The National, Wednesday, May 4, 2011
IN true highlands mourning tradition, acting Prime Minister Sam Abal brought late government member Joe Mek Teine to Kundiawa yesterday, touching the hearts of more than 50,000 mourners who poured in from all corners of Chimbu.
Abal and the late Mek Teine, who had historical ties from school days and the days of their late fathers – Joseph Teine and Sir Tei Abal – were colleagues as MPs.
Abal’s actions touched the hearts of many people.
Kundiawa town was packed to capacity as tens of thousands of people flocked in to welcome home the late Mek Teine.
Many people who were in tears, crowded around the airport to have a final glimpse of the man they call “father of Kundiawa town” as his casket was taken out of the chartered Air Niugini Dash 8.
The late Mek Teine’s body was accompanied home by Dei MP Puri Ruing and Gazzelle MP Malakai Tabar, who are members of the Law and Constitutional Reform Commission, senior public servants and immediate family members.
An hour earlier, acting Prime Minister Abal and Labour and Employment Minister Sani Rambi flew in on the government Kumul One.
Abal and government ministers Rambi, Lucas Dawa, Guma Wau and Karimui-Nomane MP Posi Menai, Chimbu Governor John Garia, senior public servants and the people of Chimbu were on the ground when the chartered aeroplane touched down.
Although the body viewing ceremony at Dickson’s oval was very short, the people of Chimbu still turned out in numbers to pay their last respect.
The casket was led by the Baisu-based Correctional Services Pipes from the airport to the field, followed by dignitaries and the people.
Garia broke down mid-way during his speech saying: “We had big plans for Chimbu, now one wing of Chimbu is broken.”
Mek Teine is the third sitting MP in the province to die in office.
The others have been Sir Iambakey Okuk and Fr Louise Ambane.
Garia said: “Mek Teine was a man of peace and a true leader with outstanding qualities.
“It will take a very long time to replace such a leader.”
Abal told highlands leaders to take late Mek Teine as a model and base their leadership on his principles.