July 15, 2008

Will HSG Survive

Posted by Pete Black May 1, 2005

The Palau Constitutional Convention (Concon) is getting ready to start working on modifying the Constitution on May 17. There are all kinds of rumors about "streamlining" Palau's governmental structure and writing in Palauan custom and tradition. Here are some questions it might be good to talk about:

Will Hatohobei State Government go the way of Tobi Municipality and be streamlined out of existence?

Are there any good arguments for doing away with HSG and SSG?

What are the arguments for keeping them?

And what about the legal status of the customs and traditions of Palau? If they become part of the Constitution, what happens to South West Island customs and traditions?

Will minority rights be protected?

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

cila: May 2, 2005 4:00 PM
Very good questions.
I would like to know too. I need to think about this and write back. This is huge and I did not know that this was going on.

Justin: May 5, 2005 4:00 PM
People get on your canoes and get ready for the "tsunami". I believe in keeping our state government. I think that to preserve our traditions and cultures, we need to stand our grounds and not let anything that would merge our state with any of the other states. I may reconsider this if we, worse comes to worse, merge with Sonsorol state----this is only because we are the closest linguistically and culturally.

FOTI Webmaster: May 6, 2005 4:00 PM
The results of the election are in and Sebas Marino is the Hatohobei delegate to the ConCon.

Justin: May 6, 2005 4:00 PM
Thankyou Webmaster for the news!!! Lets work together with our ConCon Delegate now to push for issues important to us Tobians. Seb, you have been tasked this very delicate yet really critically important duty to be our mouth, eyes, ears for the ConCon---share with us, talk with us so our issues can have one strong People of Tobi Voice to the ConCon Chamber!! Time is of the essence so please use this platform or the electronic mailing system to gather and share ConCon issues and ideas with us that are far from home.

Anonymous: May 15, 2005 4:00 PM
To keep it KISS (keep it short and simple), I fully support Justin's comments on May 5 and May 7.

Anonymous: May 15, 2005 4:00 PM
Today, May 17 @10AM, Swearing-In Ceremonies of ConCon 2005 delegates at Ngarachamayong Cultural Center. Atty, Johnson Toribiong is the President.As Justin pointed out - it is vital that Sebas our Hatohobei delegate communicates via this forum in regards with emerged or emerging issues relative to our State, etc.

Seb: May 19, 2005 4:00 PM
Yes, it's the fourth day of ConCon and the spirit on the convention floor seem quite and cooperative. But we're still in the review process. The decision is to review the constitution by article. And so far we are only on article 9. We haven't got to the controversial part (the states)of the constitution. Yes, some people had mentioned abolishing our state, but not from the ConCon delegates. I happen to encountered an issue about Helen Reef on the second day though. From one of the delegate, he sound it like Helen Reef doesn't belong to Tobi. We'll see how things develop as time goes on.
Yes I do really want to hear your opinions. Of course the first thing in my mind is to keep HSG as is. But as Pete pointed out, what argument do we have for HSG to remain as is. Secondly, the issue of culture seem to be very strong amongst the member. In the original constitution, the words culture and language are in plural form. That to mean, Palau has more than one culture and language. Please I may ask that you email me if you have any suggestion. My email is: marino@palaunet.com. I will try and post on this forum when possible. Internet is quite expensive here in Palau and I'll do my best to connect with those of you outside of Palau. Again, get those ideas in along with your name so that I'll know whom am I communicating with. I do prefer communicating with Tobian than someone from outer space...

