As PANGU Pati members, led by Prime Minister, James Marape, gathered in Lae to celebrate the 52nd Anniversary of the party, they added an important touch of history to the event.
Soon after the PM inspected a guard of honor by the PNG Defence Force, he stood by the plane and waited for three important guests to exit. It took a few minutes before Sir Pita Lus, founding member of Pangu was helped down the stairs.
Then, the crowd cheered as the PNG’s first Prime Minister, Grand Chief Sir Michael Somare stepped onto the Tarmac.
He was followed by former Pangu Prime Minister, Sir Rabbie Namaliu.
Sir Peter Lus, a party strongman was a founding member of pre-independence Pangu and a firebrand MP who represented Maprik district for three decades after political independence. He is one of the Grand Chief’s closest friends and political ally.
Sir Rabbie Namaliu, also remains an important figure in Pangu Party history. The former academic was recruited into politics by Sir Michael Somare, and became the second Pangu Prime Minister.
Much of the attention, however was on the two elderly statesmen. As they ambled along a long line of officials and MPs moved a lot slower than they used to. But at one point in their lives, they were synonymous with PNG politics, political independence, and Pangu Party.
This was of course, the Prime Minister’s official visit, but he allowed the two giants of PNG politics to walk ahead of him. For Sir Michael, retirement has meant he is officially out of Party politics but it is impossible to separate Pangu from Somare.
In an interview with EMTV, Sir Michael said he was invited to accompany the Prime Minister, but was not told that part of the official visit involved commemorating Pangu’s anniversary.
“It was good celebrations. It was beautiful and to see big crowd like this, it was something you know. Something that is new, that people in Morobe decided to celebrate the fifty second anniversary of Pangu. Pangu Pati was born here at Kingfisher Street in Lae.”
Lae City and Morobe remains an important part of the Pangu-Somare Story. Morobe is where Sir Michael went to school. Morobe is where Pangu was founded.