- Prime Minister of PNG, Hon. James Marape;
- Minister for Police Hon. Bryan Kramer;
- Minister for Health Honourable Jelta Wong;
- Acting Secretary for Health and Deputy Controller Dr Paison Dakulala;
- Members of the Diplomatic Corps;
- Former Police Commissioners;
- Distinguished Guests, who are too many to call but I want to acknowledge your all;
- Senior officers of the Royal Papua New Guinea Constabulary;
- Members of our sister disciplinary forces;
- Our colleagues from the Australian Federal Police;
- Our development partners;
- Our team from the National Control Center for COVID-19;
- Members of the Constabulary;
- Members on parade;
- Ol man, meri na pikinini husait i stap nau lo lukim displa parade
- Ladies and gentlemen.
A warm welcome to all of you to the Bomana Police College to witness the Commissioner’s parade.
Thank you for attending what is a traditional event for the Constabulary. For those of you from outside the Police Force, the Commissioner’s parade is usually held to welcome in a new Police Commissioner and to farewell the former. However, events such as the COVID-19 pandemic overshadowed and took precedence and delayed this from taking place.
But we are here now and I want to on behalf of my management welcome you all to this parade.
At the outset I want to thank the organisers of this parade. I know a lot of time and effort went into organising the parade. Thank you also to the three companies on parade. I am sure everyone here are proud of your display today, just as I am.
Today is a significant day, not just for me personally, but for the Constabulary as a whole. My appointment as the 19th Commissioner of Police is significant in that we have effectively changed the old guard. Sometime in 2015 when I and a number of senior officers were appointed Assistant Police Commissioners by the Police Commissioner at that time, Mr Gari Baki, he said in his speech that our appointment was the changing of the guard, and that the new leadership will take the Constabulary forward into the future.
I represent the new leadership of the Constabulary, having joined the Constabulary 23 year ago as a young cadet in 1997. Most of our predecessors joined pre and post-independence and would have gone through the Joint Services Command College which was recently revived after being discontinued for a while.
Today I am humbled to have in our presence the former police commissioners who carried the baton and led this proud organisation over the last 45 years. I want to pay homage and tribute to all these great leaders, eight of whom I have had the fortune and privilege to have worked under including my immediate predecessor Mr Gari Baki, who was Police Commissioner twice.
I want to thank the former Police Commissioners who stood here before me for their immense contributions to the Constabulary and to the country as a whole. From my recent predecessor Mr Baki, prior to him was Mr Geoffrey Vaki, Mr Toami Kulunga, Mr Anthony Wagambie, Mr Baki, in his first term, Mr Sam Inguba, Mr Joseph Kupo, Mr John Wakon, Mr Peter Aigilo, Mr Bob Nenta, Mr Henry Tokam, who was also Commissioner twice, Mr Ila Geno, Mr Paul Tohian, Mr David Tasion, Sir Philip Bouraga, Mr William Tiden, and immediately after independence, our first Papua New Guinean Police Commissioner, Mr Pius Kerepia.
I joined when Mr Nenta was Commissioner and since then have served eight Police Commissioners. I am grateful to all of them for their leadership in taking the Constabulary to this stage, and for having a hand in my career at one stage or another over the last 23 years.
I salute you all and thank you for your service to God, Queen and country.
I hosted a dinner last night (Thursday 2nd June) for the former police commissioners. I was humbled that almost all attended except for Mr Wakon who could not make it due to medical reasons.
I want to impress upon all of you today of the need to make time to consult those who have gone before us. I did and I am blessed with the words of encouragement and advice I got from my former commissioners.
In this day and age with technology changes and new ways on how we conduct business we tend to loose track of our core values and what we stand for. But at some point in time we need to look back and consult our forefathers to see what drove them to maintain law and order in PNG.
We are the oldest organisation with over 138 years of existence. Are we doing the right thing? Whilst technology and ways of doing business change, some core values remain the same and that is having the right attitude and commitment of service to others.
