Palau’s President sued for alleged mishandling of Uighurs’ Funds
In an effort to close the U.S. Detention Center in Guantanamo Bay, approved Obama sought refuge for the Chinese Uighur detainees who otherwise risked mistreatment if they were repatriated to China. In an act that some characterized as a great humanitarian gesture and others as a brilliant diplomatic move, the President of Palau offered its assistance to the U.S. in its time of need by extending asylum to the Uighurs. The President of Palau now faces a lawsuit over issues surrounding the Uighurs’ resettlement to the Pacific island nation of Palau. On March 7, 2012, Five Senators of the Republic of Palau filed a private civil suit against Palau’s President and Vice President in both their official capacity and private capacity over the use of the funds provided by the Government of the United States to the Government of Palau in the amount of approximately $500,000 for the resettlement of five Uighurs. The suit alleges that President Toribiong took personal charge of the Uighur funds and that the funds were ordered only to be disbursed pursuant to the President’s authorization. The lawsuit contends that approximately $250,000 of the funds were disbursed in large lump sum payments to Toribiong Enterprises and to the President’s sister- in -law, Sandy Toribiong, for housing, renovation, and furniture for the Uighurs’ residences. These payments were allegedly made without any competitive bidding and contrary to Palau’s procurement laws. The lawsuit claims that the President’s conduct was an ethical violation in that his immediate family members directly financially benefited from these disbursements. The lawsuit also alleges one cause of action unrelated to the Uighurs, but is also another issue of financial mismanagement, claiming that 2009 audit reports show that the President and Vice President spent more funds then the Executive Branch were authorized by Congress to spend and such spending was in violation of the Republic’s laws.
Budget Bill passes in late night session
The Budget bill passed the both the House and Senate last night authorizing nearly $61 million for fiscal year 2012 and containing some sweeping new amendments. The Budget Bill, as passed, garnished a split vote in the Senate with a vote of 8 yes to 5 no votes. The five Senators that voted “no” included Sen. Whipps Jr., Remengesau, Chin, Oilouch and Baules. In the House, the votes were also split 6 yes, 2 no and 6 house members refusing to take a position by abstaining. The six abstaining votes were counted as yes votes. The two no votes were Del. Rafael and Nabeyama. Del. Isechal and Yangilmau were not present. Tourists will feel the effect of the new budget with an increase in the hotel room tax to 12%. This tax now also applies to cabin rooms on a ship. There is also a 100% increase in the green fee collected on departure from $15 to $30. The budget allocates the monies collected from the “green fee” to be split, so that 50% of the funds go to the operation of Protected Area Network while the other 50% is diverted for the improvement of the water and sewer system of the Republic. In fact, the first $200,000 collected shall go to Airai State for their protection of the Palau’s main water source. The bill also directs Social Security to deposit all funds received by the National Government that are designated as Medical Savings fund to be allocated as such and not re-directing payments to the Social Security Fund as a priority as it has been doing under Social Security Regulation 1025. The Budget also includes language legitimizing the President’s emergency expenditures as a result of the Ameliik Power plan disaster. The Budget specifically includes language that the President’s past expenditures were made in compliance with House Joint Resolution that required the funds to be authorized and appropriated by the OEK. Notably, the legitimacy of the emergency expenditures is the subject of a pending lawsuit that was filed against the President filed by Alan Seid. The Budget also includes language promising that a future proposed Supplemental Budget Act to be submitted within the next 60 days will address the President’s 2011 over-expenditures, a matter that is the subject of another pending lawsuit filed against the President by five sitting Senators. The Budget Bill also recognizes that the President will ask the OEK to insert language into the not yet submitted “Supplemental Budget” to suspended the laws regarding Presidential reprogramming of funds. The OEK accepted language proposed by the President which would allow the President to use grants imposed by foreign donors for purposes inconsistent with the intention of the grant, if both houses of the OEK do not reject his request within 20 days. After the 20-day period, the use of the “inconsistent” use of the grant will have been deemed to be lawful.