Seb: May 22, 2005 4:00 PM
Today is the 7th day of convention and we've covered (reviewed) articles up to article 11 (state governments). So far so good with no indication of proposed amendment to reduce state. But there is a good support of empowering state governments while scale back on being called state. Instead, different terms have been mentioned on the floor to replace the term "state". As I indicated earlier, we're still in the review process. Let's sit back and see how things unfold as time goes on. Hopefully, we'll be over with reviewing the whole constitution by the end of this week. By next week, we'll be able to see what proposals are there to discuss.
But I have to be clear with my position. There is no other issue that takes precedent over our statehood. Replacing the term "state" with any other term is fine with me as long as we remain as separate entity and not part of any state of Palau. But again, what do you guys think? Should the term "state" remain as is? Another proposal that might come out of the committee on Tradition, Liberty and Fundamental Right which is to strengthen the Palauan culture by creating the traditional role that is parallel to the praticed democratic principles. This proposal is still in the drafting process and will keep you all posted when it comes out of the committee. Like any other proposals that would affect our state/culture, I will electronically bringing it to your attention for your input.
So before I leave this forum, let me clear things up. I had mentioned in my previous communication that I prefer communicating with Tobian than someone from "outer space". And I don't mean those of you out there, but the one that didn't want to give his/her name on this forum. As I always believe, transparency should be praticed in our democratic process. Again thanks for your continued support. Please let me know how I can help to bring this important issue to you.

Justin: May 22, 2005 4:00 PM
Ok fellow Tobians, Seb has opened the door for us to come in and help. Lets do just that. Seb, I thank you for the time you take to post updates on this forum. First, the issue of the term State. I personally believe that being a State comes with advantages and disadvantages. It would be you that weighs the advantages and disadvantages of being called other than State---pls. keep us posted on what other terms are being considered. Second, the issue of tradition, liberty and fundamental rights that would parallel our practice of democratic principles----I think these are very important issues. Foremost on my list is the issue of tradition. Liberty and fundamental rights are given, and sort of expectedly for anyone under the American Flag to abide and practice but no where in the US Constitution does it explicitly say or clearly mention the protection of indigenous cultures and traditions. Pls. do your best as this is the time to put in a living mechanism to help preserve and protect our fast disapearing culture/tradition.

Pete B. : May 23, 2005 4:00 PM
Keep up the good work Sebas. Future generations may have their lives profoundly affected by what you and the others in the Concon decide. My opinion, for what it is worth, is that without the state (or something like it) people in the future might find it very difficult to keep the community together.

Seb: May 27, 2005 4:00 PM
Hello there again! I am back with another pressing issue at hand. But before then, let me thank those (Justin and Pete) who had put forth their opinions and concerns. I would encourage everyone to participate on the forum as part of my fact finding process.
On 5/24, a stunning and silly proposal, I would say, was introduced on the ConCon floor. This specific proposal is setting the eligibility for statehood. And this meant to amend article XI section 1 and 5 of the constitution. Section 1. "Each area or state in Palau with recognized tradition, boundaries, political and social hierarchy shall be eligible to be certified as a state government with its own constitution only if its actual number of residents or registered voters exceeds two hundred (200) in number and is able to raise at least fifty percent (50%) of its budgetary needs." Section 5, "Any area that does not meet the criteria set forth under section 1 shall be considered a special region or territory with traditional and cultural ties to a larger neighboring state." This really puts us in the bracket, so to speak.
As I mentioned earlier, things may change as time goes on. It's still too early this time to anticipate how thing would go, especially this particular proposal. Let's stay put and hope that this proposal will not come out of the committee on General Provisions. As soon as the committee, which this proposal was assigned to, begin its deliberation, I will monitor the issue and will bring the outcome to your attention. However, there is a strong sense amongst the members to continue the status quo, but I am not sure how the state eligibility would fly. I talked to the delegate who sponsored the particular proposal and here is what he had to say. "There are four amendments that I really want to support." They are the amendment to the four initiatives that went through this past election. But don't worry, the reason of introduce this proposal is to satisfy those that asked me to do so. And I know that it won't get through during plenary." Again, let's see how things go.
So far, there are about 110 proposals being introduced on the floor at this time. Introduction of proposals is still open until 6/6 when the committees will begin working on the proposals. After the 6th is when the committees will begin conducting public hearings and bring their findings to the plenary for further deliberations. Again, I will try my best to keep you all informed. Please keep the communication lines open.

