it and why did the NEC accept the submission without seeking confirmation.
They said the Minister for Cultural and Tourism has no jurisdiction over the wreck nor does the museum.
The only person with legal power to approve such salvage is the Governor-General acting on advice – and even he cannot approve a sale.