'Kser' in a comment from this post is reporting that "The SP is leaving tonight back to Hawaii. However, around 4:00 pm today, he filed a motion in the Palau Supreme Court dismissing Governor Lazarus Kodep's 302 counts of criminal charges."
At the end of this morning's Ngerngellecheluu radio program, Diaz announced that WWFM radio will cease live streaming of its content over the internet starting on April 1. This new development he says could mean that WWFM will stop broadcasting the president's weekly press conference held every Wednesday.
Senator Diaz who owns the radio station didn't specifically state the reason, but from the sound of it, PNCC may have wanted to go in a different direction and chose not to extend their existing collaborative effort.
In a radio call-in survey conducted by WWFM radio last Monday had the team of Chin/Seid leading the poll for the first time for the upcoming primary election on September 3. With a total of 50 calls, mostly from Koror, Peleliu, and Airai, the ticket of Chin/Seid was picked by 22 callers, 19 went to the unannounced team of Toribiong/Mariur, and 9 selected Surangel/Temmy. Declared candidate Joshua Koshiba and possible candidates Sandra Pierantozzi and Polycarp Basilius were not mentioned in the survey. Johnson who started campaigning last year had been leading in the last four Tia Belau Poll conducted in the last six months as well as the many call-in survey by WWFM radio.
Many Palauans visiting Guam and Hawaii in the 1990's and early 2000's did not understand why so many, in fact thousand of Chuukese from the FSM and Marshallese left their islands with their entire families and flocked to Guam and Hawaii. It was basically for economic survival and to escape the poor conditions of their countries due to lack of jobs and opportunities and low salary while the cost of living continued to rise. Well, that is happening in Palau and more so recently. Immigration officials at the airport report that every week they see one or two Palauan families leaving to seek jobs and better living in Guam and the U.S Mainland.
In one state alone, six families have moved to California reducing the population of the state to less than 200 and even its elementary school enrollment was reduced to under 50 students. Two houses were left vacant and are now falling apart as the families just closed them and left. The husbands and wives of the two families are in their 40's and 50's but were able to find jobs making over $10 an hour, a far cry from the $3 an hour last year only for the husband in one family while in Palau making harder just to make meet their basic needs let alone paying for school and college. Though they pay for housing rent now, they are paying less for utility, food, fuel, and almost every other expense and are able to have some savings and are not pressured to pay for the weekly funeral and other customary obligations.
Immediate and short-term solution in a form of economic stimulus is needed to alleviate the hard economic conditions our country is going through today before we lose more Palauans... Tia Belau Editorial (March 21 - 27, 2008)
Ngardmau voters in a state referendum held earlier this month on March 5 approved a constitutional amendment to end double dipping in its government. The provision of the new amended constitution of Ngardmau State government states that any member of the Council of Chiefs of Ngardmau who is elected to any public office has to choose whether to be paid compensation due to the Office of the Council of Chiefs of the elected office but not both.
Melekeok State Governor Lazarus Kodep on Tuesday pled not guilty to the 302 counts of conversion of public funds and misconduct in public office filed against him by the Special Prosecutor. A trial date has been set for June 10. Associate Justice Lourdes Materne ordered that Kodep shall obey all laws and orders of the court, shall turn in his passport to the clerk of courts and shall not leave Palau without prior permission from the court.
Surangel yesterday denied rumors he has picked Minister of State Temmy Shmull as his running mate. He said "Those are just rumors...I will make my announcement in July, or if I'm ready, a little earlier than that." Island Times had earlier read in a Palau-based website (Okedyulabeluu??) that Whipps...has chosen [Temmy] Shmull to be his vice presidential running mate...Shmull on Wednesday denied that he was running for vice president or for any elective office. "I have made a public statement and I will stick by that...If there is something to announce, I will make that announcement. But for now I have no time for that," he said. (Island Times, March 21, 2008)
However, a Tia Belau (March 21-27, 2008) article reports that, "It has been confirmed by the two candidates [Surangel and Johnson] and persons close to them that the two [Shmull and Mariur] are under serious consideration and likely to be their mates but to be announced later."
**Note: The People's Platform website is here. It is also up at the A Le Ko Kau Forum. For the idea behind the People's Platform see here.
