A petition is now in circulation throughout Palau endorsing the former two-term President of Palau Kuniwo Nakamura to run in 2008 election for the top job of the land. People from Meyuns and Ngermid in Koror, Kayangel, Ngarchelong, Ngchesar, and Peleliu reported that they either saw or signed the petition. Airai Chief Ngiraked and Attorney Johnson Toribiong is the only one who has publicly announced his intention to run for presidency in 2008 while supporters of Vice President Camsek Chin, Senators Surangel Whipps, and Alan Seid openly advocate their candidacies but none is collecting signatures yet. (Tia Belau, Oct. 27 - Nov. 3, 2006)
The [HOD JGA] committee reported that...the current organization of the Attorney Generals Office and the Office of the Special Prosecutor do not work as they were originally intended. In the report the committee found it necessay to merge the Office of the Special Prosecutor into a newly structured and independent Attorney General's Office. Because the President directly appoints the position of AG, the Ag has an inherent conflict of interest when asked to investigate any matter or person within the executive branch. This has rendered the AG useless in some matters. Due to this conflict, the AG's office will not investigate the executive branch, which results in the matters being directed to the Special Prosecutor. However, the SP is also appointed by the President, which has resulted in all matters concerning the executive branch to go unchecked, the report said. The report further stated that this conflict can damage the the reputation of both the AG and the OSP Offices, and the national government of Palau...the committee for the restructuring...by making the AG's Office to be an independent office headed by an Attorney General that is freely elected by the people of Palau. (Palau Horizon, October 27 - 30, 2006)
Tia Belau is reporting that its sources has disclosed that the investigation to the Seid/Diaz incident is complete and the case has been submitted to the Attorney General's Office.
President Remengesau issued an executive order No. 06-009 which directs all appropriate management officials of the Executive Branch to schedule their employees in both Koror and Melkeok to work from 8 am - 5 pm Mon- Fri.
With offices moving to the new capitol and relocating around Koror. The Bureau of Agriculture last week moved their main office to Nekken, Aimeliik near the Demonstration Center except for Quarantine Office will continue to be at Malakal.
Betty Ingereklii (Clerk), Alfonso Seklii (Sargeant-at-Arms), Warren Umetaro (Asst. Clerk), Marcello Ngirkelau (Asst. Clerk), Krispin Termeteet (Asst. Clerk), and Sasao Skiwo (Asst. Clerk) are set to submit themselves next week for drug testing. The drug tests would be for marijuana and methamphetamines. Random drug testing of other employees of the HOD would continue at the discretion of the Speaker and the Leadership of the House..."Although many are veteran employees in good standing, we feel that in the spirit of transparency and with the milestone relocation to our new capitol, this is only appropriate," [HOD Speaker] Mesebeluu said...Mesebeluu told the HOD members that any drug use by national government employees severely undermines the credibility and efficiency of the government...But the resolution applies only to non-elected HOD employees...Any employees that tests positive of illegal drugs for two consecutive tests shall be terminated...In his cover letter it said that delegates would be exempted from the HOD resolutions due to further consideration pending of a bill in the Senate which would require mandatory drug testing for elected officials. However, upon learning Aimeliik Delegate Kalistus Ngirturong welcomed the drug test saying that the HOD members should also undergo drug tests. "I'm willing to be the first to be tested," Ngirturong said. (Palau Horizon, October 27 - 30, 2006)
In an on air tirade this week [last Wednesday], Sen. Diaz accused some of his colleaques in the Senate for instigating the filing and reporting of the incident. Diaz referred to Senator Yukiwo Dengokl and Senator Santy Asanuma as somehow being behind manipulating the story to become public. Sen. Dengokl stated that he's having a lot more important things to do than listen to him, adding that it's not new to him if Diaz attacked him verbally on air because he is used to it already. For his part Senator Santy Asanuma said, "as always it is very typical of Diaz with a loose mouth to have a tendency of accusing everyone." He said Diaz doesn't take responsibility of what he does instead he "blames other people for his own actions." Asanuma cited as example when Diaz challenged his constituents to recall him and when some did he turned around and blamed the members of the minority bloc in the Senate as the ones behind the moves to recall him. (Tia Belau, Oct. 20 – 27, 2006)
Late evening on September 22 at Drop-Off Bar, Diaz and Senator Alan Seid reportedly attacked Olkeriil Ngiralmau, a PPUC employee after he allegedly asks them why they discussed senate business in a restaurant. Even though a complaint has been filed by Olkeriil who was punched, got a black eye, and treated at the hospital, Police refused to disclose information about the incident and there was an obvious attempt to keep the incident from the media. (Tia Belau, Oct. 20 – 27, 2006)
Diaz's unchecked power??
