Response to “Diaz blasts Palau 2012 Facebook Group”

The following post was taken from the comment section of this post:  “Diaz blasts Palau 2012 Facebook Group“, and which I took the liberty of making it a separate post of its own. —- 

Response to “Diaz blasts Palau 2012 Facebook Group” and Comments to “Palau 2012” Group

Richard Salvador
08 December 2001

Sometime back, I was invited by someone to join “Palau 2012” Facebook group. I have never been on Facebook and probably never will. I once listened to a radio interview where someone who was researching social media and open intelligence gathering was describing how some agencies of the US Government was using Facebook to spy on people. I vowed I would never join Facebook.

Perhaps I am naïve or that I am too gullible to accept what people say about government conspiracies. I know about the increasing power of social media these days. Social media and other Internet tools are enabling regular people to take on oppressive government leaders and pushing political reforms where a generation ago it seemed unthinkable. 2011 will end as a year when social media activists and government reform advocates collaborated together so effectively they toppled oppressive government regimes and brought down dictatorships. This is why I am so happy to see that “Palau 2012” was created and has grown to be what it is.

Today it seems as though it was ages ago, but the Belau Bridgelist played a similar role. It was called that because it was created so many Internet moons ago immediately after the unfortunate collapse of the KB Bridge connecting Koror and the Big Island of Belau! I was happy for Bridgelist because it evolved into a platform for informing folks about what went on at home, a place to discuss, and space for collaborative action, even if those had fleeting significance. I am sad that the Bridgelist’s fire has now been reduced to embers. I completed graduate school and moved on to professional life teaching and living and so Bridgelist changed as well. All good things come and go and I, of all people, knew that we, too, must move on. But we do so not forgetting what we learned and continue to hope that our work will continue to inspire and encourage others. I am also excited to imagine that out of that and so many other embers of fires in Belau peoples’ hearts, the “Palau 2012” group emerged. Nowadays, the Bridgelist is used mostly for informing folks of things I see as potentially important to all of us.

As one person who learned immensely from the creation and maintenance of the Bridgelist in the last 15 years, I hope every single person who graced us during that period learned something significant about ourselves as a political community and how we go about improving that community. But most importantly, I hope that all of us learned something about ourselves individually. This is important because it is understanding ourselves and knowing what our individual talents and expertise are that we can begin utilizing these to improve the quality of our political community.

In this connection I must say something about Alfonso Diaz’s comments about “Palau 2012” and in doing so, say something also about “Palau 2012” as well.

These are typical comments from a man with whom I clashed some years ago, also on the Bridgelist on the topic of whether or not to expand an elected leader’s circle of advice, something similar to what is referred to as “prior and informed consent.” The issue back then was whether OEK should go forward in passing legislation allowing land leases to 99 years and whether the Belau public should be given sufficient time to allow for full discussion and disclosure of all potential implications without time pressure or constraints and being informed of all relevant information available reflecting all views and positions. Public policies like these would then need to proceed with public consent resulting from demonstration of clear, compelling agreement of stakeholders.

What followed instead was a travesty of political leadership. Women and men in Belau who raised these issues were ridiculed and called names. I raised the questions myself too. Instead of critically addressing our questions, Diaz threatened me and continued to ridicule anyone who disagreed with him. In my letter I described the situation as a serious crisis of legitimacy of political leadership and governance. You can see two letters I submitted to the media in Belau then regarding the actions of Diaz here:

Sadly, today, we are still mired in the same dismal state of affairs. Diaz possesses an ego the size of Babeldaob landmass. It’s an outsized ego! I bet the “Palau 2012” membership includes not just folks living abroad but also citizens in Belau. Even then, they are not just anybody. They are the citizens of Belau who are doing the best they know how to organize and attempt to elevate the quality of political discourse in Belau. It is so very small of Diaz to speak this way, to denigrate the citizens with whom he can potentially engage in a debate that explores why many Belau people are living outside of Belau in the first place. These are not just anyone, these are the citizens of Belau who question, who interrogate, who critique the failures of nation building and the many roles politicians play the larger scheme of things in terms of how Belau is governed. The way Diaz speaks, his locus of enunciation, that is, the place from where he articulates his understanding of the roles citizens play, is such an impoverished view of Democracy. My advice to Diaz is for him to become more critical not reactive in the way he relates with Belau’s citizens. Look at their criticisms, both negative and constructive, as a window to the alleged failures of nation-state in Belau and opportunities to engage the public on what to do. This is the destiny and fate of leaders, great and small, to listen attentively to and respond to peoples with an open mind and willingness to consider their discontent and disappointment.

This is not just directed at Diaz but the rest of Belau’s elected as well as non-elected officials.

Finally, to the members of “Palau 2012”, you have a duty to question our leaders, even to interrogate them at length the reasons for failure of nation building in all aspects… But there are greater responsibilities to shape the political discourse in Belau so that it continues to evolve. That is done critically but also respectfully. I do not suggest the latter is not done. But I encourage you all too to always be cognizant of the humanity of all of our leaders as you call them to account. I commend you all for carrying on the wonderful work of Democratic reform in Belau and pray for your (our) success overall. December 31, 2012 will come and go soon enough. It is Belau’s long term future overall that we should keep our eyes on all the time.

I don’t know; I might join you all soon! :o )

God bless you all. Long Live Belau!

One Comment to “Response to “Diaz blasts Palau 2012 Facebook Group””

  1. “bemtuu bemtuu el mem dolekoi,e bai doraeleee,,,

    Richard, se ke medengelii el chelitakl? ngdiak sal medengelii el kmong cheliteklel techang eng di kulengit e kuusbech er ngii lomekako er kau el me tmuu, me bo dedak e doius el bekl le chad losiik ra meiusech el daob, tial dengara chelsel a kmal meringel a debel.

    keuangerang, ak dioungelakel eng di a kumdasu e ngikaikid ngikel becheleleu el dudek ra orak el sobekang leko bedul tilechang, me di momes er ngii me sel lengelakl e motucheklii el ngikau el mertiei, kmal betok a ungil kall ma ilumel, ma bekl el bedengel a kliou ra beluad. malsekum ng kuk diak el soam a ungil kall e di mei mem tungl a ungil a bul el bngal a dort ma bekerkard el llel a miich el meral klebokel.

    aki kmal di mad el tmuil e mengiil, mng.

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