Weekend Report Aug. 17, 2012

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2012 Palau Debate a Success
2012 Presidential Debate
The 2012 Presidential and Vice Presidential debate was highly successful and brought a lot of awareness for the upcoming primary elections and the national election later this year. Both debates brought hundreds of supporters and members of the public to the Ngaramayong Cultural Center to observe three Presidential candidates and four Vice Presidential candidates on issues ranging from the rule of law, education, deficits to infrastructure maintenance. The event also brought a lot of attention through its LIVE radio and television broadcast by OTV and 89.9 Palau Wave Radio. Both debates were sponsored by the Palau Bar Association and Palau Chamber of Commerce and moderated by Ngirakebou Roman Bedor and Oldiais Ngirkelau.  Both events marks Palau’s first Vice Presidential debate and second Presidential debate.

OTV would also like to take a moment to correct several wrongful statements made by Alfonso Diaz on his morning talk show about the debate. Diaz stated “foreigners came up with the questions for the debate.”  Not true.  In fact, the questions were composed by 100% Palauans who are members of the Palau Bar Association  and the Chamber of Commerce.  Diaz also stated that there was “no bidding” and its coverage was “exclusive.”  The debate was conceived and produced by Roll’em Productions and offered FREE to all radio stations including Diaz’s WWFM station for broadcasting.   Diaz stated that “we’ll do it as Palauans, no foreigners”; however, the entire production of both debate events were done by young Palauans who were trained at OTV.   We do not know Diaz would try to discredit the hard work of so many Palauans in creating a successful Presidential and Vice-presidential debate; however, we hope that in the future his on-air statements are more accurate.
US Embassy in Palau Responds to Paid Political Advertisement
A political paid advertisement that was published in Tia Belau newspaper on Monday August 13, 2012 claiming that the United States Government does not like Presidential candidate Tommy Remengesau Jr prompted a response from the United States Embassy in Palau.  The Embassy stated that the United States Government and the U.S Embassy in Palau are completely neutral in all political races and expect the outcomes will be decided by the people of Palau.  The Embassy futher noted that it is unfortunate that certain individuals via paid advertisements are circulating misinformation and distortions regarding the US government and its foreign policy in Palau.
Palau Considering Deal for Super Purse Seiner in Worlds First Shark Sanctuary
A Taiwanese company Fong Haur Fishery Co., Ltd. has responded to Palau’s Request for Proposal for a company to build, deliver, manage and operate a Purse Seiner Fishing Vessel.  Under the proposal, Fong Haur will operate a Super Tuna Purse Seiner, which is capable of catching 1,300 metric tons or nearly 3 million pounds of yellow fin tuna in a single month worth over 7 million dollars.  Under the proposal the fishing company would pay Palau a flat fee of $200,000 USD dollars per year to Palau and would be exempt from any additional taxes or fees.  Conservation groups are concerned about allowing a Purse Seiner in the Worlds First Shark Sanctuary claiming it to be a conflict. The President’s office has stated that that a contract has not been signed and that they are reviewing the proposal and will be discussing it with consultants and the Senate.
Palau’s 2010 Audit completed new Auditor for FY 2011
Palau’s 2010 fiscal year audit report has finally been completed, and contract with the new auditor for fiscal year 2011 has been signed. Deloitte and Touche, a firm that has conducted Palau’s yearly audit for years was not contracted for the FY 2011 audit. Fortenberry and Ballard, an off-island firm will be conducting Palau’s 2011 audit despite reports indicating that Deloitte and Touche’s bid was cheaper.  The contractual agreement shows that the government and the contractor agreed on an audit fee amounting to $325,000.
NDBP Announces New President
NDBP President
The National Development Bank of Palau this week announced Sandra Mincer as its new President and the first Palauan woman to ever hold the President position. Mincer graduated Valedictorian from Palau Mission Academy in 1980, holds a double degree Bachelor of Arts for Business & Economics with specialization in Business Administration. She’s a Certified Anti-Money Laundering Specialist and attained Certified Public Manager designation in the U.S. Mincer has over 25 years experience in the financial industry, with her last position at the State of Nevada as the Acting Deputy Commissioner of Financial Institutions. Mincer fills the vacant position left by the bank’s former President Kaleb Udui Jr. who resigned last year.
Historical Knee Surgery Performed in Majuro hospital
A medical team from the United States has performed historical knee replacement surgeries in the Republic of Marshall Islands’ Majuro Hospital. Hundreds of local residents have received major medical services from the U.S based Canvasback Missions in a form of knee replacements, arthroscopic surgeries and other vital services that are not normally provided in the Marshalls. Canvasback founder and team leader Jacque Spence brought 17 American doctors, nurses, physical therapist, anesthesiologists, equipment maintenance and support staff to provide medical services. Aside from the medical services, the Canvasback team has also been repairing hospital equipments that have remained unrepaired for years. In May of this year, the Canvasback team performed total hip and knee replacement surgeries, and provided other medical service to the island of Ebeye. The Canvasback was established in 1986 to provide medical services to remote islands in the Pacific.
European Union Recognizes Marshalls’ performance