VICIOUS ATTACKS and ROBBERIES continues in Koror
Another violent attack occurred last weekend in downtown Koror. Three Filipino nationals were viciously struck and beaten by 3 masked men at MJ’s burger hut. The masked men used machetes and a baseball bat in the assault. According to witnesses the assailants drove up to the fast food wagon, got out of their car and started attacking the customers. One victim was reportedly struck so hard on the back of his head that it cracked his head open. Rondy has a recap of the week of crime.
Burglars ransack Public Health
In addition to all the street crime this week, Public Health located at the old President’s office, was ransacked on the early morning of Thursday, March 8th. Rondy Ronny went to the scene of the crime later that day and here’s what he learned about the robbery.
Citizens gather at Bethelehem park to discuss rising gas prices and crimes
On Thursday, March 8th a group called Palau People’s Committee gathered with other concerned citizens at Bethlehem circle to voice their opinions about inflation, the minimum wage, the ADB loan and crime. Moses Uludong and Santy Asanuma conducted the meeting and specifically discussed the unaffordable prices of gas, water, sewer, and power, the lack of leadership by our government and how the elected officials suffer less than 95% of the population. Even our very own Rondy Ronny stepped up to mic to speak his mind about a politician’s decision not to promise the people anything in order to avoid people’s expectations of him if he’s elected again. This is one of many movements held by the public as a result of the frustrations brought on by social and economical issues.
Alleged murderer of Japanese Chef arraigned in Court
Boy, 9, charged in shooting may testify against mom
The 9-year-old boy who was charged in the accidental shooting of a Palauan girl in Washington said he brought to school to fend off bullies and agreed to testify against his mother on weapons offenses as part of a deal with prosecutors. The boy’s mother and her boyfriend were to blame for leaving the handgun in question unattended and easily accessible for her son to take.
The boy acknowledged wrongdoing in shooting his 8-year-old classmate, Amina Kocer-Bowman, and waived his right to a trial. The deal requires him to remain in the custody of his paternal uncle, to submit a sample of his DNA, to avoid further contact with his mother, and to write a letter of apology to the girl and her family, court documents for the agreement show.
PPUC to raise electric rates in May
PPUC proposed changes to its rates is scheduled to take effect this year May 2012. The existing electric rates are subject to an annual review and modifications when necessary. A series of public hearings are scheduled to take place in each Republic of Palau State beginning April 09 to April 28, 2012. The public is invited to attend presentation of the new rates and to present their views on the subject matter. Interested parties may obtain copies of the proposed changes at the Customer Service Department in PPUC’s main office in Medalaii and may submit written comments regarding the proposed rates directly to the PPUC Main Office in Madalaii. For more information, you may contact PPUC’s Customer Service Department at 488-3870.
Tonga, FSM, and RMI urged to sign land mine ban
The Pacific nations were called on by the New Zealand Campaign Against Landmines to sign a United Nations treaty on banning landmines. Tonga, the Marshall Islands and the Federated States of Micronesia have yet to sign though. The Coordinator for CALM in New Zealand says Tonga seems interested, but the RMI and FSM are holding out reportedly because of their links to the United States, which has not signed the treaty. In an interview with Radio Australia she said that’s no excuse because Palau was able to decide for itself back in 2007 and join up to the land mine treaty and that Palau has exactly the same relationship with the United States under their compact free association, so that’s not to say that it can’t be done. CALM is also urging the New Zealand Government to urge the Obama administration to sign up.
Micronesian Youth Services Network (MYSN) conference in Palau
On March 15th and 16th , the 8th Annual Micronesian Youth Services Network (MYSN)Regional Conference, will be held in Palau at the Ngarachamayong Cultural center. Set to be the largest youth gathering in the region, the conference will include members from Guam, CNMI, FSM, the Marshall Islands, and Palau. Each year the MYSN holds a regional conference to bring together youth service providers, policy makers, educators, and the youth to discuss dialogue and develop strategies to improve policy and practice within and throughout the region. This year’s theme “CARVE IT! for a healthier lifestyle” was designed to encourage participants to reflect on their health status and to develop personal, familial, and community strategies to improve health lifestyles. “CARVE IT” implies a commitment of permanency in behaviors and attitudes that will reverse the current trend of premature deaths due to non-communicable diseases or NCD’s in Micronesia.
