By Bill Jaynes

The Kaselehlie Press

 February 27, 2019

Pohnpei—On February 12, 2019, the Pohnpei government filed criminal charges against Dr. Merlynn Abello-Alfonso, sole stockholder of the Genesis Corporation and all of its businesses, on charges related to alleged labor law violations.  Charges included a misdemeanor criminal charge of violation of Pohnpei Wage and Hour laws, three counts of Pohnpei State Human Trafficking and Criminal Exploitation laws, and one count of Forgery and Possession of Forged Writing on employment contracts. On February 18, the Pohnpei State Attorney General filed a second set of criminal charges against Dr. Abello-Alfonso alleging Obstruction of Justice for tampering with witnesses. 

The charges contained in both sets of criminal information are allegations and Dr. Abello-Alfonso is presumed innocent until proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt in a court of law.

According to documents filed at the Pohnpei State Supreme Court, the charges were the culmination of an eight month long investigation by the White Collar Crime Investigation Unit of the Office of the Attorney General in cooperation with the Division of Personnel, Labor and Manpower Development of the Department of Treasury and Administration.

On the first set of charges, the Office of the Attorney General asked the Court to issue a summons requiring Dr. Abello-Alfonso to appear for a hearing. On the second set of charges, the AG asked the Court to issue an arrest warrant.  After two days of deliberation, Associate Justice Ekiek issued the warrant for arrest based on a finding of probable cause.  Police officers arrested Dr. Abello-Alfonso on the same day.  Dr. Abello-Alfonso wrote in a social media post that she spent 22 hours in jail before she was released after a hearing for pre-trial release.

Dr. Abello-Alfonso broke the news of the initial criminal charges against her in a social media post on February 16. She called the criminal charges “dirty politics at its best”. 

“One would think that such a high government unit that is tasked with protecting its citizens and ensuring justice for all would conduct itself in an ethical and moral manner and follow due process of law to allow me the courtesy to respond before hastily filing such ill-prepared, crappy charges!”, her February 16 post continued.  She called the charges a “well-orchestrated plot” to ruin her chances in the March 5 election for the District One seat in the FSM Congress.

“I was never given an opportunity to respond and due process was not followed at all,” she wrote.

By Bill Jaynes

The Kaselehlie Press


March 1, 2019

Okeanos 1Pohnpei—According to Pohnpei’s Attorney General, the Pohnpei government is pushing forward to negotiate a new, legally sufficient contract to keep the beautiful twin hulled single mast “Vaka Motu”, Okeanos Messenger, a sailing canoe, in Pohnpei in order to serve Pohnpei’s outer islands. 

The vessel is capable of carrying up to seven passengers and up to 3000 pounds of specific types of freight.

Last week, Okeanos Foundation for the Sea, Pohnpei Branch Managing Director Jack Yakana told The Kaselehlie Press that the Okeanos Messenger has taken four trips to Pohnpei’s outer islands at the request of the Pohnpei State government.  Invoices sent to the State have not been paid.

Yakana said that Okeanos Foundation for the Sea Chief Operating Officer Dena Seidel wrote to the Pohnpei government saying that Okeanos will not be able to continue in Pohnpei if their invoices are not paid.

Pohnpei’s AG said that he has authorized payments of Okeanos invoices on a per trip basis.  Currently the sticking point is that some of the funds that were reprogrammed to finance the acquisition of the Okeanos Messenger were Compact Sector Education Grants and would require approval of the US Office of Insular Affairs.

According to the professional opinions issued by the Pohnpei’s Public Auditor and its Attorney General, there were legal problems with the first contract and the Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) between the Pohnpei government and the Okeanos Foundation.  Both of the opinions offered suggestions on how a new, legally sufficient agreement could be reached, and the government is currently pursuing those suggestions.

One of the problems with the initial contract was that the Pohnpei State Legislature was not consulted and so was not able to act to properly appropriate funds for the agreement. Instead, line item funds were inappropriately and potentially illegally “re-programmed” from the Office of Transportation and Infrastructure (T&I) and the Department of Education (DOE).

Regarding the first contract, which was canceled for cause, the auditor wrote that the Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) and the Okeanos Charter Agreement/Contract are both silent on the ownership of the vessel and related assets at the end of the three year chartering services term.Okeanos 2

The auditor recommended that if the Pohnpei leadership chooses to proceed with the project, responsible management officials should take immediate action find relevant funding sources to make sure that funds are properly authorized within the Pohnpei Government budgetary and financial legal frameworks and processes.

The AG alleged in his legal opinion that after the contract agreement was signed by all parties, the Pohnpei State Government Contracting Officer, Jack Yakana substituted a page or pages into the contract.

On September 3, 2018, Pohnpei State Government Contracting Officer, Jack Yakana submitted his resignation from T&I effective at the end of that month, the AG wrote in his opinion.  On September 24, Yakana submitted an Annual Cost Estimate for the Vaka Motu that included a salary of $32,000 per year for a Managing Director.  Yakana also signed the Charter Agreement authorizing use of T&I funds in the amount of $70,000. After leaving office, he became the Okeanos Managing Director, directly benefiting from the contract.  The AG alleged that Yakana had violated the Pohnpei laws regarding conflicts of interest (9 PC 8-110) and regarding Contracts (9 PC 8-111).

The law regarding contracts (9 PC 8-111) says that a State agency cannot enter into a contract with any person or business that is represented in the matter by a person who has been a public officer of that agency within the preceding 12 months and who participated in a material manner in the matter with which the contract is directly concerned.

The AG’s legal opinion on the original contract said that Yakana’s actions made the original contract null and void.  It said that if Pohnpei State Government intends to enter into a new contract with the vessel owner, Yakana is legally “barred from participating or benefiting in the contract”.

For the last few weeks, the Okeanos Foundation for the Sea has hosted promotional sailings of its traditional sailing Vaka Motu. Yakana has invited many government officials and members of the media to take short sailing excursions on the impressive vessel.  On February 1, Lt. Governor Reed Oliver and members of his family were aboard the vessel along with Okeanos Foundation for the Sea Chief Operating Officer, Dena Seidel and Yapese Traditional Master Navigator Ali Haleyalur who was in Pohnpei for more training of the local crew.

Yakana says that Okeanos also plans to offer paid “sunset cruises” and paid charters to Ahnd and Pakin in the future.  Pricing for those excursions and when they will be available has not yet been decided.

Rather than a three year charter agreement, the government is attempting to negotiate a 10 year contract with substantially lower annual payments and without the management of a local non-profit.  Those negotiations are in process.

FSM Information Services


Hailstone 1WENO, Chuuk—On February 18th, 2019, representatives of Chuuk State Government, the National Government of the Federated States of Micronesia (FSM), and the Government of the United States of America (USA), gathered at the Blue Lagoon Resort on Weno Island to commemorate the 75th anniversary of Operation Hailstone. Operation Hailstone was a World War II operational campaign launched by the United States against the Japanese Imperial Navy based in the Chuuk Lagoon.

Among those in attendance at the commemoration were the Honorable Lorin S. Robert, Secretary of the Department of Foreign Affairs and representing His Excellency, Peter M. Christian, President of the FSM; the Honorable Wesley Simina, Speaker of the Congress of the FSM;  the Honorable Innocente Oneisom, Speaker of the Chuuk State House of Representatives; Mr. Nickson Bossy, representing the Office of the Mayor of Weno Municipality; U.S. Deputy Chief of Mission Heather Coble; the Honorable Douglas Domenech, Assistant Secretary for the Department of Interior; General Charles Q. Brown, Commander of the U.S. Pacific Air Forces; Rear Admiral Kevin E. Lunday, Fourteenth District Commander of the U.S. Coast Guard; Director Nikolao Pula of the U.S. Office of Insular Affairs; and Dr. Dianne Strong, historian and author.

The commemoration began with the reception of guests and an invocation by Father Dennis Baker, S.J. This was followed by the introduction and recognition of dignitaries and officials.

Speaker Oneisom, after welcoming the attendees, said “Operation Hailstone’s aerial attack started at 21:00 [9:00pm] on the 17th of February, and ended after midnight on the 18th of February, 1944…. Chuuk State joins the FSM National Government and the U.S. Government in recognizing...the loving memories of all those whose lives perished.” The FSM, USA, and Japan all experienced significant loss of life during this military campaign. Continuing, Speaker Oneisom said “And it is an opportunity for us to reflect…and hope…that their souls rest in peace and there will never again be war and conflict in our islands.... This commemoration is not only for victory from war, but also for victory achieved in attaining and retaining peace.”

“Today, the FSM, the USA, and Japan are very close allied countries, and this ceremony brings us all together….” Speaker Oneisom spoke in detail about how the unique relationship between the FSM and the USA is realized through partnership and cooperation, though Speaker Oneisom also added “It is our hope that in 2023…the accompanying financial assistance will not significantly change.” FSM National Government officials and the U.S. delegation had an opportunity to meet prior to the commemoration activities. FSM officials included in this meeting were Joses Gallen, Secretary of the Department of Justice, and Andrew Yatilman, Secretary of the Department of Environment, Climate Change, and Emergency Management. During this meeting, officials engaged dialogue in matters of mutual interest concerning economic and security stability throughout the region. This included some discussion surrounding the status of the Amended Compact of Free Association as it relates to the expiring provisions scheduled to take effect in 2023.

U.S. Deputy of Chief Mission (DCM) Coble also spoke: “I am very honored to be here and part of the group…I think the theme that has been presented is something very important…. I think celebrating peace and partnership is something we do not do as much as we should…peace and cooperation...should be celebrated.”Hailstone 2

“I hope everyone…understands the significance of not only the people who passed away,” said DCM Coble, “But of the marvelous cooperation we have…as allies with the Japanese and FSM. We work very well with the Japanese, not only here but throughout the [Freely Associated States]…and this is such a great thing to see.”

Dr. Dianne Strong, author of Witness to War: Truk Lagoon’s Master Diver Kimiuo Aisek, spoke next. Dr. Strong shared a detailed account of Operation Hailstone from her research and interviews, with emphasis on the idea that, though World War II was traumatic for all parties, Chuukese innovation and leadership through Kimiuo Aisek resulted in “the world’s greatest underwater museum.”

General Brown provided the keynote speech. “The FSM is a key partner with the USA to keep a free and open Pacific…and this ceremony serves as a reminder…that a small set of allies can have a big impact….The USA is an enduring Pacific power…and our ongoing presence demonstrates our commitment…[to] security and partnership,  and collaboration: not domination.” General Brown recounted US assistance in a variety of arenas, including support following recent typhoons and other natural disasters through the broader Pacific region, and discussed Operation Christmas Drop which delivered “62,000 pounds of toys and food” to 56 islands throughout the greater Micronesia region, including the FSM. Operation Christmas Drop is the United States’ longest running humanitarian assistance operation.

Representing President Christian was Secretary Robert of the Department of Foreign Affairs, who provided special remarks. “Today we gather here not so much to dwell on the narratives of the past and the atrocities of wars, but most importantly to commemorate the victory of peace—the victory for the respect and dignity of our common humanity…. I think you will agree with me that the preamble of our national constitution says it all: ‘Having known war, we hope for peace. Having been divided, we wish for unity. Having been ruled, we seek freedom.’ Going forward today, let us promote friendship, partnership, and cooperation in our strength for the future.”

“I think you will agree,” Secretary Robert continued, “That we have enough common enemies to keep us busy. I am referring to climate change, sea level rise, poverty, hunger and famine, illiteracy, genocide, trafficking…these are the challenges of today.”

Closing his remarks, Secretary Robert said “We are indeed humbled and grateful for all the American assistance and support to our Nation building…we are thankful for the programs and grants…and hope for support and cooperation in the years to come.”

Following the speeches, the respective delegations proceeded onto small boats to place wreathes upon the water where, below, lay the reminders that the cost for peace has already been paid. Through these tokens of respect and remembrance, and active recognition that peace, civility, and respect for one another are as much choices people make as they are feelings and beliefs, it is the hope of the Nation that the FSM, the greater Pacific region, and the world at large will know and exemplify peace and partnership.

The FSM is dedicated towards producing positive and peaceful relationships with all countries and peoples throughout the world. The Nation’s relationship with the USA is both special and unique, and it is the hope of the FSM National Government that the FSM and USA will always have such a special partnership.

Pacific Islands Forum Fisheries Agency


22 February 2019

KOROR, Palau – FFA Director General, Dr Manu Tupou-Roosen has made her inaugural address to the 19th Micronesian Presidents’ Summit, with a commitment that the FFA will build mechanisms for closer cooperation between FFA Members.

“Bringing our people together, to achieve together, is the power of cooperation,” Dr Tupou-Roosen told Micronesian presidents and leaders attending the Summit.  “To embrace cooperation, to listen and consult with our Members is at the forefront of what we do.”

However, Dr Tupou-Roosen signalled that one of her priorities as Director General is to develop mechanisms that will lift cooperation between FFA Members, as a platform for ensuring economic returns on fishing are maximised and social benefits for local communities are improved.

“Throughout 2019, the FFA will actively consider how our stakeholders can dialogue with each other more regularly and effectively,” Dr Tupou Roosen said.

“I would also like the FFA to bring a wider lens to discussions on key regional issues. Fisheries policies don’t sit in isolation but are part of the broader geopolitical landscape so we need to use our influence to drive progress on issues such as food security, addressing NCDs, mitigating the effects of climate change and alleviating poverty,” Dr Tupou Roosen added.

The Summit discussed issues surrounding climate change, fisheries and NCDs, among others. It was also an opportunity to promote the FFA’s 40th anniversary, which will be celebrated with a programme of activities, to be announced shortly.

The Micronesian Presidents’ Summit is an annual gathering of the presidents and leaders of Palau, Federated States of Micronesia, Federated States of Micronesia, Nauru and Kiribati. This year it was hosted by Palau from February 20-21.


OLMCHSA total of eight students from Our Lady of Mercy Catholic High School (OLMCHS) are accepted to the Junior State of America (JSA) Summer Programs 2019. Six are accepted at Princeton University in New Jersey. They are Caitlin Danila, Deitra Helgenberger, John Hegileirig, Sergio David (all 11th Graders) and Saya Shigeta and Jade Togonon (both 10th Graders). Two more 10th Graders are accepted at Stanford University in California - Yrra Peñascosa and Leila Jade Lane. The summer courses offered are AP US Government, AP Macroeconomics, International Relations, and Speech & Political Communication, aside from the Debate Workshop. Mr. Russell Figueras, the OLMCHS JSA Club Advisor, stated that: "These eight students deserved it as they worked hard in their applications, from their personal essays to their analytical and argumentative essays."


OLMCHS has been sending students to this program since Summer of 2012. The school would like the students to experience the JSA Summer School advantage. Attending the program, the students will be more prepared for the challenges of college life, create lifelong friendships, build leadership skills, and learn from respected professors from high caliber universities in the U.S. All OLMCHS students who attended the program came back to the school with great leadership skills and high self-confidence. OLMCHS has so far 16 JSA Alumni from Stanford University, Princeton University, Georgetown University, and Beijing Diplomat Program.


On February 21, 2019, JSA Senior Program Director Ed Banayat announced that of the eight accepted students, two were awarded full scholarships which include tuition, housing, meals, textbooks, and other academic expenses including airfare. The two scholarship recipients are Caitlin Danila and Deitra Helgenberger. The other six will explore other ways and means to be able to attend the program. Sr. Krista Namio, MMB, Principal of OLMCHS, thanked all the teachers who shared extra time in guiding the eight students in the application process.

Manta Ray Bay Resort

February 17

YapSharksColonia, Yap—Did you know that sharks kill fewer than four humans on average each year, while humans kill an estimated 100 million sharks annually? That you're more likely to be killed by a lightning strike, bee sting or while sitting on the toilet?

The ten students from Yap High School sat rapt in front of the overhead screen as Cheryl McCarron, outreach director for the New York City-based nonprofit organization, Shark Angels, taught them about sharks during the Skype-in-the-Classroom lesson. Most had seen the popular horror movies about the massive animals and believed the ones found around their remote island home were dangerous and should be killed. The facts cited by McCarron were surprising, said YHS Principal John Tamngin.

Manta Ray Bay Resort, Micronesia’s premier dive resort, co-hosted the lesson as part of a yearlong program to highlight shark conservation and awareness among both scuba divers and local students. The culmination of the first year of what will become an annual event will be held October 12 – 26, 2019 when divers from around the world are expected on the Micronesian island for a two-week-long program titled Yap Divers 4 Sharks to learn about international shark conservation and marine ecology from well-known conservationists, and to swim with the resident sharks that inhabit the island’s protected reef.

Micronesia has the second largest shark sanctuary in the world, McCarron explained, and six of the twelve species are endangered. In some parts of the world, up to 90 percent of sharks have been decimated due to pollution, commercial fishing and “human diets,” she added. Shark fin soup, a traditional Chinese delicacy associated with prosperity, honor and good fortune, is served at banquets, weddings and other important celebrations. The popularity of shark fin soup requires the collection of fins from live sharks that are tossed back into the ocean where they suffocate and die. A bowl of shark fin soup, she explained, can cost up to $100 and is often served to show off how wealthy the host is. But the fin is made of cartilage that has no actual taste, which requires the addition of fish or chicken broth, and contains high levels of mercury. “So, the soup is poisonous, as well,” she said.

The value of sharks is not in killing them, McCarron told the students, but in using them to stimulate local economies through tourism. Why kill one shark for a bowl of soup when that same shark can bring in several million dollars of revenue from dive enthusiasts over its lifetime. But the main reason is for the maintenance of a healthy, balanced marine environment and the students can help, they were told, by talking with people about sharks, being careful to control pollution and eliminating the use of plastics that get into the ocean.

At the end of the lesson, the students took a ten-question test. Those who got 95 percent correct would be invited to go snorkeling in October during the event announced Ruud van Baal, general manager of the resort.  Just before boarding the bus to go back to school, they were excited to learn that they all will be going snorkeling later this year. The snorkeling trip will be conducted by the Divers 4 Sharks Foundation under the supervision of Paulo Guilherme, one of the most renowned environmental activists and a co-founder of the Onda Azul Marine Studies Center in his home country of Brazil.

The students also received certificates for their participation in the class and a pizza lunch in the resort’s popular restaurant, Mnuw, that’s located on an old Indonesian schooner. Other schools scheduled to participate in the Shark Angels program include Yap Catholic High School and Yap Seventh-day Adventist School. “It starts with the people who live on these islands,” van Baal told the students, “and with the youth who are the future. That’s why it’s so important for you to be knowledgeable about sharks and other marine life right here in Yap.” It is hoped that at least one student of those attending the class will become a marine scientist and return to Yap in the future to continue the island’s strong commitment to marine conservation.

For more information about Yap Divers 4 Sharks, go to

WaterIn November of 2017, PUC and Pohnpei State Government reached out to the Israeli Ambassador to FSM and Pacific Islands, His Excellency Tibor Shalev Schlosser, to request a project based grant entitled “Water Resource Rehabilitation and Improvement” to build a new Iron Removal plant or “MO plant” in Nett to improve filtration and water quality in PUC water that services the people of Pohnpei, especially at the State Hospital and toward Nett and U municipalities.  This part of the island has an issue in water quality from the MO deep wells and the treatment plant is not able to fully clean the water injected into the lines that service these communities. This affects a significant amount of PUC customers. This upgrade to the existing MO plant will solve this issue and will cost around $350,000.

The government of Israel has sent technical expertise to Pohnpei to make an assessment of the existing plant and make recommendations on the way forward for the project.  Ambassador Tibor arrived in Pohnpei on February 18 and brought Mr. David Kalush to do the field visits and final collection of data in order for Israel to render the decision if they will support PUC’s request.

The proposal submitted by PUC to Israel was extracted from a package to rehabilitate the entire PUC water system which will cost up to $19 Million USD. PUC wants to thank H.E. Tibor for his visit to Pohnpei State and for bringing Mr. Kalush to do the field visit.  We look forward to the outcome of this visit.

FSM Information Services


PalauPALIKIR, Pohnpei—After the first day of the 19th Micronesia Presidents’ Summit held in Koror, Palau, on the 20th and 21st of February 2019, representatives of the Government of the Federated States of Micronesia (FSM) found time to meet at Palau Community College (PCC) with FSM citizens residing in Palau. Among the Government’s representatives included the Honorable Lorin S. Robert, Secretary of the Department of Foreign Affairs, the Honorable Andrew Yatilman, Secretary of the Department of Environment, Climate Change, and Emergency Management, the Honorable Joses Gallen, Secretary of the Department of Justice, and Leo Falcam Jr., Chief of Staff to His Excellency Peter M. Christian, President of the FSM. Organized by Honorary Consul Changeina Masang, in partnership with Dr. Patrick U. Tellei, President of Palau Community College, the meeting was attended by approximately forty FSM citizens hailing from all four states, though the vast majority came from Yap State.

“It’s my pleasure to visit you, to see our citizens,” said Secretary Robert. “We encourage you to study hard and to work hard…while you’re here, you represent the FSM as our student ambassadors…. We are primarily here to say hello, to see how you’re all doing, and to help answer any questions you may have about any topic. My colleagues and I are in your hands.”

The first half of the conversation focused largely on education and employment opportunities. The attendees—mostly students—revealed what they were studying at PCC. While there was a mixture of subjects being pursued, including auto-mechanics and health, a disproportionate amount of FSM students in Palau advised that they’re studying agriculture.

“There is nothing I’ve heard so far that we don’t need in the FSM,” said Chief of Staff Falcam. “We can use all of that….”

Secretary Gallen echoed Chief Falcam’s remarks. “The FSM as a country is facing a very big problem: labor demand…the number of people in the states is decreasing. So what I want to share with you is to please finish your school and come back….Your family needs you; your state needs your; your country needs you. FSM cannot grow without you.”

The second half of the conversation was focused on passports and immigration. “What is the process of renewing my passport?” one citizen asked; “If I get a Palau passport, can I still have an FSM passport?” another citizen asked.

Regarding the latter, FSM doesn’t recognize dual citizenship and therefore an individual cannot be the citizen of the FSM and a separate country. An FSM citizen, who chooses to take on a different citizenship, such as a U.S. citizenship or a Palauan citizenship, immediately becomes an FSM National. Per the FSM Constitution, FSM Nationals can live and work in the FSM but cannot vote in state or national elections and cannot own property.

“Your passport is more important than your driver’s license,” said Secretary Gallen. “It’s your most important document when you’re away from the FSM.... You must first complete the application page, which includes basic information about you and your family. You must attach a passport-sized photo whose size is on the form.”

“What if my passport is lost?” one citizen asked.

“Attach a note to the Department of Justice saying that you lost it…if you don’t remember the number, we’ll find it. But lost or damaged passports are a bit more expensive at $75,” Secretary Gallen said. A regular passport is $50.

“One of the biggest problems,” Secretary Gallen continued, “is when we get an application with wrong information or incomplete information…so what they do is try to send it back. One of the best ways to make sure that your application has complete information is to speak with Department of Justice or Department of Foreign Affairs representatives, including the Honorary Consul here or the embassies if you’re abroad, before sending in your application.” Secretary Gallen also recommended that prospective passport applicants include their return mailing address.

“Only three countries,” said Secretary Robert, “have the privilege to live and work and study in the U.S.A. without a visa. And those three countries have such a close relationship with each other. Those countries are the Freely Associated States, FSM, Palau, and the Marshall Islands. So please treat your passport with respect and keep it safe.”

US Department of Labor


HONOLULU, HI – The U.S. Department of Labor announced today that an education and enforcement initiative by its Wage and Hour Division (WHD) focused on retail mall employers in Hawaii, recovered $698,120 in back wages and liquidated damages for 339 employees, and led WHD to assess $59,523 in civil penalties for child labor violations during Fiscal Year 2018.