Justin: May 27, 2005 4:00 PM
Seb, this is great sad news. I'll keep this short--I know you are very busy. Please if you need to, do some lobbying--anything Palauan style lobbying. Are our State Officials helping?? This will need collaborative efforts. Our State definitely does not meet the three criteria. I know you are threading a fine line here on this issue, a little lobbying besides monitoring will be good--and have an all out plan as a fall back in case things go the other way. I hope and pray that he who introduces this kind of bill realizes what this will do (damage) to our future generations.
May the Almightly guide you in this grand work.

charley patris: May 29, 2005 4:00 PM
I thing Sebas, you'll be doing a great job as Con Con del. I for one do support you there. your article on may 22 of this year regarding the term "State" is what I considered very important issue that we as Tobian have to think it carefully before jumping the gun. As for me, it is very important that we be recognize as state due to our language, culture and the way we live. Not only that, there are lot of benefit if we stand on our own feet and be recognize as one of the state of palau. Our island is reach in many ways. there are alot of things probably treasure that have not been discover in our island, Our island could be rich in oil and we never know , till someone discover them. I imagine if we were to abolish state and let say, we'll be call tobi district, while the rest of the state remain as state, you know that once we be call district, definitely we are reporting to someone called State which is larger than the district. From there, anything we have in our naturall resources will be shared and given to the state.
I dont know Seb, I'm not good at Polotics, but I have trust in you to come up with better Idea that will benefit our people and its generation to come.
god bless you Seb and we're behind you. Let us know if you need assistance, I'll be happy to give time and put in my two sense.

charley patris: May 29, 2005 4:00 PM
I think Sebas, you'll be doing a great job as Con Con del. I for one do support you there. Your article on may 22 of this year regarding the term "State" is what I considered very important issue that we as Tobian have to think it carefully before jumping the gun. As for me, it is very important that we be recognize as state due to our language, culture and the way we live. Not only that, there are lot of benefit if we stand on our own feet and be recognize as one of the state of palau. Our island is reach in many ways. There are a lot of things probably treasure that have not been discover in our island, Our island could be rich in oil and we never know , till someone discover them. I imagine if we were to abolish state and let say, we'll be call tobi district, while the rest of the state remain as state, you know that once we be call district, definitely we are reporting to someone called State which is larger than the district. From there, anything we have in our natural resources will be shared and given to the state.
I don't know Seb, I'm not good at politics, but I have trust in you to come up with better Idea that will benefit our people and its generation to come.
god bless you Seb and we're behind you. Let us know if you need assistance, I'll be happy to give time and put in my two sense.

Seb: May 29, 2005 4:00 PM
Thanks guys, especially Justin and Charley, for your words of support. It's not as easy as everyone had hoped, but little words of wisdom as this will surely make things much easier.
In regards to the term state, I meant all the state in the Republic, not just Tobi. So if there going to be a real change in the term "state" it will be applicable to all the states in Palau.
On to other issue. I have come to you with proposals that other delegates introduced in the ConCon, but haven't come to you with what I had proposed. The approach may sound reverse and I do apologize for not soliciting your opinion before putting them forward. First one that I put forward is just a minor spell change of the actual spelling of Hocharihie and Hatohobei. In the original constitution, they were spelled Osarikii and Tochobei. The second one is taking away national government's power to take individual property with just compensation (power of eminent domain-spelling?) and keep it with the state government. Another one that introduce is to have the national government responsible for supporting and implementing a national as well as states development plan and approach that is environmentally and economically sustainable. Another that is in a drafting stage is to create criteria for spouse to be recognized life time residence or better yet citizen of Palau. It may sound self serving proposal, but thinking of you guys out there and recognizing how Palauan widows had gone through here at home triggered this idea. On the other hand, the recent initiative, dual citizenship, that went through in the last election opens the door to this idea. If this needs further clarification, let me know. I don't want to leave you with many unanswered questions. If any thing you want to addressed, please don't hesitate to communicate it to me as well. Again, thanks for your input and looking forward for more.

