Weekend Report Oct. 12, 2012

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No case of abuse against Taiwan Ambassador says AG and BPS
Palau’s law enforcement agency and the Attorney General’s office says there are no investigation or cases pertaining to allegations made by the Republic of China-Taiwan’s Kuomintang lawmaker Ma Wen-Chun that Ambassador Maggie Tien physically abused her housekeeper. Ma accused Tien, side effects ROC Ambassador to Palau of abuse during a legislative session in Taipei. Ma informed reporters that a Taiwanese business person in Palau told her about the said incident, website saying that the housekeeper filed a complaint against Tien with Palau’s authorities along with an official statement about her injuries. However, treat Palau’s Bureau of Public Safety and the Attorney General’s office told OTV that there’s no such case filed or pending before each respective offices. But Ma called on the country’s Foreign Minister to launch an immediate investigation into the matter. The ROC Embassy in Palau told OTV that although the Ambassador had an Indonesian housekeeper years ago, she has never mistreated her workers and the allegations made by Ma are false. “We don’t know why these accusations were made to ruin the Ambassador’s reputation,” said Wendy Lee, Third Secretary of the Embassy. The Ministry of Foreign Affairs has since contacted Tien to clarify these allegations. It is unclear if Tien will take any legal actions against Ma.
KSPLA boards Council of Chiefs Offices
The Koror State Public Lands Authority (KSPLA) has boarded the doors of the Council of Chiefs (COC) office after numerous requests to transfer to its new office in the Capital building failed. The closure came after KSPLA passed a resolution of public necessity, as required by the lease agreement.  However, members of the Council of Chiefs revealed that both parties have two different lease agreements, one for a 50-year lease term and another with no expiry date. According to reports, KSPLA have sent numerous letters of eviction to the Council of Chiefs. Reports say that the closure is the culmination of dispute over the use of the office and attempts by the Koror State to evict the COC from the building since 2009. All documents, equipments and office supplies are locked inside the barricaded building.
Palau President and Vice President sued over unremmitted pension funds
The Palau Civil Service Pension Plan Board of Trustees has filed a civil lawsuit against the President, Vice president, Marino Rechesengel of the National Treasury and Dennis Oilouch of Budget and Planning over unremitted pension contributions. The plaintiffs claim in the 13-page lawsuit that the national government has failed to remit contributions to the Pension Plan since December 2011. The plaintiff’s claims that the government has been deducting contributions from employees since December, but has not remitted any of the contributions including the employer’s share. As of October 4, the national government owes $4.3 million dollars to the Plan, which includes interests. According to the President’s office, President Toribiong and Vice President Mariur have met with the Attorney General to consider their options regarding claims by the Pension Plan. However, the President said the numbers cited by the Pension go back to 2006. “This Administration has paid everything through the end of Fiscal Year 2011,” said both the President and the Vice President in a joint statement. The President said he considers this an in-house issue and should be resolved internally between the Pension Plan Board and the national government. A settlement to this case based upon the records of the Pension Plan and the Ministry of Finance is pending, according to the Office of the President.
Palau government extends assistance to families with no income
On Friday October 12, 2012, President Toribiong and Vice President Mariur distributed checks amounting to $700 to Palauan families who have been identified to have no income. The program also includes assistance in job placement and agriculture training aimed to help the families find a stable income. The funding assistance however comes with specific regulations. President Toribiong and Vice President Mariur both stressed that the assistance is meant to help families with essentials, not for customary obligations, tobacco or alcohol. The assistance was authorized in FY 2012 budget in March. The families will continue receiving a $100 stipend each month until the families find a stable income.
Three expelled, one on home study in vandalism incident
Three students from Palau Mission Academy were expelled from school for their involvement in a vandalism incident late last month. One student who was also involved in the said incident was not expelled, but was put in a home study program. “We are saddened that the other three students could not remain at PMA and the decision to expel them was very difficult. Our prayer is for the healing of all involved in this unfortunate event as we all move forward and upward,” said Principal Miriam Troup in a press statement to the media. On September 29, four senior PMA students entered a private property and vandalized PMA’s vehicle used by the Principal Troup. The vehicle was spray painted with racial slurs and swear words including the slashing of two tires. According to the press statement, no formal charges were filed by the school or anyone affected by this event. This incident is believed to be the first hate crime of its kind in the country.
