TRIBUTE TO late SAM BASIL. He reached the top yet remained humble to be reachable by his largely rural people. From my apolitical distance, I watched him plied his craft in politics from a single MP to resurrecting a dead party in Pangu, to reconstituting a destabilised group in ULP within days, and was on his way to be a force in this election when tragedy struck him.
TRIBUTE TO late SAM BASIL, MY BROTHER.
By Sam Koim | Sunday Bulletin.
We met on the battlefield, not against each other, but against an invisible enemy that still threatens the wellbeing of our nation today. I was a rookie State Lawyer and he was a firebrand opposition Member of Parliament. We shared a common passion to combat the invisible enemy – corruption.
When the Government changed in August 2011, he was appointed the coveted economic Ministry of National Planning. That department was fraught with controversy and his first assignment was to do some cleaning up. This Kumul Blong Morobe, together with the then Attorney General, called me up to draft a NEC Submission to establish a team to investigate the allegations of corruption at his department.
Inexperienced and armed with limited precedence, yet driven by a desire to combat corruption, I designed a multi-agency team structure that would draw resources and powers from multiple State agencies to establish a dragnet in sweeping corruption at all its multiple facets. I delivered the draft submission the next day and advised the two ministers to find a retired judge or an experienced person to lead the team. He insisted I take it up because I designed the investigation structure. I declined but he asked me to think it over a few days and revert to him.
After two days, he called me up and asked if I had made up my mind. I was into my third year of working then and wasn’t confident of taking up such an onerous responsibility.
I told him I wasn’t confident of chairing the team but could assist as a team member. However, this first termer MP who had spent four years in opposition then, saw something in me that I didn’t at that time.
To force me to take up the role, he threatened to resign from his ministry. He told me “brother, I came to National Planning because we were going to clean it up and if you cannot help me do it, then maski mi go back bencher.” That was really hard to bargain so I reluctantly took it up and the rest is history.
I had it in me, but it took this National Leader with the seeing eyes to see it. He identified a raw talent in me and launched me forth. We have no blood, tribal, political, or business connection. I am not one of his voters or political supporters –something that unfortunately takes precedence in some cases.
Since then, I’ve always strived to live up to the trust he had on me by performing well wherever I am deployed. In turn, he respects my apolitical distance and professional judgement.
I am forever grateful to this giant PNGean.
Our bond is a shared desire to make a difference in this country. Investigation Taskforce Sweep was a testament of this common bond of purpose.
He reached the top yet remained humble to be reachable by his largely rural people. From my apolitical distance, I watched him plied his craft in politics from a single MP to resurrecting a dead party in Pangu, to reconstituting a destabilised group in ULP within days, and was on his way to be a force in this election when tragedy struck him.
He had more to give to this country. It is indeed a great loss to this country.
I have been privileged and proud to call him ‘brother’. There were times when he talked and I listened. There were times when I spoke and he listened. There were times when we both got along. He gave me every reason to call him my brother. I will surely miss him.
Rest Easy, Brother!
Rest Easy, Deputy Prime Minister!