There is now a real and serious concern that due to Diaz influence in the media, power in the Senate, and close relations with the President [Remengesau] and the Police Director [Hazime Telei], nothing will come of this incident like the spitting of the face of Ann Klass. (Tia Belau, Oct. 20 – 27, 2006)
Bureau of Agriculture Director Fred Sengebau said their office is negotiating with New Zealand on the possible import of mangoes from Davao City, Phillipines. Sengebau said that New Zealand and Phillipines have a Bilateral Quarantine Agrrement (BQA) for fresh mango and papaya that require vapor heat treatment for fruit flies..."We are negotiating with the New Zealand if we can ride on their back on this matter and use their bilateral quarantine agreement," Sengebau. He said that the products from Davao City that are allowed fo enter Palau shall come from Dole Company only because they have the capability to treat the products based on the New Zealand standards. (Island Times, Oct. 19 - 25, 2006)
All nine board members of the Ngardmau Free Trade Zone will travel with their staff for an educational tour at the FTZ at Subic BAy in the Phillipines next month. John K. Rechucher, chairman of the Ngardmau FTZ said the educational tour is aimed at allowing the Ngardmau FTZ board members to see the facilities in the area. They wanted to "learn the make up and functions of hte free trade activities that are connecct with the free trade zone and their related programs and projects," Rechucher said. The nine board members that will travel with their staff would like to learn the social and environmental impact of the free trade zone and to learn its impact on economic growth locally in the Phillipines. Joining the trip are Ngardmau FTZ Vice Chairman Patrick U. Tellei, Secretary Treasurer Priscilla Subris, Beouch Sakaziro Demk, Ngirkebai Aichi Kumangai, Governor Akiko Sugiyama, Governor Laurentino Ulechong, Hokkons Baules, and Tiare Holm. (Island Times, Oct. 19 - 25, 2006)
The House of Delegates passed on third and final reading on Tuesday the bill creating a recycling program for Palau. Senate Bill No. 7-94-SD1, PD1, which was introduced by President Remengesau, is to establish a beverage container deposit fee and to create a recycling fund.
A revolving fund within the national treasury to be maintained by MOF and all revenue recieved from deposit fees or the sale of beverage containers, any grants, donations and contributions would be deposited into the recylcing fund. A beverage distributor shall pay a deposit beverage container fee on each deposit beverage container manufactured or imported to Palau. The deposit fee is $0.10 per beverage container. However, using the monies in the Recycling Fund, the Minister shall purchase beverage containers for $0.50 per container but beverage containers may only be purchased through redemption centers and the Minister shall sell beverage containers for recycling at market prices. (Palau Horizon, Oct. 20 - 23, 2006)
The Ngaimis and the State Legislature of Ngatpang, passed on October 12, a resolution reconfirming the appointment of Ngiltii Idesemang as Chief Rekemesik...the resolution stated that in order to dispel any doubt about the holder of the title Rekemesik of Ngatpang State and to bring harmony to Ngaimis and the people, the Ngatpang Legislature reaffirmed its full acceptance of Ngiltii Idesemang as Chief Rekemesik. (Palau Horizon, Oct. 20 - 23, 2006)
The need to have skilled Palauans outside of Palau return home, have now reached an all time high. The need for skilled workers, experienced people with management skills is reaching desperate levels. For the last four or more years, search for local people to fill managerial positions in companies or agencies have been very difficult. This is not to say that there is none in Palau now, but those in Palauare so few and already taken by companies or government agencies offering better benefits and/or opportunities. The need is not only for employment positions but also for entrepreneurs to come home and help create jobs.
