PM’S LEADERSHIP STANCE ON WEST PAPUA, CHINA TO BE PUT UNDER THE TEST
By Alfred Sasako
PRIME Minister Ricky Hou’s leadership ability will be put to the test when Caucus and Cabinet meet to look at policy priority issues the new Government will pursue over the next 10 months or so.
A special taskforce is finalising the document, which is said to contain policy on West Papua as well as the One-China Policy.
The taskforce was set up before the vote ousting Manasseh Sogavare was taken on Monday 6th November 2017. It is due to present Mr Hou the policy dossier next Friday. Prime Minister Hou is expected to take the document to Caucus and Cabinet for their formal blessings.
Observers say they expect Mr Hou to tow the line even on both West Papua and the One China Policy even if he is the Prime Minister, because the result of the no confidence vote has made his predecessor, Mr Sogavare the most powerful politician in the new government.
Mr Sogavare opposes both the One China policy as well as Indonesian rule on West Papua.
“Given that Mr Sogavare holds the purse strings, there is little chance in terms of changes on both issues. As such it will definitely be the acid test for Prime Minister Hou’s ability to demonstrate decisive leadership on issues of national interest,” observers said.
They also raised questions about the protocol in the appointment of Mr Sogavare as Deputy Prime Minister as well as the Minister of Finance and Treasury.
“There are four senior portfolios that make up the inner circle of Cabinet. They are the Prime Minister, the Deputy Prime Minister, the Minister of Foreign Affairs and the Minister of Finance and Treasury.
“Protocols dictate that no individuals are to combine holding any of the two portfolios, which is what Mr Sogavare is doing right now. No one, except Prime Minister Hou can explain this,” observers said.
“In allowing Mr Sogavare to occupy two positions, Prime Minister Hou has handed his deputy the most powerful position in the new government.”