BY FRANKLIN KOLMA ( Post Courier )
Pre-independence artifacts destroyed in 2013 by the previous speaker of Parliament Theo Zurenuoc, will now be replaced says the new speaker.
Speaker Job Pomat said on Wednesday when starting the restoration of the iconic carvings that the effort was long overdue which his predecessor was ordered on May 30, 2013 by Justice David Cannings to restore them within six months.
“This of course has not happened and that is why after finding out last week, parliament will now ensure the carvings are restored,” said the Speaker.
Mr Pomat said he would abide by the court order which dictates that parliament is responsible for the repair or replacement of the adornments.
The speaker’s office confirmed yesterday that most of the artifacts seized during the 2013 removal operation were irreversibly damaged and that the hard task now would be to ensure that replacement carvings or the repair of the former entities, are reinstated in such a way that is reflective of the ornaments’ former glory.
Back in 2013, former speaker Mr Zurenuoc shocked the nation when he ordered the carvings pulled down and destroyed as part of his campaign to restore, reform and modernise parliament.
During Mr Zurenuoc’s controversial purge, he said that the carvings had an occult link to the bad state of affairs of the country and that their removal was pivotal to positive change. The totem pole that stood in the main chamber of parliament and a 19 carved face lintel above the main door into parliament were removed pending destruction.
Objections from the public saw Prime Minister Peter O’Neill intervene to halt the destructive process, but not before the masks were destroyed and totem cut up into small blocks rendering them unusable.
As it is, Mr Pomat has hinted that it will be a substantially costly endeavor to either repair or replace the artifacts but that it is an exercise that parliament will carry out with haste.
It was reported yesterday that Parliament Counsel Richard Whitchurch said that the restoration project will not be easy because many of the master carvers who made the pieces have died.
Mr Whitchurch said that the search is now on for master carvers potentially from East Sepik or Milne Bay to take up the crucial task of restoring the culturally symbolic carvings.
Mr Pomat while assuring the public of his prominent stand to restore the artifacts, did not mention just how much of the taxpayers money would go into the parliamentary exercise adding that this was a question that parliament would consider and reveal at a later date.
On another note, the speaker said he is still examining Mr Zurenuoc’s plan to install what he called a “Pillar of Unity” in the Grand Hall which would arch over the chamber with the words ‘Word of God’ inscribed at its pinnacle.