charley patris: May 31, 2005 4:00 PM
Hey seb, its good to hear from you, any way, I stand corrected on the State issue, I think if all the state change its name, then what modern name can fit our island, We have president, vice president and bi-literal legislature, then I assume the head of its state or area should be called governor as it stands now. I just read articles in the news paper stating that some of the department head will amend its name which is I think, its very proper to the type of governmnet we have now. for instance, minestry of Education will become Department of Education and so forth.
bottom line seb, I think its a way of calling our island from the outside that will not be so different that people dont have any idea what country and type of government we have, which infact its just another democracy government.,
Regarding the eminent domain part, Seb, I think you know what is eminent domain. there are alot of advantage of eminent domain, yet there disadvantage. the good part is that the government will improve by doing capitol improvements without any red tape to go through. Economy will be boosting by the power of the governmnet that invested in the eminent domain. On the other hand is that our culture, our land, and everything that been handed down from our forefathers become an issue. for instance, if the goverment need to build the airport on hatohobei, without any further due, it will go ahead and build due to the fact that eminent domain have exercise and not only that the airport is beneficial to everyone but including the citizens and economy to the island.
in returned, I think the government will reimburse the land owner for the land. question here, does our people agree will agree with the price that the government offer.
Eminent domain has played a very large part here in saipan which lot of improvement going on but landowner now are struggling with lawyers to get the good price of land exchange.
Seb this is it, As I told you, I'm for the improvements and the toleration of change that comes with it.
hafa Adai to you, Delicate Seb. have a nice day and hope to hear from you.

palauan girl: June 1, 2005 4:00 PM
Well Very Good Idea Guestion cool!!!!!!That's Smart Awesome it!!!!!

tanya: June 3, 2005 4:00 PM
hi. this is great. I've been looking for information on what this whole immersion of states was all about. and this sounds like history in the making. i don't quite understand the terms used in these discussions. however, i think i agree with dual citizenship and the second proposition of taking away national government power to take individual property with just compensation and keeping it with the state government. does that mean the national government can't do anything it wants to a state unless 75% of the population decides on it? does that mean if the national government wanted to draft all the tobian men into a palauan army, they aren't allowed to without their consent? the criteria for being a state don't look too good for small states. then i was wondering if you could also include how the decisions made would affect jobs, healthcare, educational systems, and retirement plans of a state (if applicable). can I or any other citizen of the present state do anything? is there another site where i can get more reading material on the constitution, ammendment procedures, and the concon? please email very interested me- patris3@hotmail.com

Charley patris: June 4, 2005 4:00 PM
Hi tanya!, greetings from all of us here in saipan.
anyways, dual citizenship is great, my question is, who are eligible to be dual citizenship, is it those palauan who are at birth with U.S. citizenship first then want to become palauan citizen or anyone who is palauan citizen want to become U.S. citizen. because I've encountered several problem when I travel. I get to fill out several documents, especially in Japan. Not only that, even when I entered U.S., at one time, I was in Detroit, I was on bound to Boston, the first state to enter was Detroit, I stood in line for almost 20 minutes for the immigration officer to bring my passport to verify with his supervisor, this is very uncomfortable, the officer return and apologized to me saying that he just dont have any idea where and what country is Repblic of Belau. As he continue reading my passport, he figured that there was page in the passport that stated that it can be use as visa into the United States at this point of time, the line behind me was already long. I could read their eyes, telling me to step aside for the.
So my question on dual citizen, does it apply to Palauan born?
Second, regarding government power taking away individual property, that is " EMINENT DOMAIN" power, but see lets not make look like the Communist country, the language in the Eminent domain have to be carefully drafted into a sense that will benefit the community as a whole and property owner as well. This eminent domain only applies to the capitol improvements and projects that need to be done without necessary delay, however, this eminent domain is so powerfull that when its adapted in to the government, there should be an agency to establish, and their major role will be monitoring the government not to abuse its power, or use it for destruction of other state or community. this agency will also make sure that the rights of each citizen should be protected at all time. When government exercise eminent domain, it should by all means compensate anyone effected in equal compensation, that is justice. After all, what government take should benefit anyone in many ways, (economy, jobs, island beautification and so on).
When you say that we need to get 75% of the population approval for government to do a thing, I think its absurd!, lets live the 75% approval for any issue that will affect the whole republic coming from the outside. For instance, one of the agreement in the Compact of free association is that if U. S. want to build its military statetic base in Palau, 75% of its population or registered voter should agree, This is perfect example for the 75% issue.
Also in the eminent domain power, it will not draft its citizen against their will. The government still protect that, and I think our constitution stand as it is, the right of everyone is still protected, and to incorporate eminent domain in the constitution as a tool for government to do what is best for the community as a whole.
Healthcare, jobs, educations and retirement plans will play when the economy is rising. And to get the economy rise.....the answer is eminent domain!!, the government should do a lot to attract outside investor to bring in the money. and it should start now....The clock is ticking...its now or never.
God bless, I got to go....bye!

justin: June 5, 2005 4:00 PM
Hey guys what is happening here?? what is the issue...I get a little confused. Lets ask our ConCon delegate to update us. Its been a while.
Seb, dont get me wrong here, you are doing a great job. We just need a little update after reading all these good stuffs.

