I was sad to hear about the death of the Founding Prime Minister of Papua New Guinea, Grand Chief Sir Michael Somare.
It is also very humbling to recall that he called me ‘Siti’ while the late Ratu Sir Penaia called me ‘Buka’, and the late Ratu Sir Kamisese Mara was more formal and called me ‘Colonel’, ‘Commander’ then ‘Prime Minister.
I requested the PNG High Commissioner in Suva yesterday to convey my message to Port Moresby; Your Excellency.
Please convey to His Excellency the Governor General, The Honourable The Prime Minister, Her Majesty’s Government of Papua New Guinea, The Honourable Leader of the Opposition and all Members of Parliament, the Chiefs and the people of Papua New Guinea, my sincere condolences on the passing of the former and Founding Prime Minister of Papua New Guinea, Sir Michael Somare.
Sir Michael was one of the most prominent figures in the struggle of the newly Independent States of the Pacific Region, for recognition by the International Community, in the wake of the withdrawal of the Colonial Powers following the end of World War 2 and the subsequent waves of Independence Conferences and struggles in the Pacific, Far East, Caribbean and African former colonies.
He was a fervent advocate for Independence for Papua New Guinea and became its first Prime Minister at Independence in 1975.
He had multiple Terms as Prime Minister and was a strong advocate for Pacific Regionalism, being instrumental in the formation and the early years of the Pacific Islands Forum and the subregional organisation, the Melanesian Spearhead Group.
Sir Michael along with other prominent Pacific Islands Leaders also contributed greatly in the formation and discussions with African, Caribbean and Pacific Leaders to form a Marketing Bloc to negotiate favourable Trading Conditions and Prices for commodities traded in the competitive Markets of the West like the EEC (later EU).
He was a great friend of Fiji, and forged that friendship with Fiji’s own Founding Prime Minister, the late Ratu Sir Kamisese Mara, who sent a strong Fiji Government Team to help with the preparations and celebrations of PNG Independence in 1975.
Vale, great son of the Pacific and Grand Chief of the loving people of Papua New Guinea.