Sam Basil

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The Honourable
Sam Basil
MP
Sam Basil 2018.jpg
Basil in 2018
Deputy Prime Minister of Papua New Guinea
In office
1 October 2020 – 11 May 2022
Prime MinisterJames Marape
Preceded byDavis Steven
Succeeded byTBD
Treasurer of Papua New Guinea
In office
7 June 2019 – 27 August 2019
Prime MinisterJames Marape
Preceded byCharles Abel
Succeeded byIan Ling-Stuckey
Minister for National Planning and Monitoring
In office
13 May 2019 – 31 May 2019
Prime MinisterPeter O'Neill
Minister of Finance
In office
17 April 2019 – 13 May 2019
Prime MinisterPeter O'Neill
Preceded byJames Marape
Succeeded byRichard Maru
Minister for Communications, Information Technology and Energy
In office
2017 – 17 April 2019
Prime MinisterPeter O'Neill
Minister for National Planning
In office
5 August 2011 – 2012
Prime MinisterMichael Somare
Member of the National Parliament of Papua New Guinea
In office
2007 – 11 May 2022
Preceded byJohn Muingnepe
ConstituencyBulolo Open
Personal details
Born
Samuel H. Basil

(1969-11-16)16 November 1969
Papua and New Guinea
Died11 May 2022(2022-05-11) (aged 52)
NationalityPapua New Guinean
Political partyMelanesian Alliance Party (2019–2022)
Other political
affiliations
Pangu Party (2014–2019)
Papua New Guinea Party (2011–2014)
People's Progress Party (2002–2011)

Samuel H. Basil[1] (16 November 1969[citation needed] – 11 May 2022) was a Papua New Guinean politician. He was a member of the National Parliament of Papua New Guinea from 2007, representing the electorate of Bulolo Open, until his death in 2022. From 8 June 2019, to August 2019 Basil served as the Treasurer of Papua New Guinea.

On 1 October 2020, Basil was appointed Deputy Prime Minister of Papua New Guinea in a cabinet reshuffle by Prime Minister James Marape, while also maintaining his existing portfolio as Minister for National Planning.[2] He served as deputy prime minister until his death in office in May 2022.

Early life

Basil was educated at Bumayong Lutheran Secondary School and was a businessman prior to entering politics, where he was managing director of seafood and aquaculture company BSJ Fishing and Trading.[3][4][5] He was also a board member of the Morobe Fisheries Management Authority.[6]

Early political career

He was an unsuccessful candidate for the People's Progress Party at the 2002 election.[7]

He was elected to the National Parliament at the 2007 election for the People's Progress Party, and immediately became its deputy leader, with the party in the opposition.[3][8][9] Key issues in his first term were the improvement of district roads, managing issues associated with the Wafi and Hidden Valley mining projects, and occasional ethnic unrest.[10][11][12][13] In 2009, Basil was involved in a deal which saw the people of Bulolo District assigned a half share of the provincial government's share of the Morobe Mining Joint Venture.[14]

In December 2009, he claimed the National Parliament building was unfit for occupation and should be condemned.[15] He was a member of the Public Accounts Committee when it reported, in the same month, that only five out of nearly 1000 government agencies had met accountability and transparency requirements, describing it as a "sign of a failed state" and threatening to resign from the committee if prosecutions were not initiated against those who had misused funds.[16][17] In July 2010, Prime Minister Michael Somare told Basil during a parliamentary no-confidence vote "if you were outside I would kill you", which received wide media attention.[18]

Opposition Leader

On 10 January 2011, Basil resigned from the People's Progress Party and joined the Papua New Guinea Party (PNGP), then the largest opposition party.[19] On 11 May 2011, he became Deputy Opposition Leader under PNGP leader Belden Namah.[20] He was a trenchant critic of Somare in the months prior to the no-confidence vote that ousted Somare in favour of Peter O'Neill in August 2011, repeatedly assailing the government regarding alleged corruption and the state of Somare's health.[21][22] He was subsequently appointed Minister for National Planning in the new O'Neill government on 5 August 2011, and was also the responsible minister for new anti-corruption investigative body Task Force Sweep.[3][23]

In May 2012, a reported crowd of 10,000 came to witness his renomination for the 2012 election, at which he stated that he was defending his seat to finish incomplete projects in his ten months as minister.[24] He was re-elected, standing for the Papua New Guinea Party, in July, receiving an absolute majority of the vote in a crowded field of candidates.[25] O'Neill dumped the PNGP from his governing coalition after the election, having fallen out with leader Namah, costing Basil his ministry.[26] Basil filed a court challenge to prevent from sitting while final election writs were returned, which delayed but did not prevent O'Neill from being sworn in for a full term.[27][28]