The People's Platform - Palau 2008 and Beyond
Social development through the political process by letting the people take the lead in articulating forth the issues important to them – The People’s Platform
In 1979, the Constitution of the Republic of Palau was written and later approved by 92% of the Palauan voters and a nation was “born”. This was a memorable achievement after almost a century of various colonial governments. The Will of the Palauan people was crafted clearly by the framers of the Constitution and declared through the archives of history that when these aspirations are achieved, the Palauan people would declare themselves true stewards of their heritage. Thus
“In exercising our inherent sovereignty,
We, the people of Palau proclaim and reaffirm
our immemorial right to be supreme on these islands of Palau,
our homeland. We renew our dedication to preserve and enhance
our traditional heritage, our national identity and our respect for peace,
freedom and justice for all mankind. In establishing this Constitution
of the sovereign Republic of Palau, We venture into the future with full
reliance our own efforts and the divine guidance of Almighty God.”
Article V of the Constitution- Traditional Rights documents the spirit of the Palauan through the framers that we must preserve our identity as people. Such identity is expressed in Klechibelau (Palauism) and Klebelau (Palauness).
In addition Article VI of the Constitution spells out the Responsibilities of the National Government and there are 4 main areas which are all expressions of a broad definition of ENVIRONMENT- natural, economic, security/safety and social. “And the national government shall take positive action to attain these national objectives and implement these national policies.”
a. Conservation and protection of the natural environment.
b. Promotion of national economy.
c. Protection of the safety and security of persons and property.
d. Promotion of the health and social welfare of the citizens: 1) provision of free or subsidized health care. 2) provision of public education for citizens which shall be free and compulsory.
Issues of Aspirations
The Preamble, Article V and Article VI of the Republic of Palau Constitution present issues that harnesses the foundation of Palau as a society and Palauans as people who have decidedto take the course of their history intotheir own hands. When these issues are addressed adequately, Palau will move forward toward a more transparent government and ultimately toward self reliance. These are the principles on which the People's Platform 2008 is being negotiated among the grassroots to mobilize them in returning the collective leadership toward what was planned some 27 years ago. A leadership that is responsive to the needs of the people and brings them, ALL of them, along the journey of nation building toward self-sufficiency. This can only be done by ahving the people articulate forth what is important to them...Thus the People's Platform.
1. Unity and Palau for Palauans.The Preamble clearly states that is “WE, the Palauans…” Unity is achieved through common objectives. We all can fish differently but the goal is fish for Palau.
2. Palau must be for Palauans.“We, the Palauans…”
3.We must preserve our Identity as Palauan people.Article V: IDENTITY of Palauans. We must protect our identity through the protection of what makes us Palauans… Palauness (Klebelau). While Palauism (Klechibelau) might change from time to time… Klebelau should be rediscovered and protected.
4.a.Palau must sustainably preserve its pristine and unique biodiversity as well as, conserve its natural resources.
Article VI: Protection and conservation of the NATURAL ENVIRONMENT.
b. Palau must pursue economic development consistent to the spirit of the preamble, in the context of Article V and in balanced context with Article VI of the Constitution.
Article VI: Promotion of the national ECONOMIC ENVIROMENT.
c. Palau must assure safety and security of Palauans and their quests.
Article VI: The ENVIRONMENT that promotes SAFETY and SECURITY of persons and property
d. Palau must pursue health not only as a social development strategy but also as an economic strategy.
Article VI: SOCIAL ENVIRONMENT that provides of free or subsidized HEALTH CARE
e. Palau must be in persuit of knowledge as a catalyst for nation building.
Article VI: SOCIAL ENVIRONMENT that provides free and compulsory EDUCATION
a. Support Bul, PAN, WSA, MC, and the effor of the environmental NGO's.
b. Support production based economies such as agri-aqua culture, banking, communication and tourism.
c. Support Palau National Guard - two years service post-high school.
d. Support universal health insurance but also viable social insurance that invest early life. That would ensure vested retirement.
e. Support 16-20 percent of our revenue for education that fully support early years and academic-vocational model.
The following is a TOOL that can be used to evaluate any promise or agenda that politicians put forth to the people. This example is using the above tool to look at tourism.Implementation of PEOPLE’S PLATFORM 2008 on Tourism
We must be united in pursuit of tourism as an economic strategy.
Tourism must ensure Palau for Palauans.
We must adopt tourism as an economic strategy without sacrificing our identity as Palauans.
We must protect and conserve our natural environment in the midst of adopting tourism as an economic strategy.
Palau must ensure that tourism is good for economic development in Palau. The process must be transparent so that Palau is not exploited.
