Foreigner Affairs Minister Justin Tkatchenko Referred to Ombudsman Commission by Papua New Guinea Opposition Team.
The SRC Determination is crystal clear in that only the Spouse has legal standing and is recognized under the laws of this country. Any benefits paid to Savannah Tkatchenko by the State for the travel by his daughter Savannah Tkatchenko classified as “spouse” is fraudulent in nature. For the State to sponsor Savannah Tkatchenko’s trip is in direct breach of Section 5(1) of the Organic Law on the Duties and Responsibilities of Leaders of Leadership and therefore represents a misconduct in Office. I submit to your good Office the Opposition’s referral of Hon., Justin Tkatchenko to be tried for misconduct in Office. Sir, the issues pertaining to this referral are very serious. Such racial slurs by Hon. Justin Tkatchenko have the nation in an uproar calling for his removal as a Member of Parliament. Racism is something that we should never ever tolerate in this country in this time and era. It is demeaning and insulting to modern Papua New Guineans. – Hon. Joseph Lelang, MP. Leader of the Opposition.
Papua New Guinea Opposition Team referred former Foreigner Affairs Minister Justin Tkatchenko to Ombudsman Commission.
Monday 5th June 2023
SUBJECT: REFERRAL OF JUSTIN TKATCHENKO TO BE REMOVED AS A MEMBER OF PARLIAMENT FOR MISCONDUCT IN OFFICE
THE Opposition has felt it necessary to refer the Hon. Justin Tkatchenko, former Minister for Foreign Affairs and Member for Moresby South to the Ombudsman Commission for possible breach of the Organic Law on the Duties and Responsibilities of Leadership and the Salaries and Remuneration Commission (SRC) Determination.
The allegations relate to the scandalous and controversial trip led by Foreign Minister Justin Tkatchenko, his daughter Savannah Tkatchenko’s antics on social media TikTok and the costs involved and the role his daughter played during the coronation of King Charles Ill in London recently in May, 2023.
The Opposition feels that what came out of this trip has exposed serious allegations of misconduct by the Minister.
The nation is in an uproar on unprecedented levels for his racist slur against Papua New Guineans which not only has brought the integrity of his Office into question but the use of public monies to fund the travel cost of his daughter Savannah Tkatchenko is illegal and including pretence by his daughter who posed as his spouse during the coronation of King Charles Ill in London and who attended events meant for spouses is very serious and fraudulent in nature.
The Opposition hereby refers Hon. Justin Tkatchenko on three grounds to be charged for misconduct in Office and removed as a Member of Parliament.
1. RACIAL SLUR
During the trip to London to officiate the coronation of King Charles Ill, Savannah Tkatchenko has made numerous TikTok releases that has raised the ire of Papua New Guineans.
Then Foreign Affairs Minister Hon. Justin Tkatchenko (her father) made a racial slur on fellow Papua New Guinean Citizens. The racial slur (quote) “…She is absolutely traumatized by these rimitive animals. I call them primitive animals because they are…” (Unquote). This was aired on ABC Pacific Beat and then relayed to all of the world’s media.
As Foreign Affairs Minister, Mr. Tkatchenko, who himself is a senior IVIP, is expected to rise above his daughter’s social antics and address the issue in a mature and formal manner, should he wish to defend his daughter against “Haters”. His words “useless” and “primitive animals” which he repeated twice, is racist in nature. Such words are derogatory and implies that the dignity of Papua New Guineans is no better than that of primitive animals.
Such words uttered on international media coming from a naturalized citizen is shameful to every Papua New Guineans in this day and age. Such behavior from a naturalized citizen whether he be an NIP or not, should never be tolerated.
His racial slur has raised the ire of the entire nation leading to protest marches and sitting protests and stop work by all the trade unions in the country including the student body, the chamber of commerce, Independent Commission Against Corruption (ICAC) and church leaders and fellow Members of Parliament.
2. INTEGRITY OF MINISTER’S OFFICE INTO QUESTION
As Foreign Affairs Minister, Mr. Tkatchenko’s actions have brought into question the integrity of his Office. This is a breach of his oath of Office and oath as a Member of Parliament to serve the people of Papua New Guinea and uphold the integrity of the Office that he occupies.
I believe Mr. Tkatchenko’s actions has brought into question the integrity of the Office he occupies both as a Member of Parliament and as Minister for Foreign Affairs. His actions tantamount to a misconduct in office and in the public interest, he should be removed as a Member of Parliament.
3. CORONATION OF KING CHARLES 111 AND FINANCIAL COSTS INCURRED BY DAUGHTER BY STATE.
On radio aired on Sunday 13th May, 2023; Mr. Tkatchenko informed Papua New Guinean that he was invited to attend the coronation of King Charles Ill and that his daughter accompanied him. He also said that he had nothing to hide and that the costs used to fund him and his daughter’s trip were part of his entitlements by law.
3.1 INVITATION BY BUCKINGHAM PALACE TO ATTEND CORONATION OF KING CHARLES 111.
The Prime Minister has released on Newspapers that invitation was sent to him and his spouse and to the Governor General and his spouse to attend the Coronation of King Charles 111.
