By ALPHONSE BARIASI
FORMER Speaker of Parliament and Minister Timothy Bonga died from kidney failure at the Port Moresby General Hospital last Friday.
Bonga, who was first elected into Parliament in 1982, was the last speaker of the old Parliament in downtown Port Moresby and opened the current Parliament House in Waigani as its first speaker with Britain’s Prince Charles in 1984.
Educated at Bumayong High School in Lae, Bonga joined the police force in 1976 but served only three years before quitting and moving back to Lae.
While he was serving at the Lae Court House as an interpreter, he was scouted by Pangu Pati and endorsed for the Nawaeb seat which he won in 1982.
At 29, he became the youngest speaker in the Commonwealth.
During his three terms in Parliament, he served as Minister for Home Affairs, Youth, Religion and Sports, chairman of the Parliamentary Public Accounts Committee and Forest Minister, apart from being Speaker.
Away from politics, he served as lordmayor of Lae city, chairman of PNG Harbours Board (now PNG Ports Corporation Ltd) and Eda Ranu.
It was during his term as sports minister when Papua New Guinea successfully hosted and won the 1991 South Pacific Games in Port Moresby and Lae.
Close friends Naya Apsai and Robert Bangari told The National yesterday at Bonga’s residence in Port Moresby that besides being a politician and corporate executive, Bonga was an avid musician.
His love for music started during at Bumayong in 1973 where he started a band named Tarazan’s Factory, which later became Guria Band.
Politics did not dampen his love for music because when was in parliament, he still found time to perform gigs in Lae and Port Moresby.
He also fought hard for copyrights for PNG musicians and their work.
Bonga contested the Nawaeb seat again this year but lost.
He died at the age of 61 and is survived by six children.
His funeral will be held at the Rev Sione Kami Memorial Hospital today.
Tomorrow his body will be flown to Lae where relatives at his father’s village, Yalu, will receive him and later hand him to the mother’s people at Gobadik village in Nawaeb district where he will be laid to rest.
National Alliance Party leader Patrick Pruaitch and party founder Sir Michael Somare will accompany the body to Lae.
By ALPHONSE BARIASI