The Right Honourable Sir Rabbie Namaliu, who passed away suddenly on Friday would have been 76 today.
His passing leaves a huge void in my life. I worked for him from 1988 when he became Prime Minister until he retired from public life after losing his Kokopo electorate in 2007.
Even when he moved to the private sector I wrote his speeches etc.
I always say you can best be judged by what your toughest opponent says about you in life, not death.
In his long parliamentary career he did battle with Paias Wingti. In 1982 Paias was chosen as Deputy PM to Sir Michael Somare. In 1987 he defeated Paias to become PM.
After the 1992 elections Paias defeated him by ONE vote.
When he lost Kokopo after some bitter backstabbing Paias went on Radio East New Britain and called the people "fools" for defeating a very good member and leader!
He had been Speaker of the Parliament for five years. In 2002 on the return of Sir Michael Somare as Prime Minister he was appointed Foreign Minister.
His term as PM was a difficult one. Within months of his appointment the BCL Mine closed after a landowner rebellion. Tragically the death toll was high. As the body of each soldier or police officer was returned to Port Moresby he went to the airport to receive the body, and mourn with the family.
History records that the issues leading to the rebellion predated his Prime Ministership and were simmering when he became PM.
The mine closure took away about one-third of the PNG economy.
He used his credibility and skill to negotiate a rescue package with the World Bank. But the capacity to spend on infrastructure and improved services was adversely impacted.
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