The investigations completed as part of this initiative found that more than half of businesses investigated failed to pay retail employees legally required overtime when they worked beyond 40 hours in a week. WHD investigators also found that more than half of the retailers that employed minors at mall locations violated Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) child labor provisions when they allowed the minors to engage in work prohibited for workers under 18 years old, such as loading or operating trash or cardboard compactors.

“The U.S. Department of Labor remains committed to educating employers and employees about their rights and responsibilities so that young workers remain safe on the job, all employees get paid what they have legally earned, and employers compete on a level playing field,” said Wage and Hour Division District Director Terence Trotter, in Honolulu. “We encourage employers to view the results of this enforcement and education initiative as an opportunity to review their own practices, and to make any corrections necessary to come into compliance.”

Outreach and education efforts conducted as part of this effort included meetings with school counselors, training mall tenant representatives, and providing compliance assistance directly to mall management companies.

Notable results of the WHD’s FY2018 initiative in Hawaii include:

  • • $239,889 to 44 employees after investigators found that six Ramen-Ya restaurant locations in Honolulu, Kapolei, and Pearl City and one in Kahului failed to pay overtime when employees worked beyond 40 hours in a workweek;
  • • $89,565 to 12 employees after four Regal Food Inc. locations in Honolulu malls failed to pay the required minimum wage and overtime. The employer also failed to maintain adequate time records;
  • • $33,346 to five employees after Julie Z Restaurant Filipino Home Style Cuisine at Kapolei Marketplace in Kapolei failed to pay overtime for hours worked beyond 40 in a week;
  • • $76,932 to 10 employees after three Thai-Lao Restaurants locations in Honolulu, Pearl City, and Kapolei failed to pay overtime to kitchen staff; and
  • • $7,060 in penalties were assessed to Gyu-Kaku Japanese BBQ at Windward Mall in Kaneohe for allowing four minors to load a trash compactor.

Employers that discover overtime or minimum wage violations may self-report and resolve those violations without litigation through the PAID program. For more information about the FLSA and other laws enforced by the Wage and Hour Division, contact the Division’s toll-free helpline at 866-4US-WAGE (487-9243). Information is also available at including a search tool to use if you think you may be owed back wages collected by the Division.

FSM Information Services


KOROR, Palau—The 19th Micronesian Presidents’ Summit (MPS) took place February 20th to 21st 2019 at the Ngarachamayong Culture Center. All five sovereign nations in the Micronesian region—the Federated States of Micronesia (FSM), Republic of Palau (Palau), Republic of the Marshall Islands (RMI), Republic of Nauru (Nauru), and the Republic of Kiribati (Kiribati)—attended the annual meeting with high-level delegations comprised of Heads of State/Government and cabinet-level Ministers, Secretaries, and support staff.

Though His Excellency Peter M. Christian, President of the FSM, was unable to attend the MPS due to important obligations in the FSM, the FSM delegation in his place consisted of the Honorable Lorin S. Robert, Secretary of the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA), the Honorable Andrew Yatilman, Secretary of the Department of Environment, Climate Change, and Emergency Management, the Honorable Joses Gallen, Secretary of the Department of Justice, and support and advisory staff.

After the official opening presentations and national anthems, each President and/or Head of Delegation provided their opening remarks. The first to speak was His Excellency Taneti Mamau, President of Kiribati. “While our family name Micronesia means micro or small, we must be reminded that we are large ocean states with influence and power,” President Mamau said, in reference to Micronesia’s capacity to shape and focus regional and international conversations on topics ranging from climate change to fisheries. “Our resources have long been compromised to the extent that there are others who are living better lives at the cost of our peoples’ livelihoods. We should not allow history to repeat itself…. It’s time that we remain united to play our cards well, and better, this time and tomorrow.”

Following President Mamau’s remarks, Secretary Robert provided the opening statement from the FSM. “We look forward to sharing news and updates on…issues such as maritime surveillance, transnational crime, and airspace management, as mentioned by President Mamau…. These are important issues that must be in the forefront of our regional discussions given the challenges we continue to face.... [We must] protect our most important national resources that we have.”

The Honorable David Adeang, Minister in Assistance to the President, represented His Excellency Baron Waqa, President of Nauru, in his absence. “The challenges that are faced by small island countries represented here means we have to provide all the functions, and we have to meet all the expectations and needs, aspirations and dreams, of our own people…. And in this respect we thank very much all the development partners here who are able to support us in…issues [such as]…environment, climate change, fisheries, and resource management…perhaps these can be made easier if we work together.”

Her Excellency Dr. Hilda Heine, President of the RMI, spoke next. “It’s always a pleasure to renew friendships and create new ones…and this 19th summit is such an opportunity…. In recalling our solidarity, the RMI proposes several items for discussion. Our candidatures to the Human Rights Council are one such issue.” 

While many of President Heine’s opening remarks echoed the other Micronesian Presidents, there was a particular focus on gender equality and women’s rights. “We are working on a gender equality bill…and [hope to] introduce it in our parliament…your endorsement will be deeply welcome…. Your support is also sought for the Pacific Women’s conference….”

His Excellency Tommy Remengesau Jr., President of Palau and chairman of the 19th MPS, gave the final opening remarks. “We will…like to give a special welcome to the Nauru and Kiribati delegations, who are visiting Palau for the first time in the context of the MPS,” President Remengesau said. Kiribati and Nauru joined the MPS as permanent members during the 18th MPS in 2018. “With our new members…the MPS now has the majority of the [Small Island States] within the larger [Pacific Island Forum]…this summit has therefore taken on greater importance for our Micronesian people and our Micronesian region. Together, we must demand a stronger voice in regional planning and negotiations….”

During the afternoon of the first day (the 20th), the Presidents and Heads of Delegation conducted meetings between themselves on matters of national and regional interest and significance, so as to come to agreement when presenting on such issues in the second day (the 21st) and the content of the Joint Communiqué. (A Joint Communiqué is a formal, written policy, treaty, or official statement developed by two or more parties.)

Meanwhile, the delegations received presentations from the Council of Regional Organizations in the Pacific, also known as the CROP Agencies. These agencies include the Pacific Island Forum Secretariat (PIF), Secretariat of the Pacific Community (SPC), the Forum Fisheries Agency (FFA), Pacific Power Association (PPA), Pacific Aviation Safety Organization (PASO), and the Secretariat of the Pacific Regional Environment Program (SPREP).

The second and final day of the MPS began with the CROP agencies summarizing their report through the FFA Director-General, Dr. Manumatavai Tupou-Roosen. “Within the CROP family, whatever hat that we wear, we have one clear vision: that is that the work we do, the service we provide, must be making a positive difference in the lives of our people…. And we calibrate around this vision with four key themes: to ensure that we continue to enhance regional solidarity, to maintain that platform of cooperation. To find innovative ways to strengthen our engagement with you, our members, and key partners, and enable more regular consultation. To ensure that we meet your priority goals and strategies set out in the outcomes from this important summit.”

PIF reaffirmed its support to the Boe Declaration (which can be seen here:, and committed to submitting a Micronesian representative to the Pacific Steering Committee for Sustainable Development prior to March 1st, 2019. SPC promised to “make the fight to eliminate violence against women and girls a priority”, and SPREP endorsed “the proposed strategy for making a [Northern Pacific] office.”

PASO endorsed a proposal for a regional aviation ministers meeting, FFA discussed strengthening outcomes through cooperation—including celebrating FFA’s 40th anniversary—and PPA emphasized that private sector investment in electrical utilities is crucial. (All utility corporations in the FSM are state-owned enterprises).

The CROP agencies openly endorsed their support for the FSM’s Technology for Tuna Transparency (T-3) Challenge, in partnership with The Nature Conservancy, as well as demonstrating their collaborative support for Palau’s National Marine Park Sanctuary, RMI’s goal to eliminate illegal, unreported and unregulated (IUU) fishing by 2023, and Kiribati’s KV 20—the strategic development plan for Kiribati from 2016 to 2036, which has a heavy focus on climate change adaptation and mitigation.

The afternoon discussions during the second day of MPS focused on various presentations and discussions on regional and country-specific initiatives. They included agreement from the Presidents and Heads of Delegation to stress the need for coordination with regards to sustainable transportation, including support from the Green Climate Fund (GCF); that the 7th Our Ocean Conference to be held in Palau in 2020 focus in part on designating and committing to marine protected areas; that Non-Communicable Diseases (NCDs) be addressed throughout the region (e.g. Palau, whose Ministry of Health suggests 72.5% of its population is overweight or obese, has banned canned meat and ramen in its schools); and the establishment of a United Nations Multi-Country Office in the North Pacific and specifically in one of the five MPS states. (Its exact location is still to be finalized).

Complete details of the discussions and agreements can be found in the Joint Communiqué (found here: ), and all FSM citizens are strongly encouraged to read through it so as to be aware of the outcomes that are of the most relevance, importance, or interest to them.

It was agreed that Nauru would become the host for the 20th MPS.

Each President and Head of Delegation gave closing remarks at the conclusion of the 19th MPS. Each nation emphasized mutual respect for one another and a commitment to cooperation. “The issues that we discussed here are very dear to our hearts,” Secretary Robert said. “Some of them are big challenges, like the issues on climate change, IUU, and other issues…[but] they are proof of our living in the Micronesian family.”

“Micronesia has a rare opportunity to appoint the next Secretary General of the PIF,” said President Remengesau of Palau, “there is no greater voice than through the leadership of this forum…but this is about more than just issues and projects…. It is also about the maintenance and development of friendships, and the continuation of Micronesian cultural bond…it has been my great honor, and the honor of the people of Palau, to hold this 19th MPS….Let us always remember, the ocean does not separate us; it connects us together.”

The FSM National Government recognizes, appreciates, and commits to its Micronesian neighbors—in the words of President Christian—“Genuine, honest-to-goodness respect”, and dedication to peace and partnership. Though the issues facing our nations and our region at this time are significant, the FSM National Government is committed to tackling these issues with the importance that they deserve so as to improve the lives of the citizens of the Nation and the region.

The filing of criminal charges against a political candidate, Dr. Merlynn Abello- Alfonso on February 12, 2019 raises a lot of interesting and intriguing facts. I have been closely following the unfolding of this scenario and am compelled to share my observations on this matter because it is deeply troubling and has shaken my trust in our Government system. Everything about this issue with Genesis Corporation and Dr. Merlynn Abello- Alfonso raises the question of motives for this. Is it personal or political?? Regardless of the motive, it is without question very malicious, vindictive, and sickening.

Timing appears suspicious and seem aimed to affect her candidacy for the March 05, 2019 upcoming Congressional election. Everything that has occurred did not follow due process since day one. No opportunity was given for her to respond to the charges that were filed against her. Barely two weeks before the election, on February 12, 2019, the Pohnpei State AG, Mr. Dana Smith hastily filed criminal charges of human trafficking, violation of Pohnpei Labor Wage Law, and forgery among other things against Dr. Merlynn Abello-Alfonso and Genesis Corporation. All these charges simply do not fit the personality and person that everyone knew. The charges are so ridiculous I am in disbelief!

The stated charges were more civil rather than criminal in nature. These were labor issues and Pohnpei State Labor Office is the right division of government that should deal with these. The right process would be an administrative hearing to determine the information gathered and compliance imposed on the entity involved should there be a need to. So why is the Pohnpei State AG office directly handling and running everything on this case? Furthermore, investigations, interrogations were conducted by the State AG himself, Mr. Dana Smith and his lady staff Tracy Ardos.

On the facts, it appears that on August 7, 2018, Ms. Malpihna Nelper, Chief of Division of Personnel, Labor and Manpower development Pohnpei State did issue a letter to Dr. Merlynn Abello-Alfonso/Genesis Corporation requesting for the following information.  Employee name, address, date of birth, legal resident, citizenship, country of origin, expiration of entry permit, job title, wage, employment benefits, payroll records, employees education, number of employees and type of injury or illness if any, and copies of current contract and extension. That is a lot of information to request and very burdensome to submit considering there are more than fifty some employees under Genesis Corporation. That letter specifically stated” these information are important and to be used for our survey.” Illegal? No, not really as Pohnpei State Labor does have authority to request such information. Unusual? Yes, it was the first time such voluminous information was requested and Genesis did take its time responding due to the amount of work it entailed. But obviously the reason stated that it was for a survey was untrue. So why the deceit in requesting such information?

And a even bigger question is why is the Pohnpei State Labor Office not doing the investigation itself. Pohnpei State Prosecution office had none to minimal participation. Everything was done at AG by Mr. Dana Smith and Tracy Ardos. The other two attorney staff had been kept in the dark and clueless of what was happening. No opportunity was given for Dr. Merlynn Abello-Alfonso to respond nor was she asked about anything. What forces are working in our government to allow such actions to be tolerated? The charges did not even have a single  document attached to it to support  charges filed against her

and was very poorly presented. Any one with basic legal background would know it did not constitute much, was nonsensical,  and was not going to hold up in court.

On the afternoon of February 20, 2019, the doctor was served an arrest warrant for “obstruction of justice” for a general staff meeting she had which was  taken  out  of context. Again no due process was followed as she was read her rights and questioned only after she was released from nearly 22 hours in custody. Another obvious blunder! Interesting to note was that she has not even received a summons for that particular case in her individual capacity so how could there be obstruction of justice for a non-existent case?

After all the efforts exerted to file charges against Genesis Corporation and the doctor candidate, February 26, 2019 nobody showed up from the opposing party! So one is left to wonder, what EXACTLY is going on??

This certainly seems weird. Or perhaps maybe not after all. It could be an attempt to shred the reputation of a woman who has recently lost her husband and has led a life of service to the people of Pohnpei most of her life. No justice in all this as she is one of the kindest soul I know, Always ready to lend a hand and has served Pohnpei and its people, from all walks of life- students, youth. churches, women organizations, schools etc. I would not be surprised if she does turn around to sue our already poor government for all that it has put her through. We are certainly now a circus with puppets bending over. I am shocked at how everything has played out. It is alarming how our law officers and one of the highest government office trusted to protect its citizens has done such unlawful acts. It is scary, dirty and ugly and should not be tolerated. What forces lie behind these acts?

I shall leave the public to judge for themselves. Have we become such monsters??

Milo S. Abello

The Junior Statesmen Foundation

The U.S. Department of the Interior and The Junior Statesmen Foundation proudly announce the winners of scholarships to the 2019 Junior Statesmen Summer School.

The scholarships, funded by the Department of the Interior’s Office of Insular Affairs, cover all tuition costs and round trip transportation to the JSA Summer Schools in the USA.


Caitlin-Rose Danila, Our Lady of Mercy Catholic H.S., JSA Summer Program located at Princeton Deitra Helgenberger, Our Lady of Mercy Catholic H.S., JSA Summer Program located at Princeton Grace Lynn Pangelinan, Pohnpei Seventh Day Adventist School, JSA Summer School located at Princeton Ike Solomon, Xavier High School, JSA Summer School located at Princeton

In addition to the recipients of the Department of Interior Scholarships, the following students have been accepted to 2019 JSA Summer Programs:

Maryjae Ardos, Xavier High School, JSA Summer School located at Princeton Gorrina Booth, Calvary Christian Academy, JSA Summer School located at Princeton  Sergio David, Our Lady of Mercy Catholic H.S., JSA Summer Program located at Princeton KM Edwin, Xavier High School, JSA Summer Program located at Georgetown  Leann Gabriel, Pohnpei Seventh Day Adventist School, JSA Summer Program located at Stanford John Hagileirig, Our Lady of Mercy Catholic H.S., JSA Summer Program located at Princeton Bryanne Laamuut Fenenigog, Yap Catholic H.S., JSA Summer Program located at Princeton  Leila Jade Lane, Our Lady of Mercy Catholic H.S., JSA Summer Program located at Stanford Jovendra Mogolgad, Yap Catholic H.S., JSA Summer Program located at Princeton  Shaquille Nimea, Pohnpei Seventh Day Adventist School, JSA Summer Program located at Princeton Mercedes Olter, Calvary Christian Academy, JSA Summer Program located at Georgetown

Yrra Penascoza, Our Lady of Mercy Catholic H.S., JSA Summer Program located at Stanford Marjory Serrano, Pohnpei Seventh Day Adventist School, JSA Summer Program located at Stanford Frances Sharma, Pohnpei Seventh Day Adventist School, JSA Summer Program located at Stanford Saya Shigeta, Our Lady of Mercy Catholic H.S., JSA Summer Program located at Princeton

Kilani Stinnett, Xavier High School, JSA Summer Program located at Princeton Trevor Talimeluw, Yap Catholic H.S., JSA Summer Program located at Princeton

Jade Togonon, Our Lady of Mercy Catholic H.S., JSA Summer Program located at Princeton Kalvin Warly, Yap Catholic High School, JSA Summer Program located Princeton

Mayren Wichep, Calvary Christian Academy, JSA Summer Program at Princeton Zedikiah Young Uhk, Yap Catholic High School, JSA Summer Program at Princeton


Three sessions of the Junior Statesmen Summer School are conducted on the prestigious university campuses of Stanford (near San Francisco), Princeton (in central New Jersey), and Georgetown (in Washington, D.C.).

Summer School students take college level courses in Government and Speech, while they develop and polish their leadership skills. Highlighting each Summer School session is a high-level speakers program, which gives students a chance to meet and question elected officials, judges, reporters, political campaign consultants, and others in the political arena. Each night, Summer School students debate controversial political issues in JSA Debate Workshop, which is a simulation of the debates held in the United States Congress.

Admission to JSA Summer Schools is very competitive. Admission decisions are based on an applicant's academic achievement, leadership, and interest in politics or government. To apply, students submit an official high school transcript, personal essays, and a letter of recommendation from a counselor or an academic teacher.

Tuition, which covers all academic expenses, housing and meals for the month, is $5,650 for the JSA Programs located at Georgetown, Princeton and Stanford. Transportation to the summer school is not included in the tuition.

For the past twenty-eight years, the U.S. Department of the Interior’s Office of Insular Affairs has offered full tuition and transportation scholarships to the Junior Statesmen Summer School to outstanding high school students in U.S. territories and Freely Associated States.

FSM Information Services

PALIKIR, Pohnpei—On February 25th 2019, His Excellency Peter M. Christian, President of the Federated States of Micronesia (FSM), met with His Excellency Carlos Manuel Rojas Lago to receive his Presentation of Credentials as the first accredited ambassador from the Republic of Cuba to the Nation.

“We want to thank you for travelling to visit us,” said President Christian. “It’s been awhile since I met the Cuban Ambassador to New Zealand in [Papua New Guinea]…. We talked about establishing relations, and so here we are. This is historic for us; we’ve been wanting to accomplish this for a long time. Thank you very much and welcome to the FSM.”

Continuing, President Christian said “You have your own political interests, some are like ours and some are not; we have our own interests, and we push for some global issues that are different than the way you push yours…but the point is to foster better human treatment of people by our governments.”

Among other issues, President Christian and Ambassador Lago discussed the ongoing situation in Venezuela. President Christian emphasized that his primary concern in that country is “that there are children who need help,” and so he requested that Ambassador Lago convey this message to the people and Government of Cuba.

“We’re hoping,” said President Christian, “that after we establish this higher-level relationship that we might…have our Department of Health and our Department of Education approach your government for assistance in development of our capacity to deliver services.” 

“I have with me a draft proposal for cooperation for medical services,” said Ambassador Lago. “It’s with me now.”

“I look forward to our [Department of Health & Social Affairs] aggressively pursuing…the possibility of Cuba coming out to look at our diabetes program…there’s a lot to be done,” President Christian said.

The FSM is committed towards developing positive and peaceful relations with all countries throughout the world, and looks forward to this historic new partnership with the Republic of Cuba.

Embassy of the United States of America Kolonia

NOAA2On February 15, 2019, the U.S. National Oceanic Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) substation in Weno, Chuuk held a ribbon cutting ceremony for their newly refurbished building. The facility served as a working station for over 10 staff members. The refurbishment included a kitchenette, office space, a conference room, toilet facilities and additional space for data equipment.

Economic/Consular Officer, Anthony Alexander delivered remarks on behalf of the American Embassy. In his remarks he stated “the weather station underscores our partnership with Federated States of Micronesia to improve the lives of its people” and also commended Mr. Perry Killion, who served more than 20 years at the Chuuk station. The Honorable Chuuk State Governor Johnson Elimo stated “it is important to have a full operational weather station because data entry and monitoring does not only benefit the people of Chuuk but the whole world.” Governor Elimo spoke from his own experience when he served at the NOAA Chuuk Sub-station. Also in attendance of the ceremony John Murphy, Chief Operating Officer representing the NOAA Main Office in Washington D.C., Ray Tanabe, Director NWS Pacific Region, Honolulu Hawaii, Charles Guard, Warning Coordination Meteorologist from Guam Station,  Secretary Andrew Yatilman Department of Environment Climate Change and Emergency Management, Chuuk State Governor Johson Elimo, President Mark Mailo House of Senate, Former FSM Vice President Redley Killion and Mr. Johannes Berdon Official in Charge Chuuk Weather Station Office.

During the ceremony Charles “Chip” Guard announced that one of the biggest challenges for the state of Chuuk was the inter-island travel. One of the services they hope to provide citizens of Chuuk is wave data within the lagoon and hopefully in the future add data outside the lagoon. This service will benefit boat operators and travelers and promote safe commutes to the outer-islands.

By Bill Jaynes

The Kaselehlie Press 

February 9, 2019

SwimPohnpei—On February 8 and 9, nine swimmers competed in a qualifying meet to determine who will represent the FSM at the 18th FINA World Aquatics Championships in Gwangju, Korea in July.  The meet was especially important because only athletes that compete in the event in Korea can be eligible for the Olympics in Tokyo, Japan in 2020.

Only four spots were available, two for females and two for males. But since male swimmer Tasi Limtiaco of Chuuk received a FINA scholarship and so is automatically qualified for the “Worlds” in Korea, only one spot was available for a male swimmer at the qualifying meet held in Pohnpei.

The results of the qualifiers would be calculated by swimmers’ times in comparison to the World Championship qualifying times.  The swimmers with the highest percentage would be selected.

At press time, the Kaselehlie Press had received no official word regarding which swimmers had qualified for the “Worlds” in Korea.

All swimmers were fierce competitors.

Female competitors at the qualifying meet in order of appearance in the results list were Margie Winter, Kestra Kihleng, Nicole Adams, Taeyanna Adams, Keavae Adams, and Jourdyn Adams. Male competitors at the meet were Kaleo Kihleng, Kyler Kihleng, and Noah Adams.

By Bill Jaynes

The Kaselehlie Press


February 15, 2019

Honolulu—The United States Government has charged Master Halbert of the FSM’s Department of Transportation, Communications and Infrastructure with conspiracy to launder money from the US.  The charge is related to his alleged acceptance of bribes from Lyon Associates, Inc. to help Lyon to secure the $7.8 million Pohnpei Airport construction contract.

The charges contained in the complaint are merely allegations and Halbert is presumed innocent until proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt in a court of law.

The US Government filed the allegations against Halbert on January 24.  The US District Court in Hawaii sealed them but recently made them public.

According to eyewitnesses, FBI agents took Halbert into custody on February 11, 2019 at the airport in Honolulu as he was preparing to return to Pohnpei.  His initial appearance at the US District Court for the District of Hawaii was at 2:00 on February 12.  His pretrial detention hearing is scheduled for February 13.  A preliminary hearing is scheduled for February 22.

The charges against Halbert are related to charges the US filed against Jim Lyon of Lyon Associates, who on January 22 pleaded guilty to, among other things, bribing Halbert in violation of the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act.  While the charges against Lyon listed Micronesian Official 1 and Micronesian Official 2, the criminal complaint against Halbert did not list Micronesian Official 2 as the Micronesian Official 2 did not appear to be involved in the specific charge against Halbert.

