Weekly Commentaries

This is Sunday Chronicle's weekly commentaries on various issues of interest affecting the country. All individual commentators are done by elite Papua New Guineans from diverse educational backgrounds.

Friday, January 15, 2010

Beijing farewell's H.E. Ambassador John Momis


WITHIN three years, H. E. Ambassador John Momis and his beloved wife, Madam Elizabeth Momis have touched the minds and hearts of those who have crossed their paths in China.

This is reflected in the various categories of people from different walks of life who turned up for Ambassador Momis' farewell dinner Sat Jan 9. It was a casual event hosted by the Ambassador and his wife to farewell Ambassadors' close friends and colleagues.  The dinner was hosted at the Ambassador's residence at the Taiyuan Diplomatic Compound in Beijing.

On January 9, 2010, members of the diplomatic community, friends, fellow Christian believers and students gathered at the Ambassador's residence for H.E. Ambassador Momis' farewell dinner. Those present were from all over the world and the Pacific islands countries, Malaysians, Australians, Europeans and Chinese. It was truly an international gathering and almost everyone present was moved by the whole event.

The members of the diplomatic community in Beijing present at the farewell dinner included: Fijian Embassy's Counselor and his wife, Micronesian Ambassador and his wife, Tongan Ambassador, representative from the Malaysian Embassy and the staff members from the Papua New Guinea Embassy.

Long time friend and colleague Tony Voutas was also present at the dinner. Tony Voutas was a member of the House of Assembly in PNG before independence. He is also the co-founder of the Pangu Pati and a member of the PNG Constitutional Planning Committee which H. E. Ambassador Momis was the de facto chairman, who was responsible for compiling the PNG Constitution. Tony Voutas and his wife are currently residing in Beijing.

Paul Ginnivan, who is a university lecturer in Beijing and a professional editor was also present. Mr Ginnivan who only met Ambassador Momis at the South Cathedral here in Beijing expressed deep gratitude for Ambassador Momis. Mr Ginnvan had become one of Ambassador's close Christian friends here in Beijing.
The trade attaché at the Malaysian Embassy here in Beijing also attended the meeting with his wife and their two daughters. They were joined by another Malaysian friend and business woman here in Beijing.

Ambassador's friend from the Chinese community who was present at the meeting is a Chinese doctor Mr Ma and his wife.  Mr. Ma had visited PNG and Bougainville in early 2009. Through the influences of Ambassador Momis, Mr. Ma has developed a great passion for PNG. Another person was a prominent Chinese businessman Mr. Jason Fong. Mr. Fong has investments in Port Moresby, Papua New Guinea and has shown great appreciation for PNG.

The Wilkins family was also present at the meeting. Dian from Oro Province in Papua New Guinea who is married to Mr Wilkins from England were present with their two sons.

Representing the Papua New Guinea students in China was Angelo Wak and Albert Tobby (writer). Both expressed deep gratitude to the Ambassador and his wife Elizabeth Momis for their tireless commitment towards helping the students in China.

The fellowship started with a Eucharist at 6:30 pm.  Fr. Ezekias from India was the celebrant of the Eucharist. Fr. Ezekias was here in Beijing to study Chinese language, in the hope of doing pastoral work here in China. He met Ambassador John Momis and Madam Elizabeth Momis at the Nantang (South Cathedral) where they all attend church every Sunday. Within the short period of fellowship together, Fr. Ezekias had become one of close the friends of Ambassador Momis.

Reading from the Gospel of Luke, Fr. Ezekias reiterated the process of God becoming man and identifying with humanity through, birth, baptism and the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ.

Fr Ezekias also stressed that the Christian community here in Beijing will be praying for H. E. Ambassador Momis. Fr. Ezekias said as Ambassador Momis was preparing for a much tougher challenge and greater responsibilities as the President of Autonomous Region of Bougainville, his fellow believers and Christian friends throughout the world, will be remembering him in their prayers for God's grace and strength upon him. Fr. Ezekias with the Christians and everyone present prayed and wishes Ambassador Momis success in the coming Presidential Election in March this year.