Basil was again named Deputy Opposition Leader in August 2012, while also serving as Shadow Minister for National Planning, District Development and Health and HIV/AIDS.[29] In the same month, he repeatedly criticised the O'Neill government over a reported travel ban preventing foreign journalists from visiting Manus Island, home to the Australian Manus Regional Processing Centre.[30][31] In October, he voiced strong opposition to deep sea mining in Papua New Guinea.[32] Basil organised a rural electrification program back in his own district, which was well-received.[33] He remained in the opposition as its numbers declined to only six by May 2013, as various MPs defected to the government.[34]

Basil was heavily critical of the deal which allowed for the expansion of the Manus detention centre, and was involved in an opposition legal challenge claiming that it was unconstitutional.[35][36] In September 2013, Basil was one of only two MPs to vote no on a bill which restricted no-confidence votes, requiring a month's notice and a minimum of 22 MPs.[37] He repeatedly complained throughout much of his second term that he and other opposition MPs were having difficulty accessing their District Service Improvement Program funds, in contrast to government MPs, and was repeatedly praised in media coverage for improving local services in spite of the interference.[38][39][40] In June 2014, Prime Minister O'Neill asked police to investigate Basil and sacked anti-corruption head Sam Koim, claiming that they had colluded to oppose him.[41]

In August 2014, Basil resigned from the Papua New Guinea Party and joined the Pangu Party, immediately becoming party leader.[42][43][44] Pangu, the oldest party in Papua New Guinea and one-time governing party, had not been represented in parliament since the 2013 death of Ludwig Schulze, its sole member to be re-elected in 2012.[45][46] After some confusion about the loyalties of the revived party, he continued as Deputy Leader of the Opposition.[47][48] He continued as deputy after Don Polye ousted Namah as Opposition Leader in December 2014.[49] In August 2015, he was joined by a second Pangu MP when their endorsed candidate, William Samb, won a by-election in Goilala Open.[50] He continued to campaign around the interference with DSIP funds of opposition MPs, claiming that past governments had not discriminated against the opposition in the way that O'Neill had.[51] In April 2016, he saw the opposition's long-running court case regarding the Manus Island detention centre decided in their favour, with the Supreme Court ruling that it was unconstitutional.[52]

On 3 May 2016, Basil became Opposition Leader after the National Court upheld a challenge to Polye's 2012 election victory, set aside the result and ordered a belated recount of votes in his seat.[53] However, he relinquished the leadership back to Polye on 26 May, two days after Polye won a stay of the earlier decision pending an appeal.[54] He was comfortably re-elected at the 2017 election, at which he led a Pangu Party comeback, with the once-dormant party winning a number of seats.[55]

On 7 May 2019, he left the Pangu Party to become the leader of the Melanesian Alliance Party.[56]

As part of the First Marape Cabinet, Basil was appointed Treasurer on 7 June 2019.

Death

Basil was killed in a car accident on 11 May 2022, one day before election nominations.[57]