Seb: June 7, 2005 4:00 PM
Hello everyone. Sorry for not being up and connected. Work schedule has been hectic since and that it why I have been silent lately. So, before addressing Tanya's and Charley's concerns, let me give you the recent ConCon update.
Last Monday (6-6-05) was the last day for proposed amendments to the constitution. So far, there has been only one proposal that explicitly set qualification of a community to be eligible to become a state. That is, a community that wants to be a state including the existing ones should have at least 200 register voters, have a well defined historical boundary and be able to raise 50% of it annual budget. Since the deadlines for submitting proposal, the committees are now working. We should know by next week what direction the convention is heading. As I have said earlier, time will tell where the convention would go as the committees begin to present their reports to the floor. But in both of the committee (Civil Liberty and executive) that I join, both seem to be very smooth. That I mean, nothing that would require any worries on our part.
On to the other concern being raised on this forum, let me say that I have been fortunate to work along side many of my colleagues that are experienced and royal to our statehood. Hope that would put a little peace into your mind. So on to the concern of dual citizenship. Yes, as Charley asked, dual citizenship is another advantage of Palauans born on US soil. By US law, they are US citizen. But according to the original version of the Palau constitution, they can retain their US citizenship, but can't have Pauline citizenship at the same time. The dual citizenship amendment to the original version of the constitution was passed by majority vote last November. Therefore, those that are US citizen can also be Pauline citizen at the same time. That means you can have two passport, US and Palau. However, it doesn't deprive anyone, who is a Palau born, from going through US naturalization process if that person wants to become US citizen as well.

Well, on to the issue of the power of eminent domain. This power normally applied by government(s) as the last resort to the take individual property with fair and just compensation. In the original version of the Palau constitution, both the national government and state government can invoke this power. However, if the national government invoke this power, the state in which the property is located should be consulted. What I had proposed in this ConCon is to take this power away from the national government and keep it at the state government level only. My argument was that national government doesn't have natural resources/property, such as land. And also, state governments are the pillar/foundation of our national government and should have more power in it posession to be able to support our national activities. If the nat'l govn't want a peace of property for the good of Palau, then it should ask the state government in which the property is located to invoke this power.
I know that you (the young, educated and enthusiastic generation) want to see more development heading our way as soon as possible. But my advise is,
let's not rush into money minded arena. Let's think of what we can do to protect our only loving home (island) while focusing on environmentally sustainable economic approach that will ensure and secure continued enjoyment of this generation and the future generation or our island. One thing that I realize is the fact that our ancestors had put in place a system that is proven to be environmentally sustainable and resourceful approach. This approach enable me to be able to enjoy the clean environment and the wealth of the island resources. Hope I don't come out to be anti development, but just want to be little sensitive in advocating the preservation of our only existing crystal clear environment which Tobians are enjoying today.
My writing is too long and I don't want to keep you busy reading. I promise that I will come on later and update you all. Hope I am not confusing you even more. If that is the case, please don't hesitate to let me know and also help me clarify any pending concerns/questions. Thanks

charley patris: June 9, 2005 4:00 PM
hey Seb, good to hear from you.
Actually, my article above, was just trying to explain what I know about eminent domain.
I also include what I believe to be advantage to our island as well as our youth and you know the old saying, "Generation to come".
But I also agree with you, to take our time and enjoy what have passed down to us by our folks. Iets not rush into the Money making arena,
I know your very busy on your work, but when ever you have the chance, please remember us and give us some good issue to talk and think about
god bless.....hope to hear from you soon.

