By MIRIAM ZARRIGA
TUCKED away in a suitcase is a letter written by Grand Chief Sir Michael Somare to a 12-year-old boy in 2009 who at the time was fighting to survive.
It begins with: “Mr Glen Hoi”.
The Prime Minister had heard of Glen’s plight, he was diagnosed with acute leukemia.
Gau Hoi, Glen’s father, in an interview with The National told how the letter gave strength to his family to fight with Glen.
“In 2009, October 16 to be exact, my wife and I were told the terrible news that our son had been diagnosed with acute leukemia,” Gau Hoi said.
“It was a news I was not expecting, we were told we could fight the cancer, but we could get help from Singapore, so we began raising funds as Glen continued to fight his own battle.
“Finally we raised enough funds and in November we were on the flight to Singapore.”
“It is a seven-hour flight to Singapore, so while we were in the plane, I met an officer who worked with Sir Michael,” Hoi said.
“He asked us what we would be doing in Singapore, I explained our situation, and he walked over and met Glen, and spoke to the doctor from the Port Moresby General Hospital who explained Glen’s diagnosis.”
Apparently, the officer was on his way to meet Sir Michael, who was in Singapore for a meeting, so we chatted for a while and he left us, returning to his seat,” Gau Hoi added.
“When we got to Singapore, an ambulance met us and the conversation on the flight was forgotten as Glen was rushed to the hospital,”
On November 16, exactly a month since Glen’s diagnosis, Glen was heavily sedated, when the officer along with two other officers arrived at the hospital. He told me he had a letter.
“I am here on behalf of the Prime Minister who has tasked us to present you with this letter,” Hoi remembered.
“The prime minister wants to visit but we are leaving tonight so he is unable to stop by, however this is a letter for you all,” he said.
“They then left, thinking the letter was for me. I tore open the envelope – it was addressed to Glen.
“As I read the contents, it showed the compassion and love a father would have for his child, it was a short letter but for my wife and I, it showed how, even as a busy man, Sir Michael thought of Glen,” Gau Hoi said.
“The doctor had told us that even as Glen was sedated, he could hear us and that we should continue to talk to him.
“So I told him, Glen I have a letter from Prime Minister Michael Somare and I will read it to you, as I began reading the letter, I laid my index finger on his open palm and began reading the letter.
“Glen squeezed my finger and I knew he was listening, I finished the letter and folded it, putting it away,” Hoi said.
A month after the letter arrived, Glen passed away, but for the Hoi family it was the letter that gave them strength. Gau Hoi said that the letter is read when he or his wife Anna feels sad.
“The letter reminds us of the strength of our son and the love of Sir Michael to write that letter.
“Indeed he was the ‘Father of the Nation’.”
Haus krai at stadium fitting end for two knights
By HELEN TARAWA
THE special relationship between Grand Chief Sir Michael Somare and the late Sir John Guise, the first governor-general of PNG, was important and it is only fitting that the national haus krai is being hosted at the stadium named after him, says former chief secretary Robert Igara.
Igara, who paid a tribute on behalf of the Milne Bay leaders and people, said their relationship extended to how Sir Michael regarded the elders of Milne Bay.
“We the people of Milne Bay are mourning with you, we recognise that you miss him and we will also miss him for as long as we live,” Igara told the Somare family as he fought back tears.
“As we grieve we remind ourselves of the covenant that our fathers and mothers had made in May 1975 in a constituted assembly.
“That covenant is the constitution on the first day of PNG which became alive at midnight on September 16, 1975.
“The moment our nation was born we became free and we were knowns as Papua New Guineans.
“We were no longer natives and slaves in our own land.”
Igara said after the covenant, Milne Bay John Guise became the first governor-general, exercising all the privileges, powers, functions, duties and responsibilities of the head of state of PNG.
“Our father Sir John resigned and contested and won the elections as member for Alotau in 1977,” he said.
“The relationship between Sir Michael from the mid-1960s to self-government in 1973 whereby both Grand Chief and Sir John presented a minority report.”
Igara said Sir Michael was not afraid to speak the truth.
Bouraga remembers Sir Michael as father to family, nation
FORMER police commissioner Philp Bouraga remembers Grand Chief Sir Michael Somare as a father of a family, father of this nation, politician, a statesman and a humble man.
Bouraga recalls the time Sir Michael was responsible for the appointments and he was district commissioner at Sirinumu.
“My association with Sir Michel goes back to 1960s,” Bouraga recalled.
“I was head of department of chief minister until 1975, September 16, when the department was renamed Department of Prime Minister and National Executive Council (NEC).
“He became more like a big brother to me. He was a very honourable man.
“When I heard about his death it broke my heart,” he said.
Bouraga, now 82, was grateful that the Central government had chosen him and other statesmen, including chief Paul Aisa and Reggie Guise, to travel with Sir Michael’s body to Wewak.
“I join Central in paying homage to Lady Veronica and the people of the nation on the passing of Sir Michael,” he said.
Bouraga recalled how his eldest daughter was born and Sir Michael and Lady Veronica visited them.
“On the birth of my eldest daughter, Sir Michael and Lady Veronica visited us at our home and found out that my wife had given birth to a baby girl so she was named after Lady Veronica,” Bouraga said.
“I want to thank Sir Michael and Lady Veronica for this friendship.”
Baki recalls Sir Michael signing declaration of Independence
AS a 19-year-old cadet fresh out of the Bomana Police College 45 years ago, former police commissioner Gari Baki recalls the signing of the declaration of Independence by Grand Chief Sir Michael Thomas Somare.
Speaking to the people of New Ireland, East New Britain and West New Britain on Thursday at the national haus krai, Baki recalled the day of the flag-raising.
“I, like other cadets, provided security at the Sir Hubert Murray Stadium. It was packed, about 20,000 people stood in awe.
“Men, women and children all crowded to witness the lowering of the flag,” Baki said.
“It was a Tuesday, Sept 16, 1975, I was only 19 year old and assigned for duties at the Sir Hubert Murray Stadium.
“The entire stadium was packed, we watched in silence as the Australian flag was lowered and the PNG flag was raised.
“I didn’t pay much attention to the crowd when I noticed this man, small in stature but with his trademark signature which was his beard. He radiated an air of confidence and sitting down, he signed the declaration of Independence.
“To me, he was a warrior, fighter, visionary, traditional leader and to many the founding PM and ‘Father of the Nation’.
“To me he was a father, who knew us. Even after years he would call me by name and the recognition was there.”
Reiterating what Aitape-Lumi MP Patrick Pruaitch said, I would like to say yes, I was recruited by the then Somare Government to be the new police commissioner.
“I am thankful for the opportunity given to serve the people of PNG as a police commissioner,” he said.