Investigation launched into officer’s role in Micronesia women prostitution case
Guam police has launched an internal investigation into allegations that officers were involved in a brothel where Micronesian women and a 16-year-old girl were forced into prostitution. All officers have been ordered to submit to questioning and any officer who doesn’t cooperate with the investigation will face adverse action, and “charges of obstruction of justice”. Two witnesses testified during the trial last year that officers visited the brothel at the Blue House Lounge three times a week. A police officer also testified that he had sexual intercourse with a Blue House employee and that he once “advised” an employee that she couldn’t leave until she cleared her debts with the owner. The owner 70-year-old Song Ja Cha was sentenced last month to life in prison for sex trafficking.
U.S Coast Guard deployment brings more than law enforcement
The Federated States of Micronesia and the Republic of Palau recently benefited from a 12-day deployment by the U.S Coast Guard Cutter Washington. During the deployment, the crew conducted community engagements and law enforcement patrols within the Exclusive Economic Zones of the U.S, FSM and Palau in efforts to strengthen regional partnership throughout the Pacific. “This mission was a complete success and we hope to make these types of deployments more frequently as we build stronger partnerships throughout the region,” said Lt. Nate MacKenzie, commanding officer of the Coast Guard Cutter Washington. The crew also stopped over in the Ulithi Atoll to deliver humanitarian supplies including four outboard motors, water containers, rice, books and clothing. In Koror, the crew hosted US Ambassador Helen Reed-Rowe where she thanked the crew for fisheries seizure made in May 2012 as part of a joint US-Palau operation to crackdown on illegal fishing. “It’s important to remember that fish stocks are a shared concern. The only way to effectively protect our mutual interests in this region is to work together,” said MacKenzie. Through the deployment the crew also conducted coxswain, ship log, weapons qualifications and navigation training.
Yacht Suspected in Human trafficking seized in Fiji
The Maritime Safety Authority of Fiji recently seized a yacht suspected of being involved in human trafficking and sex trade. The Fiji Times reports that an 18-year-old Fijian girl, believed to be the fourth victim involved in the alleged criminal act was taken into custody. “It’s sad to say that these activities are happening in Fiji. This is the first time we have come across this type of activity and we know that there are a lot more of this nature happening in our waters,” said John Tunidau, Maritime Authority’s standard and compliance manager. Everything from the yacht was confiscated during the seizure. Tunidau said that the items and materials that were confiscated implicated the owner’s involvement in alleged criminal activities. At this time the owner and the name of the yacht have not been released, but the Maritime Authority and the border security are planning to tighten their operation in Fiji waters.
FSM set to ratify the Nagoya Protocol on Access and Benefit sharing
The Federated States of Micronesia announced at the 11th Conference of the Parties to the Convention on Biological Diversity the agreement to ratify the Nagoya Protocol on Access and Benefit Sharing. “My delegation is pleased to report that as of October 1, 2012 our national congress adopted a resolution to ratify the Nagoya Protocol and looks forward to depositing our instrument of ratification,” said Mae Bruton-Adams, member of the FSM delegation. The Republic of Palau and Vanuatu joined FSM in signing the Protocol, however both nations have yet the ratify it. The protocol addresses of the convention’s three objectives, the fair and equitable sharing of the benefits from the use of genetic resources. Benefits derived from generic resources may include the result of research and development carried out on those genetic materials, or monetary benefits from commercialization of those products based on generic resources.
Japan Embassy hands over school bus to BMS
On Tuesday, October 9, 2012, Japan Ambassador Yoshiyuki Sadaoka formally handed over a band new 30-seat microbus for Belau Modekngei School (BMS). The handing over ceremony was held at the BMS campus and was attended by the Delegate of Ngatpang State, the Director of the Bureau of Education Administration and other related officials.  The bus donated was purchased through a Japan’s Grant Assistance for Grassroots Human Security Project (GGP) grant for a total cost of $87,900. Two small microbuses BMS owns have become quite old and are prone to breakdowns. BMS’s location in Ibobang, Ngatpang, further necessitates the need for a reliable and safe transportation for participation in extracurricular activities outside of the school.