Looking for experienced and skilled people for managerial positions, to sit on important boards, to head specific development programs, has not been easy. Of course, Palauans with such skills outside of Palau certainly commands better pay and benefits that Palau cannot beat but I hope that some of them could consider coming home for the sake of the country and not just the benefits. Of course, “there’s no place like home,” and we may not promise $80k a year with insurance and vacations, but we can offer an opportunity to a part of a nation building, security of family and clan behind you, sense of belonging to a place and people, and most of all, an opportunity to make a difference in a nation.
We still have a lot of work in front of us, one of which is to address our human resource development and utilization. We have students with incomplete college diplomas and no skills. Even tough, the Ministry of Education is beginning to initiate students to the workplace mindset and environment but this is still far from meeting our needs today. Proper compensation and benefits are still not in place, made even more so by the availability of highly educated, skilled and low-cost contract workers.
At the entry level jobs, our people are also competing with experienced and educated contract workers for minimum wage. Few companies offer training to upgrade skills to where they need to be but most cannot afford such training and opt for already skilled and cheap labor in form of contract workers. A vacuum between the few highly skilled local workers and unskilled entry level workers, is increasing. More than ever, collaboration between training institutions, policy makers, employers is a must and part of that policy is to find ways to bring back the skilled local laborers that we have already out.
Following the move to Ngerulmud, Senator Alan Seid introduced a bill for an act to amend the basic workweek for national government business hours. Seid believes that the current operational hours for the national government employees are no longer suitable to accomodate public needs. While majority of the employees at the capitol still live in Koror area, Sen. Seid said "they need time to commute and therefore, it is appropriate to modify the hours of operation for the national government." Seid proposed that the new work schedule will be from 8:00am - 5:00pm including one hour lunch break and ieght working hours a day. (Island Times, Oct. 19-25, 2006)
Del. Joel Toribiong alleged that the Bureau of Public Safety have been 'selective' in the implementation of rules and laws in Palau. "They should start rebuilding their credibility as officers of law and not be selective in enforcement," Toribiong said. He cited an instance when he was stopped by a police officer because his car was sporting a heavy tint. Toribiong said while he was apprehended, the police officers are "not doing" anything about the case of Sens. Seid and Diaz. The delegate suspect that the BPS Director Hazime Telei is playing a deaf ear on the case because he is close to Diaz.
But in an interview with Vice President/Minister of Justice Camsek Chin, the Vice President expressed that the BPS is not selective in the process of implementation of the law. Chin disclosed that they are pursuing the case of Diaz and Seid, adding they already have taken statements from the vital witnesses to the incident. "There is now a complaint but we have to complete the investigation before the case is forwarded to the Attorney General's Office," Chin said. (Island Times, Oct. 19-25, 2006)
Melekeok Governor Lazarus Kodep said that there is no turning back as he confirmed that two famous restaurants in Koror are planning to put-up branches near the New Capitol Building. Kodep initially mentioned Longshoreman and Emaimelei Restaurants as the early businesses that are knocking at the door. "We welcome all investors to open their business in Melekeok. Some of our plans include the housing lease program," Kodep said. He said that other viable business to be put up in the area is a resort. A big foreign company from China, the Shimao Group, is currently negotiating with the government on its plans to put up several businesses like resort, hotel, restaurant and even a golf course near the area. Cottages for rent, which are owned by PCC President Patrick Tellei, have been there for quite some time while a mini-grocery is located a few meters away from the capitol. In addition an internet cafe has recently opened near the house of HOD Speaker Augustine Mesebeluu. (Palau Horizon, Oct. 13 - 20)
Health Minister Victor Yano said that an office with a samll staff has moved to the new capitol while most of the ministry's remains in Koror. Yano said that most directors and staff will work in the old adminsitration office at Belau National Hospital while only three which includes him will take office at Melekeok. He said since the hospital is still in Koror, the administration office will remain there.
