Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Somare visits barred

New ministers and reshuffle expected today


VISITS to Prime Minister Grand Chief Sir Michael Somare in a Singapore hospital is being restricted by the Somare family, The National reports.

That was the stance of the Somare family who said that the prime minister’s health was more important and did not wish for the PM to be placed in any stressful situation, the PM’s protocol sources said last night.

Sir Michael is still in intensive care at the Raffles Hospital where he underwent a valve replacement and two open heart operations.

He was said to have overcome a complication he experienced with his lungs.

“He is stable, but he will not be able to receive visitors,” the source said.

The family had asked that no visits be entertained and Lady Veronica was said to be personally in charge of Sir Michael’s health and issues such as who gets to see the Grand Chief.

The family position came to light following reports that sacked duo, Don Polye and William Duma, might have flown to Singapore to visit the ailing prime minister.

The visit had touched off some raw nerves in government with one ministerial aide describing the visit as “distasteful, inconsiderate and childish”.

“Do they realise that their visit, in light of their decommissioning by the acting prime minister, could be stressful to the prime minister?

“The prime minister is a heart patient. The last thing Sir Michael needs now is stress or high blood pressure.

“Even if their visit is well meaning, their visit will still trigger some stress in the prime minister.

“This is distasteful, inconsiderate and childish and the two men owe Sir Michael and his family an apology.”

The source claimed that before his decommissioning, Duma and Petromin managing director Joshua Kalinoe had tried to visit Sir Michael to discuss some oil and gas tenement issues and were refused.

The news last night was that nobody from government had visited the Grand Chief over the Queen’s birthday weekend and no one was likely.

Lady Veronica had been very concerned about Sir Michael’s health for some time.

In a rare moment, she was said to have told Sir Michael in front of government officers a few weeks before he left for his operation in Singapore to quit the job completely in light of the gravity of his medical condition.

An officer of the PM’s office said Lady Veronica was said to have told Sir Michael words to the effect: “Em inap nau, papa. Larim ol yangpela mekim wok (This is as far as we go. Let the younger politicians carry on the work).”

Meanwhile, acting Prime Minister Sam Abal is expected to announced new ministers for foreign affairs, trade and immigration and petroleum and energy today.

Together, with the new names, a reshuffle would also be announced with at least one more minister to be decommissioned. The minister was said to be facing criminal proceedings in court.

Public Enterprises Minister Arthur Somare left his father in Singapore and was last night in Cairns en route to Port Moresby.

Somare will face a leadership tribunal on July 4.

Whether or not he is stood aside as minister will be decided by the tribunal when it meets, Chief Justice Sir Salamo Injia said last week.

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