The Marshall Islands will receive an additional one million Euros about 1.2 million US dollars from the European Union for good performance. Finance Minister Dennis Momotaro and EU Attaché for the Marshall Islands Malcolm Ponton signed an agreement in Majuro confirming the additional funding under the EU’s 10th Economic Development Fund. A mid-term review of the RMI’s EU-funded renewable energy program recommended the additional funding, and this was memorialized with the agreement. While the overall renewable energy project funded by EU that involves the Marshall Islands, Federated States of Micronesia and Palau is about one-year behind schedule, Ponton said the Marshall Islands is not behind schedule. “All of the equipment for the household solar systems is on island,” he said. “It is a question of getting them to the outer islands and installed.” Although the agreement does not specify how the additional one million Euros will be allocated, Ponton said the thinking is that it likely will be focused on providing more solar power systems to schools located on remote islands.
WHO Welcomes Landmark Decision from Australia’s High Court on Tobacco

The World Health Organization (WHO) strongly welcomes the landmark decision from Australia’s High Court to dismiss a legal challenge from the tobacco industry, and calls on the rest of the world to follow Australia’s tough stance on tobacco marketing. Several major tobacco companies challenged Australia’s legislation to require cigarettes and other tobacco products to be sold in plain packaging without any branding.  But the industry’s attempt to derail this effective tobacco control measure failed. As of December 2012, Australia will be the first country to sell cigarettes in drab, olive-green packaging without branding. With Australia’s victory, public health enters a brave new world of tobacco control.  Plain packaging is a highly effective way to counter industry’s ruthless marketing tactics. It is also fully in line with the WHO Framework Convention on Tobacco Control. The case is being watched closely by several other countries who are considering similar measures to help fight tobacco.
Philippines devastated by massive rains and floods
Floods in the Philippines
Torrential rain and floods in the Philippines particularly in Manila has forced nearly one million people out of their homes and caused nearly 100 deaths. The National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council said that deaths are mostly caused from drowning. Officials say half the City was waist or neck deep in water.  Roads, hospitals and other essential services are severely disrupted. According to reports, Quezon City appeared to be the worst affected area with landslides. Quezon City is home to St. Luke’s Medical Center, a hospital that takes in patients from Asia and Micronesia on medical referral. According to sources in the Philippines, some patients are due to return but it’s nearly impossible due to current conditions.
Dengue Outbreak threatens Yap once again
Dengue Outbreak in Yap

