1.Together Somare and Momis united a nation of more than 800 tribes and languages and began a friendship that has lasted for 50 years.
That bond between the father of the nation, Grand Chief Sir Michael Thomas Somare, and the father of the constitution, Grand Chief John Lawrence Momis, was a close friendship.
Sir Michael, came to Bougainville in 2018 as part of his farewell and thanksgiving to the people of Papua New Guinea.
His political career spanned from 1968 until his retirement from parliament in 2017. He was PNG’s first and longest serving prime minister.
Dr Momis, was a Catholic priest from 1970-93, He became active in politics and was elected to parliament in 1972. He co-wrote the PNG constitution and, following the end of the civil war, he was appointed Bougainville governor from 1999 until 2005. He has also served as PNG’s ambassador to China.
On Sir Michael’s retirement from politics, Dr Momis wrote:
“My personal relationship with Sir Michael Somare dates back to our younger days. Fate brought us together over barbecue and beer in Wewak. Little did we know that soon we would be partners in forging a path for Papua New Guinea. I was full of idealism and he was brimming with pragmatism.
“The combination of two different yet attuned minds resulted in greater efforts to blaze that path; one which not many at that time dared to tread.
Our minds were shaped by the events of the tumultuous 1960s when young men in America were sent to wage war in Vietnam and personalities like Martin Luther King and the Kennedys were taking the world by storm with their ideals and advocacy….
“Sir Michael exercised his role as a true politician – guided by his faith and embracing his role as a vocation. He ventured into the unknown, responding to a call without fear. He was there always ready to listen and to implement results of choices and judgements….
“Instead of shrinking from the challenges of his time, like the fear of independence and the injustices of colonialism, he literally gave himself to pursue his vision of an inspiring future for Papua New Guinea. It was a mark of a true leader that he took the bold step of making things happen and took ownership of major decisions, unpopular as they might have been.
“I owe Sir Michael much. For a pragmatist to put his full trust and confidence in an ideologue like me is a rarity.”
2.Condolence Message from the Office of the President on the passing of the Late Grand Chief Sir Michael Somare
It is with the greatest of sadness that the Autonomous Region of Bougainville joins the rest of the nation to mourn the loss of the Father of the country Grand Chief Sir Michael Thomas Somare.
The Late Sir Michael Somare has had a close relationship with Bougainville from the formative years of Papua New Guinea until our most recent history. His association with Bougainville goes back to the days when PNG and Bougainville sought independence from our Australian colonial masters.
It was through this association that he forged a lifelong relationship with the people as well as our early leaders such as Sir Paul Lapun, Sir Donatus Mola, Raphael Bele and Grand Chief Dr. John Momis.
As President I pay tribute to Sir Michael’s contribution to the Bougainville Peace Process. During the tumultuous years of the Crisis Sir Michael played a pivotal role in the negotiations. In 2002 when he reassumed the Prime Ministership he continued the work of his predecessor the Late Sir Mekere Morauta to implement the Bougainville Peace Agreement. As Prime Minister, Sir Michael oversaw the formation of the Autonomous Bougainville Government in 2005.
The Late Grand Chief Sir Michael Somare was a pious man, a Christian man who upheld the values of devotion to God, Country and Family. His lasting legacy was his ability to lead a nation of a thousand tribes and unify them under a common goal and that was freedom. The freedom to express ourselves, the freedom to be masters of our own destiny and the freedom to be diversified yet unified as one nation under God.
On behalf of my family and the Autonomous Bougainville Government I would like to extend the sincerest condolences of the people and government of Bougainville to family of the Late Grand Chief Sir Michael Somare. May God Almighty grant you solace in your time of bereavement.
You served this country faithfully and with love, now let you find eternal peace in the arms of your creator.
Hon. Ishmael Toroama MHR
3.Peter L Tsiamalili SPEECH – STATE FUNERAL IN PARLIAMENT
Thank you Mr Speaker, Your Excellency Governor General, Chief Justice, Hon. Prime Minister, Former Prime Ministers,Hon. Members, Distinguish Guests Papua New Guinea and Bouganville.
Olsem Regional Member blong Bogenvil mi laik makim maus blo President blong Mipla, Hon. Ismael Toroama, ABG Govenment na ol Pipol blong Autonomous Region of Bougainville.
Mi laik kisim displa taim too long givim luk save long ol chief man blo mipla husait bin sanap wantaim late Grand Chief, Sir Paul Lapun- Passed Pangu Leadership to him in 1972, Sir Alexius Holyweek Sarei- Somare’s First Chief Of Staff Sir, Donatus Mola, Anthony Anugu, Joseph Lue, Raphael Bele na Grand Chief Dr John Momis- who he appointed to chair the Constitutional Planning Committee
Today is a sad day for Papua New Guinea and the Autonomous Region of Bougainville (AROB) as we mourn the passing of our founding father.