The United States charged Halbert only with the crime against the United States itself and not for bribery.  Any charges for corruption in the FSM would have to be filed in the FSM by the FSM Department of Justice.  According to a statement from FSM Information Services, the United States has agreed to share pertinent details of their investigation with FSM law enforcement officials.  The FSM Department of Justice has not yet filed charges against anyone in the matter of alleged bribery.

Lyon entered into a cooperation plea agreement and has provided information to the government under that agreement, the Halbert Criminal Complaint says.  “The government may move the sentencing court for a reduction in Lyon’s sentence if he substantially assists the government’s investigation and is truthful,” it says.  Lyon is set to be sentenced in May.

The FBI’s Special Agent Aryn Nohara filed the complaint at the United States District Court for the District of Hawaii.  It was signed by US Magistrate Judge Kenneth J. Mansfield.  “Because this affidavit is submitted for the limited purpose of establishing probable cause in support of criminal complaint and an arrest warrant, it does not set forth each and every fact that I have learned during the course of this investigation,” Agent Nohara’s affidavit says.

Information gathered in the investigation included bank records, travel records, witness statements, and apparently email communications.

FSM Information Services


TorresPALIKIR, Pohnpei—On Friday, February 1st 2019, the Honorable Ralph Torres, Governor of the Commonwealth of the Northern Marianas (CNMI), arrived in the Federated States of Micronesia (FSM) with a delegation of 14 officials from the CNMI Department of Public Safety (DPS). While the delegation will be staying in the FSM for a week, assisting with building public safety capacity, Governor Torres arrived in response to an invitation from His Excellency Peter M. Christian, President of the FSM, and to demonstrate CNMI’s appreciation of its close relationship with our Nation.

After arriving on Pohnpei, Governor Torres and his delegation met President Christian and members of his cabinet. “I want to wish you well and welcome all of you…thank you for taking the time to visit with us. I know the relationship between FSM and CNMI…is culture-based, steeped in mutual respect and mutual understanding,” said President Christian.

While the meeting in the afternoon was shortened due to unforeseen events, both President Christian and Governor Torres reunited in the evening—first to speak at a table with each other in a small group, and then as part of a larger ceremony inclusive of the Honorable Marcelo Peterson, Governor of Pohnpei State, the Honorable Jose San Nicholas, Mayor of Kolonia Town, and other honorable members of FSM National Government, Pohnpei State Government, Kolonia Town Government, and members of the Pohnpei State Legislature.

In the small group, Governor Torres said “We came here to strengthen the relationship with the FSM...your country is fortunate to have a President that is aggressive yet able to have a strong trust relationship, and that’s the reason why I’m here: to stress the relationship and the opportunity [if he’s reelected] to work with him for the next four years.”

Speaking about his delegation, Governor Torres said “We have fourteen officers in different capacities, from certified firearms to investigation and homicide, officer survival to grants management and human resources…even as far as public information and counseling. And the reason why they’re here is to do an assessment or work with the public safety departments to assess and to offer our assistance in collaboration with the President and the Mayor of Kolonia,” said Governor Torres.

“We’re going to be giving uniforms to the [DPS] officers…we want to give some to the National and also for the states and local municipalities. We have more coming in May again, and we’ll have four vehicles that we’ll be turning in here for Pohnpei State,” said Governor Torres. “There’s…four cars, but later on our goal is to bring up a bucket truck for the CUC [Pohnpei Utility Corporation] guys, an augur…and also a fire truck,” said Governor Torres. “So this is something I was telling the Mayor [of Kolonia Town]: Kolonia is your downtown, and you need to protect that because that’s where money is made…but you also need to take care of the outskirts. Like for the ambulance we brought…do you want us to bring a couple more?”

Continuing, Governor Torres said “I’m here to offer my appreciation and support for the FSM and this President…I’d also like to personally thank President Christian for sending over crews from across the FSM to help Saipan’s recovery [from Typhoons Mangkhut and Yutu].”

“It’s too bad that you’re here for such a short time,” said President Christian, “But we’re glad, honored, to have you here…. Governor, again, congratulations [on your reelection]…not every place in the world understands us, so it’s imperative that Micronesians no matter where they hail from stand together.”

In the evening celebration, Governor Torres said to the crowd “On behalf of the people of the CNMI…we appreciate the FSM…our goal is to help each other and build each other and build our friendship. For the next four years while I’m here…my goal is for us to provide and learn from each other…. We are one—and I would like to maintain that, and build it…. And most especially I want to thank the people of Pohnpei for taking care of my aunt Bernie [Helstrom, Principal of Pohnpei Catholic School]…you take good care of her and all of our CNMI citizens in the FSM, just as we take care of the FSM citizens in Saipan.”

After Governor Torres’ speech, Governor Peterson stood up at the microphone and said “Let me give you my thanks and respect for the people of CNMI…as brothers and sisters, we all value what we are all about…. I want to share something I always share in my speeches, which is an African proverb: if you want to walk fast, walk by yourself. But if you want to walk far, walk with a group. So this is [the CNMI and FSM] being friends and promoting peace among our brothers and sisters in Micronesia.”

The FSM is committed to a positive and ongoing partnership with the CNMI that transcends mere friendship—we stand together as brothers and sisters, and we stand together as one.

By Bill Jaynes

The Kaselehlie Press

 February 16, 2019

EducPohnpei—Beginning on January 28, the Pohnpei Department of Education celebrated Education week with the theme “Owning our successes while focusing on our strengths”.

There were five separate awards and celebration events held for the 34 public schools in Pohnpei.  The first was held on January 28 for the Southeast School Districts at the Madolenihmw gym.  On January 29, the event was at the Nett Gym for the Northeast School Districts.  The celebration for the Southwest School District was held on January 30 at the Nanpei Memorial School.  On January 31, the Northwest School District celebrated at the Kolonia Gym.  The last celebration was at Pohnpei Island Central School at the PICS gym for PICS High School.

Many cash awards were presented to students, educators, and support staff at each of the celebrations.  240 students and 18 staff members from the Northwest School District which consists of all Kolonia and Sokehs schools received awards.  106 students and 15 staff members from the Southwest School District which consists of all of the schools in Kitti received awards. 15 staff members and 174 students received awards from the Northeast School District which consists of the schools in Mwoakilloa, Pingelap, U and Nett Schools.  From the schools in Madolenihmw, the Southeast School District, 115 students and 15 staff members received awards.  16 staff members and 38 students from PICS also received awards during their celebration.

Three teachers out of all of the teachers in all school districts were named as teachers of the year.  Mary Aldis of Kolonia School was the second runner up.  Melza Miguel of Wone School was the first runner up.  Erwin Miguel of Saladak School was named as the very top teacher this year.  The selection of the teachers of the year was based on classroom observation with the criteria of quality of lesson delivery and classroom environment.  All teachers must have met accreditation standards.

One school of the year was selected from each of the school districts.  Ohmine was named school of the year for the Northwest district.  In the Southwest district, Nanpei Memorial High School won the honors.  In the Northeast, Saladak Elementary School was named as school of the year.  Pohnlangas Elementary School was the school of the year in the Northeast.  For PICS, which is only one school, organizers instead named a department of the year.  T&I won that honor.

SCRIPPSOn February 8, 2019, students from schools throughout Pohnpei participated in a spelling bee at the Governor’s Conference room.  Students competed for one of four places to compete in the regional spelling bee in Guam. The spelling bee was sponsored by the Rotary Club of Pohnpei. Faith Ensephina Donre took first place in the bee, followed by Aimee Nakasone of Ohmine.  Annie Mae Primo of Awak was in third place.  Amrida Maharjan of Saldak was in fourth place followed by Aiko Lidanya Jack of Kolonia who came in fifth.

FSM Information Services


KoreaPALIKIR, Pohnpei—On January 26th, 2019 His Excellency Peter M. Christian, President of the Federated States of Micronesia (FSM), met with FSM’s Honorary Consul to the Republic of Korea (ROK), Dr. Myoung-Jin Shin, and Joon-hyun Jough, Director of the Korea Importers Association’s (KOIMA) International Cooperation Office. President Christian thanked Dr. Shin and Director Jough for visiting our Nation, and they, along with some members of the President’s Cabinet including Secretary of Resources & Development Marion Henry, Secretary of Foreign Affairs Lorin S. Robert, and Ambassador Carl Apis, discussed FSM-Korea relations and potential economic developments.

Dr. Shin and Director Jough showed a video about KOIMA, which manages 130 trade relations with over 70 countries in the world. “We are the fifth largest exporter in the world,” said Dr. Shin, “and we are the fifth largest capital market…but we must import from other countries to have a balance. So I’m hoping Micronesia and Korea can have a [healthy] trade relationship in the future.”

“What is it that you have that we need, and what is that we have that you could use?” asked President Christian. The discussion ranged on a number of possible explorations for cooperative economic trade relations, to be further discussed between the FSM Government and KOIMA. President Christian remarked that two areas the FSM can maximize are fishing products—cans, yes, but also other manufactured, developed products—and our tourism sector. President Christian noted that countries that rely exclusively on natural resources without its own means of producing goods tend to be less economically sovereign than countries that develop consumer products.

Developing and pursuing meaningful trade activities between FSM and ROK, including support assistance for our local fisheries with genuine onshore investment in tangible, job-creating infrastructure, would benefit both of our nations. Developing and implementing such bilateral trade activities, including the promotion of tourism, is the objective of the FSM Government.

The FSM Government is committed to generating and maintaining positive relations with all countries and peoples of the world, and to the development of economic opportunities for the citizens of our Nation. Interested in learning more about FSM’s foreign relations or its current economic projects? Visit the Department of Foreign Affairs website at or visit the Department of Resources & Development website at

By Bill Jaynes

The Kaselehlie Press


ChinaNYFebruary 1, 2019

Pohnpei—On February 1, 2019, the Embassy of the People’s Republic of China in the FSM hosted a celebration at Cupid Bar and Grill in Nanpohnmal, Pohnpei.  The event was in celebration of the 30th Anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations between China and the FSM, and also to celebrate the Chinese Lunar New Year of the Golden Pig.

The dinner reception, which featured traditional Chinese food, began with a short traditional sakau ceremony and also featured a fine musical performance by students of Our Lady of Mercy Catholic High School.  It was the first public performance by the students featuring electric guitar, bass, drums, keyboard and vocals.  Especially considering that it was their first public performance and they were hampered a bit by gear, they did exceptionally well.

Ambassador Huang Zheng addressed the dignitaries and invited guests with a speech outlining historic moments in Chinese and FSM relations over the last 30 years.  He placed a heavy emphasis on the One China Policy during his speech and thanked the FSM for adhering to that policy.

FSM’s Vice President Yosiwo George also addressed the crowd and thanked the Chinese government for their continued support.

FSM Information Services


PALIKIR, Pohnpei—On or around February 12th, 2019, the Government of the Federated States of Micronesia (FSM) confirmed through international media that FSM citizen Master Halbert, Assistant Secretary for Civil Aviation in the Department of Transportation, Communication & Infrastructure, was arrested in Honolulu, Hawaii. Mr. Halbert’s arrest is connected to the case concerning Frank James Lyon, of Lyon Associates, Inc, who allegedly paid bribes, including cash and travel, to two Micronesian officials between 2006 to 2016. In the indictment against Frank James Lyon of January 18, 2019, Mr. Halbert was given the designation of Micronesian Official 1.

Citizens will recall that upon the FSM National Government becoming aware on or around January 18th, 2019 of Lyons’ arrest that our Nation formally requested amplifying information from the United States Government on the alleged Micronesian officials. On February 14th, 2019 the FSM National Government was informed that the United States Government has approved the sharing of information related to this case that can be released, given the nature of this ongoing criminal investigation. The United States, under the Amended Compact of Free Association, is required to inform the FSM when FSM citizens are detained anywhere on U.S. soil. Despite currently having limited official information related to this case, the National Government is nonetheless taking appropriate steps necessary to ascertain the extent of FSM laws that may have been breached or broken.

The FSM National Government is committed to transparency and to fair and equal treatment under the law for all citizens. The FSM National Government will provide the public updates as often they are available and practical, while taking all appropriate legal measures required in this active and on-going criminal case.

Embassy of Japan


February 9, 2019

JapanDay1Pohnpei—This week the Japanese Embassy to the FSM and Japan Foundation hosted Japan week with its 7th Japan Festival on February 9 and the 7th Japan Film Festival. 

Just a few months ago Japan and FSM celebrated the 30th anniversary of diplomatic relations between the FSM and Japan.

The Film Festival, hosted by the Embassy of Japan and Japan Foundation, was held on February 5th and 6th at Pohnpei Cinemas. More than 400 people came to see the four movies: “Survival Family”, “Time of the EVE”, “The Complex”, and “It’s a Beautiful Life” that were shown. A lot of people came on their way home from their schools or jobs and enjoyed the films very much.

On February 9th, Japan held the 7th Japan Festival at Our Lady of Mercy High School gymnasium. The gym was donated by the Embassy of Japan under the Grant Assistance for Grass-Roots Human Security Projects. 

In addition to the many booths depicting Japanese culture and customs, the audience of more than 1000 people enjoyed several performances by locals and Japanese performers.  Those performances included:

Taiso Performance by Pohnpei Catholic School

Music Performance (If you’re Happy and You Know It, Hokey Pokey) by Ohmine and Kolonia Elementary SchoolJapanDay2

Music performance (Till the World One) by Nett Elementary School

Dance Performance (Soran-Bushi) by Ohmine Elementary School

Dance Performance (Momoland) by Moana Girls

Acapella Performance (Sukiyaki) by Pohnpei Catholic School

Acapella Performance by Kenny’s Band

Song Performance (A Gift Without A Stamp) by Micro-Japan Club

Japanese Music Performance by Green Breeze

Traditional Okinawan Dance by Okinawan Tradition Association

Kacha-shi (Traditional Okinawan Dance) by Everyone

JapanDay3Ambassador Ryoichi Horie and his wife Yuko san also performed to the delight of the audience.

As a part of the promotion of Japan’s unique cultural customs and traditions, a group of traditional dancers from Okinawa, Japan performed as the main and special guests. The audience was attracted by their beautiful costume and dance with unique music. After their performance, the children and audience enjoyed “Kacha-shi” (Traditional Okinawan dance) very much.

There were three Japanese cultural booths; Origami, Calligraphy, and Yukata. Furthermore there were PR booth about ODA, JICA volunteers and Japanese culture and the booth by the Okinawan Tradition Association.

The audience seemed to really enjoy experiencing Japanese culture at the event.

FSM Information Services


ChristianPICSPALIKIR, Pohnpei—Every year the public high schools in Pohnpei State in the Federated States of Micronesia (FSM) have Career Exploration Week, and on Monday, February 11th 2019, the 12th grade students (seniors) from Pohnpei Island Central School (PICS) visited the Palikir Capitol Complex. The thirteen groups of seniors each visited three separate agencies and offices. His Excellency Peter M. Christian, President of the FSM, met with two groups in the morning while the Honorable Yosiwo P. George, Vice President of the FSM, met with one group in the afternoon.

Each group of seniors had multiple students keen on knowing the answer to one of the biggest and most important questions facing the Nation: “What happens after 2023?”, “What do we do when 2023 comes?” “What’s the FSM’s plan after 2023?”, and “Will we be okay after 2023?” were some of the ways the question was framed.

“We’ll survive,” said President Christian to the first group. The President emphasized that the FSM’s relationship with the United States doesn’t go away after 2023 and that, while much of the economic assistance we presently rely upon will be going away, not all of it will. We have two trust funds to sustain us, some economic assistance will still be given (primarily for the health and education sectors), and external assistance—from international organizations like the World Bank and Asian Development Bank, and other countries like the People’s Republic of China and Japan—is pouring in. “We can be appreciative of the Chinese, who are building roads in Madolenihmw and the Kahmar Bridge,” said the President, “and we can be appreciative of the Japanese who are extending our airport here in Pohnpei.”

The President also alluded to the fact that we may simply need to cut certain government expenses in order to keep essential services active—but, far more importantly, we’ll also need to genuinely come together as a community to take ownership of our lives and our situations. “Look at PICS,” President Christian said, “not just as a government-funded school—look at it as our school. Ownership is crucial. If the grass needs to be cut, we can all come together and cut it.”

Vice President George echoed President Christian’s remarks that we must be one, that unity is not merely a platitude but sincerely our way forward as an independent, sovereign Nation. “There’s no doubt that 2023 is a big question, and an important question, and I’m so glad that you asked about it, that you’re thinking about it,” said Vice President George. “We all need to work together.”

One student asked Vice President George to clarify what he meant—what does working together look like, after all, if we’re students about to graduate from high school, and many of us are planning to study in Hawaii, Guam, or the United States mainland? Vice President George said “You are not just a citizen from Pohnpei—you are a Micronesian. We are all citizens of the FSM. This country is your country; this capitol is your capitol. So this country, your country, relies on you to study hard, outside of the FSM if you need to, but then to come back.” Vice President George emphasized that each person and their individual commitment makes a difference, and for every citizen who chooses to lend their skills and talents elsewhere means the FSM then lacks those skills and talents. This paralleled what President Christian told the second group, when he said “When we say the FSM is beautiful, it’s not just the islands—the waterfalls, the trees, the mountains. It’s the people. It’s you. It’s us.”

One student asked President Christian about getting government jobs. President Christian noted, as he has throughout his career in public service, that there is nobility in helping family and community by working—and that there is nobility in public service. But, “It’s not the job of the Government to get you a job—it’s our job to make an environment that allows opportunity for you to find a job, or to make your own job,” said President Christian.

Several students asked what else, besides 2023, the FSM is struggling with. Both President Christian and Vice President George discussed economic development, the need for foreign investment, and the threat of climate change.

“Even though some economic aid will go away, the Compact of Free Association won’t disappear,” Vice President George told the afternoon group. “Though we may need to cut some expenses, we remain committed to an independent, free FSM.”

After the formal visits, one particularly outgoing student spoke with FSM Information Services directly. When asked what she thought about the answers to the questions about 2023, the student—who didn’t wish to be named—said “I think it’s like me. I don’t know what will happen when I go to college and leave my family, like FSM doesn’t know what will happen in 2023. But if I work hard to make my better future, and we all work hard to make better future, we’ll have that future we’re looking for.”

FSM Supreme Court

GendFBThe Supreme Court of the Federated States of Micronesia and the Pacific Judicial Strengthening Initiative (PJSI) hosted local Gender and Family Violence Workshops in Pohnpei from 7-11 January and Kosrae from 14-18 January, 2019.

The two Gender and Family Violence Workshops were attended by National, State and Local court staff, FSM Health, National and State law enforcement officers, Micronesian Legal Services Corporation, women organizations, faith-based organizations and civil society representatives.

The aim of the workshops were to enhance awareness of issues surrounding family violence in the Federated States of Micronesia and across the Pacific. Some of the topics that were discussed included gender-based violence and its causes, gender inequality, victim-focused services and perpetrator accountability. The workshop discussed how the Courts could reflect and make incremental changes to improve its response to family violence following discussions around the Gender and Family Violence Toolkit. Contextualising issues in the Pacific the two weeks also looked at how to address specific challenges around cultural perspectives and religious interpretations on the work towards gender equality and addressing family violence.

“I am a perpetrator and I am ashamed about it.  I grew up seeing domestic violence in my family.  I am grateful and thankful to be invited to this workshop as I now understand that culture does not condone domestic violence. I’ve learnt that witnessing domestic violence should not be used as an excuse for a person who chooses to perpetrate domestic violence” said one of the Kosrae male participants.

“I am glad I attended this workshop as I can use what I learned to teach the youth in my church” says a Pohnpei participant.

The Gender and Family Violence Workshop is one of the many workshops held by the Pacific Judicial Strengthening Initiative within the Pacific. The initiative is funded by New Zealand Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade, which has supported promoting the rule of law across the Pacific over recent years.

FSM Information Services


ChuukWENO, Chuuk—On January 19th, 2019, the Honorable Yosiwo P. George, Vice President of the Federated States of Micronesia (FSM) participated in the turnover ceremony of the new Chuuk State Government Complex. Funded by the Government of the People’s Republic of China (China), and built by Chinese construction firm Yen Tai Construction Group, the Chuuk State Government Complex is one of the largest projects ever donated to the FSM by China.

In his official statement, Vice President George expressed his gratitude and appreciation to China through His Excellency Huang Zheng, Ambassador Extraordinary & Plenipotentiary. Vice President George emphasized that the FSM values its relationship with China. “I am confident that this complex will serve its purpose and be appreciated…I understand this is the biggest project provided to the FSM…. When [former] Ambassador Li informed us that this building will be completed in 11 months I was very skeptical…[but] today, I can say that building a huge project like this is now not only possible but a reality.”

Vice President George stated that the new Chuuk State Government Complex will become a permanent landmark in Chuuk. It will stand as a symbol of the strong partnership between FSM and the People’s Republic of China and people-to-people exchange between our two Nations.  

Vice President George also thanked China for other assistance to the FSM, which range in scope from student scholarships and biogas digesters to new infrastructure and transportation investments in the rest of the FSM, from new roads to new ships.

“[China] is contributing not only to our economic and social development, but to our nation building as well. This is the embodiment of our commitment to the One-China Policy and our historical ties with the People’s Republic of China to which we here will continue to uphold and support,” said Vice President George. “The completion of this project is so timely…[this is a] very important year for Chuuk State, which is hosting the upcoming Micronesia Island Forum. These buildings will be put to great use immediately.”

Vice President George also reiterated that the FSM values its relationship with the People’s Republic of China, which was forged 30 years ago. While September 11th, 2019 will mark the official date, celebrations of FSM-China relations are ongoing this year, beginning with the Research Vessel KeXue visiting Pohnpei on January 4th, 2019.

The FSM prides itself on its hospitality and positive relationships with all countries, and in particular hopes that its 30 years of diplomatic relations with China are just the beginning of an everlasting friendship.

Vice President George concluded his statement by thanking the management, the project coordinator, and workers of the Yen Tai Construction Group for their hard and excellent workmanship. “I certainly hope that your stay with us has been rewarding and enriching. It is in this connection that, upon return to your country, I consider you as goodwill ambassadors of the FSM to the People’s Republic of China, and I hope you can assist us in sharing your experiences in the FSM for the purpose of promoting our FSM-China relations.”

“Ambassador Huang,” said Vice President George, “again thank you and congratulations to you and all those involved in this project from your side as well as from our side, especially Governor Elimo and the people of Chuuk. Thank you…kilisou, kulo, kalahngan, kammagar, xie-xie.”


 Thirty years after the adoption of the Convention on the Rights of the Child and the creation of the Internet, it’s time for renewed focus on children’s digital rights

SUVA, 5 February 2019 – UNICEF warned today of the dangers posed by online violence, cyberbullying and digital harassment for the 70.6 per cent of young people aged 15 to 24 years old who are online globally, and called for concerted action to tackle and prevent violence against children and young people online.

The call, made on Safer Internet Day, comes following a recent UNICEF poll of young people, which received more than 1 million responses over five weeks from more than 160 countries, and suggestions from a series of student-led #ENDviolence Youth Talks held around the world. In it, young people provided thoughtful responses about what they and their parents, teachers and policymakers could do to keep them safe -- and kindness stood out as one of the most powerful means to prevent bullying and cyberbullying.

“We’ve heard from children and young people from around the globe and what they are saying is clear: The Internet has become a kindness desert,” said UNICEF Pacific Representative, Sheldon Yett. “That’s why this Safer Internet Day, UNICEF is inviting everyone, young and old, to be kind online, and calling for greater action to make the Internet a safer place for everyone.”

The Internet has become a fixture of young people’s lives regardless of income level. According to the International Telecommunications Union (ITU), while 94 per cent of young people aged 15-24 in developed countries are online, more than 65 per cent of young people in developing countries are online. This is well ahead of the pace of Internet usage among the general population. Worldwide, half of the total population, regardless of age, is online. 