Share the Road Campaign in Babeldaob
In continuing the campaign for promoting healthy lifestyles and behavior, the Share the Road Campaign launched the signs on Babeldaob road, with the first sign unveiled in front of the entrance to Ibobang, Ngatpang State. The various agencies including the Koror State Public Works, the Belau Triathlon Federation and Palau Women and Sports Commission have combined resources to purchase and make 20 Share the Road Signs and the campaign. The campaign is to provide awareness for drivers, cyclist, runners, walkers and anyone enjoying the beautiful roads of Palau, to enjoy and share it with others for various road use and reasons, from driving to ones destination to walking and exercising for healthy living. For more information about the “Share the Road Signs”, please contact the Palau NOC Office at 488-6562 or email to firstname.lastname@example.org. Please “share the Road” with others!
PCS Weekly Update
And now heres Yalap Yalap with this weeks PCS report.
Taiwan Scholarship 2012 open for applications
The “Taiwan Scholarship 2012”, for undergraduate, master or doctoral degrees, sponsored by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of China, is currently accepting applications until April 13th 2012. The Embassy of the Republic of China welcomes Palauan applicants who meet the criteria set by the scholarship program. The Palau National Scholarship Board will administer the process of receiving submissions of completed application documents. It will also conduct the screening process on all applications. The scholarship recipients will receive a roundtrip ticket between Palau and Taipei, as well as a monthly stipend of approximately 830 US dollars and approximately 1,000 US dollars for a degree program to cover tuition and other fees. The Scholarship spans from five, 3 to 5 years for pursuit of undergraduate, master or doctoral degree, respectively, including the conditionally optional first year Mandarin learning. For a complete set of detailed information on the Taiwan Scholarship 2012, please contact the PNSB at 488-3608/5424.
$4 Million Emergency Grant from Japan
On March 2nd Ambassador Yoshiyuki Sadaoka and President Johnson Toribiong exchanged notes on Japan’s emergency grant aid of up to 4 million dollars to cope with the power crisis in Palau. The emergency grant funds the installation of four 500 KW power generators at the Malakal Power Plant. This comes as a result of the fire that broke out at Aimeliik Power Plant last November, causing the electricity supply to decrease by half. President Toribiong then issued an emergency declaration on November 7, 2011. Japan decided to immediately provide support in the area of electricity supply including the provision of power generators after receiving requests for emergency aid from Palau. The emergency grant is another example that shows the strong relationship between two countries. The Government and the People of Japan hope that this emergency grant aid will contribute to the stable condition of electricity supply in Palau.
OTEC power plan moves forward
Japanese OTEC energy experts briefed President Christopher Loeak and his Cabinet Wednesday on the opportunity for building the first commercial ocean thermal energy conversion — OTEC — plant in the Pacific in the Marshall Islands. Together with the government, the Japanese group is moving to conduct a site feasibility study for an OTEC power plant at Kwajalein Atoll. Professor Haruo Uehara, an OTEC pioneer and officials from partner company GEC Co. Ltd. of Japan, are visiting Majuro and Kwajalein this week. Japanese officials say the Marshall Islands is the most suitable location in the world for an OTEC plant because of the combination of power demand at Ebeye Island and the neighboring US Army missile testing base. The 43-member Association of Small Island States has endorsed the Marshall Islands as the first site for an OTEC plant, which is expected to help the RMI access international funding to support the feasibility study for Kwajalein.