On behalf my wife, Wendy, my children, my mother Ruth Tsiamalili, my siblings, the people of Kunua, Keriaka, Torokina, Bana and my people of Bougainville , I would like to pass my deepest condolences and heart felt sorrow to lady and mama Veronica , my brothers Sana, Arthur , Michael junior and my sisters Bertha and Dulciana together with your children .
For me and my mother and sibling we have a special appreciation for Grand Chief Sir Michael Somare.
When the Bougainville crisis erupted furiously in 1988 with reckless killings, he rescued my father late Peter Tsiamalili (snr) and us (family) from Kieta and brought us to Popondetta, where my mother is from.
My late father was the last North Solomon Provincial Secretary (now known as the Provincial Administrator) under the old Provincial Government system. North Solomon was known as that before we got our autonomous status under the Bougainville Peace Agreement(ABG).
Grand Chief was the Foreign Affairs Minister under the Namaliu Government, at that time during the peak of the crisis, the rebels were threatening the elite Bougainvilleans and my late father was one of the elite Bougainvilleans on the rebels list.
But Grand Chief is a man who foresees the future ahead of any one.
Just like he had foreseen a bright future to unite Papua New Guinea to become one nation when the odds were against him, he also foresaw the future of Bougainville right from the starting of the criss.
And when everyone was considering violence to solve the crisis and a bleak future between Bougainvilleans and Papua New Guineans, he foresaw a peaceful Bougainville once again and how Bougainvilleans and Papua New Guineans will work together to restore Government services and to restore normalcy back on Bougainville.
Fellow Papua New Guineans and Bougainvilleans, Grand Chief saw that my father will be needed to restore Government Services back on Bougainville for Bougainvilleans to carry on their peaceful daily lives by continuing their colorful and unique Melanesian traditional culture in their tranquility environment , living in harmony with our Melanesian brothers of the Solomon Island and maintaining the relationships between these two great Melanesian brothers (PNG and Solomon Island ) .
And so he removed my father and brought him to Popondetta. Although in Popondetta, Grand Chief was still concern of my late father’s safety as he still had plans for Bougainville future after the crisis.
And so he sent my father to the United Nations in New York City, USA, then appointed him to be High Commissioner to Fiji and then as far away to Europe to be the Ambassador to the European Union in Brussels, far away from the turmoil that was raging between PNG and Bougainville and at times threatened Solomon Island as well.
While my father was far away in safety, Grand Chief was heavily involved in restoring peace on Bougainville as the Bougainville Minister under the late Sir Mekere Government.
By the time the crisis was over, Grand Chief as the Prime Minister, sent my father back to Bougainville to be the first Administrator (now known as Chief Secretary to the Autonomous Bougainville Government) in 2005 after the formation of the Autonomous Bougainville Government (ABG) to restore Government services back on Bougainville.
And it was very heartwarming for Grand Chief during my late father’s funeral services at Saint Joseph Catholic Church in Port Moresby to retell this story as part of his tribute to my late father in April 2007. I’m now retelling this story as part of my tribute to Grand Chief state funeral here at the National Parliament.
This story is not only for the Somare and the Tsiamalili families.
This is the story for the new relationship and future of Bougainvilleans and Papua New Guineans.
My fellow Bougainvilleans and Papua New Guineans, Grand Chief already fore saw peace on Bougainville long before the signing of the Bougainville Peace Agreement in 2001, long before restoration of Government services through the formation of the ABG and long before the referendum which saw 98 % of the Bougainvilleans voted for Independence.
The people of west and east Sepik mipla tok tenkiu long upla long givim mipla Sana, The Greatest ever Melanesian Paramount Chief of all time, and trailblazing Pacific leader, PNG’s father Of Unity. Farewell My Grand Chief may your soul rest in eternal peace with our Creator until we meet again, God bless Papua New Guinea and Bougainville.
4. Tribute to Sir Michael Somare by SIMON PENTANU
Like a candle you grew from a flicker to a national light that made everyone realise arguing for independence was not evil or risky but inevitable”. Simon Pentanu
It was at the pinnacle of high school education at Hutjena, Buka, and the following final year high school at Malabunga, ENB 1968 that I started hearing about an angry young man in Papua and New Guinea. To be exact in the emerging politics of what was then pre-independence TPNG.
Doing final year high school I wondered how long it would take before the colonial government pulled this angry young man aside and into line.
To cut a long story short, when we were given the stock career book then at the end of high school to make our career choices, two things influenced my decision to apply as an interpreter in the pre-independence House of Assembly.