This online proliferation comes with increased risk. According to data from UNESCO on the prevalence of cyberbullying in high income countries, the proportion of children and adolescents who are affected by cyberbullying ranges from 5 per cent to 21 per cent, with girls appearing to be more likely to experience cyberbullying than boys.

Cyberbullying can cause profound harm as it can quickly reach a wide audience, and can remain accessible online indefinitely, virtually ‘following’ its victims online for life. Bullying and cyberbullying feed into each other, forming a continuum of damaging behaviour. Victims of cyberbullying are more likely to use alcohol and drugs and skip school than other students. They also are more likely to receive poor grades and experience low self-esteem and health problems. In extreme situations, cyberbullying has led to suicide. On Safer Internet Day, UNICEF is reminding everyone that kindness – both online and off – is a responsibility that begins with each of us.

In the Pacific islands, a government survey in Tonga in 2017 showed that 42 per cent of adolescents and youth experienced cruelty and mean behaviour online, with 59 per cent of these young people female.

UNICEF worked with the Government of Tonga last year to deliver cyber safety programmes, which included outreach activities in schools and communities to raise awareness amongst children and young people, as well as to promote dialogue between children and adolescents and their parents, and to provide tips to parents as to how to protect their children from harmful online activities. An annual event was also held to help key decision-makers and the general public better understand their roles in creating a safer digital world for young people in Tonga.

In honor of the 30th anniversary of the adoption of the Convention on the Rights of the Child, UNICEF is also calling for renewed urgency and cooperation to put children’s rights at the forefront of digital efforts. As part of this, UNICEF is implementing programs to leverage the internet’s promise of connectivity and education on behalf of the world’s children. For example, UNICEF’s Internet of Good Things aims to bridge the digital divide and build knowledge in societies by hosting mobile-packaged content designed to make life-saving and life-improving information available for free, even on low-end devices.

“Thirty years after the adoption of the Convention on the Rights of the Child and the creation of the Internet, it is time for governments, families, academia and the private sector to put children and young people at the centre of digital policies," said Yett. “By protecting them from the worst the Internet has to offer and expanding access to its best, we can each help tip the balance for good.”

By Bill Jaynes

The Kaselehlie Press

January 25, 2019

UU, Pohnpei—Today, 200 people or more gathered at the U nahs as U Municipality held a formal ceremony at the closing of its historic Second Constitution Convention.

The 17 delegates to the Constitutional Convention proposed 17 proposed amendments to the Constitution after three months of intense and comprehensive review.  The number of amendments proposed as compared to the number of delegates was coincidental.

In 1985, U Municipality ratified its Constitution to become one of Pohnpei’s 11 municipalities. In March of 2018, the people of U amended the Constitution paving way for a second constitutional convention to be held in order to review and propose changes to the Constitution necessary to guide the government forward. 17 delegates were elected and on November 1, 2018 the review process began.  During the closing ceremonies the President of the Convention Mr. Adelihno Lorens presented the 17 proposed amendments passed by the Convention which will be put to vote on March 5, 2019.

After Lorens speech, each delegate to the Constitutional Convention individually signed the Constitutional amendments they had proposed and were presented with a certificate by His Highness the Iso Nahnken of U, Ihlen Joseph.

Organizers say that there will be a public awareness campaign prior to the election.  They say that in conjunction with the awareness campaign there will be a public event on March 3rd that the public will be invited to participate in prior to the March 5 vote.  Meanwhile, Mason Albert has listed all of the proposed amendments in his Facebook page at

In attendance to witness the closing ceremony event included His Excellency Peter M. Christian, President of the Federated States of Micronesia; The Honorable Marcelo Peterson, Governor of the State of Pohnpei; The Honorable Fernando Scaliem, Speaker of the 9th Pohnpei Legislature. Other leaders of both the State and Local Governments were also in attendance to observe the event. The Mwoalen Wahu and other leaders of U Municipality joined its citizens to witness the monumental achievement in U’s history.

By Bill Jaynes

The Kaselehlie Press

January 31, 2019

Pohnpei—On January 17, the Pohnpei Legislature’s Special Committee to Wait on the Governor issued its report on that January 14 meeting.  Governor Peterson briefed the committee of some of the issues related to fisheries, infrastructure, and tourism developments he hoped the Legislature would make a priority for consideration during their regular session.

The first issue he discussed with the committee regarded the Luen Thai Fishing Venture (LTFV) lease agreement.  He told them that the lease with Pohnpei State had been signed in August of 2018, LTFV payment of the lease in the amount of $120,000.  He told them that LTFV is also asking to lease the Cold Storage Facility.  He said they have committed to financing the renovation of the facility and that if they can get it, it would be an additional lease to the property they have already leased at Pohnpei’s Port.  He said that if it happens, lease revenues would double what they are currently getting for the plant, and said that the company that is currently leasing the space has not expressed any official interest to the Administration regarding renewing their lease.  He said that LTFV is currently in the business of fish and has hired local employees for that activity.  He said that by February, LTFV plans to start its fish loining business which will mean additional employment opportunities.  He told the committee that he had sent a bill proposal relative to those issues to the Legislature.

Governor Peterson told the committee that the Government of the People’s Republic of China had provided foreign aid for road infrastructure projects in Madolenihmw and a complete upgrade of the Kahmar Bridge in Nett.  He told them that the China Railway Group had been chosen for the execution of the projects.  $13.6 million was awarded for the Madolenihmw road, and $3 million for the Kahmar Bridge. He said that he expected the groundbreaking for those projects to be in the middle of February.

On tourism he told the Committee that the FSM Congress had appropriated a total of $1.9 million to the FSM States for tourism development projects divided among the states.  He said that under those appropriations Pohnpei submitted projects including the upgrade of Liduduhniap Waterfall that has been completed and the Kepirohi Waterfall site which is soon to be completed.  He said that Congress had made additional appropriations in the amount of $750,000 and $500,000.  The Office of Transportation and Infrastructure is in the process of putting together cost estimates for some priority tourism projects which will be divided in all of the municipalities with tourist attraction sites.

Continuing on the theme of tourism the Governor told the Committee that his Administration has met with representatives of the Air Nauru company to discuss how it can help the Pohnpei tourism industry by serving tourists from Asian regions.  He asked Air Nauru to come and do a presentation to the state leadership regarding their proposal.

“Also in line with the issue of tourism, Governor Peterson ask(ed) the Committee to convey to the Legislative Committees which have been assigned the review of the 200 room hotel project proposal that we move forth with the issue,” the report said. “He stated that there are prospective investors already identified and verbalize(d) his worry that our delays will cause us to lose these potential investors.”

He said that his office has been working on the 2020 budget for presentation to the Legislature.   He said that due to the US Government shutdown they had not been able to have a budget consultation with the US Office of Insular Affairs and so he would have to communicate with Speaker Scaliem to ask for extension of time for submission of the budget.

He said that specific reporting of each of the items discussed during the Committee to Wait on the Governor would be made in his State of the State message when the details for that address are set.

The Committee to wait on the Governor consisted of Senator Shelten G. Neth as Chairman, Senators Lino M. Amor and Adelino Edmund as members.

FSM Information Services

PALIKIR, Pohnpei—The Government of the Federated States of Micronesia (FSM) became aware on or around January 18th, through local and international media, that Frank James Lyon, of Lyon Associates, Inc., headquartered in Honolulu, Hawaii, has been accused of bribing government officials in both the State of Hawaii, and in the FSM. Lyon allegedly paid bribes in various forms, including cash and travel, to Micronesian officials, in order to secure engineering contracts in the FSM. It has also recently been reported in Hawaii media that Frank James Lyon, aka Jim Lyon, has plead guilty to the alleged charges; FSM Information Services is currently unable to confirm the extent, and details, of the guilty plea. 

This news is as disturbing to the FSM Government as it is to the citizenry of the Nation, and the allegations are being taken seriously by the Administration. Accordingly, the FSM National Government has officially requested the support and cooperation of the United States Government in the form of any amplifying information and details that may be shared or provided to the FSM Department of Justice; particularly, as it pertains to the alleged FSM involvement.  This information is critical to the FSM Government in helping to understand the details of the case and associated allegations in their entirety.

The FSM National Government is committed to transparency, and to fair and equal treatment under the law, and will take all appropriate legal measures required in this active, and on-going criminal case.

By Bill Jaynes

The Kaselehlie Press

January 31, 2019

Pohnpei, FSM—Pohnpei Assistant Attorney General Judah Johnny has cautioned Governor Peterson against proceeding with a six page Young Sun International work plan to harvest sea cucumbers in Sapwuahfik.  The company had submitted a work plan to commercially harvest sea cucumbers in the waters off the atoll municipality beginning sometime after January 3.

His January 15 letter was in response to a phone conversation with Governor Peterson concerning two documents; the commercialization work plan and a proposed settlement for partial lifting of the Temporary Restraining Order issued by the FSM Supreme Court banning any sea cucumber harvest pending final ruling by the Court.

He said in his letter to the Governor that there was evidence that Pohnpei’s Office of Fisheries and Aquaculture (OFA) and Young Sun International had worked together on the proposed work plan for commercialization of sea cucumbers in Sapwuahfik. 

The work plan first came to the attention of the Attorney General’s office when OFA Administrator Albert Augustine presented it to the AG’s office for consultation prior to a meeting between Augustine and the Mwoalen Wahu.  Judah’s letter said that he then cautioned Augustine not to sign the document.  He said that the plan did not meet the law which requires OFA to conduct a feasibility study of the sustainability and profitability of operation for the marketing of sea cucumbers from the lagoons of Pohnpei Island and the outer islands of the state.

Johnny’s letter said that Augustine is new to his position and may not have been fully knowledgeable of the issues of the case before the court in which the court had issued a restraining order barring harvest of sea cucumbers pending the outcome of the trial.  “But Young Sun is a party defendant in the case,” his letter said.  “Young Sun should know the conditions of the TRO, and understand that the Plan does not address the requirement of law and the order of the court.”

He wrote that the Office of the Attorney General had held several meetings with Young Sun and their attorney.  During those meetings the AG’s office made it clear that a feasibility study must be conducted and a plan presented that provides for sustainability balanced with profitability.  “The (Sapwuahfik) work plan is no better than the Plan that we present to the court in our defense, which the court found failed to accomplish the legislative intent of the law,” Johnny’s letter said.

The letter also addressed a proposed Settlement for Partial Lifting of the TRO.  The document was drafted for signature by Isipau as Chairman of Mwoal En Wahu, the Iso Nahnken of Nett, and Governor Peterson.

After returning from a trip to China, the principal Plaintiff in the civil action against Young Sun International and Pohnpei State appeared to have changed his mind regarding the viability of sea cucumber harvests in Pohnpei.  The Conservation Society of Pohnpei (CSP) was one of the plaintiffs.  Johnny pointed out that the proposed court filing for the partial lifting of the TRO does not include participation of CSP, nor of Young Sun International. The document proposes to be signed only by parties without counsel.  “There is no indication that there has been consultation with Ramp and Mida Law Offices for the plaintiffs, Attorney Joseph Phillip for Young Sun, and the Office of the Attorney General for Pohnpei State and OPA,” the letter said.  “Whoever drafted the settlement does not appear to know the facts of the case and the law and rules governing.  For this reason, I doubt very much that the Settlement as is, is capable of invoking jurisdiction of the court.  Further, even if the Settlement is capable of moving the court, the requirement of Section 7-401 cited here will still (need) to be met.”

“This effort appears to have created dissensions among leaders in Sapwuahfik Government.  The matter has risen to the attention of the Pohnpei Legislature, resulting in legislative hearing in which the OFA Administrator, this office and a representative of your office were involved,” the letter to the Governor said.  “The sentiments expressed were negative.”

Indeed, in December, Meileen Albert, Chief Representative of the Sapwuafik Municipal Government notified FSM Attorney General Joses Gallen of an attempt by Young Sun International and a Sapwuahfik resident to harvest sea cucumber there.  “My concern is that we are a small community that depends highly on our coastal resources for our well-being,” her letter said.  “Ours is also a peaceful community with simple lives uncorrupted by the influence of the kinds of business proposition of mass harvest of our coastal resources for pecuniary gains of a few. I really am concerned that this foreign national will irreversibly and irreparably harm both the peaceful and harmonious community that we are as well as the balance of the coastal resources that we have so depended on for our wellbeing for hundreds of years.”

The settlement for the partial lifting of the TRO proposed by the Mwoal En Wau states as part of its reasoning for the motion that it was satisfied, based on Pohnpei State Government’s assurance that it has conducted a wild stock assessment of sea cucumber on the reef flats of Sapwuafik.  It also pointed to the State’s reseeding of approximately 300,000 hatchery produced surf redfish and black teatfish sea cucumber juveniles late last year as a sufficient basis to allow for harvest.  It said that they had also received endorsement of the traditional leaders of Sapwuahfik, and Speaker Mentiensahpw reflecting Peiweileng, the Government of Sapwuahfik, and the people of Sapwuahfik’s support for the commercialization of sea cucumber there.

This week, Augustine told The Kaselehlie Press that OFA currently has no plans for a sea cucumber harvest in Supwuahfik, unless and until the restraining order banning it is lifted.  Even if the TRO is ultimately lifted, the law would still require the State to provide a sustainable management plan before there could be a harvest.

DisabilityThe Pohnpei Consumer Organization (PCO) has received a grant from the Disability Rights Foundation to help strengthen the recently formed National Coalition of DPOs (Disabled Persons Organizations) in the FSM, including funding to start a new DPO in Chuuk State.  The funding will be used to increase the capacity of the four state DPOs to understand the recently ratified UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disability (CRPD) and to help review and update the current FSM Policy on Disability.  Mr. Henry Phillip, President of PCO, signed an MOU with the Care Micronesia Foundation as the fiscal sponsor for the grant.  The project will be last for two years and will see the translation of CRPD materials into local languages so that there is greater awareness in the general public about what the FSM and states need to do now to address needs of persons with disability. You may contact Pohnpei Consumer Organization at 922-4510 or 925-9711 or may email us at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. and This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. for more information.

The Kaselehlie Press

January 25, 2019

AusPohnpei—The Australian Ambassador to the FSM, George Fraser hosted this year’s celebration of Australia Day at Cupid’s Bar and Grill in Nanpohnmal during a dinner reception on the evening of January 25.  Acting Secretary for Foreign Affairs represented the FSM at the event which began with a traditional Pohnpeian sakau ceremony.

The Ambassador also used the occasion to introduce Takuro Steele, the Embassy’s new Second Secretary, and his wife Mariline to those who had not met them during the previous week’s reception farewelling Eliza Woolcock and her partner Jac Steiner and welcoming the Steeles to the FSM.

The text of Ambassador Fraser’s speech follows:

“The intent of Australia Day is to celebrate the unity, cooperation and achievements of the immensely diverse peoples in our country.  Diverse in background, diverse in abilities and diverse in ethnicities, religions and views but by-and-large all choosing to work together for the common good. 

Putting aside the effect of a few would choose otherwise, Australia is one of a few really great places to live.

“Its people are productive, prosperous and generous, and importantly they wish the same for others.  They take a strong interest in what governments do with their taxes and they support the desire of successive national governments that our Pacific island neighbours also be secure, stable and prosperous.      

“To this end, Australia welcomes cooperation with all development partners working towards that goal.

The past two years have been brimming with announcements regarding Australia’s work and plans in the Pacific. 

“Since Prime Minister Turnbull’s announcement of our ‘Step Up’ during the Forum leaders meeting here in 2016, there has been an unprecedented amount of thought and many activities applied across Australia’s Pacific missions to implement that welcome directive.

“Our work is many-facetted but my remarks tonight reflect on just one simple concept – and that is Australia as a willing and able partner, here in the North Pacific and elsewhere.

“Together with national governments, Australia will continue to consult on their specific needs; consult on means to address those needs; and to consult on its own regional development programs.

“We are currently seeking input from Pacific countries on the design of our new Infrastructure facility, cyber security needs and more. 

“Our country is fortunate to have a sizeable economy and an extensive government infrastructure. We would be happy to explore how our economies of scale can assist our partners – an example is our testing of therapeutic drugs purchased by Pacific health authorities.    

“Australia is increasingly being recognised as an innovative and technologically advanced country; but we also sponsor innovation elsewhere.  In 2016, Australian Aid partnered with Tata Group to issue the global Water Abundance X-Prize challenge, which was to extract a minimum of 2,000 litres of water from the atmosphere daily, using 100 percent renewable energy, at a cost of no more than two cents per litre.


“In 2018, a prize of $1.5 million was awarded to the joint winners, and $200,000 to another finalist so they can continue their development work to bring sufficient potable water to communities in need.

A central pillar of our foreign policy is promoting human rights, especially those of women and people with disabilities.  We do so now on the Human Rights Council, including on issues of importance to the Pacific.  I am pleased to announce that Australia will also support the Marshall Islands’ candidacy for the Council in the 2020 to 22 term so as to amplify the Pacific voice internationally.

“I encourage people in the Pacific to seek to explore study opportunities in Australia, privately or under scholarship; and I undertake to continue to press for increased scholarship funding.  Opportunities for post-graduate study in Australia for those already in the workforce can be flexible and they deliver valuable qualifications.

“People are the powerful renewable resource of the Pacific. It is imperative that this resource be developed.  Australia has the system to do it well, and the experience to prepare for young people for business relations with your nearest neighbours in Asia, as well as the Pacific. 

“Deputy Secretary, Australia stands ready to partner with regional countries in meeting the needs they identify and to join in development on their terms.

“We seek also to join or complement programs of other development partners in this task.”   

By Denise Oen

The College of Micronesia FSM


January 30, 2019

NanMadol1Pohnpei—The United States Embassy Fund for Historic Preservation awarded a grant to the Cultural Sites Resource Management (CSRM) Foundation to respectfully enhance facilities at the ancient ruins of Nan Madol, which was recently named a UNESCO World Heritage site. The CSRM Foundation “develops, applies, and builds capacity among heritage preservation communities to apply advanced and emerging technologies to research, management, and development at natural and cultural heritage sites and living cultural landscapes.” (Cultural Site Research and Management Foundation)

Several students from COM-FSM are working on a documentary of this project. This opportunity grew from a cross-disciplinary course over the summer in both English and Micronesian History that drew the attention of the US Embassy in Kolonia. The students from the class were awarded a $40,000 grant to buy filming and editing equipment, and to hire professional help for a documentary about CSRM’s project.

The students in the summer course, who continued to meet regularly after the course had ended, collaborated on the budget and decided to again seek the guidance of Dan Lin, their film instructor from the summer course. The equipment was ordered and Dan and his filmmaking partner, Nina Blanco, were hired as consultants.

The young filmmakers had several days with Dan and Nina to do preproduction such as upgrading their skills as filmmakers using new equipment including the GoPro 7 and a drone. They improved their interviewing expertise with the expert guidance of Delihna Ehmes, a sociologist who teaches several course in Micronesian studies at the college. The group created a digital storyboard using their knowledge of Nan Madol as Micronesians but then created updated versions as their narrative intersected with the work of CSRM and as their interactions with stakeholders increased through interviews and community meetings.

The filmmakers spent two days at Nan Madol, one on their own and another with members of the CSRM team. The filmmakers attended and filmed a Sakau ceremony with the Nahmwarki of Madolenihmw to receive his blessing on CSRM’s project before the scientists began their fieldwork. In addition, the students spent two afternoons NanMadol2filming a drone named “Olivia” which carried the Lidar technology that provided the CSRM team with data to create 3D models of the Nan Madol site. This technology fits in well with CSRM’s philosophy to create as little physical disturbance as possible. The filmmakers have held six interviews and attended several community meetings regarding the project. They have become true professionals.

There have been challenges, of course. Making this documentary has required our young filmmakers, who are also students, to be flexible with their time. Faculty at the college have been supportive of students missing the occasional class but it was understood by all that school was the priority and that the students were responsible for the material they missed while in the field. The filmmakers often “tag teamed” with some coming in the morning when they were free and then attending classes in the afternoon while others went to their morning classes and rushed to the shoot after they were finished. Some shoots took place on the weekend and the filmmakers took care of their chores, attended church, and youth group activities before heading out to hold a camera or a microphone for hours on location.

They filmed when it was hot and they filmed in the pouring rain. They carried cameras on top of their heads to wade out to Nan Madol during a king tide. The hiked across coral, swam in the surf, and climbed up hills. They packed camera equipment into vans, small cars, and boats. And then the filmmakers unpacked all the equipment, downloaded the data cards, and readied everything for the next shoot.

Throughout, however, the community has offered lots of support. COM-FSM has been very helpful with resources and expertise: transportation, meals, and technology and media know how. Families have trusted that we would take good care of their children while they were with us. And in the field, the graciousness of the landowners was continual as they offered treats like pancakes, sandwiches, and coconuts just when they were most needed.

And the students themselves are a family and they supported each other in so many ways by providing rides, sharing snacks in the van (orange slices with chili and kool aid!), and writing encouraging words on the group chat and our Facebook page.

As an educator who specializes in curriculum and instruction, I am always asking myself about the learning that is taking place in any experience especially those considered “educational.” Over the course of the last few weeks, I have observed our filmmakers solve problems effectively, synthesize information quickly, and incorporate new concepts and vocabulary learned in the field into their academic work. I have also seen them become more confident as they interacted with community leaders and scientists on a personal level. They have truly become filmmakers with a passion for using their voices as Micronesians to tell the story of this particular moment in the history of Nan Madol.

There is a public Facebook group to follow the adventures of these talented students at Filming Our Journey’s: History of Micronesia to Contemporary Island Topics. Please also feel free to reach out to Dr. Denise Oen, Director of the Institute of Student Learning and Excellence, at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. for more information.

Pohnpei Office of the Public Auditor

POFraudKolonia, Pohnpei- On January 16, 2019, the Pohnpei Office of the Public Auditor (POPA) started the New Year right by presenting a Fraud Awareness Briefing (FAB) at the FSM Postal Services, Headquarters. It was part of POPA’s proactive efforts to promote good governance and outreach to the public to be aware of the values and benefits of POPA in relation to fighting fraud and corruption. The training attendees include all the Postmasters from Pohnpei, Yap, Chuuk and Kosrae with the FSM Postmaster General and FSM Customs & Tax Administration.  It was the Postmasters Annual Meeting.  Although it was a small crowd, the presentation was a success because of the active involvement and discussions from the participants.

POPA will be able to achieve their goal on their awareness program which is to leave a great impact among the participants.  It is also good to hear that the FSM Postal Services are aware of the importance of management oversight, internal controls and enforcing their policies and procedures in their respective offices. As Postmaster General Ginger Porter Mida said “It is time to stop fraud and corruption, management plays a key role in preventing it.”

For more information about POPA and/or about the Fraud Awareness program visit the POPA’s website:

Yap Visitor’s Bureau

YVB2Colonia, Yap- Art Mergist, a former Peace Corps Volunteer and teacher in Yap during the 1970's, has donated his collection of historical artifacts including yearbooks from the school where he taught, paintings and a string of traditional shell money to the Yap Living History Museum in Colonia. “We are very excited that construction of the new climate-controlled building will begin the first week of February,” said Don Evans, general manager, Yap Visitors Bureau. “When completed, Mr. Mergeist’s collection will be displayed along with historical photos and other educational materials. We are looking forward to having not just visitors to Yap and residents, but also local schoolchildren visit the new addition to the museum to learn about Yap’s culture and heritage.” Until then, the collection has been loaned to the FSM Council General’s Office on Guam where it will be on display until the completion of the new building later this year.  Visitors are welcome to stop by the FSM Consulate office at, 1755 Army Drive Harmon, Dededo Monday to Friday, 8:00am to 5:00pm to view the artifacts. 

