Remake of old ‘house’ to portray democracy

Main Stories, National

The National, Friday, April 29, 2011

THE torn-down old House of Assembly in downtown Port Moresby is to be rebuilt and dedicated as a museum to the birth of democracy in Papua New Guinea.
Superannuation fund, Nambawan Super Ltd (NSL), is the major shareholder (65%) in a joint venture with the Lamana Group that will construct a replica of the old House of Assembly.
NSL chairman Sir Nagora Bogan said in a statement yesterday that, when completed, the building would be transferred to the National Museum and Art Gallery at no cost to the state.
In return, the joint venture would be given an adjacent subdivision of the House of Assembly land to develop for its own purposes.
The statement sets to rest conflicting messages reported this week that the site might be turned over to private interests to use for their purposes, a view that was supported by the culture and tourism minister and the management of the national museum.
The plan for a private consortium to build a replica of the old House of Assembly was agreed to by the national executive council in January 2007 but internal matters of due diligence that followed to ensure probity by the Nambawan Super took time, Sir Nagora said.
When completed, the replica of the old House of Assembly will have on display old photos, statutes and other memorabilia such as who designed the national flag and who wrote the national anthem.
Former culture, tourism and civil aviation minister Charles Abel, who had quite a bit to do with this idea in his time, said: “We wanted not just to restore the House of Assembly but to have a living, moving theme.
“We wanted an element of self-sufficiency to it.”
Sir Nagora confirmed this in his statement: “We are pleased to be able to play a significant role in restoring a place of our modern history where the birth of our democracy took place.
“This will be a historic place where many of our citizens, our children and visitors can visit, reflect and, hopefully, be inspired.”
He praised the Lamana Group for its part in the project.
“We have had a number of successful joint ventures with the Lamana Group which has delivered positive returns and value to the fund.
“Nambawan Super, as a responsible corporate citizen, is pleased to be part of a final win-win solution to rebuild a significant piece of our nation’s democratic history.”
Many attempts have been made in the past to restore the building but none had materialised.
Considerable funds were raised and assigned to the project to no effect.
The neglect continued and the building became more derelict to the extent that a demolition order was issued in June 2005.
In July 2006, a notice for eviction and demolition was published.
 A press statement in April 2006 created the seeds of an idea which would see the old House of Assembly reborn as a memorial and a museum dedicated to the birth of democracy in PNG.
That statement related to the disappearance of K300,000 raised for the renovation of the old house.
Not a toea was spent on restoration, the report said.
That article highlighted the sad state of the old House of Assembly which had been ravaged by fire.
Many former staff, or their relatives, and new squatters converged on the property and demolition notices were issued by NCDC.
Sir Nagora said the joint venture had spent close to Kl million in land rent payments to the state and in getting the site ready for improvement.
He said the rest of the land would be developed for commercial use.
“Nambawan Super is leading the project and acknowledges that it will be in PNG hands with our members benefiting both in commercial terms and for restoring a major part of our nation’s history,” he said.