Post-Laumaea: Susuve Laumaea, pictured right, at a function in 2014. His death attracted dozens of messages of condolence from colleagues in PNG and around the region.
“My heart is broken”
– former PFF Chair Titi Gabi
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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
PFF Friday, 29 December, 2016
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Island media communities are mourning a loss from the Pacific press – longtime Papua New Guinea journalist Susuve Laumaea.
“My heart is broken,” says former Pacific Freedom Forum Chair Titi Gabi, who succeeded Laumaea as head of PFF in 2011.
Laumaea was, she says, one of “the only senior journalists in PNG to care enough to give our efforts time and advice and leadership.”
Gabi joined dozens of Papua New Guinea media and communications colleagues, friends and family in an outpouring of grief.
She praised him as founding chair of the Papua New Guinea Media Workers Association, providing leadership until his death.
First messages of sympathy appeared on his personal profile around 5am, Port Moresby time.
Current PFF Chair Monica Miller says Laumaea will be remembered for a lion-hearted voice not just in Port Moresby, but capitals around the Pacific.
“He was equally fearless telling off the oil industry – which he worked for – as he was his own profession of journalism – which he also worked for,” says Miller, recalling his impact from her home base in Pagopago.
Laumaea was a founding member of the Pacific Freedom Forum.
“The late Susuve Laumaea and the late Oseah Philemon each made great contributions to the communication of essential information to our people.”
In one of his last emails, posted online by Gorethy Kenneth, Philemon praised Laumaea as a “A great writer, thinker, friend, citizen – no word or words can best describe his character.”
Laumaea also worked as PR for an oil company, and once stood as a political candidate for Gulf Bay, laughing off challenges by fellow journalists about conflicts of interest.
Susuve Laumaea may have ‘crossed to the dark side’ of public relations but a journalist he was, and a journalist he remained.
Even when he worked for 'their' side, behind the scenes, Susuve Laumaea was always also working, if not fighting, for media freedom.
He translated journalism voices into governance contexts that newcomers to power ignored at their peril.
In one of his most comprehensive speeches to remain online, Laumaea in 2010 laid out his vision for media freedom in the Pacific:
“Freedom of Information and the right to know is a universal right of every man, woman and child on God Almighty’s Planet Earth.”
Even as a PR person Laumaea was robust in his criticism of attacks against the media.
“When powerful economic and political forces turn against the media for what is written, said or viewed, they forget that they create the news and the media merely reports what’s said and done by the same economic and political players.”
On his Academia profile as an independent researcher, Laumaea listed his interests as
anti-corruption, human rights and corruption, and anti-money laundering.
In the words of another colleague, Franzalbert Joku, posting on his profile, “Till we meet in the next edition…”
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The Pacific Freedom Forum is a regional and global online network of Pacific media colleagues, with the specific intent of raising awareness and advocacy of the right of Pacific people to enjoy freedom of expression and be served by a free and independent media. We believe in the critical and basic link between these freedoms, and the vision of democratic and participatory governance pledged by our leaders in their endorsement of the Pacific Plan and other commitments to good governance. In support of the above, our key focus is monitoring threats to media freedom and bringing issues of concern to the attention of the wider regional and international community.
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