WITH the death of Sir Angmai Bilas, the former Constitutional Planning Committee has only four surviving members.
The proposal to establish the Constitutional Planning Committee was approved by the House of Assembly on the motion of the Chief Minister in June 1972.
The committee had representatives of all parties and groups in the House of Assembly and the various parts of the country.
The committee was set the objective of recommending “a constitution for full internal self-government in a united Papua New Guinea with a view to eventual independence”.
The Terms of Reference included a number of “matters to be considered … for possible incorporation into constitution or related documents”, they also empowered the committee to “make new investigation or recommendation it deems relevant” to its task.
Finally, the committee was to consider, and recommend on, “the mechanism for implementing the Constitution”.
Following the nomination of Government and, subsequently, Opposition party representatives, the Chief Minister announced to the House of Assembly, in September 1972 the names of committee members, and also the permanent staff and the consultants who were to be responsible solely to the Committee.
The committee members were Michael Somare, John Momis, Tei Abal, Paulus Arek, Angmai Bilas, Mackenzie Daugi, Sinake Giregire, John Guise, Toni Ila, John Kaputin, Pikah Kasau, John Kaupa, Paul Langro, Anton Parao, Stanis Toliman and Matiabe Yuwi.
The four surviving members are Sir Michael Somare, Dr John Momis, Sir John Kaputin and Toni Ila.
Consultation and thoughtfulness more than 41 years ago means that PNG is now one of the oldest unbroken constitutional democracies in the world while all former colonies who are put together by a constitution have lasted as a county at an average of 17 years.
PNG has outlived all of them to 41 years, we are the envy of the world, as we have proven that 800 different groups can be one country for 41 years..
The document is very relevant to today as it was 41 years ago, because of these men we enjoy today.
The Constitution has proven that it has the ability to with stand all tests and hold this country together in the past 41 years and no doubt it will hold the country for the next 41 years.
These men had very little education as most of them were village leaders or educated up to Grade 10 level with the exception of Momis who had a degree.
Although these men were ordinary, they decided how our way of life should be.
They need to be honoured, it is time to have a section in the museum to honour them or the Government must create a hall of fame.