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Special Report

Koror, Palau, Micronesia (Oceania Television Network, June 03, 2011)

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NDBP President placed on Administrative leave

National Development Bank of Palau Board of Directors has placed NDBP President Kaleb Udui, Jr. on administrative leave with pay until the Attorney General has concluded the investigation requested by President Toribiong into the Alan Seid-Midcorp settlements and other matters. Udui was also asked to return bank keys and any bank documents and equipment before the effective date of leave on May 27. A similar letter was also sent to the bank’s special asset Manager Cathy Francisco. She was also put on administrative leave effective June 6 until matters is solved. The board’s action stemmed after receiving a letter from President Toribiong warning them that the failure to take action on the return of a portion of the Besas land to NDBP condones violation of fiduciary duties. Reports indicates that not only is the AG investigating the Alan Seid Midcorp matter, she is also investigating the PRA-Phillip Reklai loan worth over 2 million dollars.

Former Chief of Fish and Wildlife found guilty of five counts

In other top news, former Chief of Division of Fish and Wildlife, Kammen Chin was found guilty of five counts of unlawful acts in a criminal case according to a verdict issued by Associate Justice Kathleen Salii last week. He was originally charged with 11 counts including possession of ammunition and possession of dugong just to name a few. Some of the charges were dropped as the government failed to prove the charges beyond a reasonable doubt. In the end, he was charged for misconduct in public office, obstructing justice, violation of code of ethics, conversion of public funds as well as aiding and abetting. Chin’s sentencing trial is set on June 27.

Senate Committee to hold public hearing on minimum wage

Senator Mark Rudimch, chairman of the Senate committee on Ways and Means and its members will be holding a public hearing on Thursday June 9 on the five pending bills on minimum wage. The recent increase in gas prices, food and beverages as well as utilities have had the citizens crying for increase of salaries to justify they’re daily living expenses. Looking for the appropriate source of funds to support the potential increase in minimum wage may be the reason why the bills have not moved out of Committee. Reports states that the bills will be acted on in the upcoming July sessions, however some have expressed that nothing will result from it. The Committee has already invited various business and organization representatives to join the hearing and voice their concerns.

Rising number of workers fleeing to embassy

President Toribiong showed concerned this week when he learned that the number of Filipino workers fleeing to their Embassy is increasing. Instead of going to the Labor office with their complaints or concerns, the workers run from their employers and seek refugee in the small Embassy office. The workers may run from their employees due to physical or emotional abuse, unpaid wages and passport confiscation. The President disclosed that he will contact the Minister of Natural Resources, Environment and Tourism to direct its Labor division to work closely with the Ministry of State to address this problem. He also revealed that he does not want Palau to be identified as a nation with abusive employees. The President may also look into appointing a commission to handle foreign worker’s concerns, but nothing is confirmed.

PMS seeks President’s advice on remains

The Palau Mortuary services sought assistance from President Toribiong when no one came forth to claim the remains of a 72-year old Filipino. According to the Mortuary, the man has remained in the morgue since he’s passing on May 17. The Mortuary also contacted the man’s sponsor, but nothing came of it. With help from Foreign Affairs, the Philippine Embassy has agreed to take responsibility over the body. Sources say he will be buried on island.

Wreath laying ceremonies, 1st National Memorial Day

To honor those who died fighting for freedom, simultaneous wreath laying ceremonies was held in five states during the first observance of Memorial Day in Palau. State Governors joined the ceremonies and assisted in laying the wreaths on the burial sites. In the U.S, Americans across honored military personnel with services, parades, and fireworks. A National Moment of Remembrance took place in Arlington National Cemetery in Virginia where headstones were graced with small American flags. The holiday was first observed in the U.S in 1868, but declared a National Holiday in 1971.

President Toribiong declares Olympic month

President Johnson Toribiong has declared the entire month of June 2011 as Olympic month. Twelve years ago, Palau became to 200th member of the International Olympic Committee better known as IOC. Under the proclamation, President Toribiong recognized Palau National Olympic Committees’ continued efforts to promote and provide sports education, and tools in building a healthy lifestyle. The declaration goes in line with Olympic day that falls on June 23 recognized by National Olympic Committees around the World.

