Arise, Sir Philip Kapa


AFTER he was bestowed his knighthood at Government House two weeks ago, Sir Philip Kapal thought back of the one man who once mentored and trained him to become a radio broadcaster/journalist and politician – the late Grand Chief Sir Michael Somare.
“He taught me to take ownership of politics and economic activities in our country, (that) we must be our own boss in our own land.”
Sir Philip, 73, is from Waraka village in the North Waghi district of Jiwaka. He was honoured by the Queen for services to the community through leadership in Western Highlands and Jiwaka, in education and agriculture.
Sir Philip has four children who live and work in PNG and Australia.
“My first wife died and I remarried. I’m now back in my village doing business and community work.”

“ So in my own way, I was following Sir Michael’s footstep. He was a broadcaster/radio journalist, politician and later knighted by the Queen. So am I.”
Sir Philip Kapal (2nd from left) with the Governor- General Grand Chief Sir Bob Dadae and Lady Emeline Tufi Dadae surrounded by his family during the investiture ceremony last Wednesday at Government House in Port Moresby. – Nationalpic by JOLE HAMARI

He began Grade One at the Fatima Primary School and completed Grade Six in 1963. He then received an Australian scholarship to attend the Lae High School (now Lae International High School) from 1964 to 1967.
He received a Grade 10 New South Wales higher education certificate and was supposed to continue to Grade 12.
“But I left in 1967 to get a job because my father was getting old. I worked for the Steamships supermarket in Lae for three months before I heard on the radio that they needed radio announcers. I applied and was successful.”
The Department of Information and External Services brought him to Port Moresby for training where he first met the late Sir Michael.
“He was my supervisor who taught me to be a broadcaster and radio journalist. He taught me how to write news for broadcasting over six months in our office at Konedobu.”
The young Philip was posted to Mt Hagen in 1968 and was involved in the localisation of the Australian Broadcasting Corporation to become the National Broadcasting Corporation.
“It was to prepare locals to take over from expatriates.”
He was posted to Lae in 1972 to be the Morobe provincial radio manager, then to Wewak as the East Sepik provincial radio manger in 1973. He returned to Mt Hagen in 1975.
Sir Philip remembered what Sir Michael had told him that “we must run our own business in our own land”. It prompted him to resign from NBC in 1977 to venture into the business world.
“I resigned to help my people acquire the 200 hectare Amilpe coffee plantation at Banz in Jiwaka. We got a loan from the PNG Banking Corporation (now Bank South Pacific) for K2.2 million and bought off the plantation from the expatriate owner. We paid off the loan in 1980.”
Following Sir Michael’s footsteps, he also tried his hand in politics. He contested and won the 1983 provincial government elections for the Banz constituency and became the Opposition Leader in the Western Highlands Provincial Assembly.
In 1984, there was a vote of no confidence against the then Premier Kagul Koroka. Philip took over as the WHP Premier until 1990.
“So in my own way, I was following Sir Michael’s footstep. He was a broadcaster/radio journalist, politician and later knighted by the Queen. So am I.
“I am happy for this award. I did a lot of hard work for the government since 1968. During my term as the Premier, we built the Kapal Haus in Mt Hagen as the provincial headquarters.”
North Waghi District Development Authority chief executive officer John Kumie had recommended that he be accorded the highest award – a knighthood.
My people are saying that my knighthood award is long overdue. But I am not keen on getting awards. I am a silent achiever and don’t like any recognition for my work. But the people urged me to get the knighthood.”
Like his mentor before him, Sir Philip deserves nothing less.