References

  1. ^ "Basil's vision for health services at ward level on track". PNG Haus Bung. 13 April 2021. Retrieved 13 May 2022.
  2. ^ "In brief: Papua New Guinea's Prime Minister announces major cabinet reshuffle and other business stories". Business Advantage PNG. 5 October 2020. Archived from the original on 7 May 2021. Retrieved 13 May 2022.
  3. ^ a b c "Hon. Sam Basil, MP". National Parliament of Papua New Guinea. Retrieved 19 March 2017.
  4. ^ "Fish farming set to take off in Morobe". PNG Post Courier. 26 July 2005.
  5. ^ "Tuna shipment underway". PNG Post Courier. 27 October 2005.
  6. ^ "Moves to corporatise economic sector". PNG Post Courier. 2 April 2004.
  7. ^ "PPP names 78 for poll". PNG Post Courier. 28 March 2002.
  8. ^ "NA eyes legal bid over rivals". PNG Post Courier. 13 August 2007.
  9. ^ "Leaders urged to unite". PNG Post Courier. 16 August 2007.
  10. ^ "MP set to revive mining towns". PNG Post Courier. 28 September 2007.
  11. ^ "Roads program launched". PNG Post Courier. 10 August 2007.
  12. ^ "No harmony at gold mine". PNG Post Courier. 5 November 2007.
  13. ^ "Sepik leaders apologise to Sam Basil". PNG Post Courier. 19 July 2010.
  14. ^ "New start for Bulolo". PNG Post Courier. 14 October 2009.
  15. ^ "Basil: Parlt is unfit". PNG Post Courier. 11 December 2009.
  16. ^ "Sad state of affairs in Govt agencies". PNG Post Courier. 11 December 2009.
  17. ^ "Member calls for prosecution". PNG Post Courier. 24 December 2009.
  18. ^ "Death threats in Papua New Guinea parliament". Australian Broadcasting Corporation (Lateline). 21 July 2010.
  19. ^ "Four MPs join PNG Party". PNG Post-Courier. 11 January 2011.
  20. ^ "Namah, Basil lead Opposition". PNG Post Courier. 10 May 2011.
  21. ^ "PNG opposition suspects corruption at very top". Radio New Zealand News International. 6 July 2011.
  22. ^ "Two doctors must verify PM's state, says Basil". PNG Post Courier. 1 July 2011.
  23. ^ "Sweep to swoop on NAC". PNG Post Courier. 27 February 2012.
  24. ^ "Basil recontests Bulolo seat". PNG Post Courier. 28 May 2012.
  25. ^ "Basil wins seat by majority". PNG Post Courier. 17 July 2012.
  26. ^ "Deputy PM left out of PNG cabinet". The Australian. 31 July 2012.
  27. ^ "PNG parliamentary dramas continue". Australian Broadcasting Corporation (Lateline). 3 August 2012.
  28. ^ "O'Neill re-elected PM by huge majority". The Australian. 4 August 2012.
  29. ^ "Shadow ministers". PNG Post-Courier. 22 August 2012.
  30. ^ "Basil defends journos". PNG Post Courier. 29 August 2012.
  31. ^ "Australia says it's not behind Manus media ban". Australian Broadcasting Corporation. 30 August 2012.
  32. ^ "We are against sea bed mining, says PNG Opposition". PACNEWS. 29 October 2012.
  33. ^ "Basil brings electricity to rural area after 37 years". PNG Post Courier. 30 April 2013.
  34. ^ "PNG Opposition left with six". PACNEWS. 23 May 2013.
  35. ^ "Basil: Asylum seeker deal improper and risky". PNG Post Courier. 15 August 2013.
  36. ^ "PNG Opposition's challenge to asylum camp fast tracked by court". Radio New Zealand News International. 16 August 2013.
  37. ^ "PNG laws hamper votes of no confidence". Australian Associated Press. 20 September 2013.
  38. ^ "DSIP for Opposition MPs unpaid". PNG Post Courier. 16 December 2013.
  39. ^ "Basil opens bridge in Buang". PNG Post Courier. 24 December 2013.
  40. ^ "Basil strives despite setback". PNG Post Courier. 22 April 2014.
  41. ^ "Peter O'Neill asks police to investigate sacked anti-corruption boss Sam Koim". Australian Broadcasting Corporation. 21 June 2014.
  42. ^ "Democracy threat". PNG Post Courier. 15 August 2014.
  43. ^ "PNG MP movements hurting democracy, says Gelu". Radio New Zealand News International. 15 August 2014.
  44. ^ "Proposed law to stem defections PNG". PACNEWS. 18 August 2014.
  45. ^ "Basil now new Pangu leader". PNG Post Courier. 20 August 2014.
  46. ^ "Tasion applauds Basil for moving to Pangu". PNG Post Courier. 21 August 2014.
  47. ^ "Namah releases Basil". PNG Post Courier. 19 August 2014.
  48. ^ "Bulolo MP commends Electoral Commission". PNG Post Courier. 9 September 2014.
  49. ^ "Polye PNG's new opposition leader". PNG Post Courier. 3 December 2014.
  50. ^ "Pangu Pati candidate wins Goilala". PNG Post Courier. 12 August 2015.
  51. ^ "Cuts in Districts, Provincial funds is a concern: Polye". PNG Post-Courier. 23 December 2015.
  52. ^ "Namah happy with decision". PNG Post Courier. 27 April 2016.
  53. ^ "Polye steps down as PNG opposition leader". Radio New Zealand News International. 3 May 2016.
  54. ^ "Don Polye re-appointed PNG Opposition leader, Another MP join Opposition". PACNEWS. 26 May 2016.
  55. ^ "10 Members of Parliament declared so far". Loop PNG. 17 July 2017. Retrieved 17 July 2017.
  56. ^ "Basil leads Melanesian Alliance Party back". Post Courier. 7 May 2019. Retrieved 30 May 2019.
  57. ^ "PNG's general election delayed after Deputy Prime Minister Sam Basil dies in a car crash". ABC News. 12 May 2022. Retrieved 12 May 2022.
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