Surangel held a rally this evening at his campaign
headquarters located inside the Socio compound in Malakal. Attended by well
over two hundred people, it was well organized despite the rain early on in the
program. However, I gather as I talked to other attendees, most were expecting
Surangel to announce his choice for running mate. But the announcement was not
to come this time, during his speech he said that he will name his running mate
before the August 6 deadline for filing nominating petition for candidates. For tonight, the gathering was merely to witness the opening of his campaign headquarters.
The highlight of the rally was a narrated power point
presentation showing the life history of Surangel. From his struggles as a
young boy, growing up in different households to a determined young man who
would use the light from the lampost at the court house to study during the
evening just to save kerosene. A story of a man who shows an appreciation of
the trials and tribulations of life that he believed motivated him and brought
him to where he is now. Unfortunately, his speech never matched the inspiring
message in the power point presentation. During his talk he was bent heavily
favoring his right side with his weight resting on his right arm on the podium,
bent from the hips and leaning forward, somehow a posture that brings an image
of a person who is unsure of his candidacy. He spoke in a low voice that it was
hard to hear at the back where I was sitting. Toward the end, he briefly
stopped and was seen shifting through his notes perhaps to see if that is all
to his speech. He looked unprepared and clumsy. Not very inspiring.
That of course is my own observation. But do share your own views of the rally.
ADB consultants made their assessment of Palau's economic and fiscal condition and recommendations for a 5-year medium term development strategy during a forum last Wednesday. Team leader Dr. Fallon said that Palau government is saddled with "the expectation that someone else should pay for a wide array of government services and responsibilities leading to subsidy dependence or an entitlement mentality. He likewise said that Palau's economic growth is hampered by "conflicts of interest that makes it difficult to design and to implement effective governance arrangements and policies for the benefit of the community as a whole." He also said that "expectations that remote, low productivity regions should automatically receive the same level and quality of government services as more productive regions" are also proofs of "entitlement mentality".
Conflict of interest, which involves a conflict between a public duty and private interests of public officials, are also prevalent in the political setting, he stated. He also pointed out that "elected offiicals voting on or discussing matters that directly affect businesses where they have a direct or indirect interest" are too common in the government, particularly in the Olbiil Era Kelulau...he also said there are "individuals with authority influencing policy and regulatory decisions that would impact on their business" and "individuals who are involved both as regulators and firm or major investors in the sector being regulated." (Island Times, June 27, 2008)
Having heard from Dr. Kuartei here and commented on by Sen. Asanuma here, I should also mention that I have heard the same report from other sources. Most recently during the visit of the Royal Australian Navy's HMAS Ararat with its 29 crew members last week from June 18 - 21. Palauan women who are married were there to welcome them and to solicit for personal services in exchange for money. Is this only the beginning?
In response, Mr. Diaz called Roll ‘em to complain about the bill ($2,047.50 sent to him by Roll 'em Productions). When
one of Roll ‘em’s owners, Jeff Barabe, returned his telephone call, Mr.
Diaz stated “It is my station and I will start and stop videos when I
want to” and that “this is my country not yours, why don’t you go home”
and that “I am going to kill you, I will kill you, I will kill you
dead.” The police were then notified of Mr. Diaz’s threat and that
matter is pending with the authorities...However, Diaz said that what he told Barabe was "my TV will kill your TV." (Tia Belau, June 27 - July 3, 2008)
Reacting to the less than stellar GAO audit report, President Remengesau is putting the blame at the feet of OEK for their failure to act swiftly on proposed fiscal reforms that have been pending in OEK for months.
