A Nation Making Progress

By Kambes Kesolei —-

While I have recently been accused on this page of having overly rosy colored glasses when it comes to appraising the development of our young constitutional republic, yet we can scarcely perceive just how much progress have been made on all aspect of our society.

But in my forty-some years, I can tell you that we have progressed as a nation where our democratic institutions is much stronger after going through some turbulent times early in our history. Only the stress of time will tell us how sturdy have we adopted the principles of democratic government into our everyday lives.

One such aspect is the freedom of expression enshrined on Article IV Section 2 of the Palau constitution, which states in part, “The government shall take no action to deny or impair the freedom of expression or press.”

Aptly enough, this election bears testament to the fact that even under difficult economic circumstances and in the face of negative election tactics by opposing camps, which include allegations of wrong doings in print, radio, and television, we have made remarkable progress as a country, together.

Before the advent of information technology, not everyone was allowed to express an opinion much less have to wait until they are called upon to speak. They are assigned to certain fixed places in the social order. They accepted opinions from trusted authorities and senior members of the society.

However, the people see themselves differently today. No longer do they have to submit to the gatekeepers of opinions. With the various electronic media, they began to express their own views, and these views then find their way into wider audience gaining respect along the way. The long-established social order has been upended on its face and new class of opinion makers with different set of expectations of how they should be treated.

The theme of the entire campaign season leading up to this point, have been premised on the hard economic times and questions about the moral fiber of the elected leadership. This sentiment has resulted in quiet protest with people saying that their government invariably ignores their views.

Alternatively, they feel a sense of enormous pride that they are finally speaking up, even in the face of risking their jobs and personal relationships. Yet they feel that they are making a difference as they make themselves heard.

And with a strong a democratic institutions to level the playing field, we can challenge our leaders by making our voice heard on whole host of issues that are near and dear to our hearts. Go Palau!

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One Comment to “A Nation Making Progress”

  1. Thank you, Kambes. As usual, I appreciate your regular input on various issues concerning the political development of our young nation.

    I have been one of those who think that at times you do whitewash. Thanks to the freedoms you mentioned, we have the opportunity and the right to disagree.

    However, I think the main difference in the way we see Palau as developing (or deteriorating) is that others, like myself, see political and democratic development as only truly relevant if it grows along with and in support of substantive economic development (and not merely economic growth, for that matter).

    Though political institutions and the democratic process have had their share of positive growth in Palau, economically, Palauans are more endangered than ever. Front businesses are controlling a substantial part of the economy while there are no real legislative attempts at correcting this huge problem. Where is the great constitutional machine that is supposed to address a matter as important as this?

    Instead of tackling the plethora of ECONOMIC challenges our people face, our OEK spends term after four-year term putting on a show to dazzle the mob, and the main topic: arbitrary, predictable disagreements on technical budgetary processes.

    Our labor laws concern only foreign workers. Our immigration authorities track down each and every foreigner who travels to and leaves Palau. Not one of them is concerned about the numbers concerning PALAUAN migration. From the beginning of our constitutional government, I challenge anyone to find official, accurate data collected by the Palau government on Palauan immigration and what that says about our economy.

    Business-minded people tend to look at the bottom line. This has it ups and downs. But at the very least, we should all agree that it is all for nothing if the intangible institutions are in place but real economic power belongs only to a rich few and the bulk of foreign interests while the Palauan people are consigned to economic starvation.

    Getting down to the brass tacks, we can live only so long on sweet talk but someone’s gotta bring home the bacon.

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