Belden Namah : I was a PNG's Millionaire Before Politics

PORT MORESBY - Papua New Guinea Opposition leader Belden Namah says he is a self-made millionaire involved in logging and palm oil in West Sepik long before he became a politician.

He said Prime Minister Peter O’Neill was well aware of that.

He was responding o O’Neill’s call for Namah to explain where he got a reported K50 million (US$20 million) to fund his party’s campaign during the 2012 general election. O’Neill said Namah “was not a successful businessman before he went into politics”.

Namah said he was told by O’Neill after he took him to Bewani: Why should you become a Member of Parliament when you can relax and enjoy what’s here?

“So if it’s anything to do with my business affairs, Peter O’Neill already went there. I drove him around Vanimo town to my village and back to Vanimo town,” he said.

He said O’Neill saw the business activities that he was doing in Vanimo, especially with logging and palm oil projects.

“Everybody knows I was already doing business before I became a Member of Parliament. It’s no secret.

“Every Papua New Guinean knows that. I’ve taken media people there to see my businesses so it’s no secret.”

He challenged O’Neill to make public any businesses he was involved in.

Namah has accused Prime Minister Peter O’Neill of directly attacking the Ombudsman Commission by questioning its decision not to investigate a reported K50 million general election funding.

O’Neill has asked the commission to investigate claims by Namah that he had spent K50 million on Members of Parliament during the 2012 general election.

“The prime minister’s outburst is a direct attack on the Ombudsman Commission of PNG,” Namah said.

“I wish to state at the outset, for the people of this country to know that the funding of my (PNG Party) party’s election in 2012 did not involve any single toea of public money.

“I am proud of that, and I have made announcements, in fact, prior to the 2012 elections.

“It must be noted that the funds I spent for my party in the 2012 general elections, whatever amount I spent for my party during the elections, I’m not accountable to Peter O’Neill (for it).”

Namah said he would cooperate with any authority if an official investigation was required.

“It is not for Peter O’Neill to push these authorities to come against me just because he has a vendetta against me,” he said.

Namah said his criticism of O’Neill’s leadership style did not “give him the right to call on independent State institutions to come after me”.

“They do their jobs, at their own timing, and with care, and with due diligence before they refer any leader to appropriate authorities,” he said.

“The Ombudsman Commission is an independent and neutral constitutional authority which deserves absolute respect from all of us and that includes Peter O’Neill.

He has to respect this independent constitutional office.” [TNA]
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