Diversity3Back on May 24th, 2016, the President of the Enimwahn Development Association (EDA), Mr. Stuard Penias, signed an MOA with the Global Environment Facility Small Grants Programme (GEF-SGP), which is implemented by United Nations Development Program (UNDP), for a planning grant given under the  Small Grants Programme for the project entitled “Improving the sustainability and diversity of home farming activities in Enimwahn”.  This started the two-and-a-half-year project where the people of Enimwahn have been working to increase their food security and grow more banana and yam varieties.  Now, as the project is concluding, they are reaping the fruits of their labor – literally. 

The Enimwahn community used this grant to educate themselves on the issue of climate change and biodiversity and planted different varieties of bananas and yams to improve the diversity of crops that they grow.  In addition, they created nurseries, a tool shed and a greenhouse to continue to grow planting materials for the community.  Not only was this project successful in improving the sustainability of community’s resources, it now produces enough crops for the families to eat and sell the excess to the local markets to increase the availability of local food in Pohnpei.

A site visit was held by the FSM SGP Programme Assistant, Mrs. Laverine Pretrick, on Sunday, December 9, 2018 where new planting tools were given out to community members so that they can continue to plant and take care of their new farms.Diversity2

The Enimwahn community would like to thank all the stakeholders in Pohnpei that assisted with them with their project such as the Pohnpei State Agriculture Office, COM-Land Grant, USDA-NRCS, State Forestry, the Madolenihmw Municipal Government, Senator Shelten Neth, Micronesian Productions, and the Island Food Community of Pohnpei.  Through their collaboration they held meetings and workshops and helped implement the project in Alohkapw, Ipwitek, Kinakapw, Malewe, Elenieng, Areu and Ohwa villages in Madolenihmw municipality. Also, a big KALAHNGAN to the UN GEF FSM Small Grants Program for giving us this opportunity to improve our lives and our livelihoods.

FSM Information Services

ChristianPALIKIR, Pohnpei—On January 30th, 2019 at the Pohnpei Catholic Mission, His Excellency Peter M. Christian, President of the Federated States of Micronesia (FSM), met the students and staff of Pohnpei Catholic School (PCS). Having been invited by Principal Bernie Helstrom, the President answered students’ questions about himself, Government, and the FSM for over an hour.

Beginning with a song and a prayer, President Christian said “I won’t make a speech—I will sit down and let you ask me as many questions as you would like to ask.”

One student asked about cultural greetings, to which President Christian responded “In our custom, rahn mwahu is very important—if you meet someone on the road...always say hello! Don’t worry if it’s a stranger: say hello.”

Another student asked if President Christian graduated from PCS, which was formerly called Our Lady of Mercy School. “Yes, I graduated but not in the top class…I was persistent. [Life] is not about the school. It’s about you. You can get an A+ but if you don’t work hard and have no destination, you won’t get anywhere.”

Continuing, the President said “You know the difference between a man digging a ditch for a living, and the President? Not much. They’re both people. It’s the person who gives the job the dignity. It’s not the job that gives the person dignity. So if you’re a plumber or a farmer and you’re supporting your family—that’s an honorable job. But if I’m the President and I’m not sending my kids to school, I have dishonored my job.”

One standup young lady asked “What is your job as President?” President Christian replied with “One of my jobs is to receive foreign dignitaries and explain what our Government is trying to do. And sometimes, y’know, I feel…proud that I am the President, that I am an important person. But then I’ll get home, put down my government briefcase, and my wife says Peter can you take the trash out?  So that brings me back to Earth, and makes me remember that first and foremost I am a Christian, a husband, a father…. [And I also] have a responsibility for the Nation. As President, I try to make sure that all the four states of the FSM want to remain united. That’s part of my job: the constitution calls for unity, people to be one…. And that’s a very important part of the job, far more important than money, because money is nothing if people are not united. For me, that’s the most important part of my job.”

One student asked “What was your goal before becoming President?” President Christian said “I’m here by mistake! I never dreamt to be a politician, never did…one evening I was with a friend, and there was an election two months away, and my friend said why don’t you run for office? It seemed like a good thing to do to serve the people…. So in 1979 in the first election to pick members for the Congress of the FSM, I ran and was fortunate enough to win and I became a member of Congress since 1979 until 2006, when I lost the election to a very great man, Mr. Resio Moses. It was so good losing to such a great man.”

Another student asked “What year did you get married?” In response, President Christian said “Actually, I forgot...that’s why I got married: so [my wife] can remember all the dates for me.”

One young boy asked “What advancements do you see for the future in the FSM?” President Christian answered with “I want to see the education system improved so that the college doesn’t tell us that elementary and high school preparations aren’t adequate….I’d also like to see our ability to support ourselves, instead of relying on money from the US, to improve. Don’t get me wrong: we’re close friends with America. And there is no such thing as a truly independent country—whether its economics or politics, all countries depend on one another to help them improve. But the FSM is not a rich country. Nor is the FSM a poor country, either. There should not be any people here who are hungry…there should be no reason to say that there is poverty. What there is, at least here in Pohnpei, is some people are pwang….they don’t want to work, they’d rather walk down the road and eat breakfast with the uncle and go with the uncle to somewhere else and eat dinner. Pwang is an attitude—pwangada is when you sweat, but pwang is an attitude. You can wake up in the morning and say today I’m pwang—but then you’ve already set the mood, set the mood for failure. But if you say today I’ll go to school, and study hard…what do you do when you get home? I sweep the house, too. I cook food, I wash dishes. Taking care of your brothers and sisters, that’s important. Feeding the pigs, that’s important. So a healthier attitude towards unity and each other, based in respect.”

“Respect is something I want you to write down in your notebook,” President Christian said. “Because respect is the foundation of democracy. Respect for yourself. Respect for one another. When you respect your body, your body is strong. When you respect your soul, your soul is strong. When you respect your family, your family is strong. When you respect the people and communities in your country, your country is strong.”

One of the last questions asked was “What is your goal as of now?” President Christian replied with “There is an election coming up in March...I’d like to serve another four years at your at-large member of Congress. If I go to Congress I have an obligation to ask that Pohnpei be President. And that’s my aim right now…for the opportunity to continue in my current post as President.”

President Christian thanked Principal Bernie Helstrom, Father Ken Urumolug, and the students and staff of Pohnpei Catholic School for their time and the invitation.

FSM Information Services

PALIKIR, Pohnpei— During a recent Cabinet meeting in Palikir, His Excellency President Peter M. Christian ordered an official review of current FSM tuna fishing policy and practices, as a component of ongoing internal tuna fisheries development policy review. The President expressed particular concern that concessions may have been granted without tangible proof of full performance by the concession grantee of agreed business investments and the delivery of benefits to the Nation and its people. Officials were instructed to ensure a proper and fair balance between maximizing revenues from licensing foreign fishing boats and promoting greater national participation in on-shore services and investment.

President Christian was explicit: the FSM Government must not grant concessions until fishing investors and operators can demonstrate genuine on-shore business investments and tangible results that show an overall net gain to FSM’s economy and the well-being of its people and communities. The President called for more robust enforcement of concession trade-offs to be established by 2020.

“Genuine investors and partners should have no fear about a tightening up of FSM policies and practices,” President Christian said. “They will understand that delivering genuine and equitable two-way benefits provide the best assurance of long-term business viability and the sustainability of the tuna resource.” 

While the first twelve nautical miles from land is considered territorial waters i.e. the surface water and everything below is officially part of the country it’s near, an Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) is the sea zone stretching 200 nautical miles from the coast. While the surface water is considered international (i.e. ships can travel through it) everything below the water, including its fish, is for that country’s use. The value of tuna fishing access in the FSM’s EEZ has grown steadily since 2007, resulting from the implementation of the Vessel Day Scheme (VDS) by the Parties to the Nauru Agreement (PNA) and the Western and Central Pacific Fishery Commission (WCPFC) fishing effort restrictions. The FSM is poised to benefit significantly from restructuring and transforming its tuna fishery from foreign-based fishing operations to domestically-based fisheries.

The FSM, like most other Pacific Island Countries, has granted fishing fee concessions, or discounts, to fishing companies that are nationally owned or based in the Nation. Since 1987 the FSM has provided incentives to help offset initial high establishment costs that companies might face in order to invest in or transfer their operations to FSM. This concession policy was based on the understanding that those investments and activities would generate clear and tangible socio-economic benefits to the FSM economy and community, within an agreed timeframe, that would offset the fishing access revenues given up by the Government when it grants the concessions.

The FSM’s fishing industry has grown from just two fishing companies with five purse seiners to 23 purse seiners in 2019. The growth is primarily attributed to the practice of granting concessionary VDS rates for domestic-basing that creates jobs for FSM citizens and enables the FSM’s full participation in the fishery and its development. FSM’s goal is to maximize the contribution of the fishery industry toward socio-economic development of the FSM and maximizing benefits to the resource owners (the people of the FSM). With larger values at stake in the fishery, the FSM Government is reviewing and tightening up its investment and fishing access concession policies to ensure that they achieve the level of benefits that they seek within its national development aspirations.

FSM Government officials emphasize the importance of full compliance by fishing concession holders to prove, as much as possible, the level of benefits they had promised to deliver in return for the concessions they have received. “NORMA management,” said NORMA Executive Director Eugene Pangelinan, “will implement robust monitoring of concessions to inform annual FSM VDS allocations to its fishing industry as called for by the President.”

FSM Information Services

PALIKIR, Pohnpei—The 20th Congress of the Federated States of Micronesia (FSM) completed its sixth regular session on January 24th, 2019, and among the good news in their recent work for the benefit of our Nation was Congressional Resolution 20-162 wherein the FSM has acquired SDR 21,600,000 which is just over $30,000,000 USD from the World Bank for, the Resolution says, “…the purpose of funding projects in the Federated States of Micronesia to improve reliability of electricity supply, expand access to electricity, and scale up renewable energy generation….”

“The FSM has an Energy Master Plan that was completed in 2018—we have individual State Master Plans and a National Plan identifying our priority projects, including the effort to provide reliable electricity services,” said Hubert Yamada, Assistant Secretary for the Department of Resources & Development in a meeting held on January 24th, 2019. “This is the second cycle of World Bank funding to the FSM…. The whole effort here is the continuation of energy project developments. We’re not just starting now—we’re continuing to scale up to develop and maintain reliable services throughout the FSM.”

Citizens can take heart in knowing that our Nation has big plans already in progress for using this funding effectively. About $11,800,000 is slated for Pohnpei State to finance the renovation of its power plant and to finance new generators to increase capacity by 7.5 megawatts. “Within the funds are intentions for peripheral upgrades as well, so it’s not only to provide increased power capacity but also to increase the reliability of electricity services,” said Assistant Secretary Yamada. A contract has been developed for a consultant to assist Pohnpei State in this project. The project will require approximately two years for completion.

“The [WB Grant] provides for villages’ expansion of access, for example in Satowan in the Mortlocks and Udot in the Lagoon islands of Chuuk,” Assistant Secretary Yamada continued. About $3,450,000 is to assist Chuuk State in expanding citizens’ access to electricity and another $9,900,000 is to increase Chuuk’s photovoltaic (PV) or solar power system by an additional 2.0 megawatts. A consulting firm has been selected to begin work on this project.

Yap State will benefit from an additional 600 kilowatt generator which should offer better efficiency for the power plant there. However, citizens should not be concerned that the small size means Yap is being forgotten—on the contrary, Yap’s electrical system is, broadly speaking, one of the healthiest in the FSM. “They’ve got a combination of wind generation, solar, and diesel at the moment,” said Ralph Karhammar, Energy Adviser at the Department of Resources & Development. “But they do have a bit of a problem—when the winds quiet down and the sun doesn’t shine, there can be frequent calling up of the diesel generators to come online…[the additional generator] should address this issue to make it more comfortable.”

As for Kosrae State, the bulk of their assistance will be in investing in solar battery banks. It may seem obvious that, long after the sun has set, solar panels don’t produce new electricity—so in order for power to be available during the night, battery banks store power generated during the day. Investment in battery banks—“We’re talking about a container full of them,” said Energy Adviser Karhammar—will allow Kosrae the capacity to substantially expand its network of solar panels, increasing the efficiency of its electricity services.

“National Energy Policy calls for secured, clean, and reliable electricity,” said Assistant Secretary Yamada. “And of course added to that is the aim to bring on more renewable sources of energy so that our reliance on imported fuel is lessened. At the same time, the effort is to try and provide to the communities reliable service at the least cost possible—really, that’s the goal right there.”

Citizens interested in learning more about these projects can visit the Department of Resources & Development website, located here: , visit the Department of Finance & Administration’s website, located here: , or visit the World Bank’s collection of documents related to this project located here:

FSM Information Services

ADBPALIKIR, Pohnpei—On January 17th, 2019 the Honorable Yosiwo P. George, Vice President of the Federated States of Micronesia (FSM), met with the Honorable Anthony McDonald, Executive Director for Asian Development Bank (ADB). The meeting discussed Strategy 2030 (ADB’s strategic plan and objectives to be met by that year) and how ADB and FSM can expand their partnership.

“One of the things that will be especially useful,” said Exec. Director McDonald, “is how members will receive assistance from ADB…[Strategy 2030] maps out the big picture challenges of what’s happening in Asia and the Pacific. And what it sees is that there’s increasing diversity in the nature of challenges facing countries…. We are trying not to forget Pacific Island States and Small Island Developing States…our Annual Meeting this coming May will be in Fiji, the first time it will be held in a Pacific Island State.”

While discussing how this recognition of Pacific Island interests reflects reality, Exec. Director McDonald advised that in November 2018 the minimum allocation agreement has increased from $6,000,000 to $13,000,000 per year—meaning the baseline level of assistance provided by ADB to FSM (and other member countries) will more than double.

There are two significant steps forward in our relationship that citizens will wish to be informed about. Perhaps the biggest change citizens will appreciate is that FSM is eligible for grants with ADB—not just loans. It was noted in the meeting that not all projects in the FSM originally funded by ADB loans reached the intended level of success. 

“How do we improve the working relationship between FSM and ADB?” said Exec. Director McDonald. “I’ve seen this in media reports sometimes—it says ADB funds a project. And you look into it and ADB is providing a loan…and so the public commentary can be, well, what is the national government doing then? When these are actually government projects using government funds—it’s just the initial capital that’s the loan...and sometimes we don’t always provide the level of scrutiny [one would hope for]….”

Continuing, Exec. Director McDonald said, when it came to grants, “There are so many needs amongst countries and there’s not enough funding to meet them all…and there’s a double-cost if we don’t spend it well. The first is obvious: we could have gotten better outcomes to improve the lives of the people—but it also undermines the case for us getting further support in the future.” Exec. Director McDonald noted that if the FSM is clear and direct in its grant requests that they are more likely to be realized.

“Our shared objective is the same,” said Vice President George, “to maximize benefits to our country…. While it’s unfortunate we’ve failed, we meaning FSM, in achieving the goals and objectives for previous loans, they also taught us all an important lesson: to be very serious with our projects and our desires going forward.”

The second step forward between the FSM and ADB relationship is that the latter, through cooperation with country members, is constructing country-level offices. “I can report that, when I was in the Solomon Islands,” said Exec. Director McDonald, “that they’ve had their country office since 2017…the impact it’s having is just really, really good. It helps…to have a continued presence, and a strong feel for how an individual country operates.”

ADB, once it completes the necessary logistics and planning with FSM, hopes to have an FSM country office by the end of 2019. “I’m hopeful that will happen this year,” said Exec. Director McDonald. “And if it doesn’t then it will be because something has fallen through.”

At the conclusion of the meeting, Vice President George thanked Exec. Director McDonald for visiting the FSM and government agencies to discuss the renewed role ADB can play in our economic development.

Yap Visitor’s Bureau 

YVBColonia, Yap- Ruud Van Baal, General Manager of Manta Ray Bay Resort and Yap Divers, attended the Diving & Resort Travel Expo in Hong Kong recently where he joined the Yap Visitors Bureau’s booth with Jan Mok, public relations representative in Asia for the Yap Visitors Bureau.

“The DRT show is an excellent tool for us since it brings together the largest gathering of diving enthusiasts, marine conservationists and those who simply have a passion for the underwater world,” said Van Baal. “We’ve seen an increase in inquiries and bookings from that market since we first began participating in the show in 2017.”

With attendance estimated at 50,000 visitors, Mok added that they “talked to many visitors, dive operators and the media.” Follow-up after the show included sending digital booklets about Yap’s many options for adventure travelers who requested more information.

The Shanghai DRT Show is next on YVB’s 2019 schedule on April 12-14 followed by the Taiwan show on May 31-June 2.

FSM Supreme Court

The Supreme Court of the Federated States of Micronesia and the Pacific Judicial Strengthening Initiative (PJSI) hosted local Gender and Family Violence Workshops in Pohnpei from 7-11 January and Kosrae from 14-18 January, 2019.

The two Gender and Family Violence Workshops were attended by National, State and Local court staff, FSM Health, National and State law enforcement officers, Micronesian Legal Services Corporation, women organizations, faith-based organizations and civil society representatives.

The aim of the workshops was to enhance awareness of issues surrounding family violence in the Federated States of Micronesia and across the Pacific. Some of the topics that were discussed included gender-based violence and its causes, gender inequality, victim-focused services and perpetrator accountability. The workshop discussed how the Courts could reflect and make incremental changes to improve its response to family violence following discussions around the Gender and Family Violence Toolkit. Contextualising issues in the Pacific the two weeks also looked at how to address specific challenges around cultural perspectives and religious interpretations on the work towards gender equality and addressing family violence.

“I am a perpetrator and I am ashamed about it.  I grew up seeing domestic violence in my family.  I am grateful and thankful to be invited to this workshop as I now understand that culture does not condone domestic violence. I’ve learnt that witnessing domestic violence should not be used as an excuse for a person who chooses to perpetrate domestic violence” said one of the Kosrae male participants.

“I am glad I attended this workshop as I can use what I learned to teach the youth in my church” says a Pohnpei participant.

The Gender and Family Violence Workshop is one of the many workshops held by the Pacific Judicial Strengthening Initiative within the Pacific. The initiative is funded by New Zealand Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade, which has supported promoting the rule of law across the Pacific over recent years.

FSM Information Services


PALIKIR, Pohnpei—Our Nation, the Federated States of Micronesia (FSM), relies heavily on fish for cultural, nutritional, and economical reasons. While the FSM has taken the lead in many areas when it comes to simultaneously maximizing revenue, protecting the environment, and ensuring the sustainability of our fish populations—such as the Technology for Tuna Transparency (T-3) Challenge initiated by His Excellency President Peter M. Christian at the fifth Our Oceans Conference in October 2018—there’s still much our country can do to improve. It was with this in mind that, on January 23rd 2019, representatives of the National Oceanic Resource Management Authority (NORMA), Pohnpei State’s Department of Public Safety’s Division of Fish & Wildlife (DFW), National Fisheries Corporation (NFC), Caroline Fisheries Corporation (CFC), Diving Seagull, and Dongwon Industries, attended an International Seafood Sustainability Foundation (ISSF) workshop on biodegradable fish aggregation devices (FADs). The workshop’s goals included educating the fishing sector on new regulations from the Western & Central Pacific Fisheries Commission (WCPFC) on FADs, producing buy-in on how the sector can use biodegradable FADs, and scientific projects in our part of the Pacific.

Citizens unfamiliar with FADs (Micronesians frequently call them “payao”) may appreciate the definition from ISSF: FADs are “man-made floating objects specifically designed to encourage fish aggregation at the device. They can be anchored to the ocean floor or set to drift in the open ocean.” Aggregation means putting together, so a FAD essentially attracts lots of fish together. Historically FADs are useful insofar as they can gather lots of fish together in one place, but in recent decades FADs have been made of synthetic materials (like nylon) and they have relatively negative publicity from being associated with problems such as bycatch (i.e. when you’re looking for tuna but you accidentally get sharks and turtles instead), reef damage, and overfishing.

The discussions in the morning focused on the history of FADs and their relationship with countries and fisheries, including in the FSM. Standout observations included multiple local fisheries advising that approximately 80% of their FADs are variously lost, stolen, or drift beyond the legal boundaries of their fishing area—and worldwide approximately 10% of all ocean pollution is from lost fishing gear, and 640,000 tons of fishing gear end up in the sea every year (including FADs). Citizens will recall that the aforementioned T-3 Challenge that NORMA and The Nature Conservancy are implementing intends to use electronic monitoring to quash the overfishing problem, and in conjunction with fishing fleets using biodegradable FADs ideally ocean pollution and bycatch issues from entanglement (i.e. when a fish gets stuck in a net) will become less pronounced.

Matthew Chigiyal, Assistant Director of NORMA, advised that “It’s…in your interest that there is some authority to see what is happening with your FAD…register your FAD per NORMA’s requirement.”

ISSF has been conducting numerous experiments in the past several years in countries such as Ghana (in Western Africa) and the Maldives (an island nation in the Indian Ocean) with biodegradable FADs, and has determined that natural materials like raw twisted cotton perform similarly to contemporary synthetic materials like nylon. (Banana fiber is also potentially useful, though there isn’t presently the industrialization necessary to support its use in large-scale development of FADs). By the end of the discussions in the afternoon, NORMA, the local fishing companies, and ISSF were discussing what a long-term scientific project in the Western Pacific might look like.

The countries in the Parties to the Nauru Agreement (PNA), where more than 90% of purse seine fishing occurs, are developing a biodegradable and non-entangling program to reduce the adverse impacts of non-biodegradable materials, as well as the destruction, loss, or abandonment of fishing gear.

The FSM Government is dedicated to protecting its ocean resources while simultaneously maximizing their use for the development and well-being of our people. Partnerships between the public sector (i.e. NORMA) and private sector (e.g. CFC, NFC, Diving Seagull) augmented with support from scientific leaders (i.e. ISSF) will help ensure a positive future for both our fish as well as the citizens of our Nation.

FSM Information Services

JapanRelPALIKIR, Pohnpei—Japan and the Federated States of Micronesia (FSM) are close friends; as His Excellency President Peter M. Christian noted at the 30th anniversary of FSM-Japan relations, our history goes back more than 100 years. 20% of FSM citizens have a Japanese ancestor, and Japan International Cooperation Volunteers (JICA) are commonly seen on the ground assisting our people. Our relationship is already strong, but there are signs of it becoming even stronger.

On January 18th, 2019 President Christian and members of his Cabinet met with the Honorable Kentaro Sonoura, Special Adviser to Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, and a delegation of public and private partners. President Christian and Special Adviser Sonoura discussed issues of mutual interest, ranging from the FSM’s needs in cracking down on illegal, unreported and unregulated fishing in our oceans to Japan’s commitment to permanently join the United States in future iterations of Operation Christmas Drop. (Japan, and Australia, joined the U.S. in December 2018.)

On January 11th, 2019 President Christian and members of his Cabinet met with the Honorable Masanao Ozaki, Governor of Kochi Prefecture, and a delegation of officials representing their legislative branch, environmental protection, healthcare, and more.

“We want to see if we can learn from your experience,” President Christian said to Governor Ozaki, highlighting our Nation’s vulnerability to climate change and gaps in our capacity to provide cutting-edge healthcare. Governor Ozaki discussed how Kochi is similarly prone to climate-changed related disasters, such as flooding and earthquakes, and confirmed that just as much as the FSM may wish to learn from Japan that Japan, too, wishes to learn from the FSM.

“Then we will share,” said President Christian, who told a story about how it was Micronesians who taught the Hawaiians how to navigate by the stars again. “We still have them, traditional navigators…they go to Osaka, Okinawa…we sailed our canoes, tied with fiber from coconut which is strong and flexible.” President Christian gifted Governor Ozaki an example of such fiber, and in return President Christian received both a painting and, in a moment that genuinely moved the President and the other attendees, letters written by the principal and students of Kochi Prefecture’s Misato Elementary School.