Remengesau urged lawmakers anew to act on the proposed amendments to the Foreign Investment Act and currently pending and proposed tax measures, among others. He however, said that internal fiscal control weakness mentioned in the GAO audit report are "easily rectifiable" because they are "not very catastrophic in nature." He also admitted that "we still have to work in these weaknesses" but pointed out that such lapses could be easily addressed once pending legislations are passed by the Senate and the House of Delegates. (Island Times, June 14, 2008)
Delegate Joel Toribiong warned that the hardships currently being experienced by the people of Palau are reminiscent of the 1980's. "Times are evolving to the very same part of history where people are going broke, the people don't know the truth, only very few enjoy and the people no longer want to listen." (Island Times, June 20, 2008)
In last Wednesday’s press conference Remengesau again reiterated that Palau is not going through an economic crisis. “The economy continue to thrive and grow although businesses are facing a fuel crisis,” Remengesau said. He said only one or two companies are reported to have laid off workers caused by the increase in the price fuel. However, an economic crisis will indicate a reduced GDP, but there is no such warning as GDP numbers will show an increase of 2 percent. “Unless an expert economist tells us that Palau is experiencing an economic crisis, and indicators start appearing, no one has a right to say that we are in an economic crisis,” Remengesau said.
In today's HOD session, HOD Ways and Means Committee Chairman Del. Mario Gulibert reported out on a Bill that his committee recommended that banks doing business in Palau will be required to reinvest 20 percent of their gross revenues in Palau. It should be recalled that Del. Mario Gulibert faces a civil action suit in the amount of $974,527. He is charged in received several payments from the PSB in the form of loans. During the time of the Pacific Savings Bank collapse he served on the Board of Directors. See here and here.
The financially troubled ROPGov is again looking into the COFA non-trust fund to shore up its finances to cover various operations and various programs. The Treasury office issued a request to the OEK, following the monthly drawdown request also submitted to the President Remengesau. The request asked for a $2.98 million for the month of July…The treasury office earlier requested drawdown fund of $1.05 million for this June and another $1 million last month.
Camsek Chin: Primary and secondary education of Palau's younger generation is fundamental to the long-term success of developing Palau as an independent Republic. This can be achieved through various imaginative programs such as using scholarships to assist students and working with selected school abroad that can help Palau students achieve their educational goals. Establishments of "seats" at foreign universities, for example, will contribute to aiding and assisting Palau students to complete their training successfully. Education is a necessary component for successfully attaining national economic goals, including assisting democracies evolve and thrive. Toward this end, we intend to support education at all levels in Palau.
Johnson Toribiong: Our children must be the first and enduring priority of our government. They deserve the best health care, best education and the best opportunities. The Palauan children are our most precious resources, and we owe it to them to ensure that they reach their full potential because our future depends on them. In this regard, the positions and salaries of our teachers and health care providers should be upgraded within our civil service system to reflect their importance in the development of our nation.
Surangel Whipps, Sr.: I am committed to enhancing the well-being of our Palauan people by creating opportunities for every person that they may achieve a a good and satisfying quality of life. I am dedicated to focus on continuous improvement in health care, education, wages and public services that allow people to live with respect and dignity. I am dedicated to strengthening our Palauan families and communities by providing support and services to deal with growing social problems such as alcohol abuse, illicit drug use, crime, domestic violence, and juvenile delinquency. (Candidate Surangel has no separate item in his platform on Education but one on people which is closest to Education is printed above)
Joshua Koshiba: Nothing as of yet
Check the previous post on the candidates respective positions on Economy and Environment.
Ngiraingas revealed that the Prime Minister and King of Malaysia have confirmed that once Palau establishes diplomatic and trade relations with Malaysia, up to $100 million dollars soft loan will be made available for Palau at %3 interest rate which will be paid by portion of percentage of the proposed mega project Nautilus City in Peleliu without cost to the government of Palau. In addition, Malaysia, an oil producing country, will also provide cheaper fuel to PPUC which will lower the escalating power rates and that the Malaysian Airlines will fly directly to Palau and will partner with Palau to form a Palau National Airline. (Tia Belau, June 13 - 19, 2008)
Presidential candidate Senator Joshua Koshiba has chosen the
governor of Peleliu State Jackson Ngiraingas to be his running mate, who
together have voiced their commitment to rid the government of waste and to go after
those who used the color of their office for personal gain.
