The CPA is made up of more than sixty countries who work together to strengthen parliamentary democracy. The acting Clerk of PNG Parliament Simon Ila wrote to the CPA Secretary General Dr William Shija telling him PNG was withdrawing its membership from the Commonwealth Association, citing its own and regional interests. But the Speaker Theo Zurenuos says its an international embrassment as the acting Clerk was not authorised to write such a discourteous letter.
Presenter: Firmin Nanol
Speaker: Theo Zurenouc, PNG's National Parliament Speaker
ZURENUOC: It was a decision that was not sanctioned by my office, nor I in fact never sighted any correspondence in relation to that decision by the clerk. But I am very much concerned, because of the undertaking we have undertaken to restore and reform parliament in our relationship with sister Commonwealth nations and our affiliation to the CPA and those relevant organisations there.
NANOL: So did you ask the acting Clerk, Simon Ila, did you write it or didn't you write it? What did he say? Did you ask him?
ZURENUOC: I have in fact written a memo this morning requesting a detail report on that particular issue.
NANOL: But you did not verbally speak to him to ask if he did write it or he didn't write it?
ZURENUOC: I have spoken to him also. I have spoken to him yesterday and again this morning.
NANOL: And what did he say?
ZURENUOC: I think it's very clear, he actually has written a one sentence letter to the Commonwealth head requesting the withdrawal of Papua New Guinea.
NANOL: But Speaker, he didn't give any reasons as to why and I think its Parliament is supposed to sanction PNG's withdrawal from any international organisations or conventions. I mean is it a bit embarrassing for you?
ZURENUOC: Yeah, well, damage has been done and I just have to do damage control that's all. It is embarrassing, but we have to live it up to the embarrassment and sort out the mess.
NANOL: And did you have a word with the Prime Minister?
ZURENUOC: I have had a word with the Prime Minister this morning as well, yeah.
NANOL: Are you going to take any action on the acting clerk then?
ZURENUOC: I can't at this stage tell you anything, I'm sorry.
NANOL: And was he also in the running. If he was in the running for the position of the clerk?
ZURENUOC: Like I said, I don't want to say anything in relation to that. He's in the running of the position of the clerk, but let that be a decision that will be taken by the NEC. Let the process take its course, yeah.
NANOL: Speaker, you're the political head of the Legislator and the clerk is the administrative. Both of you should be working together. What is the position of the clerk now, what is the situation at the moment?
ZURENUOC: At this stage, it is very important we have a clerk appointed as soon as possible. I have done everything on my part to get the appointment done. Last week, we delivered my report, which contains my recommendations to the Prime Minister. He will then furnish a submission to NEC for deliberation on the candidates that I have recommended. Also, on part, I have made a report to the Appointment Committee in Parliament and that report has been sent to the Parliament Secretariat who will convene a meeting for the Appointment Committee who will then deliberate on my recommendations and also forward their recommendation to, their report to the NEC as well.
NANOL; So the NEC is going to make the final decision on who should be the clerk?
ZURENUOC: Yes, yes, that is the case, yeah. NEC makes the final decision on it. But in practice, NEC has always taken the recommendation of the Speaker.
NANOL: How many candidates are running for that office of the clerk?
ZURENUOC: All in all, there are seven candidates who express their interest in the position of the clerk. We have received a recommendation of five and out of that, I recommended three.
NANOL: Would the former clerk be also in the running?
ZURENUOC: He is in the running. I cannot release to you much detail unfortunately. But he was one of the ones recommended by Vanguard.
NANOL: So the selection process was done by Vanguard and you just got the list and then made a recommendation?
ZURENUOC: Exactly, yes. It was done by Vanguard. I thought it better to outsource that to avoid all kinds of influences and even suspicions or allegations that may arise later on.
NANOL: So it has gone, I think, through three people, the Vanguard and then to you, and then to the Appointments Committee and then finally to the NEC.
ZURENUOC: Yes, yes, yes, that is the case now.
NANOL: So when do you think NEC is going to meet for the final, like say OK?
ZURENUOC: Well, NEC meetings at the prohibitive of the Prime Minister and Executive Government so I cannot determine that at this stage. But I'll express the urgency for that to be done and I think the Prime Minister has taken heed of that.