U.S General stopover in Palau, meets officials


General Gary North, Commander of the Pacific Air Forces for the U.S Pacific Command and Executive Director of the Pacific Air Combat Operations Staff in Hawaii recently visited Palau for two days during his regional tour. While here, General North met with President Toribiong and other local government officials. He also visited the Civic Action Team where he reaffirmed the team’s contribution to a strong Palau-U.S relationship.

One year anniversary of the tree of life coconut mill project

The Institute of Sustainable Living established a Coconut Mill in Palau known as the Tree of Life project just over a year ago to produce high quality virgin coconut oil. Today, sales and demands are steadily increasing. Here is Pauleen with more.

<<<INTERVIEW>>>

Palau Swim team produces records in Guam meet

In sports news, members of the Palau Swimming team recently participated in the Guam Swimming Championships held in Hagatna on May 26th to the 29th. With age ranging from 8-16 years old, the team competed in at least 3 different categories each. 15-year old swimmer, Keesha Keane produced a record during the competition as the first Palauan female to clock in less than 30 seconds in a swimming competition. She clocked in at an impressive 29.99 seconds in the 50-meter freestyle event where she took first place. Three other swimmers also took the top three in their respective categories and all other swimmers ranked in the top 6 in their categories. The swimmers were accompanied by their Coach Tina Shima and two parents’ chaperones. Now back on island, the swim team will be joining others in the upcoming 6th Palau Open Water Swim on Saturday June 4th at the Palau Pacific Resort. Registration opens at 6 am. Congratulations to the swim team.

PCS Environmental Update

For this week’s environmental news, let’s go to Yalap of PCS.

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<<<BREAK>>>

BBC crew wraps up production of “Blue Peter” in Palau

Andy Akinwolere, presenter of Blue Peter, the longest running Children’s television show in the U.K, his swim coach, the show’s producers and directors just wrapped their big production here in Palau. Andy, who has been a Blue Peter presenter for nearly five years is now retiring from the show, and definitely retiring as a newfound swimmer. For his last season, the producers challenged him to face his fear of swimming in open water to inspire more kids to learn to swim. It took 10 weeks of training, in the pool and out to get him ready for his biggest challenge… the Pacific Ocean. Today, Andy is more open to swimming and less fearful. Did Andy make the swim? Well, you will need to watch Peter Blue to find out. OTV will be playing Blue Peter episodes leading up to Andy’s biggest challenge soon.

Marshalls minister charged with misconduct


In RMI news, Marshall Islands Attorney General’s office took Anti-corruption action to a new level this week when it filed the criminal charges in the High Court against a Cabinet minister - the first time this has been done in the more than 30 years of constitutional government in the country. Marshall Islands Minister of Transportation and Communications Kenneth Kedi was charged with 10 criminal counts in the High Court on Wednesday. Kedi, the youngest member of the Marshall Islands parliament, has been charged with two counts each of grand larceny, cheating, and use of his office for private financial gain, three counts of misconduct in public office and one count of petit larceny. The charges, filed by special assistant attorney general Tion Nabau, allege that Kedi who represents Rongelap Atoll in the parliament, had the Rongelap Atoll Local Government pay for office furniture for him then submitted the same billing to the parliament and received a reimbursement of almost 2,000 dollars for the cost of the furniture. In another incident, he is alleged to have taken a check made out to the Rongelap Atoll Local Government from Air Marshall Islands for unused airline tickets that totaled over 1,000 dollars. National Police Detective Randall McKay said his investigation into the alleged furniture fraud showed that after Rongelap Atoll government and the Ministry of Finance discovered Kedi had obtained the furniture reimbursement Finance Minister Jack Ading told Kedi to repay the money to the national government. McKay said that Ading in a letter told Kedi his action was illegal and advised him to pay the funds back to the Ministry. Rongelap Atoll Government officials said he had no authority to take the airline refund check. Kedi declined comment, saying he had not been officially served with the court papers.

Rash of suicides hits Marshall Islands


Four reported suicides in the Marshall Islands during the month of May has put 2011 on track for being one of the worst years on record for islanders taking their own lives. National police in Majuro suspects a fifth death during the month was also a suicide. All the suicides were among men, and most were teens or young adults. Ebeye Hospital officials and National Police on Majuro confirmed this week that there have been four completed suicides and one suspected case in May. The two confirmed cases in Majuro were both high school students. The suicide rate in the Marshall Islands appears on the rise after a three-year period when an average of fewer than seven reported suicides per year occurred. But the number more than doubled from 2007 to 2009, with 14 suicides reported in 2009.