Mr. Tkatchenko was not invited contrary to what he is claiming. It was only when the Prime Minister did not attend that he sent Foreign Affairs Minister to attend in his stead. Mr. Tkatchenko then travelled with his daughter.
His public comments that was aired by media in Papua New Guinea that he was invited with his spouse along with the Governor General and his spouse was not true and was intended to mislead the people due to their ignorance of the facts.
3.2 USE OF PUBLIC MONIES TO FUND DAUGHTER SAVANNAH STRIP TO LONDON
The Prime Minister, Hon. James Marape, did not attend and asked the Foreign Minister Justin Tkatchenko to step in for him and represented the country at the coronation of King Charles Ill together with the Governor General, the Head of State.
Savannah Tkatchenko accompanied her father to attend the coronation of King Charles Ill, not as a spouse but as his daughter. The invitation was to the Prime Minister and spouse and to the Governor General and spouse, not daughter or another family relative.
The invitation was very specific and therefore in this respect, his daughter Savannah Tkatchenko was not invited and further, under Papua New Guinean law, she had no legal standing.
The laws of the country did not specify the benefits of a daughter or family relative accompanying a leader on international travels. The Salaries and Remuneration Commission (SRC) Determination did not prescribe benefits accrued to family members that accompany a leader on overseas travels, except for the leader’s spouse.
Thus, the leader’s spouse is recognized and has legal standing when it comes to the State paying for her travel to accompany the leader overseas on official engagements.
In this context, Savannah Tkatchenko is not Foreign Affairs Minister’s wife or spouse.
Savannah Tkatchenko is the leader’s daughter and therefore she is not entitled by law, to get the State to pay for her tickets on business class, travel allowances, and accommodation using public monies.
Savannah Tkatchenko is travelling as a private citizen accompanying her father who should be responsible to pay her travel fares, accommodation and travel allowances to go and see the place and the coronation. She is not supposed to perform spouse role alongside the Foreign Affairs Minister.
It is wrong when considered along international protocol lines. Such conduct by the Foreign Affairs Minister to fool the international community of Commonwealth nations as being “his spouse” and to attend all events “portraying as “spouse” along with the spouses of world leaders’ was done intentionally intended to mislead the world that attended the coronation of King Charles Ill.
Section 5(1) of the Organic Law on the Duties and Responsibilities of Leadership states:
“A person to whom this Law applies who, except as specifically authorized by law, directly or indirectly asks for or accepts, on behalf of himself or an associate, any benefit in relation to any action (past, present or future) in the course of his duties, or in the course of or by reason of his official position, is guilty of misconduct in Office.”
Since 1988, the SRC has made 23 Determinations, which cover only authorized benefits that all Elected Leaders may legally receive during their term in Office.
Determination EL 2022- 13: Overseas Duty Travel
4. Special Provisions
(2) Travel of Spouses
“From time to time, it will both be desirable and necessary for the leader to be accompanied on overseas travel by a spouse. As a general rule leaders will be entitled to be accompanied overseas at State expense by their spouse twice during their term of appointment.”
5. Class of Travel
(3) Where the travel of a spouse has been approved, the spouse is entitled to the same class of travel as a leader (in this case, first class seats)
6. Clothing Allowance
A spouse accompanying the leader is entitled to the same clothing allowance as the leader
7. Travelling Allowance
(5) Spouses accompanying leaders are entitled to a travelling allowance of40 per cent of the amount specified in the Schedule as the leader’s allowance.
The SRC Determination is crystal clear in that only the Spouse has legal standing and is recognized under the laws of this country. Any benefits paid to Savannah Tkatchenko by the State for the travel by his daughter Savannah Tkatchenko classified as “spouse” is fraudulent in nature.
For the State to sponsor Savannah Tkatchenko’s trip is in direct breach of Section 5(1) of the Organic Law on the Duties and Responsibilities of Leaders of Leadership and therefore represents a misconduct in Office.
I submit to your good Office the Opposition’s referral of Hon., Justin Tkatchenko to be tried for misconduct in Office.
Sir, the issues pertaining to this referral are very serious. Such racial slurs by Hon. Justin Tkatchenko have the nation in an uproar calling for his removal as a Member of Parliament. Racism is something that we should never ever tolerate in this country in this time and era. It is demeaning and insulting to modern Papua New Guineans.
In similar circumstances elsewhere in the world, a politician making such racist comments against citizens of a country that has given him naturalized citizenship, would have immediately resigned as a Member of Parliament. Where there is general lack of morality, ethical values, respect and integrity, the State must remove them.
For the State to fund Savannah Tkatchenko as spouse and for her to pretend to play the role of spouse in London attending events meant for leader’s spouses is totally unacceptable, misleading and fraudulent on the part of the Minister who allowed this to happen.
This is unheard of, and further displays a lack of empathy of this leader toward his role as a Minister of State and to the people of Papua New Guinea.
Hon. Joseph Lelang, MP
Leader of the Opposition