The President couldn’t resist: he began to read the letters out loud, starting with Principal Osamu Tagashira’s. “Dear Mr. President,” the Principal’s letter began, “thank you very much for visiting Misato Elementary School when you came to Japan in January of 2018. I remember it like it was yesterday, waving the small Micronesian flag with the students to greet you. As I watched you and the students interacting with each other, I was reminded of how much I love children.”

President Christian suggested to Governor Ozaki and the Japanese delegation that perhaps each FSM state should have a people-to-people partnership with a Japanese Prefecture. Also discussed were broad thoughts processes on how FSM and Japan can maximize conservation efforts in our oceans, and how Kochi Prefecture and Japan at large might be able to assist the FSM with specialized medical equipment, e.g. containerized mobile equipment for mammograms and other diagnostics.

The people and Government of the FSM are thankful for their close relationship with the people and Government of Japan. Our relationship is already stronger than can be measured, and we’re committed to making it even stronger.

FSM citizens residing in Pohnpei State and wishing to engage with Japan’s unique history and culture may wish to be aware of a Japanese Film Festival to be held on February 5th and 6th at 5:00pm at the Pohnpei Cinemas, and a Japanese Cultural Festival to be held on February 9th at the Our Lady of Mercy High School Gymnasium.

By Bill Jaynes

The Kaselehlie Press

January 17, 2019

NanMadolPohnpei—This morning Ambassador Ryoichi Horie and Governor Marcelo Peterson signed official paperwork for a Japanese grant to construct the Nan Madol Cultural Center.  The $181,394 grant came from Japan’s Cultural Grass Roots Project funds.

The new cultural center will serve as a visitor’s center and educational center at Nan Madol which has been designated as a UNESCO World Heritage site.  The total cost of the cultural center is $468,616.42 and will house cultural artifacts along with displays to explain the historic and cultural significance of Nan Madol.  The FSM Congress has committed to the remaining cost.

Resources and Development Director Nick Solomon outlined the scope of the project during today’s ceremony.  During his presentation he said that senior citizens would act as guides in the center, sharing stories of Nan Madol and Pohnpei’s culture.

“Even before I came to this country two and a half years ago,” said Ambassador Horie during his speech, “I recognized the tremendous importance of Nan Madol for the world and the FSM.  “It will enhance and deepen the social and cultural integrity and continuity of this country, as the UNESCO document said, I quote, ‘Nan Madol is tangibly associated with Pohnpei’s continuing social and ceremonial traditions and the authority of the Nahnmwarki.’”NanMadol2

“Ladies and gentlemen,” he continued, “when it was inscribed as a UNESCO World Heritage site, Nan Madol was also inscribed on the world heritage list in danger.  I hope all the stakeholders will make joint efforts to remove this proper from the list of World Heritage sites in danger.  In this connection, I highly appreciate the assistance of the US Government and Ambassador Riley with the US Ambassador’s Fund for Cultural Preservation Grant and the Fund for Interpreting Micronesian Cultural Heritage through Media, which was announced last year.  With such joint effort by the FSM, Pohnpei State, the US, Japan and all other stakeholders, I really hope that Nan Madol will continue to give the World Heritage its real meaning.”

Governor Peterson stood and spoke with great thanks for the support that the government of Japan gave during the process of consideration by UNESCO to make the historic site a UNESCO recognized World Heritage site.

NanMadol3Isapahu Nahnmwarki of Madolenihmw, Kerpet Hebel echoed that sentiment during his closing speech after the signing had been completed.  His speech was translated by Hainrick Stevenson.  Isapahu surprised the participants in the room including Ambassador Horie when he announced that he was bestowing a traditional title on the Ambassador for his help and continued support on the Nan Madol restoration.

State and national officials attended the ceremony which was held at the residence of the Japanese Ambassador.

Unnamed FSM officials implicated in charges

By Bill Jaynes

The Kaselehlie Press

January 18, 2019

Hawaii—Yesterday, US prosecutors filed a criminal information in the US District Court in Hawaii on charges they allege against Frank James (Jim) Lyon.  The US has accused Lyon of bribing officials in Hawaii, allegedly to gain a $2.5 million dollar contract.  They have also accused him of bribing officials in the FSM, allegedly in order to get a $7.8 million contract with the FSM government “funded in large part by the United States Federal Aviation Administration…and for project management.”

The US criminal charges allege that between the years 2006 through 2016, Lyon “together with his co-conspirators, provided bribe payments to FSM officials totaling at least approximately $200,000 in order to obtain approximately $7.8 million in contract payments.”

The US charge also alleges that between 2011 and 2016, Lyon and his alleged co-conspirators provided bribe payments in cash for distribution to Hawaii officials totaling at least approximately $240,000 in order to obtain a $2.5 million contract.

The allegations have not been proven. Lyon is presumed to be innocent unless he is proved to be otherwise in a court of law.

He will have to defend himself against charges that he violated the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act which says that it is “unlawful to act corruptly in furtherance of an offer, promise, authorization, or payment of money or anything of value, directly or indirectly, to a foreign official for the purpose of assisting in obtaining or retaining business for, or directing business to, any person.”

Though the charges do not identify them by name, people in Hawaii and in the FSM the charges label as co-conspirators 1 through 3, and Micronesian Officials 1 and 2, are colored by the allegations the US Government filed against Lyon.

The charges say that a person the prosecutors call “Micronesian Official 1” was a person “whose identity is known to the United States, was a government official in the FSM Department of Transportation, Communications and Infrastructure who administered FSM’s aviation programs, including the management of its airports.”

The charges say that “Co-Conspirator 2” was a U.S. citizen who resided in the FSM.

The person they label as “Micronesian Official 2” was “an individual whose identity is known to the United States, (and) was a government official in the FSM Congress who served on a congressional committee with oversight over ‘Engineering Company’s’ FSM contracts.”

The allegations in the criminal charge say that Lyon, “together with his co-conspirators, discussed in person, via email, and via telephone that they would pay bribes to FSM officials and State Agency officials to obtain and retain business contracts from the FSM and State Agency and to obtain payments on those contracts, including via wire transfers.”

FSM Information Services

CompactPALIKIR, Pohnpei—On January 15th, 2019, the Honorable Yosiwo P. George, Vice President of the Federated States of Micronesia (FSM), as well as members of the Cabinet and the Office of Overseas Development & Compact Management, met with the Executive Administrator of the Trust Fund for the People of the FSM (Trust Fund) Anthony Costanzo. The purpose of the meeting was to discuss the present state of the Trust Fund. Also present at the meeting were Herman Semes Jr., Special Assistant to the Vice President, Travis Pruit, of Mercer Financial Group, and Sam Witten, from the law-firm Arnold & Porter.

As of November 30th 2018, the total value of the Trust Fund was $642,183,870. By comparison, the total value of the Trust Fund was $564,970,738 the year prior. Since it began in 2005 the Trust Fund has seen a performance return of 5.7%. Fiscal Year (FY) 2018 (i.e. October 2017 through September 2018) saw growth of 6.77% for the Trust Fund as a whole.

Among the many points of discussion, Vice President George asked Mr. Costanzo how FSM citizens can compare the performance of our Trust Fund to similar funds. Mr. Costanzo advised that the Trust Fund Committee develops benchmarks to compare the Trust Fund and its components, though he acknowledged that although other Micronesian countries (e.g. Republic of Nauru, Republic of Kiribati) have sovereign wealth funds similar to the Trust Fund—comparing ours to theirs is difficult as information can be difficult to access. By contrast, our Trust Fund’s information is publicly available for citizens’ review and is routinely updated on this website:

FY 2018 saw the Trust Fund increase by $71,115,714—which is inclusive of a $32,242,320 direct contribution. Contributions, whose sizes increase annually, are formally from the United States Government—though the increases in Trust Fund allocation is directly related to the decrease in allocations to FSM’s programmatic funding. (In other words, the FSM has less money from the Amended Compact to use every year but the money doesn’t disappear—it’s going into the Trust Fund, i.e. we’re saving it for after 2023). Current projections are that the Trust Fund will reach slightly over one billion dollars ($1,000,000,000) by 2023. At that point, the Trust Fund must focus on a distribution policy that sustains its growth while also ensuring the continued delivery of government services.

Vice President George eloquently stated “The people of the FSM need and deserve quality services—and the Trust Fund is a market-based instrument, meaning it’s sensitive to economic and financial performance in both the United States and globally. Some years we’ll receive more and some years we’ll receive less. It’s difficult to have confidence in planning when there is a lot we don’t know…. The Trust Fund was presented to us as an exit strategy, from direct grants to something that will build up the capability of our country to sustain itself.”

In response to the Vice President’s statement, Sam Witten advised that “There is a real awareness of the risks of the Trust Fund’s assets in 2023 not being adequate for the goals they’re intended for…. Back in 2003, when they [FSM and USA] signed the Trust Fund…the negotiators placed a marker that [distribution plans] have to be done in advance. So 2019 and 2020 are important years to discuss these issues.”

The FSM Government is dedicated to a multi-pronged approach to ensuring the future financial sovereignty of our Nation, from increased transparency in tuna fishing to transitioning FSM PetroCorps’ mandate to become a renewable energy company. State and Municipal Governments, and citizens and stakeholders alike, are encouraged to maintain a positive attitude towards the future and to take a proactive role in improving the lives and livelihoods of their communities. As His Excellency President Peter M. Christian stated in his inaugural address, “Unity is our greatest strength.”

November 2018

HeineHagatna, Guam- Pacific Islands Development Bank (PIDB) is proud to announce and welcome Dwight P. Heine as the Bank’s Vice President.  In that capacity, Mr. Heine will be assisting the President & CEO in leading the overall management and operation of the bank.  Specific duties and responsibilities include strategic planning and budgeting, lending, staff management and training, business development and marketing, and facilitating corporate activities including board and shareholders’ meetings.  “We congratulate and welcome Dwight to our PIDB family”, said Aren Palik, PIDB President & CEO, “he brings with him tremendous knowledge, experience, and skills in management, business and investment, and development financing”, he added.  In accepting the position, Mr. Heine said, “I am quite excited to take on the challenge and look forward to working with the PIDB Board of Governors, Board of Directors and the Staff and Management in boosting economic activities in our region”

Mr. Heine recently held the position of Chief Executive Officer of the Office of Commerce, Investment and Tourism in the Republic of the Marshall Islands.  Prior to that, from 2014 to 2017, he served as Manager of Policy Development, Office of Commerce and Investment.  From 2012 to 2015, he worked for the RMI Ministry of Resources and Development as ADB Project Manager.  He worked in the Ministry of Health as Assistant Secretary in charge of Personnel and Finance, and Hospital Administrator.  Dwight spent some time in the private sector working for PII, Inc., as Shipping Manager and running his own business. After graduation from college, he returned to the Marshall Islands where he started working for the Ministry of Education as the National Scholarship coordinator, and under the Public Service Commission as Senior Task Force Officer.

Mr. Heine’s education background includes: a Master of Business Administration (MBA) degree from the University of the South Pacific; Master of Public Health (MPH) degree with concentration in International Health from Boston University; Bachelor of Science Degree in Public Policy and Administration from Western Oregon State College; and a Diploma from Marshall Islands High School where he graduated Salutatorian.

Dwight also passed the requirements and in 2016 was awarded Accredited Investment Fiduciary (AIF) Designee.

He is currently pursuing a doctoral program online at the University of the Virgin Islands for a PhD in Creative Leadership for Innovation and Change.

By Bill Jaynes

The Kaselehlie Press

January 18, 2019

Fit1Pohnpei—During the times of the day when the sun isn’t baking the road, many residents of Pohnpei have taken to exercising by walking or running on the new sidewalk on the causeway in Dekehtik.  The sidewalk has made it much safer to do so and now, there is a new addition residents can add to their exercise routines—a new “Fitness Zone” located approximately halfway down the length of the causeway on the east side of the road.

On the day that we visited, three teenagers were working out on the machines while a cool breeze blew over the lagoon.  A young boy, under the watchful eye of his mother was exploring other machines.  That is one of the rules of the “Fitness Zone”.  Children under the age of 14 can use the machines but only with adult supervision.

The FSM Congress, Rotary Club of Pohnpei, and Mahi, International worked together to purchase and install several new weather resistant exercise machines, a task that was only just recently completed.

Senator Ferny Perman, chairman of the Committee on Health said that non-communicable diseases are rampant in Pohnpei and part of the cause is a lack of exercise.  With that in mind he called John Schroer of Mahi International to see if he might be able to help to acquire exercise equipment. The project took off from there.

Perman said that Congress provided $30,000 for the “Fitness Zone”.Fit2

Schroer was not available for comment but Steve Finnen of the Rotary Club of Pohnpei said that both Mahi International and the Rotary Club bought two of the machines each.  He said that Mahi International additionally coordinated the purchase and transportation for the machines.  For its part of the purchase, the Rotary Club of Pohnpei purchased two machines at a cost of $4000.  $2000 came from locally raised funds and $2000 came as a grant from Rotary International.

Instructions on how to use the machines are posted at each of the many exercise stations.  There is also a sign stating the rules for safe use of the “Fitness Zone” to avoid injury.  There is no charge for use of the machines and users assume all risk and responsibility for their use.

The equipment appears to be extremely sturdy and is made from weather resistant materials.

US Department of Defense 

POHNPEI, Federated States of Micronesia--Sailors with Construction Civic Action Detail, Federated States of Micronesia (CCAD FSM) assigned to Naval Mobile Construction Battalion (NMCB) 1 along with employees from US, Australian and Japanese embassies participated in a roadway cleanup community relations (COMREL) event, Jan. 5 in Pohnpei.

The volunteers picked up over 20 bags of rubbish along the causeway that leads from Pohnpei airport into the city of Kolonia.

“This event was a great opportunity for our team to work with our friends from the US, Australian, and Japanese embassies to cleanup the causeway,” said Lt. j.g. Jon Dean, officer in charge of CCAD FSM. “More importantly, this is a chance to prevent discarded trash from polluting the water Pohnpeians use to catch fish.”

COMREL events allow service members an opportunity to interact and build relationships with the people of Pohnpei.

“It’s important to keep this road clean, my kids walk through here everyday,” said Kathy Santos, a Japan Embassy volunteer. “It’s important to keep this community clean and show Pohnpei’s beauty.”

The highway cleanup is one of many COMREL events CCAD FSM Sailors have participated in since deploying to Pohnpei in August.

NMCB 1 is assigned to CTF 75 and is the primary expeditionary task force responsible for the planning and execution of coastal riverine operations, explosive ordnance disposal, diving engineering and construction, and underwater construction in the U.S. 7th Fleet area of operations.

US Department of Defense


Jan 07, 2019

NavyPOHNPEI, Federated States of Micronesia-Builder 2nd class Michael Rodrigez, from Miami, assigned to Naval Mobile Construction Battalion (NMCB) 1 paints a classroom at Madolenihmw high school. Sailors from NMCB1 have been upgrading local schools to improve the quality of life for the children of Pohnpei. NMCB 1 is assigned to CTF 75 and is the primary expeditionary task force responsible for the planning and execution of coastal riverine operations, explosive ordnance disposal, diving engineering and construction, and underwater construction in the U.S. 7th Fleet area of operations.

Conservation Society of Pohnpei

3DThe small island nations of Micronesia are jewels in the Pacific Ocean.  These tiny-forested islands, ringed by stunning lagoons and reefs are home to beautiful cultures steeped in time and stories.  Here in Pohnpei, Federated States of Micronesia (FSM), The Nature Conservancy and the Conservation Society of Pohnpei are working with local communities to craft a 3D map to shine the light on this stunning landscape in the vast Pacific.  The people of Pohnpei are strongly tied to both the ocean and the land.  They rely equally on the ocean to provide marine resources and the land for food and shelter. 

This Participatory 3D Model (P3DM) of Kitti Municipality on the southwest corner of Pohnpei provides a clear picture of the area from the top of the ridges to the outer barrier reef.  With this scale model (1:7,500) all members of the community, leaders, and those lucky enough to visit, will quickly and easily understand the connection from ridge to reef.  It provides a focal point for discussions on how the land and sea are being used, and importantly, how to plan for the future.  Key topics that will be discussed around the model include runoff from the hills to the reef resulting in sedimentation; the role of mangroves for protecting the shoreline; and how protected areas are connected (or not!).  Across these and other issues the foundation is equality for everyone to have an understanding and voice about the future of Pohnpei. 

The P3DM workshop began on Monday 29 October and will be completed in two weeks, Friday 9 November.  During the first week we build the blank model reaching the island high point at 2,600 feet.  The second week is then the time to populate the model by painting the reefs and forest, marking trails and boundaries with strings, and point locations with pins and labels.  At the end we place a legend and reference map so that users can easily interpret the symbols.  As the model will stay here in Kitti it can continue to be used for planning, education, and decision-making. 

We extend our thanks and recognition to the FSM Ridge to Reef Project, funded by the Global Environment Facility (GEF) through the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) and of course the community of Kitti for their enthusiasm to construct their map of Kitti. 

Micronesia Conservation Trust

The Federated States of Micronesia, Republic of Palau and Guam recently contributed to their Micronesia Challenge (MC) Endowment accounts with the Micronesia Conservation Trust (MCT). Each year Palau and FSM contribute to their accounts which were established in 2008 and 2012 respectively. And this year Guam launched its MC Endowment Account with $40,000 from the Guam Visitor’s Bureau (GVP), which was approved by the Guam Legislature and the Governor earlier in 2018. The FSM has, until now, contributed an annual amount of $50,000, but this fiscal year decided to increase that amount to $100,000 in order to increase its ability to reach its goal of a total endowment of $29,000,000. Palau has surpassed its contribution commitment of $9,000,000, however, it continues to invest between $70,000 to $100,000 each year to continue to grow its endowment fund. Palau’s contributions come from a percentage of the Green Fee collected from visitors to Palau. Guam’s seed funding of $40,000 is the first step in allowing it to reach its $2,000,000 goal. Earnings from the invested funds go back to each respective jurisdiction to support their protected areas systems and associated activities. The Micronesia Challenge is a common commitment by the Micronesian jurisdictions (Republic of the Marshall Islands, Federated States of Micronesia, Guam, Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands and the Republic of Palau) to conserve 30% of their nearshore marine resources and 20% of their terrestrial resources by 2020. This conservation goal also comes with a financial commitment to establish mechanisms that will sustain these conservation efforts moving forward.  All jurisdictions are working to achieve both conservation and financial commitments by 2020 and beyond. In 2006 the Micronesia Conservation Trust was selected to serve as the financing mechanism for the Micronesia Challenge Endowment Fund by the Chief Executives of Micronesia.

By Bill Jaynes

The Kaselehlie Press

January 16, 2019

Pohnpei—Pohnpei’s Office of the Public Auditor has released a performance audit of Pohnpei Port Authority allotment an annual leave applications and uses.  The audit cover the fiscal year that ended on September 30, 2017.

The Port Authority General Manager requested the audit.  The audit found that on several occasions the Port management had not followed its own published procedures.  It said that the result was both a heavier work load for finance employees and the creation of a lenient environment that could lead to systemic abuse.

It found that the “excess annual leave cash out” practices were not always in line with policy.  Apparently, the General Manager has discretionary authority to approve cash payments for unused accumulated leave in excess of 360 hours.  That authority is only for employees who have submitted a written request for leave far enough in advance of the days requested for management to make arrangements to cover their absence. The request for use of excess leave must be made within 60 days of the end of each calendar year.  In those cases, and if the leave is denied, the GM can authorize a cash payment in lieu of time off.

Auditor found one instance where six airport employees requested leave on overlapping dates.  The auditor speculated that the employees requested the overlapping dates, all of them during the Christmas holiday season so that management would be forced to deny the leave and instead issue a cash payment, which is what happened.  He said that the incident indicated lack of planning by responsible management to properly plan, coordinate and schedule employees’ use of excess annual leave hours to avoid disruption of daily operations.  It said the incident also occurred because the GM allowed it.

Auditors recommended that the GM should not entertain practices that are or may lead to non-compliance with PPA’s policies and procedures and should set a “tone at the top” by enforcing the policies.

Auditors pointed out another occasion in which a PPA Division head went on vacation without filling out a leave application.  The employee extended his vacation and then had his secretary fill a leave application form out for him.  The GM approved the leave application despite the policy and prudent management practices.

It said that additionally, Division heads were approving or disapproving leave applications despite the policy that only the GM has that authority.

The final finding of the audit had to do with payroll allotments which is a payroll deduction for which employees can apply in order to pay creditors.  As a sample, auditors selected the allotment records for 53 employees.  There were a total of 864 allotments or 53 employees.  Of those, 501 allotments were processed without completing change of allotment forms.  176 allotments were not dated by the Division of Finance.  123 allotments were missing the start date for the allotments.  26 allotments were issued with no allottee name on the allotment form.  26 allotments were processed without an approving signature.  Four times there was no employee signature.  Four times the allotment date was not clear, and on four occasions the amount of the allotment was missing.

Unlike at the Pohnpei State Government, PPA has no rule on the number of allotments an employee is allowed to have or on the frequency of changes or amendments to the allotments.  Auditors pointed out that such a policy can occupy employees’ time with volumes of transactions that may have contributed to the non-performance of certain documentation tasks.  They recommended that management should review the reasonableness of the policy in order to minimize the exposure to complications including unnecessary financial loss.

In his response to the requested audit, current General Manager Pius Roby agreed with all of the findings and vowed changes effective immediately.


New Zealand Branch

IPYGOn the 18th of February, the Peace Summit of Pacific Leaders will be held at the Parliament of New South Wales organized by Pacific Islands Forum (PIF) and an international peace NGO under the UN ECOSOC named Heavenly Culture, World Peace, Restoration of Light (HWPL).

This summit has the title of "2019 Pacific Leaders Summit for Peace, Sydney: Center of Spreading Peace Beyond Ethnicity and Borders" with participants including political leaders of the PIF member states and HWPL representatives including Chairman Man Hee Lee, a Korean peace activist and Korean war veteran.

Participants will discuss the Declaration of Peace and Cessation of War (DPCW) to promote a culture of peace in the Pacific countries. The DPCW was drafted by HWPL, international law experts and UN officials for the establishment of peace as a global norm. This will be achieved through international cooperation and active participation of citizens, ensuring the realization of rights to the development of nations in line with the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

According to HWPL, along with strategic partnership with African Union (AU) through an MOU with Pan-African Parliament (PAP) in AU for international cooperation in peacebuilding, this peace summit is expected to further receive support from governments and social leaders in Asia-Pacific countries.

 “Our approach to peace has a foundation in the power of people. Approximately 1.73 million people have participated in 631 events held in 176 countries as part of the Legislate Peace Campaign, to advocate for the DPCW to be discussed by states and international organizations, raise awareness of peacebuilding by civil society, and ultimately promote a culture of peace through participation of people transcending language, ethnicity, culture or national border,” said Mr. Ian Seo, General Director of Department of Public Relations, HWPL.

US Department of Defense 

POHNPEI, Federated States of Micronesia--Sailors with Construction Civic Action Detail, Federated States of Micronesia (CCAD FSM) assigned to Naval Mobile Construction Battalion (NMCB) 1 have participated in a number of programs to aid the people of Pohnpei since arriving in August for a routine six month deployment.

CCAD FSM has provided tutoring to high school seniors who are taking the Armed Services Vocational Aptitude Battery (ASVAB) test in order to qualify to join the U.S. military, taught practical first-aid to locals, conducted and participated in various community relations (COMREL) events and completed several construction projects, all while immersing themselves in the local culture and strengthening relationships.

“I’m super proud of our team and what they have accomplished over the past six months,” said Lt. j.g. Jon Dean, CCAD FSM’s officer in charge. “They have worked hard to complete the mission and show our commitment to the people of the Federated States of Micronesia.”

