L-R: Julius Chan, John Poe, Iambakey Okuk, Maori Kiki, Ebia Olewale, Gavera Rea, Kaibelt Diria, Michael Somare, Dr Ruben Taureka, John Guise, Paul Lapun, Boyamo Sali, Thomas Kavali.
” This is a short tribute, appreciation and acknowledgment of the early political leaders I met and around whom my career serving elected leaders grew.
I am privileged to have served, and served with, these pioneering pre- and post-Independence leaders. It is an honour I shall always treasure.
In this photograph, the pose and demeanour of these Ministers – the Cabinet – accurately shows them thinking seriously, thoughtfully, in some cases may be even curiously, about the looming question of independence.
I remember much about these pioneer political leaders largely because the career I chose as a teenager just out of high school grew and evolved around serving political leaders. Looking back it was a time and youth well spent with a rewarding graduation from the university of life whose only curricula was duty of service
Those years were a fulfilling and rewarding part of history to which I will always look back. The time and rubbing shoulders with these pioneers guided my later choices as I have considered how I might be able to still contribute as time goes on “
Statement by the Speaker of the Bougainville House of Representatives Simon Pentanu
It is election season. It is a very short, abrupt season which comes only once every five years. We are in the thick of it now. All over the country people are struck by election fever. Excitement and malaise are everywhere.
Despite shortcomings and inequities that come with all election, the value and benefit of elections are obvious. They are a tried, tested and proven method for selecting political representatives – rooted in ancient Greek system and derived from the word demos for people, thus, democracy. The rulers are elected by the ruled – government by the people, for the people, of the people – and accountable to the people through regular elections.
Alternatives to democracy autocracy, theocracy, demagoguery, plutocracy, dictatorship and military junta, anarchy and the brand of latter day religious fanaticism that is wreaking violence and in certain parts of the world.
PNG has, since its early polls, delivered democratic elections for which we can all hold our heads high.
The earliest election I can remember was the House of Assembly election in 1964. I was doing my last year in primary school in Kangu, south Bougainville. The next election was the House of Assembly election in 1968. I was doing my last year in high school in Malabunga, ENBP.
The following year I applied, was successful and commenced a job in the pre-independence House of Assembly as a simultaneous trainee interpreter/translator.
I remember much about these pioneer political leaders largely because the career I chose as a teenager just out of high school grew and evolved around serving political leaders. Looking back it was a time and youth well spent with a rewarding graduation from the university of life whose only curricula was duty of service.
The Chief, the one that was always quick to grab the baton and run from the front, was Michael Thomas Somare. Of this group he was one of the first into the House and the last to bow out of Parliament – retiring recently on the eve of 2017 Parliament elections. Sir Michael has had the longest un-dismissed innings at the crease and the most party political victories at the polls.
The tribute paid to Sir Michael and Chief and Father of the nation by Members on the day of the final meeting of the Tenth Parliament was well deserved and most fitting.
After this year’s election Sir Julius might be the only one of this group in Parliament if he is returned for the Tenth Parliament.
I was delighted to meet Dr Reuben Taureka again after more than 45 years at a private traditional closure reception to end the mourning period of one of his son-in-laws whom I knew and worked with at the Ombudsman Commission. Reuben was still in good shape and form. It was a brief and happy occasion for us to reminisce about those early pioneering years.
Those years were a fulfilling and rewarding part of history to which I will always look back. The time and rubbing shoulders with these pioneers guided my later choices as I have considered how I might be able to still contribute as time goes on.
It is no fluke, accident or coincidence I am serving as Speaker of the Bougainville House of Representatives today. I thank God, He has been kind and caring. I also thank these political pioneers whom I’m blessed to have served and observed as they gave their all, selflessly and unpretentiously to this country.
The country has been kind, the opportunities and choices have been plentiful, the opportunities and decision moments lived and exercised, have been truly remarkable.
No matter how close, how far and in what direction I look, this country cannot avoid or miss the souls and spirits of these men.
The sum total of their collective political efforts, their contribution and dedicated service to this country is beyond measure.
And yet it is also their individual efforts, that often come to the fore.
How could so many genuine leaders have emerged in the same era? I can only explain it thus: that PNG came of age because the excitement, the challenges and doubts about self determination prompted and nudged these men to mature beyond their age to face up to the uncharted waters and unknown future to nationhood.
I will always remember them well.