Senator Koshiba said that corruption cannot co-exist with
economic development. He said that the first order of business if he wins are:
Pacific Savings Bank – the lost savings and deposits of the
Palauan people will be returned and that those bank officers and government
officials who corroborated to cause the collapse of the bank, will be charged
and prosecuted to the full extent of the law.
PPUC was induced by the government to sink $2 million to PSB
which should be recovered and used as a relief for the increased fuel price.
The $1 million from pension fund which was deposited in the
PSB, was withdrawn in three days by high government officials who knew about
it. “We must stop the corruption of Palau leaders, he stated, such as
driving government vehicles and sing fuel paid by the government which is not
authorized by law.
Other corrupt practices of the government officials that his
adminstration will stop are PMIC, which owes millions in taxes and other used
its facilities for their business.
Government land in Guam
which some leaders benefited should be sold.
Stimulus fund from Taiwan whose use is not authorized
by law, its amount and whereabouts of its interest is unknown.
tax not collected from the closed FAT due to its connection with some leaders.
Conduct full audit of the government and do inventory of all
government property before any meaningful planning and development can be
Close Ngerulmud which is mostly empty now and whose power
bill alone is a staggering $900,000 a year that we cannot afford. It should be
closed and sold to a university or be part of PCC…construction of the capitol
had been tainted with corruption and even its maintenance contract was awarded
to an in-law relative of President Remengesau.
Cited as blatant example of corruption is despite the
current economic crisis with the people suffering from the high costs of power,
fuel, and other commodities, the country’s president and senate president are
in Oregon partying.
Palau has long standing and significant weaknesses in its internal control over financial reporting. Palau 2006 single audit report cited a number of significant weaknesses in basic internal control that impact its financial reporting...These weaknesses include for example, nonresolution of monthly bank reconciliations and a lack of policies and procedures fro reconciling accounts receivable and prepayments...For example in 2006, Palau's auditor, cited noncompliance and internal control weakness in areas such as procurement, cash management, and equipment, and real property management. Many of the problems noted in 2006 report were recurring
These weaknesses could adversely affect Palau's ability to operate a major federal program withing the applicable requirements of law, regulations, contract, and grants. More here.
In their appeal, the defendants (CSPP Board members) told the Court that they could not find lawyers who could represent them in the legal suit because "most attorneys that have been contacted have conflicts of interest and are unable to represent us in this case." They added that "we do not have the means to pay for off-island attorneys to represent us individually this criminal case." The CSPP board members have been charged with one count of grand cheating, two counts of forgery, two counts of misconduct in public office, two counts of conspiracy and one count of money laundering. (Island Times, June 10, 2008)
For the candidates position on the economy, see here. Surangel Whipps, Sr.: I am committed to preserving and protecting our precious environment and natural resources for the future generations. I am dedicated to continuously strengthen the enforcement and financing of environmental efforts. I will support public education that encourages environmental values and the practices that will help to develop skills, knowledge, and values in support of a sustainable development.
Elias Camsek Chin: Article VI of the national constitution sets fourth the responsibilities of the national government to attain the objectives of conserving and maintaining a beautiful and healthful natural environment. These constitutional mandates and additional legislations created to conserving and protecting our environment are minimum standards requiring our utmost support. We commit to supporting and enhancing existing programs, including all national, state, and civil society efforts to protect and preserve our natural environment. At the same time, and recognizing the need to explore and utilize our natural resources to meet our economic and national development objectives that will not compromise the sustainability of our environment and, to extent achievable, with the latest advancements in environmental technology, engineering, and science.
Johnson Toribiong: Our traditions are also sacred. We must launch programs to preserve and foster our natural and cultural heritage, to insure that our time-honored traditions, language, national identity, and natural environment are forever preserved and cherished for present and future generations. In implementing these programs, the services of Rubekul Belau (Palau Council of Chiefs), Mechesil Belau (Senior Women of Palau), cheldebechel, and Ibetel a Cherchar (Society of Traditional Historians) must be utilized to their full extent. President Remengesau's policy and initiatives on the preservation of our environment should continue to be supported.