charley patris: June 13, 2005 4:00 PM
Hello Seb,
I'm back visiting this room again.
I have something share in this room that its kind a disturb issue to me. I just read the Palau Horizon news paper, and it seems that there is a proposal in that Con-Con, that palauan living outside palau will be paying taxes to Palau.
to my understanding, this proposal has been refer t? the committe. I hope its just a proposal that it will just die upon reaching the proper committee.
Here are the reason why I am strongly against.
1} I already pay enormouse amount of taxes to the country that I am presently residing in. Not only taxes that I am paying but medicare, insurances, and bills course. these amount comes in average of three to five thousand a month.
2} if this become into law, its not fair for us outside Palau to pay several other taxes including palau taxes while people living in Palau only pay one tax which I assum the Palau tax.
3} We the Palauan living outside Palau do living by each penny we earn, that anywhere we turn, we must pay money to survive, while in Palau there is family, you can turn to in time of need.
4} I've seen contract worker from the philipines here that they pay taxes to the philippine government, but it stop because everyone is complaining, because their earning is to low, and they just couldn't afford that fact that even them, need that small amount of money to survive and help their own family back home.
5} In a way of saying, is just another way of government robbing its own countrymen.
there are alot of reason, and I'm sure that alot of us palauan living outside palau do not agree with this kind of law. Lets be fair and square, if we live in Palau then we must pay what we must pay to help our government.
I hope that before this proposal, maybe you deligate should conduct a public hearing among us the one living outside palau, to see whats our concern. I'm sure you will hear some legitimate concerns from us.
This to all Palauan living outside Palau who are visiting this site, read the news and be aware of what is going on back home that will affect you. voice your concern, you might just be struggling working, and might have bills to pay back home, call "TAX"
God bless you Seb, and good luck, please let us know whats cooking.

Seb: July 1, 2005 4:00 PM
My apology for being so quite lately. All is well here in Palau, except the sad passing away of Vernice Andrew. Her funeral was today and it was crowded in the village.
On to the ConCon issue, I am happy to tell you all that there is a web site that you can now visit. It is www.palauconcon2.com. All the information you need to know has been up loaded and ready to be viewed including the Palau constitution. You can also post your comment/concern on the forum page.
I am sorry to say, as Charley noted in her posting regarding proposed taxing of Palauans outside of Palau, that the idea is receiving an overwhelming support. Although this idea is not a constitutional material, the overwhelming support was tremendous. Please visit the web site and post your concerns regarding this proposal.
On to the state issue, I should say that it seems promising. However, as I have said in my previous postings, it still early in the process. Until the last chicken crows, we have to hang on and hope for the best. Again, for those of you outside of Palau, please visit the site and post your concerns. Take care and God Bless you all!

Seb: July 17, 2005 4:00 PM
I am here again to give you the final up-date of the ConCon. Friday 7/15/05 was the last and final day of the Second ConCon. Of all the 251 ConCon proposals, 22 of them were ready to be taken up for vote in 2008.
I am happy to let you all know that our state survived the storm. With the two proposals that were introduce which targeted the elimination of our state, none of there survived through the last moment. They didn't make it out of the committee for second reading.
I have to THANK all my colleagues who had worked tirelessly behind the scenes in support of all statehood. Without their commitment and full support for all the states, things might be different today.
However, with all the support and commitments that had been poured our way throughout the duration of the ConCon, we (Hatohobei people) have a long way to go. And that is to secure our statehood for our future generation. We are obligated to our future generation. Let's start working!Again, thanks for all your input and I am looking forward to any suggestion on how we can move our state forward.

Sharon: September 9, 2005 4:00 PM
Did it really take me this long to get to this FOTI Forum discussion? Thanks, Sebas, for all the work you put into the ConCon. And for all the people who took the time to express your opinions and views, it is a pleasure to read about them. Yo, Justin, that picture of your canoe is awesome! And to think you sailed it off of Saipan. way to go! just don't get lost.

palauan girl: December 12, 2005 5:00 PM
Hi everybody! Very good job keep writting. I love reading there. WOW

Tek: October 26, 2007 7:45 PM
Hmmm...good question! Will HSG survive?! Well, it depends! Are we open to change and how far can we go?