President-elect Johnson Toribiong has chosen his political ally Sen. Joshua Koshiba to replace Billy Kuartei as Palau's Chief Compact Negotiator. Koshiba' nomination is subject to the advise and consent of the Senate in the 8th OEK.
The following are some comments during today's Senate session.
Sen. Koshiba: I believe that no public money should be spent on inauguration ceremony.
Sen. Seid: Let us pass this bill because its the right thing to do. We know from the record that the Remengesau's installation ceremony had a $150,000 budget. However, the actual ceremony cost in the 90K and the rest were returned to the national treasury.
Sen: Diaz: I'm opposed to the government paying for the inauguration. We don't have money at this time. And inauguration ceremony is partying, that's all there is to it.
While driving here, President-elect Toribiong called me about the inauguration budget. So I reminded him of his campaign pledge of not using government funds for his inauguration. "What should I do?" he asked. I told him to sell tickets. Make people buy tickets. Obama is doing the same thing selling tickets for his installation ceremony. We can fund raise by selling tickets for $50 a plate. I certainly don't mind paying a $1,000 a plate.
Not everyone are struggling financially, there are people who can contribute. Like me I have that steady monthly paycheck coming and in fact I'm paying airfare for 10 guests coming to attend the ceremony from Saipan.
I talked to President-elect Toribiong yesterday and he told me that he
didn't know the detail of his Inauguration Committee's original $185,000
funding requests. He agreed, however, that the amount is too high and could be reduced.
If worst comes to worst we can appropriate $75K while we [Toribiong's supporters] fundraise the other half.
Sen. Otto: I agree with points Sen. Diaz raised. We need to challenge Toribiong to live up to his campaign pledge.
Palau's Compact Trust Fund plunged to $120 million, President-elect Johnson Toribiong said. The dwindling Compact funds is a major challenges for new government as financial provisions of the agreement will expire in 2009. Toribiong said that the United States weak stock market has contributed to the drop in the Compact funds. It held at $168 million during the initial stages of his campaign, but has since dropped...Toribiong said by the year 16 of the Compact, Palau can withdraw up to $15 million from the Trust Fund. He said however that the projection of the Compact fund earnings was supposed to reach $300 million by 2009. "It will be a major challenge for the new government," Toribiong said. (Palau Horizon, Dec. 12 - 15, 2008)
The caucus of the eleven senators-elect at the Landmark Hotel last week appeared to have sealed the political division in the incoming 8th Senate...And it will be eleven in the majority versus two in the minority of President Remengesau and his brother-in-law and highest vote getter Surangel Whipps, Jr...Whipps who was slated to chair the most powerful committee of Ways, Means and Financial Matters was stripped of the chair which was given to another freshman Senator-elet, Mark Rudimch. Mark...was originally placed at the Foreign Affairs which was transferred to Sen. Baules. Senator-elect Paul Ueki who previously had no chairmanship was assigned to CIP which was held by Baules. That will leave SW Jr and TR Jr without committee chairmanship, stated two members of the majority...SW JR insisted that to be fair, committee should be expanded to accommodate everyone but if not, then they should be reduced in order to be efficient and to save costs. He said that he did not refuse the chairmanship of the WM&FM committee.
The new senate...will be short of additional $200,000 for salaris of the four new senators at $50,000 each and ovver $300,000 if new staff will be added. (Tia Belau, December 9-12, 2008)
A budget of $150,000 was earlier proposed to fund the inauguration rites, it did not pass the congress...President-elect Toribiong's camp said it will need $180,000 to the celebration to be held on January 15, 2009. The Toribiong camp said that if the budget will not be approved then it will finance its own inauguration celebration. (Tia Belau, December 9-12, 2008)
Chief Justice Arthur Ngiraklsong Friday dismissed a criminal case against former PSB officer Margo Llecholch after Independent Counsel Lewis K. Harley moved to dimsiss the charges against her...Ngiraklsong stated that the information against Llecholch is dismissed without prejudice. Harley explained that the motion to dismiss case against llecholch is "in the public interest, in good faith and for the purpose of the fair adminstration of justice and is not intended to harass the defendant." Harley further stated that "the dismissal will have no impact upon the confidence of the public in the criminal justice system nor effect the safety and welfare of the community." On December 2, three defendants in the same criminal case were also dismissed in exchange of their cooperation in the on going investigation. The dismissed defendants were Irene Francisco, Koichi Wong, John Wong. (Island Times, December 9, 2006)
I was able to catch part of yesterday's Ngerngellecheluu morning show on MBTV last night in which Senator Alfonso Diaz mentioned that President-elect Toribiong abruptly cancelled his first scheduled press conference at last minute without so much as an explanation to the members of the media. The senator appeared miffed at the treatment received by the media when he had invested so much time in preparation to the press conference. He said that he had announced over the air for the people and spent time setting-up his equipments and even took his video crew out to dinner early before the press conference begin. He said that the Transition Committee should have had the courtesy to call the members of the media ahead of time and not wait until the last minute to announce the cancellation and without giving a word as to why. "Was there an issue that he wanted to avoid facing media", says Diaz. "This is the end of it. I won't commit myself to anymore of this so-called press conference," he added.