After the Eucharist dinner was served. The fellowship was such a memorable one where everyone exchanged views about their impression of Ambassador John Momis and Madam Elizabeth Momis. The atmosphere in the meeting room was so compelling that attracted everyone and none of them wanted to leave. Even the small kids have such energy that they stayed up until 2 o clock in the morning.

From all those different categories' of people present at the meeting, it really depicts that Ambassador John Momis has a very wide network and his influences have impacted people from all works of life. His outstanding leadership quality and personality has inspired people from all nationalities, religion, and races.

News about his departure has also flowed through the corridors of the Great Hall of the People at Tiananmen in Beijing.  Several high profile Chinese Government officials have hosted urgent meetings with Ambassador Momis in the last two weeks to farewell him.

On December 30th 2009, Chinese Foreign Affairs Minister Yang Jiechi, just before leaving Beijing for his African tour, had a farewell meeting with Ambassador Momis. Minister Yang Jiechi has expressed great satisfaction for the work done by Ambassador Momis in promoting the bilateral relations between China and PNG. Mr. Yang said that the SINO-PNG relations has grown stronger and deeper over the years and congratulated Ambassador Momis for his great contributions. Minister Yang extended a personal invitation to
Ambassador Momis and his family to visit China again anytime in the future.

Vice Minister Yi Xiaozhun of the Ministry of Commerce, has also called an urgent meeting with Ambassador John Momis in that same week. Vice Minister Yi Xiaozhun expressed the same sentiments as the Foreign Affairs Minister.  Both leaders gestures portrayed the Chinese Government confidence and trust in Ambassador Momis' leadership.

Other senior Government Officials of the People's Republic of China that met and farewelled Ambassador Momis include Director General of North America and Oceania Affairs, Mr Zheng Zeguang. Mr Zeguangs' Department is responsible for all China's bilateral relations with countries in the North America and Oceania region. It is also responsible for translation and interpretation of important diplomatic functions, documents and instruments in relevant language. Mr. Zeguang wishes Ambassador John L. Momis all the success in his election campaign for the President of the Autonomous Region of Bougainville.

Director of Agriculture Department also met with Ambassador Momis to farewell him. All these took place within the past two weeks and such overwhelming gestures from senior Chinese Government officials is a significant indication of the Chinese Government confidences and trust in Ambassador Momis' leadership. He has gained insurmountable respect from the business community, diplomatic community and government circles in Beijing.

Ambassador Momis has set an unprecedented benchmark in our bilateral relations with China, which is clearly shown by the recognition and appreciation the Chinese Government has given to him.  His departure is also a great loss to the Pacific Community here in Beijing. He is widely respected among the Pacific Island Community here in Beijing, majority of whom are young and as such would turn to him from time to time for advice and directions. His departure will leave a vacuum in the Pacific Island diplomatic circles in Beijing.
Ambassador Momis and his wife Madam Elizabeth Momis left Beijing on Wednesday 13th January, 2010. Ambassador resigned from his diplomatic post as the Head of Mission of the Papua New Guinea Embassy in Beijing, China to contest the 2010 Autonomous Bougainville Election. 

The common message that was repeated by many of his diplomatic colleagues, friends and Chinese government officials is that, "China will lose when Ambassador John Momis leaves Beijing but Bougainville will gain." Such wide international support and recognition he has received over the past years will be of great asset to the people of Bougainville and Papua New Guinea.

As Tony Voutas recalled, Ambassador John Lawrence Momis, the de factor chairman of the Constitutional Planning Committee of Papua New Guinea, who produced not just a great legal document but also a great moral document, a Constitution which is currently being implemented in many different ways today. His return to the political sphere will bring deep insights and directions as to how the country is to run. Specifically to the Autonomous Region of Bougainville, who is at the threshold of constitutional formulation and decision-making, Ambassador Momis brings with him the complete package of governance the Bougainville people need at the moment

Papua New Guineans in China, including the Pacific Island community in Beijing wish Ambassador John Lawrence Momis all the success in the 2010 Autonomous Bougainville Presidential Election.

Note: This article was contributed by Albert Kaupa Tobby, a PNG student in Beijing. For comments, contact Mathew Yakai on m_yakai@hotmail.com or SMS 71489901. You can also contact Mathew for information on Chinese Government Scholarship to study in China.

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