By Gaafar J. Uherbelau —-
How many times have you bounced in and out of a pothole in Koror or somewhere along the Compact road and wondered, “Eang honest, ng kol choingerang e te mo rulii sei el delluchel el mo ungil? Tirekal chad el oureor e uudeudel el meruul er tial rael te mekerang?” Now, I’m not criticizing those who fix the road because I’m sure they do the best they can. And the point is exactly that. They can only do the best they can with what they have. Maybe they only have enough funding and training to patch the pothole until they can permanently fix it.
And apart from the roads, the practice of “di dousebech er tiang ma uriul” seems to be contagious in many facets of our society and especially in the government. Like using a spare tire, we seem to be looking for shortcuts or quick-fixes that could hold us over for the next couple of years. Then tend to blame lack of funding or lack of human resource for things not being done correctly or adequately. In my opinion it all goes back to planning.
If twenty years ago we had wanted to see Palau progress, we should have followed a master plan that had immediate, short-term, and long-term goals for us to achieve and phases laid out for us to follow. And once each phase is completed, we should take a look back and do an assessment to identify where we succeeded and where we need to improve and move on.
For example, if we had envisioned Palau as a premier tourist destination in the past, we should have anticipated the tourism industry’s wants and needs and taken steps to guarantee their availability. Once established, we should follow a plan that ensures that these services are maintained and continuously improved. An example of such service is a hyperbaric chamber available 24 hours a day. This is a critical service needed for a country that’s regarded as one of the best diving destinations in the world. What do you think will happen if news should spread about our medical facilities not having the capacity to cater for divers? Wouldn’t it have a negative effect on our reputation?
The same goes for our struggle for self-reliance. Apart from grants and aid from foreign nations, what is our overall plan? What are the steps we must take to achieve self-reliance and self-sufficiency and when? It seems like every four years we start from scratch and try to devise different ways to tackle the same issues that we have faced for years.
Why can’t we just follow one national road map that isn’t political or bureaucratic, a plan whose implementation isn’t dependent on who wins the election but rather on progressive phases? Maybe it’s about time we stop looking for band aids to cover our wounds and start looking at how we can prevent them. Because the more we apply temporary solutions to our problems, the more permanent our problems become.