OTV Supported at Senate Committee Hearing
On Monday April 30th, the board and staff of Roll ‘em Productions and OTV attended a public hearing organized by the Senate committee on resources, commerce, trade and development to raise their concerns regarding a radio communications bill. A section of the bill introduced by Senator Ueki proposes limits to the ownership of a broadcast license. Under the proposed bill, non-citizens would be reduced to 50% and no company with any non-citizen board members or directors could hold a license. A second portion of the bill eliminates penalties and takes away the right of citizens to get copies of broadcasts when they feel they have been wrongly attacked on air. Close to sixty people attended the hearing and over a dozen voiced their concerns on the bill. Nearly all were against the proposed bill for many different reasons. Jeff Barabe, the President of Roll’em, explained that limiting ownership limits investment and that by passing the bill Palau will lose two television stations namely OTV and OTV2 er kid, stations who are dedicated to cultural and environmental preservation, promotion of health and education. Palau will also likely lose freedom of speech, media freedom, investments, jobs for Palauans and credibility in the investment world and the global community. While most of the speakers agreed with Barabe and openly supported OTV, Senator Alfonso Diaz, owner of the only other television station in Palau disagreed stating that he does not need foreigners to teach him to run his TV station and that he is also tired of providing tapes to people who complain about his comments. Minister Jackson Ngiraingas made a point that a policy should be set in place first before legislation is drafted. Barabe also stated that he would like to see more regulations regarding content to protect the people from lies and unfair politics while also ensuring news is truthful and accurate. The committee said it would take all comments into account before voting on whether to pass or kill the bill.
2012 Candidates Start to Declare
Many potential candidates are beginning to declare their candidacy for office with months left until the national elections. President Johnson Toribiong and Senator Tommy Remengesau Jr have both declared to run for the office of the President. Former Minister of State Sandra Pierantozzi is also planning to run for the President’s Office. She is schedule to announce her candidacy on Sunday May 6th. Vice President Kerai Mariur, Minister Jackson Ngirangais and Minister Stevenson Kuartei have declared to run for the Office of the Vice President in recent days. Some who are considered veterans of the OEK have also showed interests in running in this upcoming election, but so far no one has declared to run for the Senate Office. However, some current delegates have begun posting up their campaign signs. Candidates may be faced with a lot of heat from voters this year, as more people are becoming more desperate for change as the cost of fuel, water and power continues to increase.
Water Rationing Continues
Water may be restored back to 24 hours as early as next week according to Director Rengulbai of the Bureau of Public Works. For the last two weeks, the Bureau has working vigorously to repair the burned out water pump and restore water. According to Rengulbai, the repair has been completed and the installation is scheduled on Friday May 4, and if all goes well the water should return back to normal first thing next week. However if a problem should arise during the process, water rationing may continue for another two weeks until it is resolved. Despite the risks, the Bureau continues to work towards restoring water services to residents in Koror and Airai.
Kesolei Wins 1st place in World Tuna Day Contest
Palau’s very own Kambes Kesolei won first place in the Parties to the Nauru Agreement or PNA’s first World Tuna Day Art and Talent quest with his winning entry titled “Tuna, a fish with a special place in my heart”. Kesolei wrote a short story describing his life from childhood to middle age and how tuna played a special role as a staple food especially during dire economical times. $3,000 prize will be awarded to Kesolei for his entry and a short film will also be made to dramatize his story. Second place was awarded to two short story entries from the Solomon Islands with a prize of $1,000 each. PNA also awarded Charley Soulik from FSM for his reflections on tuna fishing and a poem entry describing tuna and its prey. Two other participants from the Solomon Islands also were awarded for their unique entries, one in digital artwork and another in a short story illustrating tuna as an icon. The contest was conducted to showcase Pacific talent and passion for tuna. PNA Director Transform Aqorau stated, “reading the entries reminded us of the special significance tuna has on our culture, lifestyles, livelihoods and future here in the Pacific.” The winning entries can be viewed online at www.pnatuna.com
Palau Airways Inaugural Flight
Palau’s tourism industry expects a boost this year with the inauguration of a new airline, Palau Airways. The new carrier will be servicing Palau and Taipei five times a week, bringing more visitors to the country. In addition to Palau Airways there are now three airlines servicing Taipei and Palau flights such as China Airlines and TransAsia Airways. On May 6th, Palau Airways’ inaugural flight will depart Taipei, Taiwan for Palau. Several Palau government officials including President Toribiong will be on board the inaugural flight. Last year, about 49,000 passengers traveled the Palau-Taiwan route, which was 181 percent increase compared to the year before.
Aimeliik Principal Passes Away
Principal of Aimeliik Elementary School Mashion Mongami passed away over the past weekend during a car accident near Japan-Palau Friendship bridge. Some reports indicate that Mongami may have suffered from a heart attack while driving, however that information cannot be confirmed at this time. Mongami served as the Principal of Aimeliik Elementary School for several years. In 2010, OTV reporter interviewed Mongami during a signing ceremony at the Japan Embassy where Aimeliik Elementary School received a grant for a new school bus. We at OTV send our condolences to Mongami’s friends and family.
