Constant changes negatively affecting RPNGC: Baki

The constant changes within the Royal PNG Constabulary hierarchy have negatively affected the organisation.

Acting Police Commissioner, Gari Baki, said within the last 13 years, the RPNGC has had 13 police commissioners – six permanent appointments and seven acting appointments.

“If it continues like this, this Constabulary will never build a house,” Baki said in yesterday’s press briefing.

The July 7th briefing followed a directive from Police Minister, Bryan Kramer, for Baki to stop work, while Deputy Police Commissioners Jim Andrews and Raphael Huafolo were replaced after their contracts expired on July 4th.

Speaking against their ‘unceremonious dumping’, Baki stressed on the need to maintain stability within the Police Force, continue with the various programs already underway and see through a succession plan for the future leadership of the Constabulary.

He further argued that Members of the Police Force are subject to the Police Act 1998, which sets their retirement age at 60, but in cases where necessary, the Police Commissioner can allow them to serve until 65.

“The Police Minister stated in his letter to me that as I had gone over the compulsory retirement age of 60, I was to cease as the Acting Police Commissioner,” stated Baki.

“This is arguable and I will seek the interpretation of the courts on this because the Police Force has its own provisions in the Police Force Act that sets the limits on the deputy commissioners and the commissioner.

“I believe that the Supreme Court decision the Minister was referring to was in regards to the public service who are catered for under the Public Services (Management) Act.”

In response, Police Minister Bryan Kramer said when seeking the advice of the Attorney General’s Office, it was pointed out that Baki is 62 years of age, and therefore disqualified for appointment.

“This view is also consistent with advice provided by Public Service Minister, Wesley Nukundj, in his letter to me dated 26th June 2019,” said Kramer.

“So while Mr. Baki is claiming to still be Acting Commissioner and that he will be applying to the Courts for a restraining order against the NEC's recent appointment for failing to follow due process, I'm very much interested to see what his response will be when questioned by the Court on his standing as well his own acting appointment and the fact he no longer qualifies for the position.

“Baki said he informed the Minister that if the Government did not wish to consider his reappointment then he recommended that it consider one of the two deputies, Mr Huafolo or Mr Andrews, for the job to allow for stability and continuity. Both Huafolo and Andrews have also exceeded the age of 60 and therefore also disqualified for re-appointment.

“I thank Mr. Baki for the service to the State however, it is time to move on and allow the next generation of senior ranking officers to be afforded the opportunity to serve our country in the highest office of Police Force.”

(From left: Deputy Police Commissioner Jim Andrews, Acting Commissioner Gari Baki and Deputy Police Commissioner Raphael Huafolo)

Carmella Gware