Going forward, I am happy that during the dinner the former commissioners have resolved to form an association of former police commissioners. I will most certainly be calling upon them for advice as and when needed.
We enjoy our strength from our history. Our organisation has existed in PNG in one form or another pre-dating our independence. In fact this year the police service would have been in PNG for over 138 years. We pacified, we united and we have held together Papua New Guinea as a nation of a thousand tribes speaking some 824 languages.
We have a few challenges facing us as an organisation. But I am confident that we have the discipline and the drive to persevere, to adapt to change and to be relevant in this ever-changing world.
Both as an organisation and individually we need to make some significant commitments to take on these challenges.
It is a challenge for organisations, both in the government and the private sectors to change, adapt, trial new ways to conduct business and remain relevant in a world that is changing every day. Never before was this seen clearly than recently when the world was impacted by COVID-19.
Everyone, including police, had to change their ways of doing business without negatively impacting on their outcomes or level of service to the people.
Without sounding our own trumpet I want to commend every member of the police force who rallied together to the call of duty when COVID-19 struck PNG. Our early planning and strong control measures kept COVID-19 at bay. Worldwide, there are over ten million people who have contracted COVID-19 and 517,810 people have died from the disease. In PNG we have only 11 confirmed cases and all of them have recovered. So a big thank you to all of you who played a part in our response in whatever way, shape or form.
For the RPNGC we were ahead of many organisations in as far as COVID-19 response is concerned. In fact I issued circular instructions in early March this year to all commanders to initiate their own local business continuity plans in anticipation of the pandemic reaching PNG.
I agree that business is not as usual now under COVID-19. Organizations, companies and individuals and I might add Governments are trailing new ways to conduct business and to remain relevant in these uncertain times. This is also the same for the RPNGC. Much of our focus going forward will be to engage the Constabulary in the frontline conducting awareness.
COVID-19 is a deadly disease as shown the world over. There is no cure. But it can be defeated. The virus spreads from people to people and it spreads when people move. It spreads when people do not take precautions or practice hygiene standards. We need to keep or maintain physical distancing, avoid physical contact, cough into our elbows, wash our hands regularly and avoid crowds.
With the ending of the State of Emergency and transition into the National Pandemic Act 2020, although I have been appointed the Controller, the day to day running of the National Control Centre is now in the hands of the Deputy Controller who is the Secretary for Health. This is a health issue and rightfully so.
My main focus now is to keep policemen, the police stations and the barracks and especially our families safe from COVID-19. And this will only happen with more awareness and education of our workforce and their families.
Without taking away anything that has been achieved in the past by my predecessors, it is my intention to rebuild and improve the Constabulary and make it not only relevant to the current situation but also and more importantly, to be agents or stimulus for positive change, growth and advancement.
This will happen when we as a police service strengthen and improve our command and control and tighten up on our discipline. Both are peculiar features of the Constabulary and the cornerstone of our existence as a disciplined organisation.
Whatever my plans are for the Constabulary it will be consistent with the existing corporate plan which is aligned to government’s directive under Vision 2050.
We are the new guard and as such whilst embracing our tradition and police culture we must bring in a new era in strategic management of the Constabulary, one that will rebuild and put in place the foundation to improve our organisation as the people’s police service. I see myself as the people’s Commissioner.
Members of the Constabulary, I want to be known as the policeman’s commissioner as well, committed to your growth personally as a human being and collectively as a member of the Constabulary. I am committed to the improvement of training and capacity building of our members and in the overall physical infrastructure development of our police service.
Our greatest asset is our people. I will be investing or reinvesting back into our work force in terms of training, up-skilling of our human resource over the next couple of years. Whilst it is a mammoth task we need to put this organisation back on track again to advance to the next phase of our development.
I want to work towards a well-equipped and professional police service that is committed towards working in partnership with the community in maintaining our law and order. I want to improve our investigations, detection of white collar crime and prosecution of offenders. At the end of the day I want to create a highly professional and accountable police service, one that we all will be proud of.