1st Law Day Contest
In celebration of this year’s Law Day, the Palau Bar Association organized an essay contest asking students to write an essay on how the courts protect your freedom. This week, the winning entries were awarded. OTV’s Rolynda spoke to the first place winner on his experience.
8th Grade Students and Parents Workshop
In other news, eight grade students from Koror and Aimeliik Elementary School spend a day learning valuable skills towards their transition into high school. Here’s Rolynda with more.
4th Annual European Palau Film Festival
The fourth annual European Palau Film Festival kicked off on Thursday May 3rd with its first showing at Koror State Assembly Hall. Admission is completely free for those interested. Movies from Germany, Switzerland, Austria, Spain and others will be screened throughout the weekend. During the screenings, Rotary Club of Palau will have popcorn and cold drinks for sale. First showing is scheduled for 6 pm and with second at 8 pm.
Palau Red Cross Blood Drive
In honor of World Blood Donor Day coming June 14th, 2012, the Palau Red Cross Society will be setting up blood drive stations throughout Palau for people to donate blood. This coming Tuesday may 8th 2012 a blood donation station will be set up at Airai State Dispensary at 10am to 3pm for the states of Airai and Aimeliik. The Ministry of Health and the Palau Red Cross Society kindly ask and encourage the community to donate blood. OTV news will continue to report on the upcoming blood drive dates and donation station locations.
And now here’s PCS with this week’s environmental update.
Pressure on Media Freedom Continues in the Pacific
May 3rd marks 2012’s World Press Freedom Day and according to the United Nations there is still pressure restricting media freedom in the Pacific region. UN regional representative for the Pacific Matilda Bogner stated that overall the media is able to express itself relatively free within the Pacific, but it does depend on the country, the time and the circumstances. Bogner used Papua New Guinea as an example stating that there’s been brutal attacks on journalists in the country, but the government has not yet fully investigated them. She further stated that is important for the government to fully investigate those matters and to prosecute anybody who is responsible. It’s important for due process but it is also important to send a message that they do want to uphold freedom of expression in their country. In 1993, the United Nations proclaimed May 3rd as the World Press Freedom Day to encourage and develop initiatives in favor of media freedom and to assess the state of media freedom worldwide. According to the UN, the day also serves as a way of informing citizens around the world of the violations of the freedom of press. It is also a day of remembrance for journalists who lost their lives while exercising their profession.
NZ and US to Combat Human Trafficking in Pacific
The government of the United States and New Zealand has signed an agreement to work together to tackle human trafficking in the Pacific. The US Secretary of State of Homeland Security stated that the agreement will enhance cooperation between the two countries. According to the office, human trafficking is not just a problem in the Pacific, but throughout the world, and there is a common commitment to end this modern-day slavery. Janet Napolitano an official from the US Homeland Security stated that by enhancing collaboration between our two countries, and without many partners across the region, we will strengthen our efforts to prevent human trafficking, with a focus on disrupting and dismantling the transnational criminal organizations involved in that horrible trade. Napolitano further stated that the agreement will also increase and coordinate efforts with partners in the Pacific.
Annual Airlines Reinstates Free Vaccine Delivery
United Airlines has reversed its decision to discontinue the free shipment of vaccines to the Pacific. Last week, the airline announce that the free shipment carried out by Continental Micronesia to Pacific Island countries will be discontinued as it does not align with the company’s corporate efforts and strategies. The Pacific Islands Health Officers Association or PIHOA however appealed the decision. With help from the Joint Task Force Homeland Defense Interagency, PIHOA was able to convince the company to continue the shipment. The U.S Pacific Islands Vaccine Program began back in 2007.
Guam Passes Prisoner Transfer Program
Guam has passed a bill establishing the International Prisoner Transfer Program, a program that would transfer non-US citizens to their home country to serve the remainder of their sentencing. According to Senator Sam Mabini, the program will help reduce the population of the Guam Department of corrections as well as alleviate costs. The program will also align Guam with prison transfer programs in other areas in the Pacific such as CNMI, Marshall Islands, FSM, and Palau.
New Name Adopted for 2012 Tropical Cyclone
“Rai” has been adopted as the new name for tropical cyclones in the western North Pacific and South China seas in 2012, replacing “Fanapi”. The Typhoon committee under the joint auspices of the United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific, and the World Meteorological Organisation endorsed the new name at its 44th session back in February. According to the Convention of the Typhoon Committee, a country or a region that has suffered serious human casualties and economic losses from a tropical cyclone may propose to have the cyclone’s name removed from the name list. “Rai” is the stone money of Yap, FSM.
