Let’s Hit the Ground Running

Tia Belau Editorial, February 4, 2013 —-

Could the two immediate administrative actions by this new administration be reflective of a new sense of direction and the changes that will come about?

With Bureau of Public Safety’s mounting issues on every levels and the Bureau of Public Works’ (BPW) limitation in addressing the water and sewer problems, the new administration seems determined, at least so far, in tackling head-on the problems that have persisted for a long time.

Eighteen days ago, Palau’s new 9th Republic government was sworn-in to office. We got a new president (actually third tour of duty for this president), vice president, and a new congress. But, just barely a week into this new government, the country reverberated with news of high government officials being placed on administrative leave.

On January 23, Vice President/Minister of Justice Tony Bells placed Director Norvert Yano and Deputy Director Jennifer Olegeriil of the Bureau of Public Safety (BPS) on administrative leave for 30-days. The reason for this drastic measure as explained was to avoid any internal interruptions to the ongoing assessment on the bureau’s operations. The vice president said the assessment, which is being conducted by Attorney General Victoria Roe is part of the transition of the new administration.

Still, another reason was that the top two police officials at BPS got themselves into trouble when they tried to reinstate a certain police officer from indefinite suspension without approval from the minister. VP/Minister of Justice Bells immediately put a stop to it and placed them on administrative leave.

On January 30, President Remengesau also placed Techur Rengulbai, director of the Bureau of Public Works (BPW) on 30 days administrative leave. This latest action allows the new administration to undertake an independent review of BPW’s limitations, including gaps in service delivery owing to potential staff sub-performance.

The sub-performance points heavily against the BPW director. As has been made clear by PPUC, the electric company has been spending thousands of dollars hauling water to cool the generators at Malakal power plant, because no water was reaching the power plant area. But for a long time, the public was misinformed of the water situation by the top water official in the country.

These strong actions express a direction of this administration on how it plans to solve the problems, where it wants to go and how it plans to get there. At the very least we think they demonstrate a clear sense of which approaches the administration believes can get Palau aimed in the right direction.

Now this newly installed government must take their mandate and run with it, take the public’s support and use it to begin working proactively to address the issues of today and our hopes for tomorrow.

We hope the focus and the energy can be sustained over the long haul. And we do indeed expect the new leaders to hit the ground running.

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