In what may be a break for the CSPP case, Independent Counsel Lewis K. Harley has asked and the Supreme Court granted the motion to dismiss without prejudice the criminal case against three of the 16 defendants charged for obtaining a $1 million loan from the Civil Service Pension Plan that was deposited in the account of the defunct Pacific Savings Bank. The three defendants Koichi Wong, John Wong, and Irene Francisco agreed to cooperate with the ongoing criminal investigation concerning the closing of PSB.
Below is the official press release from President-Elect Johnson Toribiong's camp:
NEWS OF TORIBIONG AS SOURCE IS PURE FABRICATION(December 4, 2008)
“A recent story published in Taiwan newspapers and posted on-line
claiming that Palau’s President-Elect Johnson Toribiong provided
information to Kuomintang lawmaker Chiu Yi of the reported news that at
least $5.17 million was deposited in a bank in Palau is pure
fabrication,” an official statement from President-Elect Toribiong camp
The news as reported by staff reporter Ko Shu-ling of Taipei Times
on December 4th on-line stated that Chiu alleged on Tuesday that Chen
sent NT$170 million into a First Bank account in Palau during his trip
there in September 2006. It also stated that the lawmaker said he had
obtained the information from Palauan president-elect Johnson Toribiong.
“This is pure fabrication as I have never spoken to this lawmaker of
Taiwan,” said President-Elect Toribiong, “or have I been contacted by
any news media on this issue.” President-Elect Toribiong stressed that
he is seeking legal representation in Taiwan to investigate the matter
and for a possible lawsuit.
Toribiong’s camp urged any individual and media outlets within and
outside of Palau to get their facts straight and confirm information
obtained from sources related to stories of President-Elect and
Vice-President-Elect Kerai Mariur before publishing it in newspapers
for dissemination as well as posting such stories on the web. (end)
The Media Sub-Committee of the Inauguration & Transition can be contacted for inquiries at the following e-mail address:
The Taipei Times reports that a ruling party lawmaker
who is leading the attacks against Chen, Chiu Yi, said he was told that
the former president deposited the funds in the Palau bank by Palau
President-elect Johnson Toribiong. Toribiong is Palau’s former ambassador to Taipei. More here, here, and here.
Update: KeBloes and Chis you are right. My bad. Upon rereading the articles I stand corrected. The headline has been changed.
“The current administration has the legal and
moral obligation to pay its outstanding bills, which have come due
before transferring power to the new administration,” Toribiong told Pacific Magazine in an exclusive interview.
He also warned against using the fund that’s
providing the emergency $3 million to cover the dramatic fuel price
hikes earlier this year.
“The subsidy funds are really a loan from the
Taiwan Mega Bank so if there is no further need for it as it was
originally intended to help subsidize the cost of utility bills for the
PUC customers, it should be paid back or used for something critically
needed, such as medical or education related services or programs,”
Toribiong said. More here.
Senator Diaz has been placed under police protection as a result of the request by Senate Vice President Mlib Tmetuchl for alleged threats made against his life from an overseas phone call and internet.
Many observers are saying that the minority of one in the new Senate will shake and changed the leadership in a few months if he is not accommodated. And it may true judging from what happened during the third caucus at Fuji Restaurant last week in which President Remengesau and his brother-in-law Surangel Whipps, Jr. refused to sign to the committee chairmanship organization which excludes Remengesau from any committee chair. However, the two endorsed the leadership line-up of Mlib as President, Kesolei as V. Pres, and Oilouch as Floor Leader according to one participant.
Another lawsuit was filed in the Palau Supreme Court on Wednesday, Nov. 26, 2008 against Senator Alfonso Diaz and his radio station-WWFM and TV station MBTV by Casmir Remengesau for defamation and infliction of emotional distress. This is the latest lawsuit after a series of criminal charges and civil lawsuits that have been filed in 2007 and this year against Senator Diaz and his media company for assault, defamation, and inflict of emotional distress. Some have been decided and most are pending in court. The suits were filed by Olkeriil Ngiralmau and Remoket Ngirngetrang separately for assault and damages. Diaz was found guilty of criminal charges against Olkeriil at Malakal Drop-Off bar in Malakal. Now the Senator faces civil charges for damages.