We must assure that Palauans are safe because that is the basis of providing safety and security to the tourist.
Palau must not only look at health as providing medical services to the tourist but also can develop health tourism as economic strategy.
Palau must also posses the knowledge to achieve the highest return on tourism investment as well as, provide mechanism for educational tourism.
The direction is set in the Constitution and what is need are leaders who are willing and able to negotiate implementation of such direction. While the example has used tourism… this can be applied to any economic strategy that the collected leadership agree on. People’s Platform 2008 seeks to mobilize the voters of Palau to pay a closer look on how such direction will be implemented.
A fiscal check-up of Palau by a team of IMF experts in it's findings reported that economic growth slowed from 5.5 percent in 2005 to 2.5 percent in 2007 and that Palau's fiscal policies were insufficient to make the country self-sustainable. However, Remengesau in his weekly press conference said that, "We should not look at the IMF's slow economic growth projection from the negative side. If we look at it like a half glass of water, we should not think of it as half empty but instead, look at it as half full"...He said that while the IMF assessment was disheartening the 2.5 percent economic growth was far better than the economies of other Micronesia countries like Guam and Saipan," Remengesau further added.(Island Times, March 14, 2008)
Ken Uyehara, President of Palau Chamber of Commerce (PCOC) has accused local leaders of not having the political will to stop the growing number of front business operations in the country. This after Attorney General Office, Foreign Investment Board, and Sen. Santy Asanuma rejected the PCOC's invitation to speak on the issue of front business during its meeting earlier this week. He also added that Division of Revenue and Taxation Ricardo Bausoch was also asked to speak but didn't show up. Uyehara said that officials who were supposed to define "front business" didn't show up at the meeting because they "don't want to define it [front business] because they don't want to enforce it." The chamber president also challenged government leaders to either enforce the law or remove it, noting the continued operation of front businesses in Palau is tantamount to "cheating the people, not doing the FIB filing and not paying taxes." (Island Times, March 14, 2008)
Hotels in Palau are questioning additional tax requirements from the Ministry of Finance. In a letter by Chief of Division of Revenue and Taxation Ricardo Bausoch late last year inidicated that starting January 1, 2008 "a complete list of names of hotel occupants of each month shall be accompanied with the remittance (of the hotel tax) to the Director on or before the fifteenth of each month. In a response to Chief Bausoch's letter, Lucy Sugiyama, resident manager of Palau Pacific Resort wrote to Chief Bausoch that, "We don't understand why we have to submit this list to the government. What are they going to do with it. That would be a violation of the right to confidentiality of our guests," she stressed..."It is against the resort policy to the distribute the the rooming list to outside party other than the resort personnel because of confidentiality," she added: "Some of out guests even specifically that we seal, that we keep their identities confidential. How will we address this?"
A source of mine is reporting that after much negotiation, Minister of State Temmy Shmull has finally agreed to join Surangel to field a Surangel/Shmull 2008 presidential ticket. Formal announcement is expected later this month. The rational for the choice is becoming obvious by the day with the conventional wisdom saying that Peleliu with its large block of voters hold a strategic position to tilt the balance in the upcoming presidential election. Let's see how Shmull's selection plays out with the other campaigns
With Surangel's announcement coming he will join Chin as the only candidates with complete ticket. This new development doesn't bode well with Koshiba and Toribiong's campaign when reports of potential running mates are pulling their name out of consideration.
I am already 1 for 1 in breaking the news on presidential ticket. Let see if I can make it 2 for 2.
Local economic growth fell 3 percent in two years from an acceptable 5.5 percent in 2005 to just 2.5 percent las year. And the trend is likely to continue. That is the prognosis from an economic team from the IMF that also found that Palau is saddled with slow economic growth, an unsustainable fiscal policy and a weak tax adminstration. The team's projected low 2 percent economic growth is attributed to higher oil prices and to the global economic downturn.
They said there is no way that fiscal indicators would improve, noting that Palau's economic growth has been at a steady slow phase beginning in 2005 when growth registered at 5.5 percent and then down to 2.5 percent in 2007. The said "winding down of large public investment and the fall off in private investments were not fully offset by rising tourisms reciepts." Consumer demand drops because of rising cost of oil and food prices, expenditures for which cut into spending power...consumer demand continue to drop because there would be more cash-strapped Palau residents due to projected closure or slow down of several tourism related companies.
