Thomas was born in the very remote Highlands region of Papua New Guinea. His father wanted him to stay in the village. Tom wanted more. He disobeyed his father and walked to school for 3 or 4 days literally uphill both ways. As a young boy in his hidden village world, he had never heard of engineers, mechanics, lawyers etc. but in high school he learned about all these opportunities.
Thomas became a successful businessman when he took advantage of Brazil's coffee crisis in the 70's and then joined politics where he went on to become the Minister for Housing and then the Minister for Justice and Corrective Services.
Among his most notable accomplishment is a private members bill he passed in Parliament in 1992 which granted 20 meters deep mineral rights to customary landowners, instead of to international corporations. To this day a large part of remote PNG villages rely on this law and the gold they mine by hand to sustain themselves.
Tom shares many of his unique perspectives with me as we talk about his life and some contemporary issues in PNG and America. Tom also highlights (right before he runs out of data) how badly PNG people are in need of clothing and food supplies following the massive earthquake in 2018, a landslide in 2019 and now the Corona virus restrictions restricting transport and movement around the already remote country. If you happen to see this and can help in a meaningful way please feel free to reach out.
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