Arden: A great time of sadness for PNG


Jacinda Ardern

NEW Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern expressed her condolences at the passing of long-serving former prime minister Grand Chief Sir Michael Somare.
“Our thoughts are with Lady Veronica Somare and family, Prime Minister James Marape and the people of Papua New Guinea during this time of great sadness,” Ardern said in a statement.
“Sir Michael Somare was an influential figure in leading Papua New Guinea to independence in 1975 when he became the country’s first prime minister.
“He is widely respected as Papua New Guinea’s ‘Papa blo Kantri’ – Father of the Nation – and had a leadership role as a statesman of the Pacific. He was prime minister of Papua New Guinea from 1975-1980, 1982-1985 and 2002-2011 and served as a politician for a remarkable five decades, from 1968-2017. He will be deeply missed,” Ardern said.
Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison tweeted his condolences on Friday, saying Somare had been the founding father of democratic and independent PNG and had been “a great friend to Australia”.
“My heartfelt condolences to his family, Prime Minister Marape and the people of PNG. Australians stand with you in this time of sadness. May he rest in peace.”
Fiji Prime Minister Frank Bainimarama in a statement on his Facebook page said Fiji had lost a dear friend in Sir Michael.
“He was more than PNG’s founding father, his legacy as an architect of regional unity lives on in the hearts of all Pacific people. I deeply regret that I cannot be in PNG to pay my respects,” Bainimarama said.

A faithful servant of God, church, country
Bishop Rochus Tatamai (left) with Grand Chief Sir Michael Somare at the ground-breaking event to mark the construction of the Catholic Bishops Conference headquarters in Port Moresby in May 2017. – Nationalfilepic

MEMBERS of the Catholic Bishops Conference of PNG and Solomon Islands are saddened by the death of Sir Michael Thomas Somare.
PNG conference president and Madang Archbishop Anton Bal said Sir Michael was a faithful servant of God, the church and his country.
He said on behalf of the conferences, the church and the country: “I extend my heartiest condolences to Lady Veronica and the whole Somare family, and I offer prayers for the eternal repose of the soul of the grand chief and servant of the nation Sir Michael Somare,” Archbishop Anton said.
“He was a faithful Catholic who was brought up in the Catholic faith by the Divine Word Missionaries (SVD) in his province.
“He was a friend of the late Archbishop Leo Arkfeld, SVD.
“He attended regular services whether as a prime minister or an ordinary citizen.
“While in Port Moresby, he always attend the pidgin mass together with Lady Veronica Somare at St Joseph’s Parish, East Boroko.
“He had a very cordial relationship with the Catholic bishops and the Catholic Bishops Conference.”
Archbishop Anton said Sir Michael was a faithful husband and father who reached the height of his political status of prime minister and father of the nation as a faithful husband to his wife. He maintained good family values and was a good father to his children.
“He is indeed the father of the nation and he deserved the title. He was passionate about the people of his country.
“After gaining independence, he continued his efforts to keep the country together and stirred it towards development as the prime minister for four terms.
“His political service spanned 49 years as an assembly member, a parliament member, prime minister, and ESP governor till he stepped down from politics in 2017.”

Justice Mogish praises Sir Michael as a man of vision, a great leader

Lady Veronica and Grand Chief Sir Michael Somare with Don Polye in Wewak, East Sepik in 2016.

THE courts in Lae and around the country are saddened to hear the passing of Sir Michael Somare, says president of the Supreme Court in Lae Justice Panuel Mogish.
Justice Mogish said PNG was where it is today because of the vision of the great leader.
“With support from other notable leaders of that time, Sir Michael presented to the United Nations our desire for independence,” he said.
He said a fraction of a second after midnight on Sept 16, 1975, PNG was born a nation with Sir Michael at the helm as the founding father of this nation of 700 islands and 800-plus languages.
“Unity through diversity was the hallmark of this remarkable man of vision,” Justice Mogish said.
“Now that he was called to rest by his creator, he has fought and won a battle against colonialism. PNG is sad to hear of his passing but at the same time proud of his many achievements.”
Justice Mogish said Sir Michael was a rare breed of politician, a man of vision and a great statesman.
“To Sir Michael, his immediate family and extended family members, we are all in mourning at the passing of your loved one.
“We honour and respect his leadership contribution towards the founding of our great nation. His memory and legacy will forever live in our hearts.
“He challenged that we must all strive to uphold his legacy by committing ourselves to building a better and stronger Papua New Guinea into the future.”
“So long Sir Michael. We thank God for bringing you into our lives. May God give us all the comfort and peace at this time of national mourning.”

“She (Lady Veronica) was a young woman who changed my life so that I could have the credibility at home and professionally.” – Sir Michael