First was the intriguingly interesting history of Indonesia we were taught at the school. The Dutch had to hand the reigns of sovereignty to the Indonesians and leave, as much as they would have liked to prolong their stay. Secondly, we learnt then that there always comes a time when colonial governments had to leave their territories or acquisitions one day with examples of independence struggles in other parts of the world.
Michael Somare’s name was on the airwaves when radios covered the Territory very well and very widely. I thought then what an opportunity to see this man in the House and hear everything that was being reported and attributed to him, from the horse’s mouth.
I joined the pre-independence House of Assembly on 6 March 1969. I saw Michael Somare for the first time on the floor of the House on that same day I arrived on a TAA F27 flight from Kieta to Port Moresby. It was an acquaintance with my first job that would put me in eye contact with the angry young man from Sepik representing his people on the floor of the House as he spoke his mind.
The ensuing years would put me in professional contact with Somare as Chief Minister, Prime Minister as well as Leader of Opposition as I progressed in my parliamentary service career in the service of the country’s national parliamentarians.
My first impressions, seeing and interpreting for members on the floor, of the man who became Chief and our first Prime Minister and the father of the nation was this. Most of his questions to the official members who represented the colonial administration and in most of the debate in the House Michael Somare dwelled mostly on national matters and interests than on the interest of the Province he represented. This was in contrast to the parochial, and quite rightly, of questions and discussions by most of the members in the House concerning their electorates.
Sir Michael assumed the national mantra and dwelled in all-encompassing metaphors about a country he envisioned very early in his political bits and pieces and, of course, a country he would lead to independence and become its first Prime Minister.
The Chief spoke, argued and questioned vehemently about the inevitability of independence. In full sight of members looking down from the interpreter’s booths in the House of Assembly I thought then that the man who represented my own Province, Paul Lapun was in the right company with a man who spoke his mind, who articulated more than anyone what he saw and wanted for Papua New Guinea. Somare the member for Sepik, leader of Pangu Party and later Chief Minister and, of course, first Prime Minister expressed and exuded confidence on his feet and chose his interjections well when he was not on his feet.
Michael Thomas Somare grew into politics not just as an angry young man but led with his vision of a country he would later lead at its helm as a determined, confident and self-assured former teacher and broadcast journalist turned a visionary politician of his own generation and past his generation.
All of us that saw him on his feet in those early years revered and respected him. He was fearless in a House stacked with official members who represented senior posts in the Australian colonial administration. But as we would do in our cultures he respected and gave way to others so that he would also listen to responses.
Somare had a solid backing and foundation of like-minded men with him and around him. He was masterful in brokering Pangu’s successful coalition with PPP under Julius Chan at the time. Despite the political rift it was always heartening to see the two remained close friends in and out of politics.
It was Sir Michael Somare as Prime Minister that approved a new Parliament House at Waigani. Importantly and most significantly it was his decision and commitment that gave PNG a new House that symbolised our fledgeling democracy at the highest level of politics and governance. And too that the House embodied many cultural symbols and values representing the diversity of the country. Sir Michael was determined that every toea spent in building the House had to come wholly from the country’s national budget.
Writing this now from memory, this was a long journey but one I would say has paid dividends when I chose at high school’s end in 1968 a career in Parliament ruffled in no small part by a combination of curiosity and desire to see an angry young man and his political and his angry ‘antics’ which made their mark in the House. The colonial administration couldn’t help but take a lot of notice of Somare soon after he entered politics in 1967.
My refrain to my tribute is this. Little did I know that in November 1984, Sir Michael as Prime Minister, through his Departmental head late Andrew Yauieb, at recess during a meeting sent word that if I was ready the Cabinet would formalise its decision for my appointment as Clerk. I nodded I was. I was appointed Clerk of the Parliament on 8 November 1984 and served while Sir Michael served twice more as Prime Minister until I left in November 1993.
Thank you for the opportunity to know you and serve you. I thank you for knowing your service to the country and the legacy you have left will take much more than umpteen chapters of one or two books and more than a handful of people to write and tell.
The modern political history of PNG is so much also about the political journey and history of one Grand Chief Sir Michael Somare. Like a candle you grew from a flicker to a national light that made everyone realise arguing for independence was not evil or risky but inevitable.
My heartfelt condolences to Lady Veronica and the family and relatives in their period of bereavement.
Rest, Rest in Peace.
PHOTO: As Secretary-General of Inter-Parliamentary Union PNG Branch, I asked the Chief and Sir Noel Levi to represent PNG Parliament and the country at the IPU in Buenos Aires, Argentina in 1986. I made the choice to give the Chief time off after he lost the prime ministership in the House.
It was a well-deserved break from the high office in another role on the parliamentary world stage where he delivered a speech on PNG’s parliamentary status in the region and the world. It gave me an opportunity to chat and mingle with the Chief outside the workplace, and Sir Noel Levi and Sir Barry Holloway who were close to the Chief.
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