Officials of the state Department of Health have been deliberating the issue on the recent dengue outbreak which has become a threat as it increasingly rise in both Yap Proper and its neighboring Islands. The Department of Health has provided the number of suspected cases it’s meeting earlier this month. However, the department reported that of all the blood samples sent off island, only 2 have been confirmed as “Dengue Fever Type 2,” the same type of dengue which has been circulating around the population during the previous outbreak from late 2011 to early part of 2012.  The Department of Health has reported a total of 145 suspected cases in the state in which 86 were on Yap Main Island and 59 were in the Neighboring Islands. So far, only eight of the total reported cases have been admitted to the hospital ward. As discussed in the meeting, health workers will be deployed into the community to assist by eliminating mosquito breeding sites as one way of dealing with the situation just like the previous outbreak. The Department of Health is also urging the public to continue to clean around their homes so all mosquito breeding sites and other potential areas are eliminated.
Marshall Islands education improving
Educational achievement in the Marshall Islands remains poor, but according to the Minister of Education the three-year trend is showing improvement. “We would like to see bigger improvements, but we are seeing positive trends in al three grades that are tested,” said Education Minister Dr. Hilda Heine about the results of the 2012 Marshall Islands Standard Achievement Test or MISAT. “Overall we are seeing improvements,” she said. But, she acknowledged, “We still have a long way to go”. To stimulate continuing improvements, Heine and Education Secretary Gary Ueno have established a series of improvement guidelines for every school, as well as changes focused on fostering academic improvements.
Massive pumice rock “island” seen floating in the Pacific

An “island” of floating pumice rocks bigger in area than Israel has been spotted drifting in Pacific Ocean by New Zealand’s Royal Navy. Officers on a Royal New Zealand Air Force ship saw the rock raft southwest of Raoul Island Thursday. It measures an astounding 300 miles in length and more than 30 miles in width. Lt. Tim Oscar of the Royal Australian Navy described the rocks as “the weirdest thing I’ve seen in 18 years at sea,” according to the Australian Associated Press. Pumice forms when lava from a volcano cools rapidly. Trapped gas in the hardening lava creates pores in the rocks, which allow them to float. The Navy said scientists believe these chunks off New Zealand’s coast were likely spewed to the surface by an underwater volcano, possibly the Monowai seamount, which has been active along the Kermadec arc.
Tongan wreck maybe Pirate treasure ship

The Port-au-Prince, a British privateer that was attacked by local Tongan warriors in the 1800’s was thought to be lost until a local diver in the Ha’apai group of islands found wreckage last month that has similar features. However officials are not certain if the wreck is in fact the Port-au-Prince. Local divers are now mapping the wreck for further study, but conditions are too rough for dives until later this year. According to Darren Rice, one of two divers who visited the wreck, the area in which the wreck was found is renowned for its rough seas. “There’s very little left of the ship, it’s been pounded by 13-16.5 foot swells for 200 years, so there’s wreckage scattered all over the sea floor, “ said Rice. If the wreck proved to be the Port-au-Prince, the treasure was likely to be still intact. It is believed that a considerable amount of copper, silver and gold is with the wreck. The ship was originally built in France, but was captured by the British and set sail from London in 1805 as a privateer. After almost two years at sea, it planned to hunt whales migrating through the Pacific and made its way to Tonga. King Finau ‘Ulukalala II ordered the crew killed and sunk the ship with the treasure still on board.
EQPB Acting Director completes U.S. Security program
EQPB Acting Director Roxeanne Blesam