The MOF has announced the movement of some of its offices to the new capitol. Starting November 1, the following offices under MOF will be relocated to the new Executive Building in Ngerulmud, Melekeok. Bureau of Public Service System, Bureau of Budget and Planning, Division of Finance and Accounting, Division of Property and Supply, Information System Support Services, and the Office of the Misnister of Finance. The offices will be relocated to the third floor of the new Executive Building.
For the convenience, of their customers, the following office will remain in Koror at their current locations until further notice: Division of REvenue and Taxation; Division of Customs; National Treasury Collection Section; Water Billing and Collectioin.
President Remengesau said that the ADB has made available $600k to be used to hire experts to help in the review of the gas and oil exploration proposal. The $600k has requires a matching fund of $200k from Palau. However, the matching fund will come from Taiwan and Japan which agreed to help on this matter. The review will be focused on environmental issues that may arise out of the proposal. He said the review process will ensure that Palau would approach resource exploration in a cautious, very prudent and responsible manner. "There is a right way to do it and wrong way to do it. What we need to do, in order to do it the right way is not to rush in an exploration, ensuring that it is fully studied and researched," Remengesau said. (Palau Horizon, Oct. 13 - 20)
Government employees holding office at the new capitol are pushing for a public transportation that would carry them from Koror to Ngerulmud, Melekeok...the high cost of gas and meager salary most are recieving, compel them to seek public transport rather than drive their car back and forth everyday. In addition, to accodmodate the longer commuting distance, the work schedule of government employees at the Capitol is adjusted to a later time of 8:30am and ends at 5:30pm to give employees enough time to travel from Koror.
Meanwhile, PNCC has announced that a new telephone prefix has been designated exclusively to the new National Capitol. The prefix is "767" which stands for "ROP", Republic of Palau. "Since so many government phone numbers are being transferred from Koror to Melekeok, it's more efficient and easier for customers if we simply change the prefix and leave the final four digits the same," said PNCC GM Todd Houseman.
is the blaring headline of today's issue of Tia Belau (Oct. 13 - 20, 2006).
Two Senators were reported to have punched a man at Drop-Off Bar at Malakal late Friday night of September 22 after they were allegedly berated in fron of their guests for not performing well in the Senate. After the man filed the complaint and information about the incident surfaced, the Police refused to even give his name and the time and date of the incident and whether a complaint had been filed, saying it involved politics of the Senate and is still under investigation.
There has been a news blackout in the local newspapers and radio stations of the incident in a clear attempt to cover up the incident from public and it took a weeek t finally locate the man, witness, and obtained information about the incident. A source who is on the side of senators but requested anonymity nevertheless, said Sens. Seid and Diaz were entertaining some visitors at the Drop-Off Bar when Olkeriil Ngiralmau who was reportedly drunk at the bar, approached their table and supposedly shouted at the two senators for doing nothing in the Senate but working for their own personal interests. Seid reportedly got embarrassed, stood and punched olkeriil in the face while Diaz was holding him from behind and was scolding him and also hitting the lower part of his stomach...When asked for comments both senators declined opting to maintain their silence.
Olkeriil maintained that he was not drunk and was sitting at the bar with a friend when Seid came in and sat at the other end of the bar...After a while Diaz came to Seid and they were talking about senate matters."They were very disturbing so I what I said to them was why you two senators discussed senate matters in a restaurant." Olkeriil said and walked outside to the parking lot. At which time Seid and Diaz approached him and started beating him up...He finally freed himself ran across the street to Shimbros where a security guard told him to hide. While hiding he heard SEid and Diaz asking the guard for him. The guard to them he was not there and told them to leave.
Olkeriil is 42 years old and married with two children. Resides in Aimeliik and is employed by PPUC at Ngchemiangel power plant. Olkeriil said he suffere pain on his face and a black eye as well as his back but did not report the incident until his eyes got blurred a few days later. He ahd to go to hospital for treatment on Thursday last week and it was treated.
