AN INTERNET PETITION ASKING prime minister Peter O’Neill to intervene to stop Speaker Theo Zurenuoc (pictured) from destroying significant parts of Papua New Guinea’s national cultural heritage is gathering support globally as news of the removal of traditional carvings from parliament reaches friends of PNG worldwide.
PNG is being perceived internationally in a very poor light as Mr Zurenuoc pursues his ill-conceived campaign aimed at removing ‘evil’ from the national parliament through the destruction of heritage carvings, an action which the Speaker is inanely representing as a positive transformation.
“We must invoke God to intervene in our nation building project,” Zurenuoc told the Tertiary Student Christian Fellowship Graduates Network. “Parliament through its House Committee has decided we must make a statement to denounce the contradictory confession [of traditional beliefs and cultures].”
First to go were traditionally carved lintels (pictured) above the entrance to parliament’s public gallery which were removed and chopped into pieces, an action which the National Museum and Art Gallery director Dr Andrew Moutu said amounted to "sacrilege" and could be illegal under PNG laws.
But the Speaker seems manically determined to push ahead with his crusade, and as a result the petition has been launched calling for prime ministerial intervention.
PNG Attitude readers are encouraged to sign the petition by following this link.
The petition reads:
Prime Minister of Papua New Guinea: Stop the speaker of the Parliament from destroying PNG's national cultural heritage.
The speaker of the PNG Parliament, an extreme Christian Fundamentalist, has started a "crusade" against "heathen" art which is part of the interior of the House of Parliament in Port Moresby.
Already an irreplaceable wooden carved lintel has been removed, chopped up and burned. The Speaker is determined to continue this crusade until all traces of traditional carving and culture are removed from parliament, destroyed and burned. Yet this "heathen" art is part of PNG's national cultural heritage and is respected throughout the world for its artistic quality.
Before WW2, the Nazis burned any books or art they considered "degenerate", now 80 years later it is happening in PNG, a country justly proud of its cultural heritage.
Mr Zurenuoc has no authority to seize and destroy these artworks, which are part of the structure of the Parliament building and the cultural heritage of every PNG citizen, the majority of whom would not share the Speaker's views.
We the undersigned call upon the Prime Minister of PNG, the Hon Peter O'Neill to act immediately to:
1. Prevent the further destruction of national art treasures in Parliament or any other public space by the Speaker and his followers.
2. Request the Attorney General to investigate the legality of Mr Zurenuoc's actions, which appear to be in contravention of the PNG Cultural Property Preservation Act, and lay criminal charges against Mr Zurenuoc if applicable.