Chuuk State Public Safety under investigation

In regional news, the Chuuk State Department of Public Safety of the Federated States of Micronesia is reportedly under investigation after as a result of possible civil rights violation as well as other matters surrounding the Department. According to reports in March, a female U.S citizen and member of the U.S armed forces was reportedly assaulted by a local Chuukese male at the Blue Lagoon Resort. It took police officers nearly 24 hours to arrive at the scene. The woman was then reportedly taken in to police custody where she was beaten apparently for wanting to press charges. As a result, Governor Simina suspended DPS Director Jimmy Emilio with pay, but later reinstated him. While Emilio was suspended, the Attorney General apparently sought help from Police officers to investigate matters into the department and its current Chief. Statements made by the department staff are now in the AG’s possession and the investigation is ongoing.

Fire and police officers watch man drown in San Francisco

A 55-year old man drowned in San Francisco Bay, California earlier this week while 75 people including fire, police and first responders watched from shore. The man who was believed to have been suicidal waded his way into the bay, where he eventually drowned. Local residents expressed outrage towards the sad event as they felt the man was left to die. According the fire department, due to the 2009 budget cuts fire crews lacked the training and gear to rescue the man. One resident told local reporters that out 75 people not a single person took the time to help the man from drowning. Because of the tragic event, the city has decided to spend up to 40,000 dollars to certify 16 firefighters in land-based water rescues to prevent further tragedies such as this one.

445lbs grouper caught in Pohnpei by a hand line

In the beginning of May this year, Bronson Solomon, a local Pohnpeian from the outer island of Sapuafik joined a few friends on their fishing boat when he nonchalantly hooked up bait and shockingly caught a 445 pounds Grouper fish. The catch was too heavy to hoist onto the boat, so instead Solomon and his friends towed it to shore. He brought the fish to a local fish and produce market in Nett where it was weighed. According to online reports, the catch could be the heaviest grouper fish caught in the Micronesian region. Some say Solomon could have easily made world record, however the fish was sold to a customer in Nett the very next day.

WPCRI scholarship available to UOG students

The University of Guam has announced that the Western Pacific Coral Reef Institute is now available for resident students from Guam, CNMI, RMI, Palau and FSM studying biology or environmental science. The WPCRI anticipates funding three awards for undergraduates and graduates to cover tuition, fees, and books for 2011 Fall Semester. Students studying under the program will also be given the opportunity to participate in ongoing coral reef management activities. For more information visit www.uog.edu/wpcri

2011 Pacific Break Contest open

Radio Australia has launched its 2011 Pacific Break Contest giving Pacific artists a chance to have their music heard at the upcoming 2011 Fest’napuan music festival in Port Villa, Vanuatu. Last year, over 20 rising Pacific artist made their entries including Palau’s very own group, R.E.D and solo artist, Malo. Although, they entered great original songs, the winnings went to a group from the Solomon Islands the “III Kings” with their song “You Alone Me Magnify”. Here’s a clip.

<<<FOOTAGE>>>

For more information or to find out how to enter the contest visit www.radioaustralia.net.au/pacificbreak

PICRC to host Summer Arts & Craft week

Back to local Palau news, Palau International Coral Reef Center will be hosting a fun weeklong summer Arts and crafts workshop for kids aged 6-10 years old. The activities are set to begin on June 20th to include marine life lessons and activities as well as fun field trip and tour of the Aquarium. Registrations are now open and applications are available for pick at the PICRC gift shop. Applications must be turned in no later than June 17th. For more information call 488-6950.

Annual President’s day recognized

The Annual President’s day was celebrated this week to reflect, honor, and pay tribute to current and past Presidents. Although, no official event took place on island, the Palauan communities in Oregon and Washington State have been preparing for months for its’ 24th Annual President’s day park picnic and concert. Hundreds of Palauans residing in various U.S states join the anticipated events each year. This year’s event, will feature a night concert with entertainment by Malo and Perry, famous local Palauan artists. In the past, former President Remengesau Jr. participated in the celebration. During the last election session, current President Toribiong reportedly joined the celebration. But no word on whether he will join this year’s festivities scheduled for June 4th in Oregon. Let’s take a lot at last year’s Presidents day highlights.

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From all of us here at OTV, Happy President’s day.

 

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