Former President Nakamura expressed optimism that Palau will be able to retain most of its benefits from the United States after the agreement. "I can assure you that Palau will do what it can to retain the major benefits we are getting from the COFA with the U.S when it ends in September 2009...The expiration of the compact agreement does not mean the end of grants and funding for Palau because new funding will come in for the Compact 2 agreement," Nakamura said. He added that there will be new and better federal programs although there are items or projects that are in the Compact 1 but will not be in Compact 2. "We will keep all the benefits that we have been enjoying," he added.
Nakamura, who chairs the Compact Review Commission (CRC) said the CRC has no mandate to negotiate with the US government but the commission will be reviewing the strengths and weaknesses of the Compact 1. "The CRC will also look into what benefits we are getting from the Compact 1 and make recommendations for prepare a "shopping list" for hte negotiating team to present to the US government. "I believe we have a good chance of convincing the United States government that we can bring Palau to a new status to become more economically independent through a new Compact 2 agreement," Nakamura said.
Daewo project manager Min Sok Kim is upbeat that the 53-mile Compact Road will be completed by the first quarter of next year depending on the weather. This week Daewoo engineers and workers have started painting and putting road markings on the road starting with the vicinity of the Capitol in Melkeok. "We will partially handover the project to the Palau government segment by segment." Kim told Horizon. (Palau Horizon, Oct. 10-12, 2006)
The OEK will open the 8th regular session today at the new Legislative Building inside the Capitol Complex in Melkeok State. Both houses of Congress will open their legislative sessions in their new offices at the legislative building. The senate, for its part, will hold its traditional opening ceremony with special guests composed of national and statre government officials. Guests also include cabinet members and also residence of Melkeok State. (Palau Horizon, Oct. 10-12, 2006)
President Remengesau said he finds it a sad day for Palau when it becomes necessary to attached the annual budget bill becomes a rider to the breast-feeding bill. The continuing budget authority for Fiscal Year 2007 was a "rider" or an attachment to the breast-feeding bill, which Remengesau said must be repealed or entirely revamped in order to meet the principles set forth in the Constitution..."Were the breast-feeding bill to stand alone, I would not sign this bill. Unfortunately you have placed me in a situation where the urgency of passing the budget authority requires that I also pass this bill, despite a minimal analysis of its many suspect provisions," Remengesau noted in his letter to the Congress. Remengesau reiterated that he signed the breast-feeding bill, where the budget is a rider, to ensure that the government of the people of Palau can continue to function. (Island Times, Oct. 05 - 11)
Sixty four counts of criminal charges ranging from human trafficking, exploiting trafficked person, advancing prostitution, money laundering, violation of FIA Act, Tax and labor regulations have been filed against Tilde Eriich, owner of Carnival Restaurant and Karaoke and her business associates Teng Feng and Bai Yue Wang, and a Filipino waitress Katherine Manio, and a Filipino recruiter Lolita Pamentuan.
In a 12-page affidavit of probable cause, the women confessed that they were tricked into coming to Palau. Worse, they were force to engage in prostitution and were fined or physically threatened if they did not have sex with customers. Carnival according to affidavit continues to operate as a house of prostitution. Accordingly, Rebecca Estonillo Mabalot narrated that she tried to refuse many times top have sex with customers, sometimes using the excuse that she's having menstruation but the manager would check Mabalot physically to see if she is wearing female napkins. Mabalot stated that during four months she has been working her salary has been deducted approximately $150 for refusing to have sex with customers. She was also fined $50 for eating in her barracks, even though Carnival only provided her one meal a day. Other allegations as narrated by other chinese and Filipino complain include that they were forced to have sex with customers at the third floor of Carnival or in other establishments owned by Eriich such as Eli's Gift Shop, among others. Officer Margarette Martin said Eriich currently own nine other businesses which include Chiao Tai Scrap Company, CT Auto Shop, CT Shop, Eli's Gift Shop, High Speed Automotive, METS night club, P Waste Collection, and TL Dress Shop. Earlier, Eriich's husband Milan Isaac was charged with six counts of criminal charges for allegedly mauling two of the former waitresses of Carnival.