Prime Minister Tuilaepa Sailele Malielegaoi was awarded the Grand Companion of the Order of Logohu (GCL) conferred with the title of ‘Chief’ in Papua New Guinea yesterday.
The Orders of Papua New Guinea under its Constitution comprises of three Orders with the Order of Logohu as the Principal and Highest Order Grand Companion (GCL).
The investiture ceremony was held at the Government House as part of the country’s 40thIndependence Anniversary programme.
Logohu is clarified as a Motuan word for the Bird of Paradise. Motuans tribe is the indigenous inhabitants of the Capital Port Moresby in Papua.
Papua New Guinea’s Acting Governor General, Hon. Theodore Zurenuoc who executed the awarding of the Orders said the Grand Companion of the Logohu Award is the highest civilian Award that is given to a foreigner.
“It gives me great pleasure to extend the Grand Companion of the Order of Logohu to you in recognition of your significant contribution towards the promotion of the bilateral relations between our two countries, as well as your continued support and contribution towards Pacific Regionalism,” said Hon Zurenuoc.
“The award is also recognition of your long service to the region as one of the longest serving Prime Ministers, which has brought much stability and generated greater confidence from our various important partners and stakeholders around the world.”
Other awards conferred yesterday were the Companion of the Order of the Star of Melanesia (CSM) to the President of the Kiribati, HE Anote Tong and the Premier of Niue, Hon Toke Tufukia Talagi.
The ceremony was attended by heads of Governments and States, members of the Diplomatic Corps, PNG members of Cabinet and members of the Samoan community.
Samoan students studying at the Pacific Adventist (Church) University performed a cultural siva as part of the programme.
In his address, Prime Minister Tuilaepa said he was humbled and honoured with the award bestowed on him.
“I gladly accept (the award) on behalf of our Government and country and for all our people past and present,” said Tuilaepa.
“From the early missionaries to Samoa’s succession of leaders and everyone of our people who have contributed in nurturing the close and strong friendship between Samoa and Papua New Guinea.”
Tuilaepa also touched on the connection between the two countries which dates back many years through the Church with many Samoan missionaries from the early part of the last century travelling across to serve in Papua New Guinea.
“The parents of our former and late Prime Minister, Afioga Tofilau Eti Alesana were missionaries in Papua New Guinea. My own family’s missionaries also came this way and hopefully managed to get their passports to paradise as immense reward for their service.”
Tuilaepa said the relationship between Samoa and Papua New Guinea entered a new phase with the independence of both countries and their membership in the Pacific Islands Forum, other regional agencies and international organisations.
He said the success of the two Governments subsequently steadfastly contributed to strengthening bilateral arrangements.
“I want to acknowledge with appreciation the efforts of Prime Minister Peter O’Neill and his Government in the major contributions being made to raise to new levels the relationship and arrangements enjoyed today between Samoa and Papua New Guinea.
“I am always struck coming to Papua New Guinea of its size and population and the large challenges these pose.
“It is also patently evident that Papua New Guinea’s size and population also represent immense and valuable assets for the country.”
He also congratulated Mr O’Neill and his Government for the great strides being made under his leadership to develop PNG to reach its full and great potential.
“The benefits will not be limited to Papua New Guinea but will extend to our whole Pacific region.”
Kiribati’s Anote Tong in his address thanked the Governor General, the Government and people of PNG for the award.
Niue’s Premier was not able to attend the ceremony.