"We declare our first goal to be for every person to be dynamically involved in the process of freeing himself or herself from every form of domination or oppression so that each man or woman will have the opportunity to develop as a whole person in relationship with others".
- Papua New GuineaNational Goals and Directive Principles
Tuesday, 13 March 2012
Nice to know where the PNG LNG revenues will end up
Sydney Morning Herald, 14 March 2012
THE Deputy Prime Minister of Papua New Guinea, Belden Namah, allegedly sexually harassed a blackjack dealer at the Star casino last year before being thrown out for threatening staff while drunk.
Despite this, the casino readmitted Mr Namah, an opposition MP at the time, after it realised he and his colleagues planned to gamble hundreds of thousands of dollars, the Herald understands.
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But Mr Namah denies he is the person described in five separate incident reports, including one in which he is named by casino staff. His lawyer, Greg Sheppard, said Mr Namah ''did not misconduct himself'' at the casino.
''Until we are provided with the incident reports in question, Mr Namah is unable to comment further on how his name appears on these reports, except to say that if it does, they are mistaken,'' Mr Sheppard said.
Mr Namah is a former PNG military officer who became forestry minister in the government of Michael Somare before joining the opposition, which deposed Sir Michael last year.
Incident reports by staff show Mr Namah and two colleagues were gambling in the Sovereign Room for high rollers when approached about 7am on April 16 last year and asked to stop drinking ''as they were deemed to be approaching intoxication''.
A blackjack dealer's statement said that after being asked to stop drinking, Mr Namah began ''teasing me by asking my mobile number''. Mr Namah is then alleged to have asked him: ''Can I f--- you tonight?''.
When he was being removed from the casino, Mr Namah allegedly told either a manager or security guard: ''You may be big but I will knock you on your f---ing arse''.
A former duty manager, Elizabeth Ward, has previously revealed a ''minister from a neighbouring government'' was ejected from the casino last year. This is now understood to be Mr Namah.
Ms Ward, who is fighting the casino over her dismissal, also said a senior casino executive subsequently ordered a manager to apologise to the minister. She had been advised the minister was allowed back in several hours later after executives realised he and two friends had deposited in a casino account $800,000 to gamble.
A spokesman for Echo Entertainment confirmed a customer had been removed and later let back in. ''From the time the customer was removed for showing signs of intoxication to when he was readmitted, the gaming manager who responded to this incident was not aware of the full nature of the alleged comments made by the customer,'' he said.
"Senior management only became aware of the alleged comments after the customer had been invited back to the gaming area."
Asked if Mr Namah was readmitted after saying how much he planned to gamble, the spokesman said: ''No, the customer was allowed to re-enter the gaming area after returning to his hotel room for a period of five hours and after he was spoken to by another gaming manager and a general manager and warned that his behaviour was unacceptable and would not be tolerated.''
In her review of the Star's licence last December, Gail Furness, SC, said witnesses had commented on a ''change in focus'' at the casino, which had led to more lenient treatment of high rollers, including some who had been ''permitted to misconduct themselves with little or no consequences, such as ashtrays and chips being thrown, staff being abused, threatened or sexually harassed''.
But she concluded: ''In some cases, no record could be found of the incident, in most others the casino operator took some action against the player and the allegation was not supported.'' The Echo spokesman said staff were asked about the incident in the review but ''no adverse findings'' were made.
Ms Furness is heading a new inquiry into the Star following allegations of sexual harassment and other misconduct.