By REBECCA KUKU and BRADLEY MARIORI
A MEMBER of Parliament who was tasked to read the political eulogy of the late Deputy Prime Minister Sam Basil at his State funeral on Tuesday in Port Moresby did not show up due to a promise they had made to each other.
Markham MP Koni Iguan said that shortly after the death of their friend, Goilala MP William Samb, earlier this year, he and Basil had made a pact not to attend each other’s funeral or burial.
“We made a promise to each other that if one dies before the other, the other would not attend the other’s funeral,” he said.
“I brought him here (Port Moresby) in the helicopter and I will bring him back to our home – Morobe – but just like I did not attend his state funeral, I will not attend the burial programme in Morobe too.”
Iguan, whose friendship with Basil spanned 20 years, said that though it pained him, he would keep his promise.
Iguan, who also spoke during the final visit of Basil’s casket to the Morobe provincial assembly (Tutumang) on Wednesday, said the late Bulolo MP had formed the United Labour Party (ULP) to unite Morobe.
“He did awareness, endorsed candidates in Morobe purposely to unite us,” he said.
Iguan urged all Morobe leaders to stand together and unite to make Basil’s dream a reality.
People in Morobe waited in Lae on Wednesday for the arrival of Basil’s casket from Port Moresby.
A motorcade led by police and Defence Force personnel escorted the body which stopped over at Tanam, then at his family residence at 14-Mile before arriving in Lae at around 2:45pm.
There was another stop over at Basil’s town residence at DCA front before a final tour around the city and on to the Tutumang for provincial executive council members to pay their last respects.
Late Basil’s body was then taken to the Sir Ignatius Kilage Stadium where the provincial haus krai was held.
At the haus krai, Yangoru-Saussia MP Richard Maru presented K20,000 towards the funeral.
Maru said Basil was a wonderful and special friend, an outstanding leader and the emotions throughout the country showed how much he touched the lives of the people throughout the length and breadth of Papua New Guinea.
Lae chamber of commerce and industry president John Byrne said residents and the business community were shocked and deeply saddened to learn of the death of Basil a leader and “true mangi Morobe”.
Madang MP Bryan Kramer, who paid tribute to Basil said: “The fact that Sam Basil represented Bulolo for three consecutive terms demonstrates the faith the people of Bulolo and Wau had in him.”
The provincial funeral service was held yesterday at 10am.
The casket bearing Basil was flown by helicopter over to Bulolo before overnighting at Mumeng.
Today, he will be flown to his home in Buang where he will be laid to rest.