Many aspects of the reformist project by the former Speaker of Parliament Theo Zurenouc should not be part of the restoration exercise as ordered by the National.
This includes the proposed unity pole to be introduced in the grand hall of the National Parliament.
The inclusion of the proposed unity pole would be unconstitutional because it represents the views of a sectarian group of evangelical Christians
This was highlighted yesterday by the founding father of the nation Sir Michael Somare when commending the Speaker of Parliament Job Pomat for taking action in compliance with an outstanding National Court order issued last year for the restoration of cultural decorations.
The matter became controversial in 2013 when former Speaker Theo Zurenuoc declared the cultural decorations evil and ordered their removal to cleanse the House from unclean spirits.
It sparked a legal challenge resulting in the court ruling which Parliament failed to comply in restoring the artifacts within six months of the decision.
On realization of the oversight Mr Pomat a week ago ordered actions to comply with the court orders to avoid Parliament being slapped with contempt of court charges.
Sir Michael hailed the actions of the Speaker saying the intention of the Constitution was to maintain the diversity of the nation’s cultural heritage.
He said as such the ruling does not cover retaining the additions including the unity pole.
He said fresh legal proceedings will have to be sought to retain them.
“The Court has ruled that this sectarian interest group of Christian evangelicals cannot impose their views on the freedom of thought, religion and conscience on the rest of Papua New Guinea. They would have to initiate a fresh legal proceeding to introduce the unity pole into the National Parliament,” Sir Michael said.
“The current Speaker has made a good decision to honour and comply with the decision of the National Court. However it must be made clear that the decision of the National Court does not mean aspects of the reformist project initiated by the Speaker will become part of the restoration work.
“When we wrote our Constitution, we consulted our people widely. We opened the preamble to our Constitution by acknowledging the worthy customs of our ancestors the source of identity and intellectual strength.
“When we built the National Parliament in the 1980s, we wanted it to be a monumental statement that captures the diversity of our cultural heritage.
“The design of the building reflected a process of us coming together as a nation of many and diverse cultures. We did this so that our children and their children will know where we came from and from there determine where we are to go.”
The former Director of the National Museum, Dr Andrew Moutu and the Grand Chief , challenged the actions of the Speaker in Court. In May 2016, the National Court ruled in favour of the two plaintiffs citing breaches to the National Cultural Property (Preservation) Act and the freedom of thought, religion and conscience enshrined in the Constitution.
The presiding judge, Justice David Cannings, issued several court orders including the restoration of the cultural decorations within 6 months of the decision. An appeal by the Solicitor General on behalf of the former Speaker was pursued with the Supreme Court. However, the appeal was thrown out of Court for want of prosecution.