REKLAI’s Constitution Day Statement

By Chief Rafael Ngirmang

The traditional constitution of Palau that is the basis of our present government today was not put together in several days or a year. It took several generations over a period of several centuries for our forefathers to shape it and develop it and orally transmitted it to us over several generations. This is the main reason the framers of our constitution spelled out the traditional roles and responsibilities of the council of chiefs to make sure that they will work with our government and to ascertain that no Palauan will be left behind in our journey toward the future.

Traditional role is compared to the outrigger of a canoe. The canoe and its outrigger must synchronize and move together in parallel. It is the only way that the canoe can move forward safely. Traditional Leaders are more than just guardians of our sacred traditions. They are also tasked with the responsibility to protect the rights and welfare of the people of Palau. The Council of Chiefs also protects the environment of Palau for us and our children.

Council of Chiefs promotes respect within the families, clans and among all Palauans. They promote traditional understanding and preserve traditional and natural heritage of Palau and its people. Our traditional heritage was shaped and developed over centuries and its role cannot be diminished or forsaken due to our lack of understanding or shortsightedness.

Our present constitution is based on our traditional constitution that has been developed over the years and these two cannot and will not be separated.

This speech was given by Chief Reklai during the Constitution Day celebration in Ngerulmud on July 9, 2010.

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