Wondering why people are afraid. Here is my latest article in Tia Belau I would to offer as a response to your question. I may not satisfy your question but at least you know that I have thought about this problem seriously.
Ngerulmud Let Me Be Free
With loud gun shots and bombs, democracy fought its way into Palau almost at the same time when the Americans beat the Japanese during the deadly WWII. From talking with old people, it would be safe to say that Palauans were very fearful and not willing participants of democracy as we would want to believe. They just quietly accepted and followed what they were told by their American administrators as they did with the Spaniard Christianity, German industrialization, and the Japanese indoctrination. At best they were quiet participants of democracy not fully knowing its precepts (techel a tekoi ma ikel osisecheklel).
Today democracy is deeply engrained in our thinking as it has been implanted in our Constitution forever. But this time it is not the foreigners who we are afraid of but our own OEK. On August 18, 2009 House of Delegates session, loud strong words were shot out of the symbolic dome of democracy at Ngerulmud against two citizens in particular for exercising their freedom of speech. To leave no doubt that views, especially in differing or opposing position to OEK, from the public are not only not welcomed but must be silenced permanently, a powerful congressman likened these two citizens to barking dogs.
The greatest fear for Palauans is retribution in the form of public shame. For a congressman to single out citizens by calling their names during a televised session is a sure way to assassinate the character and reputation of these citizens. I admit that there are only few Palauans, who have the nerve of steel, to stand up and be a target of criticism from the powerful members of OEK. Maybe senators and delegates are not aware but most Palauans are very fearful to express their opinions. One of the reasons why people do not show up to public hearings conducted by OEK for many years already is the fear of being criticized.
If a person like me, who is known to be very vocal in expressing his views, can be disregarded or intentionally be put down in public, ordinary people in the community rather be silent than be subjected to hostility from the mighty OEK. To be called short of being a dog by your own congress is a direct insult and slap to the face of democracy. Only in Palau members of Congress can attack the citizens for exercising their rights as if it was the norm. Yes, I did stand up against a senator who degraded citizens he was having problems with. So for the rest of members of the Congress to tolerate this behavior is a shame and set back on our development as a free nation.
I therefore appeal to senators and delegates to be open and tolerable to diversity of views from the people. And to discipline its members when they feel that they have the right to criticize or put down Palauan citizens for exercising our constitutional right and freedom to free speech. Please allow us to be free to hold views even though they are different or contradictory to members of OEK. This is democracy after all and OEK members swore to defend our rights and freedom. God Bless Palau and let freedom rings in the hearts of every Palauan.