Tribute to much-loved Sam Basil

PAPUA NEW Guinea veteran journalist Scott Waide says Sam Basil was a rarity, a politician loved by the people.
Tribute to much-loved Sam Basil Tribute to much-loved Sam Basil Tribute to much-loved Sam Basil Tribute to much-loved Sam Basil Tribute to much-loved Sam Basil

Sam Basil

Staff Reporter

Basil, 52, who was the Deputy Prime Minister, died in a head on car collision on a country road in Bulolo district in Morobe Province on May 11.
 
PNG Police Commissioner David Manning has confirmed the driver of the vehicle which allegedly caused the accident, was known to the police, and had been on the run, Radio New Zealand Pacific reported.
 
He confirmed a protection officer for Basil had also died.
 
Waide said PNG is a country where the delivery of social services often fails and Basil was one of the people who was willing to step in and try and improve things.
 
He said this endeared him to the people in his Bulolo constituency.
 
"Politicians are disliked the world over but you know, on the human side, Sam was pretty much loved by his people. They liked his work, they liked the fact that he engaged with people. And he's also a very high achiever and a very hard worker. So his work ethic is pretty solid," he said.
 
There had been some tension at two locations in Lae, outside of the Basil family residence and at a local funeral home where his body was taken on May 12.
 
Waide said Basil was a man of the people, who had traversed the length and breadth of Morobe Province helping many people from all walks of life.
 
The journalist said this had made it very difficult for local authorities to officially declare a haus krai for him.
 
"It's tension I guess in the sense that you can really put a haus krai down and say this is where we are going to meet to give our tributes for Basil because there will be another group saying we also have a claim to this person - he's ours as well, so we have to balance all that out," Waide said.
 
Waide said one of the hallmarks of Basil was the lengths he went to to reach constituents.
 
He said Basil was well liked by his constituents, partly due to his willingness to meet with everyone regardless of the physical barriers.
 
He said Basil was noted for having walked over the entire constituency.
 
"He makes it a point to travel to all of locations where there is zero road access and no air strips. So he's kind of a standout leader, standout young leader who's built up that reputation of the last 15 years."
 
A PNG political scientist from the University of PNG, Michael Kabuni, said Basil was aiming to become prime minister in the upcoming election.
 
He had formed a new party United Labour and had brought over several sitting MPs.
 
Kabuni, who is currently completing his doctorate at the Australian National University, said Basil was very important to PNG.
 
While he had been in parliament for 15 years, the youthful Basil was linked to those MPs who brought a new style to the current house, such as Gary Juffa and Brian Kramer.
 
Kabuni said he had played a key role in PNG politics over his three terms.
 
"He was looking forward to nominating himself when the writs opened, so it's a big loss for Papua New Guinea for someone of his experience and also he has been a dominant leader in PNG politics as well," he said.
 
Prime Minister James Marape said the country was shocked and saddened at the death.
 
He said the death was a big loss to Basil's family, the people of Bulolo, Morobe, the United Labour Party and Papua New Guinea.
 
Marape called him a strong member of the present generation of leaders in government who had their country in their hearts.
 
He said there would be a state funeral befitting of Basil's status.
 
Meanwhile, the issuing of the elections writs due on Thursday did not go ahead, and is now set to happen on May 19.
 
It is the second delay, with the first caused by the creation of seven new parliamentary seats in the last session of the outgoing parliament.
 
"Unfortunately, Mr Basil suffered extensive injuries, and as to the extent of that, a post-mortem will be able to ascertain how and what caused his demise."
 
Sergeant Maino was confirmed dead an hour before the announcement of the passing of Basil, Manning said.
 
"It is unfortunate [that Basil] succumbed to the injuries and he was confirmed clinically dead at 11:30pm," he added.
 
Three roadblocks at Gabensis were removed by police who appealed for calm.
 
Morobe provincial police commander superintendent Jacob Singura said police officers from Lae had been deployed to monitor the situation in Bulolo and along the highway.
 
Singura also said that police had removed roadblocks and barricades set up by angry locals along the highway.
 
"A roadblock at Markham Bridge was also removed yesterday by police and I am now calling on everyone to refrain from such activities since the incident is before the police and investigation is still ongoing," he said.
 
This report first appeared in the Post-Courier newspaper, written by reporter Miriam Zarriga.

 

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