1st Annual Gear Up Science Fair and Expo Underway
Hundreds of students in Pohnpei are in preparing for Pohnpei’s first Annual Gear Up Science Fair and Expo. Currently, students are doing literature and internet research during GEAR UP computer classes on Saturdays and during after-school programs. The Australian funded “Middle School Science Program and Expo” will allow the students “hands-on” research and to feel like “real scientists”, as they will be able to test their theoretical hypothesis. Student groups will compete against their classmates at the school science fair. They will present their projects and answer a variety of questions posed by two judges; their teacher and an outside volunteer judge. The top performing groups from each classroom will advance to the Expo. It is estimated that 100 students with the best research projects will compete in a science fair expo on May 19. At the expo event, judges will go from group to group posing questions and listening to remarks. Students will be judged according to their ability to effectively communicate and present their science projects. Once completed, the team of judges will determine the top three science projects. Students will receive a variety of awards and prizes. Gear up is program funded by the U.S Department of Education, which aims to prepare students to enter and succeed in post-secondary education.
Major Trial Fraud to Start on Monday, May 7th 2012
A trial for three Marshall Islands government workers charged with conspiring to steal money from the national government is scheduled to open in the High Court next week. Jury selection for defendants Steve Samuel, Donnie Andrike and Nella Nashion is expected to begin Monday morning and, depending on how quickly selection is accomplished, prosecution and defense opening statements to the jury could follow on the same day. Cases involving the three defendants were joined for a single trial. This is one of a series of criminal prosecutions started by the government in late 2010 in a fraud investigation that alleges more than $500,000, mostly from the United States government, was stolen by about 10 people. Monday’s trial involves alleged theft of Ministry of Health funding that was paid to R&L company for equipment that was not provided. Samuel, Andrike and Nashion are facing two counts each of cheating, forgery, conspiracy, misconduct in a public office, and private financial gain by a government employee. At a three-day preliminary hearing in May last year, Judge James Plasman dismissed additional grand larceny and removal of government property charges, saying the government had not proved probable cause for these charges.
Marshall Island Receive Donations from REPAC
The Republic of the Marshall Islands has finally received a container full of donations from Reach Out Pacific, a non-profit organization based in Hawaii. On February 26, Senator Wakai and volunteer, which included student volunteers from Farrington High School loaded the containers with overhead projectors, television sets with stands, computer printers, toys and books. Various donors contributed to the container full of supplies, which also included nutritional supplements and a wheelchair. According to the Office of the President, this is the first of many other donations that will follow. Senator Glenn Wakai, founder of REPAC has donated thousands of supplies to the Pacific region since its establishment back in 2005.
Marshall Islands Countdown to London 2012 Olympic Games
The Republic of the Marshall Islands marked 100 days to go until the start of the London 2012 Olympic Games with various sporting events. The Marshall Islands National Olympic Committee (MINOC) is in the midst of hosting its annual National Games, which takes place each April leading up to the nation’s May 1 Constitution Day celebration. Recognition of the 100-day milestone made the day’s sporting tournaments even more competitive as the athletes look forward with pride and excitement to the opening ceremony of the London 2012 Olympic Games, when the Marshall Islands will be represented by their best athletes in the greatest sporting competition in the world. The Republic of the Marshall Islands is planning to send a delegation numbering around 20, including five athletes, their coaches, MINOC officials, Marshall Islands’ H.E. President Christopher Loeak and Madam First Lady Anono Loeak and various support staff. Marshall Islands’ athletes will also benefit from Pre-Games Training Camps hosted by Edge Hill University and the Liverpool Aquatics Center.
Marshall Islands Celebrates 33rd Constitution Birthday
The Marshall Islands celebrated its 33rd annual Constitution Day Tuesday, with thousands of students, teachers, school administrators, government workers and private sector representatives parading on Amata Kabua Boulevard. The short distance parade ended at the festively decorated capital building and the VIP viewing stand.?The bunting and streamers decorating the capital building, the stage and the grounds were a first in the history of these annual celebrations, adding spirit to the eventful day. Over the past week, dozens of workers washed capital windows, painted capital walls and road markings, cut grass, and made other repairs to spruce up the facility for Tuesday’s event. Across the street from the capital, many local groups and businesses had bar-b-que grills fired up before the parade’s begun and offered food and refreshments for sale throughout the day of activities that included a concert, sporting competitions, and a second parade of floats. Speaking at the official ceremony, President Christopher Loeak told the thousands of people present that his aim is to see a “Marshall Islands in which no person or atoll are left out of the journey of development and progress. A Marshall Islands in which every citizen can continue to live a life of dignity, self- respect, decency and hope and where every citizen feels proud to say, ‘I am a Marshallese!”
And for more sports news here’s Mike with Mike-ro sports.
HAPPY SENIOR CITIZENS DAY 🙂
Today is national senior citizen’s day. And a series of celebrates is happening all around Palau. Here’s Rolynda with more.
That’s all we have for this week’s news.Once again, Happy Senior Citizen’s day to all seniors. I’m Blaire Phillips signing out.