The National – Thursday, June 30, 2011
ONE of the founding fathers of the nation and Governor of New Ireland, Sir Julius Chan, paid his tribute to his long-time colleague, Sir Michael Somare.
“I wish to pay tribute to a political colleague, friend, founding father of PNG and a true statesman, Sir Michael Somare. I join with all members of parliament and citizens of PNG to extend regret, sympathy and prayers for Sir Michael and his family on the announcement of his retirement as prime minister and member for East Sepik,” Sir Julius said.
He said Sir Michael and he shared a long and deep relationship in the building of the nation since 1968 when they were first elected into the House of Assembly.
“Today, I speak as one of the few Papua New Guineans elected with Sir Michael in 1968 to the then House of Assembly.
“It was there that we, just the few of us, beganothe transformation of that highest body in our land from a colonial to a national structure.
“There, seated among the otherwise mostly White Australian parliamentarians, Sir Michael and I share a brotherhood.
I will never forget as we took the first steps on that long road to Independence together.
“Over the years we have had, as two strong men will always have, our agreements and our disagreements.
“But at all times we have remained good personal friendship, enjoying the light pleasantries as well as the challenging experiences of politics, beginning in those early days of transition from colonial rule to self-government and finally Independence in 1975, and into the present,” Sir Julius said.
He said with differences in their professions before entering politics, he felt they had complemented each other.
He said Sir Michael, with his ability to spread the message of Independence, and he, with his ability to do the nuts and bolts work of establishing the framework of the nation they both worked so hard to create.
He said they shared a vision of what Papua New Guinea could become, “and that vision was never compromised by trivialities”.
Sir Julius said for nearly 50 years they had worked towards a common goal and for 50 years they had worked together as founding fathers of self-government in 1973.
He said the People’s Progressive Party helped to define the instruments for self-government and they were jolly good partners right up to Independence.
Sir Julius said their early political relations, compounded by the heavy responsibilities on their shoulders, drew them closer together.
He said they put politics aside to engineer a strong and prosperous future in which they worked side by side to lay a strong foundation for the country’s financial institutions.
“As his longest-serving colleague, as a good friend and friendly adversary, as a comrade in arms in all struggles we faced and overcame, I want to say today that he served our country well and he will be remembered in the historical volumes, which will grow older with our Independence anniversaries. May he retire in peace with prayers of a grateful nation,” Sir Julius said.