But, I cannot do this by myself. I need 110 per cent commitment from all you 7,600 members of the Constabulary, from the probationary constable to the deputy commissioners. It needs a collective effort and teamwork to move the Constabulary forward. The task to rebuild our police service starts now, and it starts with you.
All you have to do is to do your job and do it right. Remember your code of conduct, the one that you recited when each of you passed out from the Bomana Police College on this very field:
- We have a duty to our Country and to our Police Force, to serve the community by protecting life and property, preserving the peace and detecting and apprehending offenders;
- We will carry out our duties with integrity and honesty and will at all times make every effort to respect the rights of all people in the community regardless of colour, social status or religion;
- We will enforce the law justly, without fear, favour, malice or ill will. It is incumbent upon us to keep confidential matters of such a nature that we may learn in our official capacity, unless revelation is necessary for the administration of justice;
- By our conduct and performance, we will give high priority to enhancing the reputation of our profession; and
- We will practice self-discipline and restraint and will strive to improve our knowledge of the law and contemporary police practices applicable to the community. We accept these ethics as an integral part of our personal and professional life.
Sadly, a lot of us seem to have forgotten our code of conduct and are acting contrary to what we have sworn to uphold. I appeal to each of you to take stock of where you are and if you have strayed from the path, make a u-turn and return to the fold. Help us to be agents of positive change and a source once more of pride, security and safety for all our peoples.
That is on a personnel level where each of you can effectively contribute and make a difference. On an organisational level I want to provide a more strategic leadership, and ensure that what we are doing at the operational level is contemporary and within our laws and within our procedures.
Key to all of that will be to ensure that our members abide by the set processes and systems. That is one of the things which we have deviated from in the past and we have had all sorts of issues. I will reactivate the various important internal committees that have become dysfunctional for whatever reasons and make them play an active role in the day to day management of the Constabulary.
Whilst I see myself as the policeman’s commissioner and want to be known as such, I will not compromise on discipline. I will not tolerate non-performance but I will reward hard working and dedicated members of the Constabulary. I will be taking a collective approach to discipline. I believe that a policeman is only as good as his or her section, squad, station, provincial or divisional commander or director. If a policeman is being disciplined I will ask why the NCOs or the commanding officers should not be disciplined as well for failing to command and control their subordinates.
For the commissioned officers, I need team players. Work with me and together let us change and rebuild the Constabulary and introduce a new culture into the force. I want to challenge you officers to start being proactive. Think outside the box. Be innovative. Be disciplined. Be accountable, and most importantly, be the leaders to your men to bring about positive change.
Now I know that my predecessors have made many grand plans. Many have not achieved what they wanted to because a lot were not allowed to complete their full term in office or because they could not get the resources required.
I am being realistic about what I can do and achieve given the time at hand. There are some things I’d like to achieve during my tenure:
- Improving command and control;
- Improving discipline;
- Up-skilling and retraining of members;
- Reintroducing and strengthening committee systems to allow for collective decision making;
- Due recognition for performance and commitment with promotion and other rewards. With every promotion I will look at training and preparing members prior to wearing the rank and occupying the position;
- Rebuilding our police infrastructure including stations and barracks;
- Improving and securing tools of our profession;
- Comprehensive insurance for all members; and
- Kick-starting a home ownership for members nationwide.
For the country I want to achieve a number of issues during my tenure and that is:
- To improve our justice system for victims of family and domestic violence;
- To look into sorcery related cases to prevent further abuse of women;
- To work closely with the Judiciary to ensure orders of the Courts are complied with. We will work closely with the Sheriff’s Office in that regard; and
- To improve and enhance police investigations.
Members on parade, senior officers, in conclusion, I want to once again urge you all to work with me change the Royal Papua New Guinea Constabulary into a police service worthy of the people’s respect and admiration. We are the oldest organisation which is committed to protecting and serving our people. Let us continue to serve our people with pride and dignity.
Look at what is happening around the world. People have risen up against the police forces because of the abuses. I forbid PNG coming to that situation but that will depend on all you members and how you treat our people.
Thank you and God bless you all.