Basil: Probe issue of unclaimed bodies

National, Normal

The National, Tuesday June 25th, 2013

 DEPUTY Opposition leader and member for Bulolo Sam Basil is calling on the government to commission an investigation into the inability of Papua New Guineans to bury relatives with dignity and respect.

Basil’s call was prompted by recent media reports of a funeral home’s attempts to cremate abandoned dead bodies in Port Moresby.

Noting mass burials of bodies left in the Port Moresby General Hospital morgue and mass burials of babies spearheaded by Tessi Soi’s group in the recent past, Basil said the latest incident of dead bodies abandoned in a funeral home and being cremated in a backyard pointed to serious multiple issues.

“This is completely unlike Papua New Guineans to act in this un-cultural, inappropriate and irresponsible way to dead relatives,” Basil said. 

“And the way the funeral home took the liberty to dispose of the bodies through a flawed cremation process is another issue.”

He said the Melanesian way of respect for the dead and giving a decent burial was the norm and a practice in PNG society.

He said relatives not claiming bodies was the result of the high cost of living and poor incomes of average Papua New Guineans. 

“This could be a result of rural-urban migration without due consideration for the less obvious and sudden costs that can befall urban living as well. 

“And of course this in turn is due to disparity in public services and utilities between rural areas and urban areas.”

Basil said the O’Neill Government must ensure there was an all out effort to ascertain the root causes of “this indignity on remains of loved ones and come up with relevant policy package initiative to address it”.

“It may be time to consider a policy of government-funded cremation of abandoned bodies using properly funded, constructed, fuelled and staffed facilities,” Basil said.