Joshua Koshiba: Nothing on the environment. Still without a platform (Tia Belau, May 30 - June 5, 2008)
Reacting to the so-called sentiment by the businesses during the "reality check" hearing conducted by the senate last week. President Remengesau said Palau is not experiencing an economic crisis instead it is being affected by a worldwide energy crisis..."There are companies that are doing very well," Remengesau said. He said fuel suppliers, gas stations are business that are thriving. However, business owners said there is an economic crisis and that the government has to address the situation. The energy crisis has a domino effect resulting to an increase in price of goods and other services. (Palau Horizon, June 6 - 9, 2008)
Independent Counsel Lewis K. Harley has submitted interim report dated May 30, 2008 to the President and Senate on his investigation to date of the failed PSB. The report showed that $41million was deposited and withdrawn from PSB in one year, 2005 and recommends that additional time and more lawyers and investigators are needed to complete investigation and prosecution relating to the collapsed PSB...The report places the responsibility for the collapse of the bank on criminal, improper, illegal, and fraudulent activities and misappropriation of bank funds by its directors and officers through insider and related party loans, dubious investments, expenses, and allowances...The amount of deposit at the closing of the bank and under investigation are in excess of $21 million. The report indicates that the total amount of insider and party loans was $9,269,077.82 or 79% of the total loan portfolio of the bank.(Tia Belau, June 6 - 12, 2008)
Based on the check at the Election Commission, personal contacts and confirmation from supporters, we have been able to put together a list of possible candidates for Senate. No doubt some may withdraw or not file and new ones will file by the August 6 deadline. The list includes incumbent senators, current ministers, delegates, former governors, prominent women, state legislators, civil servants, businessmen, and even taxi drivers.
Ernest Ongidobel Alfonso Diaz Santy Asanuma Hokkons Baules Mark Rudimch Yukiwo Dengokl Raynold Oilouch Joan Demei Tadashi Sakuma Joel Toribiong Regina Mesebeluu Noah Idechong Kathy Kesolei Gale Ngirmidol Huana Rengulbai Tobias Marbou Bernie Kelderman Paul Ueki Lorenza Olkeriil Tadao Ngotel Mario Katosang John Skebong Gillian Johanes Elbuchel Sadang Regis Akitaya Fritz Koshiba Steven Kanai James Orak Dwight Alexander Adalbert Eledui Adair Sumang Jeff Ngirarsaol Martin Renguul Surangel Whipps, Jr. Dilmei Olkeriil Jackson Ngiraingas Mlib Tmetuchl Masa-aki Emesiochel Caleb Otto
"The Senate does not care, no agenda, cannot work, and continues to be dysfunctional. Is there anything that we can agree on on that the Senate can act; the House does not believe that Senate can act. Do you?...The rookie senators must understand that we must work hard for new ideas, new sources and new revenues, come up with something to move forward on," said Bells in his letter to the President.
Asanuma, Chairman of the Senate RCTD, told Island Times that even the Palau National Communications Corporation (PNCC) is also looming in the horizon with their proposed increase in cables, telephone for businesses, and cellular phones. (Island Times, June 3, 2008)
Four Senators are calling for an emergency leadership meeting to address what is becoming an economic crisis, the skyrocketing power rate hike. "We strongly believe that this is a crisis of a grave nature that needs to be resolved before it happens," the Senators in their letter to the President. However, in response to the Senate letter, Bells said the leadership meeting is futile the Senate for the economic problems because of failure of the Senate to act on revenue generating measures. "The Senate has done nothing. Travel the world over and do nothing and then wait to meet in a township meeting for a 'Reality Check with Mechas' in order to be alerted and informed of the crisis - is a joke," Bell said in his letter.