Palau Constitution: Ratification Vs Implementation

Tia Belau Editorial, July 15, 2013 —-

The debates on the anniversary of the Constitution as to whether it is 33 years or 34 year we celebrated on July 9, 2013 has become a topic in many gatherings. It should be 34 years as the Constitution was duly ratified on July 9, 1979 under the observation of the United Nation. Thus, it is legally sanctioned by the United Nations an official referendum. Ambassador Rosenblatt strenuously objected to the Constitution of Palau as he had his own version of Palau Constitution. In collaboration with Speaker Sadang Silmai and several members of the Sixth Palau Legislature to invalidate Palau Constitution and to prevent the people of Palau from voting on it, Bill No. 1140 was introduced to repeal PL 6-5S-1 that established Palau Constitutional Convention; Palau Constitution and July 9, 1979 referendum.

On October 23, 1979, three months after the people of Palau ratified the Constitution with the overwhelming 92% votes, the Revised Constitution drafted by the nine men Constitutional Drafting Committee in collaboration with Ambassador Rosenblatt was rejected by the people with 70% votes.

A little over a month before the referendum on October 23, 1979, general election for the members of the Seventh Palau Legislature took place with new members of the Legislature. Toshiwo Nakamura became a Speaker. Sadang Silmai was out and so as the members who were in collaboration with Ambassador Rosenblatt against the 92% Ratified Constitution.

The members of the Seventh Palau Legislature ran on the promise that they will implement the 92% Ratified Constitution with six months upon taking the office. On July 9, 1980 the 92% Ratified Constitution was submitted to the people to vote on it where it received 78% votes. The voting was to implement the 92% Ratified Constitution. The United Nations did not send an observing team to observe July 9, 1980 referendum as it recognized July 9, 1979 referendum as an official act of self determination of the people of Palau in ratifying their constitution and considered the 92% votes of the people of Palau as a lawful exercise of their right of self determination. Thus, for the purpose of the ratification of the Constitution, it is 34 years but for the purpose of implementation of the Constitution, it is 33 years.

A correction should be made that it was not Alfonso Oiterong who sued Speaker Sadang Silmai and Chairman Lawrence O. Ngirturong of the House of Delegates to challenge the enactment of the Bill No. 1140. They were Kebekol Alfonso, Gabriela Ngirmang, Emilino Ingereklii, Tosie Bedor, John O. Ngiraked and Yashinto Isechal. See Kebekol Alfonso, et al. v. Sadang Silmai, et al, Civil Action No. 71-79.

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