RMI President tells Chamber of Commerce: ‘Let’s work together”
Recently elected Marshall Islands President Christopher Loeak told the Marshall Islands Chamber of Commerce Wednesday he wants to strengthen a government-business partnership to create more jobs in the country. He brought most of his Cabinet ministers to the meeting that produced a turnout of more than 100 people and was nationally broadcast on the government’s radio station. Both Loeak and new Chamber of Commerce President Brenda Alik-Maddison said Wednesday’s meeting was the first of a what is planned to be an ongoing conversation between the public and private sectors. Cabinet Minister Tony deBrum said a healthy economy and strong business sector are essential to good governance. He said the new government needed some time to get organized, but added “you will find that this administration will be totally cooperative with the business community.”
Educators & Health specialists attend Master Training Program in Guam
The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration is working with the Pacific Behavioral Health Collaborating Council to create a program tailored to Pacific Islanders to reduce substance abuse and mental illness. Eighteen educators and behavioral health specialists from the FSM, American Samoa, CNMI, the Marshall Islands, Palau and Guam participated in a one-week master training development program in Guam this week. Palau’s Minister of Health, Dr. Stevenson Kuartei, was a panelist at the training and said the 18 individuals will help with the battle against the second-largest epidemic worldwide – non-communicable diseases, such as cancer, chronic lung diseases and diabetes among others. These 18 individuals will also develop a one-year plan focused on an area identified by their respective jurisdictions. They will also receive a certification from the Master Trainer Development Program.
UN report reveals unsatisfactory numbers of women in Politics
According to the United Nations at the end of 2011, women accounted for only 10.7 percent of lawmakers in Arab states, barely the same number as before the protests which brought down leaders in Tunisia, Egypt, Libya and Yemen. “Despite the promising start to the year, the Arab region remains the only one in the world without any parliament that includes at least 30 percent women,” said the report by the new UN Women agency and the Inter-Parliamentary Union. Qatar and Saudi Arabia were two of seven parliaments with no women. The others are Belize, Micronesia, Nauru, Palau and the Solomon islands. The report stated that these developments are less than satisfactory. The UN said about one third of all parliaments around the world where more than 30 percent of lawmakers are women, are states in democratic transition which brought in special laws after conflict to boost sex equality in politics.
1st Micronesian to be Pastor in Maui church
Tri-Isle Association United Church of Christ will license its first woman of Micronesian descent as a minister Saturday at the sanctuary of the Iao United Church of Christ in Wailuku, Maui. Youlida H. Yoruw will become an authorized minister of the United Church of Christ and serve as the minister for the Micronesian ministry at Iao United Church of Christ. Yoruw was born in Pohnpei, grew up in Kosrae and moved to Maui to continue her education. Throughout her life, she has been involved with the church and has had a strong faith, including a call to the ministry.
China presents $50,000 to FSM to combat dengue
A signing ceremony and handover of certificate took place on February 23 at the FSM Department of Foreign Affairs between Secretary Lorin Robert and Charge d’ affaires ad interim, Mr. Wen Zhencai of the Embassy of the People’s Republic of China, for the emergency assistance of $50,000 to assist in dealing with the dengue fever outbreak in the State of Yap. The Assistance was made in response to an earlier request by the Department of Health and Social Affairs as part of concerted efforts to assist the State of Yap with the dengue fever situations.?? According a recent report from the Yap State Department of Health Services, the fever peaked during the month of December and seems to have drastically been controlled in terms of the occurrence of new cases in recent days.
CNMI 8th grader wins regional spelling bee contest
An eighth grader from Chacha Oceanview Junior High School in Saipan, became the champion of the 40th Annual Scripps Regional Spelling Bee held at the Sheraton Laguna Guam Resort last Saturday.? Marci Ann Ermitanio topped 73 other students from both public and private schools in Guam, the CNMI, Palau, and Pohnpei during the tense rounds in last Saturday’s competition. The Saipan student took home a 750 dollar cash prize and a trip to Washington, D.C. to represent the region in the national spelling competition on May 30. Ermitanio spelled 16 words correctly in the contest, earning the slot to the national event this year as representative of the Pacific region. It was the first time that students from Pohnpei were able to participate in the National Scripps Spelling Bee competition.
And now here’s Mike Fox with this weeks sports recap.
Thank you for watching the OTV weekend report. Have a safe weekend 😉