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PNG Parliament Speaker Criticized For Destroying Carvings

Wednesday 18 December 2013, by siawi3

PNG Parliament Speaker Criticized For Destroying Carvings
Former speaker Bonga: Zurenuoc’s actions outrage ministers

Source: MELBOURNE, Australia (Radio Australia, Dec. 17, 2013) –

The first speaker of Papua New Guinea’s Parliament, Thomas Bonga, expects current Speaker Theo Zurenuoc will be replaced next year, after Zurenuoc ordered the removal and partial destruction of several wooden carvingsand the tops of some totem poles outside PNG’s Parliament, claiming he acted to cleanse the building of alleged evil spiritual influences. Bonga, however, says Zurenuoc’s actions have outraged most ministers. On Friday, a group of 8 MPs demanded the Speaker stand down immediately or be sacked, and Bonga expects Zurenuoc’s removal will be the first item on Parliament’s agenda when it resumes in the new year. Zurenuoc felt the carvings conflicted with PNG’s purported place as a Christian nation, and religious leader Rev. Joseph Walters has supported the Speaker’s actions. Walters says the carvings were pagan, and the faces looked more like “Egyptian gods” or “Mongoloids.” Instead, Bonga says the carvings do resemble various cultural groups in PNG and says the nation’s constitution allows for religious freedom, which Zurenuoc should respect. [PIR editor’s note: Meanwhile, the Post-Courier reports that PNG’s Trade Union Congress urged Zurenuoc be arrested for destroying public property. PNGTUC General secretary John Paska also said Community Development Minister Loujaya Kouza, who admitted to an Israel-based group advising her to push to remove the carvings, should be stripped of her portfolio.]