CCAD FSM constructed a new classroom, renovated an existing classroom and restroom facility at Madolenihmw High School. Additionally, the team added a new 1300 linear foot chain-link fence around Temwen Elementary School and renovated a restroom facility at Awak Elementary School.

“It feels good to be able to improve the quality of life for the children of Pohnpei,” said Steelworker 2nd Class David McClure. “I get to use my expertise to help the people of Pohnpei in a positive way, there’s no better feeling.”

Over the last four months CCAD FSM has tutored over 120 students in preparation for joining the US Armed Services. The team held tutoring sessions every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday. Citizens from FSM can freely join the US armed services while maintaining their citizenship due to the Compact of Free Association signed between the United States and the FSM.

“There is a great deal of interest from students desiring to serve in the US military and the ASVAB is one hurdle that CCAD FSM can make a little easier for them,” said Builder 3rd Class Rosa Gomez.

Hospital Corpsman 2nd Class Curtis Gilbert, CCAD FSM’s independent duty corpsman, organized community health engagements at Madolenihmw high school. He taught over 400 high school students the importance of environmental hygiene, personal hygiene, dental care and physical exercise.

“I enjoy teaching and working with younger generations to improve their health,” said Gilbert. “It’s important for them to understand the environmental impacts of water conservation and how it doesn’t just affect them personally, but the island as a whole.”

CCAD FSM participated in a number of COMRELS including 5K runs, passing out candy for Halloween and roadway cleanups. The events allowed the Sailors to interact with the people of Pohnpei.

“Community relation events are a win-win for Pohnpeians and the CCAD

Team,” said Chief Builder Bo Hartley. “The events provide the CCAD team a grass roots avenue to strengthen relationships

with our host nation and provide a down to earth impact on an everlasting friendship between the US and FSM.

The United States has been sending CCAD Teams to the FSM for decades to continue building the partnership between the two countries.

NMCB 1 is assigned to CTF 75 and is the primary expeditionary task force responsible for the planning and execution of coastal riverine operations, explosive ordnance disposal, diving engineering and construction, and underwater construction in the U.S. 7th Fleet area of operations.

By Bill Jaynes

The Kaselehlie Press


January 7, 2019

Pohnpei—On January 7 of this year an Act passed by the Pohnpei Legislature defining criminal trespass became law without the Governor’s signature.

Before the revision a person could only be charged with criminal trespass if they interfered with the peaceful use and possession of the property of another either “by force or by stealth”.  The sentence for that crime was imprisonment of up to one year, fine of $500, or both jail and fine.

Pohnpei Attorney General Dana Smith says he intends to put the new definitions of criminal trespass into use as it applies to government owned properties where people have been given notice to vacate but have refused to do such as at the Pohnpei Public Market property and government homes and land in the vicinity of PICS High School.  He says that though civil actions have been filed by the government in those cases, there is nothing under the law that would prohibit the government from also filing criminal proceedings and that violators risk that action under the law.

Under the new law which went into effect on January 7, there are now three separate classes of criminal trespass.  The previous definition which requires occupation “by force or by stealth” is now known as “Trespass in the Second Degree” and carries a penalty of up to six months imprisonment and/or a fine of up to $600.

A person who, knowingly and without authority, enters into any part of the dwelling house or onto the property of another is guilty of “Criminal Trespass in the First Degree”.  The penalty for this newly listed crime is imprisonment of up to three months and/or a fine of up to $300.

“Aggravated Trespass” applies to people who remain within any part of the dwelling house or on the property of another, after receiving notice from the owner, rightful occupant or an authorized representative of the owner or rightful occupant to depart.  The penalty for violation of this law is imprisonment of up to one year and/or a fine of up to $1000.

FSM Information Services

PALIKIR, Pohnpei—

ChinaAttendees were treated to a presentation about Chinese scientific discoveries in areas such as oceanography, marine biology, and marine industries. This was followed by an extensive tour of the ship’s highly advanced, cutting-edge features, and then a series of genuinely heartfelt speeches held in the dining room.

Zhang Weitao, Deputy Chief of Mission for the Chinese Embassy in FSM, performed the Master of Ceremony duties, and first introduced Professor Wang Fan, Director of IOCAS. “This research vessel is the platform for researchers to address the world’s most pressing marine science issues,” Director Wang said, “…and in recent years, as both the FSM and China have continued to score new progress in economic and social development…and as we go forward with more bilateral exchanges to achieve mutually beneficial outcomes...this ship can help us to continue to strengthen our connectivity under the China-Pacific Framework to carry out exchanges…in marine science research and ocean protection, aquaculture…and cooperation. I wish all of you good health…and I’d like to extend my New Year wishes to you all.”

Next up to speak was Ambassador Huang, who said “…We are a few days after the New Year, but most importantly we are celebrating here today the 30th anniversary of diplomatic relations between China and the FSM…. Last year, in November, Chinese President Xi Jinping and President Peter M. Christian of the FSM had a very good and important meeting where they have decided to improve our relations…to a comprehensive strategic partnership. Why comprehensive, and what does that mean?” said the Ambassador, “it means…that China will help the FSM more in areas of education, health, culture, and science.”

“We share the same sky, we share the same earth, and we share the same ocean,” said Ambassador Huang. “So finally we will share the same future.”

China2The last formal speaker was Secretary Robert. “It’s very interesting and perhaps fitting that the name of this ship [KeXue] is Science,” Secretary Robert said, “And it’s also fitting that this ship has a very important…mandate to study the ocean. As you know, FSM…has many challenges maximizing the utility of our resources and fisheries without harming their sustainability…and climate change especially is a concern. We do not yet have scientists in the FSM but…that’s because our islands, our people, our culture—we are the science.”

Near the end of the evening, Secretary Robert, the Honorable Shelten Neth, and Ambassador Huang each gave brief closing remarks thanking everyone for coming.

The Government of the Federated States of Micronesia strives for, and appreciates, amicable relationships with all nations and peoples. Our comprehensive strategic partnership with China, in particular, has provided our country with some significant and much needed infrastructure improvements. Future assistance includes plans for a new ship and plans for a new aircraft to improve our transportation infrastructure and ocean surveillance capability.

Although this is one of a series of events to follow, September 11th, 2019 will mark the official date for the 30th anniversary of formal diplomatic relations between the Federated States of Micronesia and the People’s Republic of China.

By Bill Jaynes

The Kaselehlie Press

January 14, 2018

FSM—This morning, FSM’s Secretary of the Department of Finance and Administration, Sihna N. Lawrence sent revised domestic revenue projections to Congress.  The previous projections were revised upward by $4 million from approximately $77 million to $81 million.  In her letter to Speaker Wesley W. Simina, Lawrence wrote that the revision was due to a misunderstanding that had just been resolved that morning.  The additional $4 million is the result of additional fishing access fees.

The revenue projections listed the actual revenues for the previous three years.  The actuals from FY 2016 and 2017 are audited figures while the FY 2018 actuals are pre-audited preliminary figures.  The FY 2019 projections are $27 million less than in FY 2016, the lowest of the actual domestic revenues listed and $113 million less than last year.  Previous actual domestic revenues in FY 2016 were $108 million. They were $137 million in 2017. Last year they were $194 million.

The most consistent source of revenue over the last three years has been Fishing Access Revenues, which in 2016 were over $63 million.  In 2017 they were nearly $73 million, and last year they were $68 million.  The revenue projection for fishing access revenue for 2019 is $59 million.

National Tax revenue in 2016 was nearly $13 million; nearly $14 million in 2017, but only nearly $9 million in 2018.  The projection for 2019 is for a million dollar increase in those revenues to nearly $10 million.

The source of revenue with the largest fluctuation according to the Domestic Revenue Projections is Non-National Tax Revenue—taxes collected from businesses with Captive Insurance companies in the FSM.  In 2016 the FSM realized nearly $6 million from that source. In 2017 the figure was nearly $23 million.  In 2018 the figure was an astounding $82 million.

An employee of the Department of Finance and Administration said that the $82 million had not been a surprise and that figure had been included in the domestic revenue projections for 2018.  This year there is no such large figure waiting on the horizon.  This year’s projection for Non-National Tax Revenue is a conservative $4 million.

Secretary Lawrence’s revenue projections show that there is a total of over $5 million available for appropriation.

By Mar-Vic Cagurangan

Pacific Island Times


January 18, 2019

DebtCollectively and individually, the economic performance of the Pacific island countries has been erratic for the most part, and in most cases quite pinched, hence their heavy reliance on external aid. Financial analyses indicate the volatility of their real GDP growth. The annual average rates for growth have been low.

International lenders have identified at least six Pacific island countries that are facing elevated risk of debt distress. The list includes Kiribati, Marshall Islands, Federated States of Micronesia, Samoa, Vanuatu, and Tuvalu. Narrow economic bases, vulnerability to economic shocks and exposure to climate change and natural disasters are among the factors that arrest the development of these economies, according to the Asian Development Bank’s Pacific Economic Monitor released in December 2018.

ADB’s analysis of the Pacific island countries’ books indicate a recurrent —and worsening— financial predicament that will extend for a long period of time and curtail their ability to pay their debt service.                                                                                        

“ADB and development partners are working with Pacific governments to strengthen debt management while also promoting long-term solutions to the challenge of expanding access to basic services,” said Carmela Locsin, director general of ADB’s Pacific Department. “While debt financing can play an important role in responding to substantial infrastructure needs in the Pacific, strong project due diligence, investment planning, and improved debt monitoring frameworks are needed to safeguard against future repayment concerns.”

Following are the highlights from ADB’s economic monitor report:

Marshall Islands: Despite significant progress in controlling its public debt, the latest debt sustainability analysis of the IMF and World Bank places the Marshall Islands at high risk of debt distress. Since 2012, the country has received sizable revenues from fishing license fees. This has been accompanied by large increases in recurrent spending, particularly on public sector wages, which accounted for 22.3 percent of total expenditure and increased by 8.3 percent in FY2017, and subsidies and transfers to state-owned enterprises, which increased 34.5 percent. On the revenue side, there is room to improve tax collections, with important reforms still pending.

Kiribati. Analysis for Kiribati baseline scenario shows that the present value of its external debt-to-GDP is projected to breach the indicative ceiling (30 percent of GDP) by 2023. Like most Pacific island countries, Kiribati faces many development challenges due to its geographical layout. Its high vulnerability to the adverse impacts of climate change, such as higher incidences of disasters, loss of groundwater, and rising sea levels, necessitates government spending on climate change adaptation efforts.

In the face of this vulnerability, Kiribati adopted a Joint Implementation Plan for Climate Change and Disaster Risk Management in 2014, which identifies key strategies that will cost $94.6 million or the equivalent of 52.2 percent of its GDP from 2014 to 2023, with the infrastructure strategy component accounting for $48.1 million. Faced with domestic resource constraints, Kiribati will be heavily dependent on the participation of development partners, if it is to successfully implement the plan.

Samoa. Sound policy reforms and prudent fiscal management allowed Samoa to reduce its debt burden from 121.7 percent of GDP in 1994 to 33.6 percent in 2008. However, damage and losses caused by a tsunami in 2009 and a cyclone in 2012 caused a decline in economic growth over the long term. The government responded with increased expenditure for rehabilitation and new public investments to stimulate growth, leading to high debt levels.

Fiscal deficit averaged 5.4 percent a year between FY2010 and FY2015 resulting in the breach of 50 percent debt target from FY2013. Samoa’s debt stock trends reflect large shocks faced by the economy as a result of global economic shock (2008–2009), natural disaster (2012), and public investment decisions.

Vanuatu. This is ranked as the world’s most vulnerable country for disasters in the United Nations World Risk Index in 2017. This has implications for debt sustainability. For example, Tropical Cyclone Pam, which struck Vanuatu in 2015, caused damage to infrastructure equivalent to around 60 percent of GDP. Vauatu’s public debt increased in the wake of Cyclone Pam from the equivalent of 24.1 percent of GDP in 2014 to 46.1 percent in 2016. Public debt is now at the higher end, compared with other Pacific island countries. Even before the cyclone hit, the government had a large infrastructure pipeline to be financed by grants and concessional lending. Yet, simple repairs required on some projects, including the airport rehabilitation, became major reconstruction activities due to cyclone damage.

Federated States of Micronesia The FSM’s Compact Trust Fund is seen to fall short of the target level required to generate replacement income for expiring U.S. Compact grants, based on current accumulation trends. Latest estimates from the IMF and Graduate School USA indicate that combined financial assets in the CTF and the FSM Trust Fund are likely to allow for sustainable withdrawals—that is, without eroding the real value of the funds for future generations—of about $35 million a year. This will be about $45 million short of expiring Compact grants (around $81 million) after 2023. A deficit of this magnitude would require substantial cuts in essential services such as education, infrastructure and health; increases in taxation; a considerable increase in debt; or some combination of these. In 2017, the IMF recommended a medium-term fiscal adjustment to boost fiscal surpluses of about $30 million in FY2015– FY2016 by another $15 million to cover the impending shortfall after 2023.

Tuvalu. In the 2017 World Risk Report, Tonga was ranked as the second highest country at risk of disasters due to its high exposure to weather disturbances and sea-level rise as well as weak disaster management. The impact of disasters in Tonga are severe both in the magnitude and cost of the damage. In the last two decades, there were four major cyclones that caused substantial damage in Tonga—three of which struck the country this decade. The latest and most destructive weather disturbance to hit Tonga was Tropical Cyclone Gita last February 2018. It cost the economy an estimated $164.3 million in losses which is equivalent to 37.9 percent of Tonga’s GDP.

When Cyclone Pam hit Tuvalu in 2015, around 45 percent of the population were affected as the country suffered from substantial losses amounting to $10.3 million, equivalent to 26.9 percent of its GDP.  In these circumstances, there is a need to invest in infrastructure that can withstand future weather disturbances. Such investment and the costs of reconstruction are likely to impose a heavy burden on the government’s fiscal position.  The debt level of Tuvalu would be greatly influenced by at least two possible shocks: disaster and fishing revenue. Under a disaster shock scenario, the impact of a cyclone similar to Cyclone Pam would result in a larger fiscal deficit equivalent to 10.0 percent of GDP in 2028. A fishing revenue shock assumes that changes in weather patterns would lead to a sharp decline in fishing license revenues between 2028 and 2032. This would result in a fiscal deficit equivalent to 15 percent of its GDP.

By Bill Jaynes

The Kaselehlie Press


January 8, 2019

Kapinga1Pohnpei—During the noon hour today, the people of Kapingamarangi present on Pohnpei’s main island celebrated the inauguration of their newly elected magistrate in the new nahs in the Pohnrakiet village.

FSM President Peter Christian joined the crowds of people who came to witness former magistrate Galeb Camule handing over the reins of the Kapingamarangi government to newly elected magistrate Nathan Ulik.

Pohnpei Supreme Court Justice Macy Anson administered the oath of office. Ulik swore his oath of office in front of the large crowd with his hand on the Bible his wife held.

Throughout the ceremony, a group of traditionally dressed singers sang religious songs.

When the time came, Camule outlined the successes during his time in office and also the continuing challenges and ongoing projects for the incoming magistrate. He passed on a hand carved paddle to his successor.Kapinga2

Ulik gave his inaugural speech in the language of his people, after which his wife sang a song that began tentatively and then grew strength as she appeared to gain confidence and as the guitarists accompanying her caught up with her key.

Family members sang a musical selection to close off the inaugural ceremony.

Pohnpei Senator Edgar Lickaneth served as the Master of Ceremonies for the inauguration.

U.S. Coast Guard 14th District Hawaii and the Pacific

ShipHONOLULU — The Coast Guard response continues to the grounding of the 308-foot Chinese-flagged commercial fishing carrier Ou Ya Leng No. 6 on Taka Atoll in the Marshall Islands, Wednesday.

A Coast Guard HC-130 Hercules crew arrived and made contact with the mariners who remain aboard the vessel and are awaiting rescue.

Initial reports from MRCC China stated the crew abandoned ship and were on the atoll, but upon arrival, the Hercules crew confirmed they are aboard the vessel and using emergency generator power. There are no reports of injuries or pollution.

Two fishing vessels are en route and expected to arrive Thursday. The Republic of the Marshall Islands has also dispatched their patrol vessel Lomor to respond.

At 4:15 a.m., Maritime Rescue Coordination Center China personnel notified the Coast Guard of a fishing vessel taking on water 180 nautical miles (207 statute miles) northeast of Kwajalein Atoll in the Marshall Islands.

It is unknown at this time the cause of the incident, the nationality of the crew and disposition of any cargo or fuel.

“Our first concern continues to be for the 24 crew on the vessel, and we are working with our partners to effect a rescue,” said Brendon Ritz of JRCC Honolulu.

Weather in the area is reportedly 11-foot seas with 25 mph winds, forecast to degrade to 14-foot seas with increasing winds.

The Hercules crew came from Wake Island where they were previously involved in the Sincerity Ace case since Monday. Their home base is Coast Guard Air Station Barbers Point in Hawaii.

The Ou Ya Leng No. 6 is reportedly a fish carrier targeting squid in the Western and Central Pacific Fishing Commission area now aground in the territorial waters of the Republic of the Marshall Islands.

Taka Atoll, also known as Toke Atoll, is a small, uninhabited coral atoll in the Ratak Chain of the Marshall Islands and is roughly triangular made up of six small islands with an area of less than a square mile and lagoon in the center. Around 400 people inhabit nearby Utirik Atoll. The Republic of the Marshall Islands is located near the equator and slightly west of the International Date Line. Its total population of about 53,000 people live across the nation's 29 coral atolls with Majuro as the capital.

By Bill Jaynes

The Kaselehlie Press

December 28, 2018

Chuuk, FSM—Today, the law firm of Berman O’Connor & Mann filed a civil action against Air Niugini and “Does Entities 1-10” at the FSM Supreme Court in Chuuk on behalf of their client Tatiana Patricio. The civil action arises from injuries Patricio sustained as a result of the crash of Air Niugini Flight 56 on September 28, 2018 in the waters short of the runway at the Chuuk International Airport in Weno.

The Does 1-10 entities are insurance companies that provided general liability coverage and/or excess level liability coverage in policies issued to Air Niugini.

The civil action claims that Air Niugini was negligent in failing to provide safe travel on Air Niugini Flight 56 during its approach and descent to the Chuuk Airport.

It alleges that Air Niugini and its pilot and crew failed to properly and reasonably:

  1. Monitor the flight’s position and altitude;
  2. Monitor the aircraft’s descent below the approach profile;
  3. Note the aircraft’s descent below Minimum Descent Altitude;
  4. Confirm a proper read-back and understanding of the landing clearance;
  5. Properly respond to an emergency situation; and
  6. Otherwise utilize reasonable care and circumspection in the interests of air safety.

The Civil Action is asking the court to render judgment including but not limited to:

  1. Pre and post-impact pain and suffering of the Plaintiff;
  2. Property damage prior to death to personal belongings, including, without limitation, luggage, wallets, money, briefcase, coats, toys, passports, clothing, and jewelry;
  3. Mental anguish and grief of the Plaintiff;
  4. Medical expenses;
  5. Pre-judgment interest; and
  6. Any and all other damages to which Plaintiff may be entitled under applicable law.

Nixon Anson

General Manager of PUC

January 4, 2018

Pohnpei—In 2018 PUC received over $3 million in projects and grants that are set to provide greater power stability to Pohnpei State. While some of these projects have started, PUC is still finding a few challenges in keeping the power on during the holidays. To keep our customers informed, we want to let you know some of the specifics of what is happening and when you can expect improvements.

During the holiday season, we have been having some technical problems with one of the new RUS funded generators that was installed in 2018. Parts to fix this generator should be here by the time this article is published and once we receive the parts, it will take a day and a half to bring this unit back on line. This should help with the short power outages we have been experiencing. Of greater concern is that we are also having some technical problems on one of our base load generators, CAT # 4, and it has been shut down for repair. We have two technicians from Hawthorne Guam and Hawthorne San Diego assisting with these issues to bring CAT #4 back into operation and restore our power generation capacity to meet the needs of Pohnpei.

The main purpose of the technicians from Hawthorne are to work on the major overhaul of CAT # 1 whose repair is funded by the US compact, but we have asked for their assistance to repair CAT #4 as well. All parts for the major overhaul have arrived, and we are ready to carry out the work starting January 2nd, 2019. The overhaul will be done in three weeks if no major components of the unit is found to be defective, so, around the end of January we will have full power generation capacity plus back up capacity, and PUC should be able to minimize further blackouts from happening.

In the meantime, there will be un-schedule outages in some areas around the island in order for us to perform check-ups on the operational units. We are taking standby generators off line for more than 2 hours, so we don’t impact other customers without backup generators. Once PUC fixes two of the units, within 5 days, we will cease the 30-minute outages, but if we encounter other problems, we will have to carry out further unscheduled power interruptions. Once CAT #4 and #1 are both online, and the RUS generator fix is completed, these outages should end. Future improvements to the Nahnpohnmal Power plant are coming in the near future and in 2021. PUC is looking to get a new utility grade set of generators to produce power for Pohnpei, so the future does look brighter.

We apologies for the inconveniences that these outages have caused to the people of Pohnpei over the holidays and we hope that all of our customers were blessed with a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year. We look forward to meeting all of your power generation needs in the coming weeks.

Micronesian Conservation Trust

The Micronesia representative on the GGF Pacific Islands Advisory Board, William Kostka, worked with five communities in Micronesia to successfully secure five grants to the GGF. The grants, which are approximately $5,000 each, are to support communities with their sustainable development, food security, conservation and climate adaptation and resilience efforts.

The successful grantees include:

  • Nimpal Channel Marine Conservation Area - funding to support management of the Nimpal Channel Marine Conservation Area in Yap by purchasing equipment and supplies for administration and operations. This include funds to purchase a laptop and accessories; printer, scanner, a copier, office supplies and awareness materials (stationery), as well as meeting costs and administration fee;
  • Northern Reef Fishers Cooperative (NRFC) - funding to support data collection in the second largest fishing ground in Palau by NRFC to determine the impact of management of fish populations. Funding will be used to purchase supplies/ materials for fishers’ profile and awareness brochures, as well as to hire data collector to collect monthly fishery data. The funds will also be used to purchase sustainably caught fish from fishermen at the Northern Reefs dock and to resell in Koror for higher prices;
  • Nan Ais Community, Palikir Pohnpei - to construct three (3) new toilet facilities and to renovation one (1) existing toilet for the community – the community has agreed to establish a revolving fund from the project funds, to help build more proper toilet facilities in the Nan Ais Community. The funds will also be used to purchase shovels and a chain saw to remove fallen trees and debris from their stream. The project proponent will also develop a short photos story of the project to be shared widely;
  • Pohnpei Consumer Organization (PCO) - to establish farms that will serve as training centers and awareness for persons with disabilities. The activities will include stakeholder meetings, trainings, farm sites preparation, seeds and seedlings distribution, as well as monitoring and site visits;
  • The Green Society - to raise awareness about the need to reduce plastics and other harmful imports to Pohnpei. The funds will be used to purchase a banner, run newspaper ads, make radio announcements, purchase stickers and materials, trash bags, gloves and t-shirt to raise awareness about the need to properly manage/reduce harmful trash and to raise awareness about this new organization - the Green Society of Pohnpei.

Global Green-Grants Fund (GGF) believes solutions to environmental harm and social injustice come from people whose lives are most impacted. Every day, our global network of people on the frontlines and donors come together to support communities to protect their ways of life and our planet. When local people have a say in the health of their food, water, and resources, they are forced for change and to act. The next round of GGF grants will be in March 2019. Contact William Kostka at 691-320-5670 or at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. for more information on these grants.

