Produced by :chi too
Directed by :chi too
Produced :Nov 07, 2006
Production Company :Kaleidoscope Pictures
[ Source: http://www.engagemedia.org/Members/chitoo/videos/paradise120.avi/view ].
Sons to fill big shoes
“Like father like son” and in politics, the world is full of them. George W Bush, Ghandi of India, Bhutto in Pakistan, Papa Doc and Baby Doc Duvalier in the Caribbean and Lee Kwan Yew of Singapore who handed the leadership of the island state to his son.
Once over lunch at the Gateway Kim Beazley told me that when his father retired from politics he stood for the same seat and has been there ever since.
Our current Parliament has its share when you consider the four young men who followed their dads into the National Parliament.
Some of us have been privileged to have known over the years, Sir Michael Somare, Sir Tei Abal, Sir Julius Chan and Oscar Tammur.
Sir Michael Somare, the teacher who later joined the Department of Information and Extension Services in East Sepik, has been in politics for the past four decades.
His friend Sir Julius Chan founded the People’s Progress Party and believed that progress and development cannot take place unless there is stability in the administration and for Papua New Guinea to have a strong economy to back it up.
Sir Tei Abal came to prominence on the passing of the leader of the United Party Mathias Toliman and believed that Pangu Party led by Michael Somare was in a bit of a hurry for independence for Papua New Guinea.
Oscar Tammur, the outspoken land rights advocate from the Kokopo area, took issues of land rights and the wellbeing of the Tolai people in business and politics to the bitter end when a younger, more liberal Rabbie Namaliu endorsed by Somare’s Pangu Party ousted him at the polls.
That bitterness has lived with Tammur’s son Patrick and in the latest elections he ousted the man who replaced his dad.
Tammur is now in a government headed by the very person who put up a candidate against his dad.
And then there is Arthur Somare, the ambitious, articulate younger Somare, sometimes fiery but quite an orator when it comes to the debates in the House. All four young men grew up in homes where politics was very much part of their lives and it was discussed in their presence in their lounge rooms.
At very early ages they all knew the bitterness involved in losing out, who to call friend and who to entertain.
For Byron Chan, his second hurdle to replace his dad has been achieved by becoming the Member for Namatanai and leader of the parliamentary wing of the party his father founded.
Dad is still in active politics as Governor of New Ireland but in Parliament, the younger Chan takes charge of the affairs of the People’s Progress Party and sits at the head of all its membership which includes his own father.
But then in the background Sir Julius will still continue to be the political tactician that he is to steer Byron through the thick and thin of PNG’s political wilderness.
Arthur Somare has come in from an electorate other than that of his father with his sights equally set on eventually replacing the old man.
From how he approaches his own ministry and the influence he exerts on both the party and government decisions, there is little doubt that the son wants to prove his own manhood.
His capability as a cabinet minister is unquestioned but it is a question of a political support base from where he can make a move on the leadership of the party his father founded.
This is easier said than done, given Papua New Guinea’s political track record.
Sir Michael would dearly love to hand over the reins to his son but the party does not belong to the Somares and there are other Sepiks who are just as influential and ambitious waiting to pounce on the leadership on Sir Michael’s departure.
Arthur has to contend with the likes of Patrick Pruaitch, Belden Namah, Gabriel Kapris, Andrew Kumbakor and even Tony Aimo to establish a strong Sepik backing before he can entice others to back him.
It is a dirt road with lot of potholes.
Sir Tei Abal told Parliament, “Mi bai sanap long dispela ileksen long laspela taem”.
He underestimated his Wabag electorate and the fact that Independence had already come and times had changed and the United Party was in tatters.
When he lost the Wabag Open seat, Sir Tei Abal went out of the pages of PNG’s history books.
But today we see his son Sam.
Not as fiery a politician as his dad … maybe because of his training as a career diplomat.
Sam’s political affiliations are a bit confusing.
He discusses politics with Governor Peter Ipatas and is not too close to Don Polye. He holds a senior portfolio in Cabinet but does not really influence the Highlands bloc in the house.
He featured prominently during the recent visit by the Australian Prime Minister ... holding press conferences about the visit and being there in the place of Sir Michael and Dr Puka Temu.
Does he want the job too?
By this time Sam will be monitoring closely the election recount of Paias Wingti.
The bush telegraph has it that in Paias Wingti’s book of numbers, the name Sam Abal has a prominent place together with others including those in Cabinet.
The man of the mountains, Don Polye gently strokes his long beard as he follows events as they unfold and wonders what is in it for him. Out of all these, Patrick Tammur is still trying to work out how to handle his new role as the Member for Kokopo.
When he defeated Namaliu, the entire nation almost demanded that he be one better than Namaliu in national politics.
The nation mourned the loss to politics of Namaliu and looked to the rebirth of a Tammur, but then East New Britain politics has changed since the Mataungan Association heydays.
On Namaliu’s watch, Rabaul moved to Kokopo and the islands have taken big strides in their economic development with the provincial government’s backing.
In his own Communications Ministry, Patrick Tammur has gone quiet while Arthur Somare has taken the communications fight to the boardrooms and the media.
Somare is not finished yet and young Tammur should start carving out his own name rather than holding onto a portfolio which looks like a “thank you gesture” for holding the post-elections meeting of the new government in Kokopo.
Tei Abal’s son Sam is fast approaching a crossroads in his political career unless he can display some of the wisdom of the great leader from Wabag who was his father, Sir Tei Abal.
Issues do change over the years.
Sir Michael Somare’s was political independence for PNG and to be able to govern our own affairs.
Sir Tei Abal opposed it, saying we were not ready. Oscar Tammur wanted the people of his province to be owners of their own land and to take charge of the economy.
Sir Julius Chan’s party was for a stable progressive economic base for PNG. Politics may have changed but the progress towards a better economic future is still being pursued.
This all points to Byron Chan who is still a leader-in-waiting to continue economic independence — a major policy for his party.
We can only wish them well in the choices they have made to follow their own fathers.