The teams (IMF) key assessment is that current fiscal policy is not sustainable over the long term. The team estimates that even if the Compact Agreement is renewed, current spending would need to be cut by about one-quarter ($16 million) to be sustainable. If the adjustment were to occur gradually, as is likely, or if the Compact is not renewed, the needed adjustment would be much larger. To the extent that Palau can increase its domestic revenue, required spending cuts would be smaller. Palau needs to build up the trust fund by saving to avoid steeper spending cuts when foreign grants expired. (Tia Belau, March 7 - 13, 2008)
The Attorney General has charged High Chief Ibedul Gibbons with one count of assault and battery for allegedly striking John Sugiyama during a meeting at Bai ra Chamayong in November last year...the assault took place at Chamayong during a Palau leadership meeting. Sugiyama allegedly serve as acting Ngirturong at the time for the late Ngirturong of Ngaremlengui...In an affidavit of probable cause..at some point during the meeting, Ibedul went over to Sugiyama and demanded that the latter leave the venue. Ibedul allegedly told Sugiyama that he was not supposed to be there because he was no longer Ngirturong...Sugiyama refused to leave and told Ibedul that they will discuss the matter during the next Council of Chief's meeting. Ibedul went back to his seat but a few minutes later he asked Sugiyama that they both go outside...without much discussion, Ibedul grabbed Sugiyama's shirt towards him and was going to punch when Sen. Seid stepped in...medical reports by Dr. Emais Robersts showed that Sugiyama's chest ws notable for an adult fist-size bruise. (Island Times, March 7, 2008)
Oceania T.V. programming is now available for on line viewing. Tune in to Otv on line for the latest n local programming including current events, sports, news and weather. Visit WWW.OCEANIATV.NETfor complete programming schedules and more information.
Senator Alfonso Diaz is now facing civil lawsuits brought by two different parties. On Feb. 22, Olkeriil Ngiralmau and his wife Mehakalani Meltel filed Civil Action No. 08-094 against Senator Diaz and Senator Alan Seid, the civil suit stemmed from the assault of Okeriil Ngiralmau in September 2006, at the Drop-Off Bar and Grill on Malakal. Diaz was found guilty on April 2, 2007 for assault and battery. Senator Seid, however, pleaded guilty on Dec. 15, 2006. The suit asked for compensatory and punitive damages in large sums.
On another case, Diaz was also sued by Remoket Ngirngetrang for defamation, intentional infliction of emotional distress and assault. In CA No. 08-095, Ngirngetrang said he was at Did ra Ngmatel Coffee Shop with other fellow retirees on Nov. 12, 2007, when the Senator barged in saying, "here is the one responsible for ruining Ngatpang." Diaz allegedly went on with verbal assault saying "menga ra delam" and "ke merchorch" that meant in english "you eat your mother" and "you thief". He allegedly yelled at Ngirngetrang, urging him "de bo rikl" or "let's step outside." Belechel Ngirngebedangel allegedly restrained Diaz from attacking Ngirngetrang, who immediately left the coffee shop to escape Diaz...After the incident, Diaz allegedly made slanderous statements against Ngirngetrang calling him "kebelung" or "stupid" on hi radio station...He asked the court for compensatory and punitive damages in an amount to be determined by the court. (Island Times, March 7, 2008)
A frequent commenter Yusech, is reporting that "According to my good friend the Governor Jackson Ngiraingas, whom I just finished talking to few minutes ago about sending some fish for me and my Chamorro friends, the good GJN said that as of today March 7, 2008, Special Prosecutor Everett Walton resigned as Special Prosecutor of Palau. According to GJN,the SP told some people that he is fed up with the bullshit in Palau especially the Governor of Peleliu GJN and Senator Joshua Koshiba. The SP is said to be moving to Hilo, Hawaii to take up a job offer there. The GJN said he suspect the SP to be running away from Palau because the Supreme Court Disciplinary Proceedings is getting close to charge him for fraud, embezzlement, cheating, of the Government of Palau when he was drunk and deplaned in Yap and went on to Hawaii and charged Hertz car rental and hotel costs with his wife against Palau Government and came back to Palau and prepared a trip report lying to OEK and Finance office. The Good GJN said that the SP may be fleeing Palau because the Board of Directors of UKIHL will be filing motions in court against SP for lying to the court when he convinced the court to issue illegal Warrant of Arrest against the members of the Board of UKIHL. The good GJN said that SP Walton may run but he cannot hide."