How’s Nation Building? Nguangerang a Tatemai?

From the “Words from Orakidorm” —- 

“It is both with pride as a newly free nation and with the humility of the great task of nation building before us that we share with nations of the Pacific Basin community our experiences in emerging as a nation among you” were the words spoken by President Haruo Remeliik in March 1982 as Palauans aspired to build a nation. 

Emerging out of the colonial rubrics under Spain, Germany, Japan and United States, the sentiments and aspirations of the Palauan people were at its highest as the drafters and crafters of the future were there to commence this journey of nation building. A paper titled, “National Building; the use of Organization Development in the Emerging Pacific Island Government of the Republic of Palau” authored by Raymon Bruce (DOI), Moses Ramarui (Office of President, ROP), Yoichi Rengiil (Office of VP, ROP), Sharon Bruce (Marnik Agency) and Kim Batchellor (USTTPI) laid out the plan for this nation building. It laid down several building phases; Phase 1: Data Gathering & Values Research, Phase 2: Building Institutions, Phase 3: National Development & Planning, and Phase 4: Human Resource Planning & Development. This paper concludes that, “this is a documentation of what nation building looked like to those Palauans first charged with the task of transition to the new nation. This may serve as a blueprint and map, or perhaps it can serve at as a channel marker in the reef to help other Palauans who must come this way in the future.”

It is 30 years after this paper was written which had won the ASPA award for “Best Paper by a Foreign Country” when it was presented at the American Society of Public Administration System Conference in Hawaii in 1982. The report card has not been good because what the authors failed to do was evaluate the effect of politics to nation building. They failed to see how politics could be the cancer that will eat away the possibility to building a sustainable nation.

We have failed on every phases that were recommended by this paper, which was endorsed by the President Remeliik. In Palau, in 2013, as nation we continue to struggle with real data that can guide public policy design and development. Developmental institutions are poorly developed because politics as we play it tends to retard the gains overtime because national goals and objectives are not clarified and this allows personal opinions (not data driven) to drive policy. Our objective seems to revolve around “we need to keep the public quiet” because the next four years will come sooner than later. What about human resource development? Look around you and the story can tell itself. Any attempt to improve human resource is sacrificed because the gains in human development are long term and we are after short-term gains.

Then we all remember the famous words from George Santayana who said, “those who ignore history are doomed to repeat it”. We are doomed to repeat mistakes because there those among us who think they are the only ones privy to the right answers, when that is the first sign of ignorance. How can we read a national blue print if we are ignorant? But then, “Alii ke de mol mad era iusech” a quote from the Palauan Solarz.

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