PALAU’S TRADITIOCRACY AND CAPITALISM

Kambes and friends,

Your appearance on OTV with Dr Kuartei was a good start of a platform and discussion
that is long overdue. Dr Kuartei quoted articles in our constitution and was correct in doing so but may i suggest a brief history lesson here.  Our constitution was written with a strong influence from the US and one can easily tell by the type of government structure we operate in. We then proceeded to merge our traditional values and customs unto it and since its inception, these two pillars have conflicted many times over with no clear definition and to this day, even our leaders are clearly lost in between.

The big elephant in the room that you and Dr kuartei kept missing is what i like to call the big “C” or capitalism. Our democracy came with capitalism that in my opionion goes against what our traditional values are. As Dr kuartei correctly pointed out, Traditional beliefs are of caring for one another,respecting our elders, omelenges rar mechebuul el morar meteet and vice versa. Capitalism is the exact opposite of this and we see the examples of it in our society. The United States created the welfare system when they realized that even in the land of opportunity, there are those who will surely be left behind at no fault of their own. Right or Wrong, it was an admittance of failure for the most powerful country in the world. I’m not suggesting a welfare for Palau, but with our small population, why are we seeing so many of our citizens being left behind?  Capitalism and its effects are to blame and we should look within oursleves as a people and come up with policies and strategies in the future and work even harder to bridge the gap between the have’s and the have nots. According to some of our leaders, if you are left behind in Palau,’ e ke mesaik e soam el di millil ra delul a tuu me ke mla mechoit rar bilas’. This kind of mindset is dangerous, shortminded and fails to realize the concept of Palauysm and the oneness among us that Dr Kuartei talked about.

On a different topic but related to this is, what to do? Seems to me we have put all our eggs in the basket of tourism. Good or bad it is what it is, so why not be aggresive in this field and maximize our full potential. I know a little bit about this topic and i personally have worked as sales rep for a major carrier specializing on mass tourism. First and foremost, Tourists look for the most value for the money they spend and we have to look at this from a corporate point of view. Guam took in over a million tourists last year, Saipan had less but compare to Palau, we are way down, its not even close. If we work agressively with Guam, we can offer a combine shopping,diving,snorkeling that can rival that of singapore and bali combinations. If a tourist in Los angeles pay 1300 round trip to Guam, that fare jumps up to over 2000 when we include Palau. Contintental plays a big role and our leaders should offer tax incentives and landing fees advantages. Our proximity to Guam should be an anvantage to exploit instead of attempting to compete with them. The prize of one ticket to australia from the US is roughly about 2400.00, that entitles you for a stop in New Zealand, Great barrier reef, Fiji and even hawaii on your way home. That is more value for the money and we have to quickly adapt. This attitude of waiting around because we have rock islands is not working for our full potential as a world renowned diving destination. There are many Palauans outside of Palau who are willing to distribute brochures for free in their local stores,shops,churches and so forth. Lets encourage PVA to print small pocket size brochures for everyone to request and distribute.

Kambes, your definition of middle class was bit long and confusing. There is no middle class in Palau, Thats base on a recent report by world bank. We simply have suppressed the salaries of the poor while the rich have excelled in our society. On a personal note, when i left palau in 98′, my parents in Artingal had a combine monthly bill of about 200.00 and a combine income of 600.00 every month. When i returned in 2007, the monthly bill is now at around 500.00 with the same income. Where’s the outrage? Where’s the Leadership? or better yet, Where’s the Palau we grew up in? As i prepare my family for a move back home, i’m hopeful that a better tommorow is there for us. Let us encourage our new candidates to be more aware and subscribe to a platform that is not only good for Palau but for the People too.

Greetings to all

LsJ (Leslie ‘Soul’ Johanes)

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