Our Lady of Mercy Catholic High School

ChinaOn December 28, 2018, Ambassador Huang Zheng of the Embassy of the People's Republic of China in the FSM formally announced the approval of a grant from the Chinese Government to construct a much needed building for Our Lady of Mercy Catholic High School (OLMCHS). It will be officially called as the FSM-CHINA FRIENDSHIP STEM BUILDING. In a simple handover ceremony at the Chinese Embassy in Palikir, Ambassador Huang handed the initial amount of $100,000.00 to OLMCHS Principal Sr. Krista Namio, MMB. A formal handover ceremony will be scheduled in early 2019 for the remaining amount of the grant.

OLMCHS Principal Namio, on behalf of the OLMCHS Board, Administration, Faculty, Staff, Parents, and Students thanked and expressed a sincere heartfelt gratitude to the Ambassador and to Government of the People’s Republic of China for funding this valuable project. The project is part of OLMCHS’ efforts to encourage its students to explore science and technology, and hopefully become doctors, nurses, and engineers, the professions that the island and country are in need of at this time. The proposed STEM Building will house the school’s Science Laboratory, Computer Laboratory, and additional classrooms for future elective classes.

On the other hand, Ambassador Huang reiterated the Chinese Government’s commitment to help improve the quality of education in the FSM. He further stated that this project is the start of many more future developments as part of the China- FSM Comprehensive Strategic Partnership jointly announced by H.E. Chinese President Xi Jinping and H.E. President Peter Christian of the FSM, in their historic summit at Port Moresby, Papua New Guinea last November 16, 2018.

On hand to witness this significant event were Mr. Zhang Weitao, the new Councilor and Deputy Chief of Mission of the Chinese Embassy, Mr. Wu Yibo, the new Second Secretary of the Embassy, Ms. Pearcylita Cubacub and Ms. Fatima Dollasa, both teachers of OLMCHS.

Story and Photos By Joyce McClure

January 2, 2019

Robot1Colonia, Yap — The people of Woleai, a coral atoll approximately 360 miles from Yap’s main island, stood amid the palm trees and lush foliage beside the WWII-era air strip. As the plane landed, they came to greet the visitors with leis and crowns of sweet-smelling plumeria. The chiefs were waiting to welcome us, as we walked down the path to the high school toward the open-air stage with its brightly painted checkerboard floor. The students sat on the lawn below the stage as we climbed the steps, shook the elders’ hands, said hello to the school principal and took our places to be introduced.

The scene was reminiscent of a Paul Gauguin painting of beautiful women, small children and men in traditional sarongs – colorful, striped, handwoven lava lavas for the women and red or blue thu’us for the men. Overhead were coconut palm and breadfruit trees that seemed to touch the sky.

Woleai maintains its traditional way of life, but the reason for our visit was pure 21st century delivered in a box—a robot-in-a-box to be exact.

Sent by Habele, a South Carolina-based nonprofit organization founded in 2006 by three Peace Corps volunteers who had taught in Yap’s Outer Islands, the bits and pieces that would become a working robot were carried to the island’s high school by Amelia Weiss, Habele’s director of STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics) programs. The students would become the latest from nearly 20 high schools across Micronesia to join Habele’s Robo League.Robot2

“We were struck by the tremendous potential we saw in students from remote island communities and formed Habele to increase academic opportunities for them,” said Matt Coleman, CEO. “The U.S. provides significant funding for education in the FSM, but existing opportunities and programs don’t always work as an integrated and efficient educational or career pipeline for the students. So rather than setting up a different system or providing a parallel system, we look for areas in the existing education structure that are seeing results and seek to turbocharge them with local buy-in and direction.”

Robotics was a perfect fit for Habele’s formula. The idea originated with a partner school in the U.S. that took an interest in the organization’s work and wanted to share equipment that had benefited their own students. In 2013, Yap Catholic High School became the first school to participate in the program that gives students hands-on experience in STEM instruction. Rather than just “dumping robotics kits on the school,” the program was designed to form long-term partnerships that identify an opportunity and provide equipment and training. YCHS formed a robotics club and began generating interest from other schools in the state.

By 2018, every high school on the main island had a robotics club that participated in the annual Robo League competition in which each school’s club is both paired and pitted against the other clubs in a game that tests the skills of the students and their robotic designs.

The statewide Robo League began getting recognition from national leaders which resulted in high schools in Chuuk and Pohnpei being added to the program. “Thanks to the Department of the Interior’s Office of Insular Affairs,” Coleman noted, “Habele was provided with the means to pursue that expansion. Our hope is to see the Robotics League benefitting students in all four states of the FSM.” For now, the program is expanding into the neighboring islands of Yap and recently brought Ulithi into the partnership.

“The Robo League has increased communication and collaboration among the high schools of Yap as well as with our community partners,” said Michael Wiencek, principal of YCHS. “This year we even created a Student Leadership Team that designed this year's game and rules.”

Woleai principal Stan Retogral noted the hands-on approach that allows students to apply theoretical lessons to the project. Four students from each class from among the school’s 154 pupils were invited to participate in the program. A group of student observers was also brought into Weiss’s day-long training.

“You’ll develop skills for a lifetime,” Weiss told the students, including “teamwork and perseverance.”

She invited a student to open the box, and the parts were revealed. Shy at first, but with Weiss’s encouragement, the boys and girls formed into two teams and set to work pouring over the instructions, identifying the parts, seeing which ones fit where. Before long, a quiet cacophony of voices was sharing, comparing and testing the ingredients. Weiss moved among them, asking questions and encouraging everyone to explore. Lunchtime arrived but the students didn’t want to stop.

Robot3Nearly six hours later, the robot was complete. It was time to test it.

On the first try, the wheels didn’t spin properly. They went back to the instructions. Missing parts were found and inserted. The circle expanded again to give room for the robot to turn and spin and pick up a tennis ball included in the kit. They flipped the switch and used the remote control’s joy sticks. A cheer went up as the metal contraption came to life, racing across the concrete floor, the students laughing and clapping as it showed what it could do.

They will add to the basic kit in six or seven weeks when a larger box arrives on the island with materials for a more expansive design. Then the real work will begin as Woleai’s Robotics Club creates their entry for the 2019 Robo League competition.

“We’ve already seen very real results,” said Coleman. “In 2017, students from YCHS represented the FSM in an international robotics challenge in Washington, D.C. One of those competitors is now studying engineering in the United States.”

Office of the Assistant Secretary

Insular and International Affairs

InteriorWASHINGTON – Doug Domenech, U.S. Department of the Interior Assistant Secretary, Insular and International Affairs, applauded the success of the winter meeting of the Island Government Finance Officers Association (IGFOA), which convened in Honolulu, Hawaii from December 4 - 6, 2018. The IGFOA meets twice yearly to encourage finance officers from American Samoa, the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands, the Federated States of Micronesia, Guam, Palau, the Republic of the Marshall Islands, and the U.S. Virgin Islands to discuss common challenges and share successful best practices in fiscal accountability and financial management.

“We continue to support the training of island government finance officers in best practices for fiscal accountability and financial management,” said Assistant Secretary Domenech. “Solid financial accountability is critical for any government in order to effectively manage public resources for the people they serve.”

Forty-three heads of finance and senior accounting officials from throughout the insular governments attended the winter meeting. Topics for the week concentrated on:

  • the outturn of FY17 single audits;
  • reviewing FY17 Performeter scores;
  • examining growing unfunded pension and social security liabilities in the insular areas;
  • managing procurement and installation of Federal Management Information Systems;
  • enhancing insular government finance office performance measures;
  • addressing cybersecurity issues; and
  • previewing forthcoming Government Accounting Standards Board (GASB) standards pronouncements and their potential impacts on island governments.

At the conclusion of the meeting, representatives from each insular area presented an IGFOA Action Plan, which summarized commitments to continue implementing concepts presented at the conference. Such commitments include refinement of finance office performance measures, implementation of forthcoming GASB standards, development of Popular Annual Financial Reports, development of cybersecurity plans, and strategies to manage insular government debt.

The IGFOA will reconvene during the summer of 2019 in conjunction with the U.S.-based Government Finance Officers Association. The IGFOA meetings are organized by the Graduate School USA Pacific and Virgin Islands Training Initiatives, all funded through the Department of the Interior’s Office of Insular Affairs Technical Assistance Program.

The Secretary of the Interior is responsible for coordinating federal policy with respect to the territories of the U.S. Virgin Islands, American Samoa, Guam, and the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands, and administering and overseeing U.S. federal assistance provided under the Compact of Free Association to the freely associated states of the Federated States of Micronesia, the Republic of the Marshall Islands, and the Republic of Palau. The Assistant Secretary, Insular and International Affairs, executes these responsibilities, on behalf of the Secretary, through the Office of Insular Affairs whose mission is to foster economic opportunities, promote government efficiency, and improve the quality of life for the people of the insular areas.

By Bill Jaynes

The Kaselehlie Press

January 4, 2019

HoopsPohnpei—Men’s and women’s basketball teams from all over the FSM met in the FSM for the recently concluded “Holiday Hoops” competition. Competitions were divided between the Kolonia China Friendship gym at Spanish Wall Park and the China FSM Friendship gym at the College of Micronesia FSM in Palikir.

With the exception of Yap, each of the four FSM States was represented by at least one team. A total of 11 men’s teams and four women’s teams competed. The Marshall Islands was invited to send a team but was unable to manage it in time.

The competition opened with a ceremony on December 23rd and ended with the men’s finals on December 30 and the women’s finals on December 31.

The Chuuk High School team took third place in the men’s competitions. Xavier High School took second place, and the men from Kosrae High School took the championship position in the final men’s tournament.

Calvary Christian Academy women took third place. Pohnpei Seventh Day Adventist women took second place. Pohnpei Island Centrals School women emerged as the champions in the women’s competitions.

According to organizers, ten sponsors stepped up to help fund the competition. They were:

FSCO Pohnpei Stevedoring, FSM Department of Education, FSM Department of Health/Youth Program, Pohnpei State Strategy Prevention Frame Work - Partners for Success (SPF-PFS), Kolonia Town Government, Pohnpei State Stop Underage Drinking Prevention Organization, Pohnpei State Sports Office, College of Micronesia – FSM, Central Union for Young Adult (CUYA), and Pohnpei Ace Hardware.

Several Youth Awareness Campaign messages underpinned some of the central values of the tournament. They were:

“Stop Underage Drinking”, “Children Should NOT Raise Children”, “Say Yes to Education Say No to Teen Pregnancy”, “Stay in School More Opportunities Ahead of you”, and “Stay in school you are the future of the nation tomorrow”.

President Christian & NORMA staff surprise hospital patients with Christmas cheer

FSM Information Services

Christian 3PALIKIR, Pohnpei—On December 28th, 2018, His Excellency Peter M. Christian, President of the Federated States of Micronesia, joined Eugene Pangelinan, Executive Director of the National Oceanic Resource Management Authority (NORMA), Kester James, Acting Director of Pohnpei State Hospital, Bernolina Hedson, Nursing Midwife at Pohnpei State Hospital, Marko Kamber, President of Caroline Fisheries Corporation, and NORMA staff to surprise patients at Pohnpei State Hospital with Christmas presents.

Both hospital staff and patients alike were warmed by the thoughtful gesture. As part of the good vibes and the Christmas spirit of giving, President Christian personally shook the hand of every patient he saw—pausing, too, to briefly discuss how that particular patient may have been doing, and to wish them a Merry Christmas and Happy New Year.

How did this brilliant idea originate? “I planned it a week ago,” said Executive Director Pangelinan, “when I saw all these cars beeping and throwing candies. I thought we should do something for those in the hospital, too.”

Gift boxes, buckets, and bags were prepared by NORMA staff with donations from all the major fisheries companies operating in the FSM, including Liancheng Fisheries, Caroline Christian 3Fisheries Corporation, Taiyo Micronesia, Kasar Fisheries Corporation, National Fisheries Corporation, Dayang Seafoods, City Pro Management, and FSM Seafoods. Gifts were available for every demographic imaginable, from newborns to little boys and girls, and from men and women to parents and grandparents. President Christian noted his appreciation to the FSM fishing industry, both for their generosity this Christmas and for the essential role they play in our economic development.

After all the patients at Pohnpei State Hospital received gifts, the NORMA staff went onwards to both Genesis Hospital and Pohnpei State Correctional Facility.

Just as the spirit of giving is what Christmas is all about, healthy and sustainable fisheries is what NORMA is all about. Interested in learning more about the role NORMA plays in our economy, or wondering how you can join the team? Call NORMA at 320- 2700, email at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it., or visit their website at


FSM donates to Yutu relief

CNMI Office of the Governor

31 Dec 2018

IYutun a presentation ceremony on Capital Hill Friday, Federated States of Micronesia Honorary Consul to the CNMI Diego T. Benavente presented to acting Gov. Victor B. Hocog a $100,000 donation from the FSM to assist in recovery efforts relating to the damage the Commonwealth sustained from Super Typhoon Yutu.

Also in attendance were presidents of the different associations for each of the FSM’s states, the chairman of Yutu relief efforts for FSM citizens, Rep. Ivan A. Blanco, along with Finance Secretary Larissa Larson.

According to Benavente, this donation is in addition to an earlier appropriation FSM President Peter Christian and the country’s congressional leaders made in the same amount to support the relief efforts for Typhoon Mangkhut which hit Rota in September.

“I am pleased to accept this for our people here in the CNMI for further distribution to those severely affected by Yutu,” said acting Governor Hocog who further expressed appreciation on behalf of Gov. Ralph DLG Torres for the generosity of our counterparts in the FSM, who also contributed manpower assistance to expedite the restoration of utilities in the villages.

For his part, Rep. Ivan Blanco said, “This is a very generous donation and a mindful one. With this being a season of thanksgiving, we cannot thank our leaders in the FSM enough for the help they have given us in the past, and most especially during this trying time.”

Chuukese Association president Own Cholymay expressed the sentiments of his countrymen by saying that they feel blessed for all the support and assistance given to their citizens residing in the Northern Marianas.

Benavente also mentioned that along with the monetary and manpower donations given by the FSM government, they have expressed the desire to also provide construction workers and carpenters to assist in rebuilding homes damaged by the typhoon. In a meeting Benavente had with President Christian, he mentioned it was a “great idea because people do need construction professionals at this time.” He also noted that local money was appropriated by the FSM to assist in travel expenses incurred for workers helping the CNMI’s relief efforts.

After presenting the check to the Department of Finance, Hocog expressed gratitude for leaders from the FSM from all branches of the government as well as the consul general for coming out and seeing the effects of Super Typhoon Yutu has had on their compatriots in the CNMI.

“We’d like to see more leaders coming this way to meet with our FSM citizens to establish more connections among the citizens and residents in the Commonwealth and build a stronger relationship as we continue to expand and grow a better livelihood for them,” he added.

Hocog also expressed optimism that the cash contributions for both Yutu and Mangkhut recovery will be used accordingly to help affected FSM citizens from both storms to return their lives back to stability.

Acting Gov. Victor B. Hocog receives a check for $100,000 from Federated States of Micronesia Honorary Consul to the CNMI Diego T. Benavente and leaders from the various FSM states. Joining them are Rep. Ivan A. Blanco, CNMI Chuukese Association president Own Cholymay, and Secretary of Finance Larrisa Larson.

FSM Information Services

SaimonPALIKIR, Pohnpei—Dionisio E. Saimon, Program Manager for the Family Health Services Unit in the Department of Health & Social Affairs (DHSA), has spent his career fully committed to the health needs of our country. This commitment was recently recognized by the United States Government in the form of Mr. Saimon’s receipt of the 2017 Maternal and Child Health Bureau (MCHB) Director’s Award. These awards are presented annually to select individuals who have made noteworthy contributions to the health of infants, mothers, children, adolescents, and children with special health care needs.

“For the 20 years I’ve been working with this program,” said Mr. Saimon in a December 21st, 2018 meeting, “it’s the second time the award has been given in the Pacific…the first time was to another Program Manager in Saipan but this, this is the first time for the FSM. The award is the result of many people working hard together; it’s a team effort, not just me.”

In a brief meeting with Mr. Saimon, H.E. President Christian extended his sincere thanks and congratulations to Mr. Saimon for his accomplishments. “It is not very often that our citizens receive this level of award and the deserving recognition from entities or organizations external to the FSM”, the President stated. The Governments and citizens of the Federated States of Micronesia are proud of Mr. Saimon and the positive contributions his work has produced for the benefit of the Nation.

FSM Information Services

PALIKIR, Pohnpei—On December 20th, 2018 His Excellency, President Peter M. Christian attended the Christmas Party for Early Childhood Education (ECE) students at Wenik ECE Center in Kitti, Pohnpei. Also in attendance were the Honorable Jordan Ardos, Isohkonedi Speaker, Quincy Lawrence, Assistant Secretary at the FSM Department of Education, Dionisio E. Saimon, Program Manager at Department of Health & Social Affairs, Hermann Semes Jr., Special Assistant to the Vice President, Arwelson Arpona, Acting Director of Pohnpei Department of Education, Centry Paul, Superintendent of Southwest (Kitti) Schools, Arthur Hebel, Principal of Nanpei Memorial School, Elise Ioanis, Wenik ECE Center Supervisor, other representatives of National, State, and Local Government, and, of course, the students of Wenik ECE and their families.

Supervisor Ioanis gave a brief speech about the Wenik students, which lead to a song and prayer. Principal Hebel paid his respects to everyone present and the importance of children and their education, which was followed by Acting Director Arpona informing the attendees that the students—each of whom wore a sign around their neck with a topic such as sea animals or teeth—would be presenting on what they learned this quarter. Acting Director Arpona also elaborated on the new administrative structure in Pohnpei Department of Education, i.e. that the Divisions of ECE, Primary, and Secondary have merged into one division served by four geographically-based superintendents instead of chiefs.

President Christian wished everyone a very Merry Christmas, and then went around the classroom to shake the hand of each student.

Then the stars of the day—the students—each gave a brief, perhaps 60-second long discussion on their assigned topic. “Teeth are important, so we must brush them to keep them clean!” said one student on the subject of teeth. “Trees surround us and make air for us to breathe, so take care of trees,” said another student on the subject of trees.

After the students’ presentations, Supervisor Ioanis and her teachers took turns leading various class-based activities, ranging from the students reading the Pohnpeian and English alphabets and sounding out the digraphs (e.g. Mw, Ng, Oa) and the compound sounds (e.g. ah, oah, oh) to identifying shapes and colors. Students were given worksheets to complete across the spectrum of academic subjects—from Pohnpeian Language to Mathematics to Science—and then gave their worksheet to President Christian for him to grade. President Christian was impressed, enthusiastic even, with the quality of the students’ work and the energy the students shared. “You’ve all done a very great job!”, exclaimed the President.

Supervisor Ioanis asked Assistant Secretary Lawrence to give a brief speech on education, where he then discussed the importance of Pohnpeian and Micronesian culture and the spirit of Christmas, to then briefly share that the FSM Department of Education works hand-in-hand with the State Departments of Education.

Following Assistant Secretary Lawrence was Special Assistant Semes, who reinforced the importance of education, the importance of family, and the importance of children, summing it up with wishing everyone in attendance a Merry Christmas.

The mothers and fathers then posed for photographs with their children, and afterwards gifts were handed out around the room. Everyone, from the President to each child, walked home with something.

“Christmas…is a time of family, good values, and togetherness,” said Superintendent Paul.

After group photographs with the President, families began to depart to enjoy their Christmas with each other.

ECE services, formerly entitled Head Start, are available throughout the major islands of the FSM and some remote islands. Numerous decades-long studies have shown that children receiving ECE services prior to beginning first grade are far more likely to complete their formal education.

Micronesia Conservation Trust

EndowmentOn December 18, 2018, on behalf of the Pacific Islands Development Bank (PIDB), Mr. Diego Benavente presented a $2,000 check to the Micronesia Conservation Trust (MCT). Mr. Benavente and Minister Elbuchel Sadang, who both serve as a Directors for the PIDB Board and as Trustees on MCT’s Board, along with PIDB CEO Aren Palik, former MCT Board Chair, secured this contribution. The funds will be deposited into the MCT Operational Endowment, which currently totals approximately $800,000 and funds special programs and needs which the Board of Trustees determine are relevant to MCT’s core programs. MCT Chairwoman Doreen Debrum, Treasurer Anna Mendiola, Regional Trustee Jared Morris, International Trustee Trina Leberer, International Trustee Megumi Araki, Executive Director William Kostka and Deputy Executive Director Lisa Andon received the donation on behalf of MCT. This donation of $2,000 will assist MCT in securing further matching funds from our donors/friends for the Operational Endowment.

The MCT Board of Trustees, Leadership and Management, met in Pohnpei on December 17th and 18th, to spend time inventorying accomplishments, discussing lessons learned and considering the future for MCT and our work as we began the process of developing the MCT Strategic Action Plan (SAP) for 2019-2021. This special meeting and the subsequent regular quarterly meeting presented PIDB the opportunity to hand over the check and show its support to MCT and conservation in Micronesia.


By Bill Jaynes

The Kaselehlie Press

January 4, 2019

Pohnpei—New Year in Pohnpei is a loud affair, of that there is no question. Tapping into some of that energy for positive purposes, CUYA (Central Union for Young Adults) and the Mayor of Kolonia Town sponsored a drumming competition at the Kolonia China gym at Spanish Wall Park. The idea was to give young people something positive to do on New Year’s Eve and the competition end in time for young people to keep the 9:30 PM curfew.

Several teams participated for the top cash prizes while a healthy number of people in the crowd cheered them on. As has been the tradition, drummers banged on whatever they could get their hands on—sheets of tin, garbage cans, acetylene tanks, biscuit tins, fishing floats…whatever they could use to make percussive sound with makeshift drumsticks.

When the dust had settled, three teams were chosen as the winners. A team calling themselves the “Mwahn Squad” won the third place prize of $200. “Mwalok” won the second place prize of $300. “Manga Team” left the building with $500 in their pocket, the top prize of the evening.

The competition was the first ever of its kind. CUYA hopes to make it an annual tradition that young people can look forward to each year.

forum 01

By Bill Jaynes
The Kaselehlie Press
February 27, 2019
Pohnpei, FSM—On March 5, voters will decide who will occupy each of the 14 seats in the FSM Congress. In Pohnpei, “Youth 4 Change” sponsored a congressional candidates forum on February 27 in the Pohnpei State Conference Room.
The conference room was packed, with the majority of attendees being students. State radio Commissioner Peterson Sam said that the radio station had intended to air the forum live but could not establish a sufficient internet connection in time to do so. He said that the radio station did record the event and aired the forum several times after it was completed.
Of the 10 candidates running for Pohnpei’s four congressional seats, only two were unable to participate.
The forum was divided into two sections. At 11:00 in the morning, President Christian and Senator David Panuelo answered the moderators’ prepared questions. They then took some questions from the attendees but only from students.
At 2:00 in the afternoon, six of the candidates for the two year seats in Pohnpei’s three election districts participated in the forum. Senator Ferny Perman and Dr. Merlynn Abello-Alfonso participated as the candidates for District 1. Herman Semes, Jr. and Quincy Lawrence participated as the candidates for District 2. Senator Dion Neth and Berney Martin were unable to participate. Senator Esmond Moses and Marstella Jack participated as the candidates for District 3.
The Youth-4-Change organizers prepared four questions for the candidates that were presented by moderators that had been chosen because they would be neutral. The candidates had a set amount of time to answer the questions.
forum 02

Each of the candidates was first asked to define their platforms. They were each then asked what plans they have to provide opportunities for FSM’s young people. Incumbents were then asked why people should vote for them and what their plans are to improve communities. Challenging candidates were asked why people should vote for them over other candidates and what their new plans are to help FSM communities. The last question from the moderators regarded the end of ongoing financial provisions under the Compact of Free Association with the United States. Moderators wanted to know the level of knowledge that the candidates possessed regarding the Compact and what their plans are to prepare the FSM for the end of ongoing financial provisions in 2023.