HE was there at the beginning. The patrol officer who joined the Bully Beef Club that discussed Papua New Guinea’s impending independence and which founded the Pangu Pati.
Onetime kiap, politician and now long-term resident of China, Tony Voutas, returned to Wewak last week for the 80th birthday of elder statesman and grand chief Michael Somare.
Eighty is an impressive age for any man but a special achievement in PNG where the average male lifespan is 60 years.
At the time he threw in his lot with PNG’s founding fathers, Voutas was a young kiap who had recently completed a degree in Indonesian studies at the Australian National University.
He became a member of the first House of Assembly, then a key adviser to Somare and took over the Pangu Pati leadership from Bill Bloomfield MP in 1966.
Voutas was a high profile figure in PNG until around the time of independence when he moved to Beijing, where he established his company, Asia Pacific Access, which consults to multinational companies doing business in China.
He told PNG Loop that his company’s services include relocation, cross-cultural training, human resource management, business establishment and remote site investigation.
In a brief comment on current PNG politics, Voutas said he believes Pangu will re-emerge as political force under the current leadership of Sam Basil.