Current Acting Director of Palau’s Environmental Quality Protection Board Roxeanne Blesam recently completed the Asia-Pacific Center for Security Studies workshop in Hawaii titled “The environment and security in the Pacific island region: priority risks, challenges, and actions for a secure future”. The workshop focused on development of a better understanding of the security risks posed by processes of environmental change in the Pacific region. Blesam stressed objectives of the course transcended traditional security issues and raised the issues of food security, coast relocations, political ramifications of climate change and other societal challenges.
Palau Olympians finally return Home
Palau Olympians return from the 2012 London Olimpics
Last night, our Palau Olympians finally made the long 7,500 mile journey back from London.  After what was sure to have been a whirlwind two months, OTV was on hand to help welcome our Olympians.  There was a intimate gathering of family and friends including some anxious young siblings.  One by one our heroes made it out to the arms of their loved ones. We can’t wait to hear those stories so stay tuned to OTV as we catch up with our Palau Olympians.
PNG Sports Minister cracks whip on Pacific Games
Well with the Olympics officially over, it’s time to turn our attention to what has been called the “Olympics of the Pacific”, of course we’re talking about the Pacific Games slated to begin in 2015 at Port Moresby PNG.  With another 2 1/2 years to go, newly appointed Minister for Sports and 2015 Pacific Games Justin Tkatchenko is not taking any chances and during his first press conference he basically said, “enough with the talking, let’s get on with it!” Tkatchenko admitted “we are well behind schedule with two and half years to ensure venues infrastructure and facilities are ready on time for the July 2015 Games”. That’s when Tkatchenko went on to add, “Basically I am saying enough of talking and let’s get on with the job,” the Minister said his job is to ensure everything is done on time and to the full satisfaction of the Pacific Games. He wasted no time meeting with the PGA. Tkatchenko would go on to say that PNG is looked upon as the “Big Brother” of the Pacific so we really have to show our colours here. Tkatchenko is also overseeing the preparations for the PNG grassroots Olympics called the PNG Games which will be held from November 19-30 with representation expected from all the 22 provinces in the country. The PNG Games is the brain child of the PNG Sports Foundation’s talent identification program which is also a grassroots to gold program. Tkatchenko said the government has put a lot o money already and it is every important to staging this event as a lead up to the 2015 Pacific Games.
Canada to host the World Outrigger Championships?!?!  Fiji to host the Hockey World League regionals?!?!?! 
Don’t let the headlines fool you, upon closer inspection things aren’t entirely what they seem.  Fiji is to host the first regional round for the newly launched Hockey World League as in field hockey. Fiji Hockey Association president Dr Robin Mitchell says this regional meet will involve Papua New Guinea, Samoa, Vanuatu and hosts Fiji. “Fiji is the host for one of the first leg of the series and this should be held around the middle of December.”
The South Pacific comes to Calgary hosts World Va’a Outrigger Canoe Sprint Championships
First time world canoe championships have been held so far north and so far inland
The winning teams from the Pacific nations will then progress to the second round in Delhi, India for men next February and the women to Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. Now there is no play on words with this headline, The World Va’a Outrigger Canoe Sprint Championships was in fact held in Calgary this past week, at the Glenmore Reservoir to be exact. Event organizer Kristine Malmqvist tells me it’s the first time these world canoe championships have been held so far north, and so far inland. Some 1,200 athletes have made it with Hawaii featuring the most paddlers with 318. Not surprisingly, Hawaii tied New Zealand with the most medals but held the edge with 23 gold medals compared to New Zealands 16. Hey if Outrigger canoeing can make it that far north, maybe it’s not too farfetched that Ice Hockey can make it to the pacific after all.  Naaaaahh.
Palau Football Assoc. announces After-School Program starting Aug. 20th
Palau Football Assoc. announces After-School program starting Aug.20th
Finally in local sports, The Palau Football Association is pleased to announce that the after school soccer program will begin on Monday August 20th.  The after school soccer program is open to all kids who are 5 to 12 years of age and will be held on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays from 5p to 6p at the Palau national track and field.  Registration only costs ten dollars per child for this four-week program.  You can contact Charles Mitchell at 778-9830 for more info. And for the adults, registration in now open for the PFA adult soccer league.  The Palau Football Association is hoping that at least six teams will register for this three month long season.  It costs $200 for each team to register and registration ends on September 16th.

1 thought on “Weekend Report Aug. 17, 2012”

  1. And how many sharks will the super purse seiner “accidentally” catch? Said sharks will be worth more in Taipei than any amount of Tuna, and Fong Haur knows it.
    Is Palau’s diving industry worth a couple hundred grand a year?

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