By ZACHERY PAR
SIMON Lakeng thought about his late wife Singkeo when he became the Correctional Service Assistant Commissioner Highlands region in a ceremony on Wednesday.
“My late wife was the woman who was at my back all these years. I owe my promotion to her, although she is no longer here.”
She passed away last year. Simon, 45, is now looking after their three children – a daughter and two sons.
“I know she would have been the happiest person if she was with us today.”
Simon, from Lelet village in Namatanai, New Ireland, joined the prison service 23 years ago. His parents Ruth and Lakeng Senior are both from Lalet.
He attended Kimadan Primary School in Central New Ireland from 1983 to1988 before enrolling at the United Church-run Mangga High School. Then he was awarded an AusAID scholarship to do grades 11 and 12 in Darwin, Australia for three years.
He was offered a place at the University of PNG in 1996 but could not afford the fees. He stayed at the village for the whole of that year.
In 1997, he joined the cadet scheme at the Joint Police and Correctional Services cadet officers training center at Bomana.
He was promoted to Inspector and became an instructor at the Bomana Training College from 2000 to 2001.
He was then posted to Buimo jail as a Staff Officer to then Commanding Officer Samson Jaro in 2002 and 2003.
He was promoted to Senior Inspector while serving at Buimo, and later to Superintendent.
In March 2011, Simon was handed the command of Bihute jail in Goroka. He served there until his latest posting.
He thanks Commissioner Steven Pokanis for having confidence in him.
Simon plans to draw up a corporate strategy for the seven prisons in the highlands region to improve the rehabilitation and welfare of prisoners.
“This will be my foremost task. I initiated plans at Bihute jail to improve its rehabilitation programme which has achieved results. It will be the blueprint for other prisons.
“ I know she would have been the happiest person if she was with us today.”
“While at Buimo jail, I initiated the Lae City cleanathon involving prisoners. We cleared rubbish and bushes in Lae city, and cleaned up the old Lae airport. It was a success.”
When he was posted to Bihute, he quickly fixed the water problem there, establishing a good relationship with authorities including Eastern Highlands Governor Peter Numu.
Numu even bought a truck and a generator for the prison.
Simon’s motto, “Together, as a team, we can make a difference”, guides him on to lead and carry out his duties in the prison environment.
“The fundamental role is to provide a conducive environment for inmates to reform their lives.”
He is confident that he will have a successful career in the prison service. He is slowly proving his worth and climbing up the ranks.
The only thing he is missing is the support only his late wife Singkeo could give. He wishes she was by his side on Wednesday to share that big moment together.