Responders struggle with learning curve and urge continued vigilance by FSM residents


By Bill Jaynes

The Kaselehlie Press


March 20, 2020

89966959 291612358494069 4570462166406135808 nFSM—As of today, the Federated States of Micronesia officially announced that after testing for suspected cases the FSM has NO cases of COVID-19.  The tests for the three people who presented with suspect symptoms in Yap and the one in Pohnpei all came back negative for the novel coronavirus.

Though the news is good news, health officials are cautioning residents to remain vigilant by continuing the practices of social distancing and thorough and frequent hand washing. The Task Force in Pohnpei says that if you have COVID-19 symptoms (fever, cough, shortness of breath and body aches) DO NOT go to the hospital, clinics or dispensaries as this can cause further spread.  In Pohnpei call 320-3109 if you are experiencing symptoms and don’t ignore symptoms. Do not attend public gatherings or crowds. No not come in close contact with anyone who has fever and a cough.

FSM and State governments have assured FSM citizens that freight will continue to be carried and have asked residents not to stockpile supplies as more will come and stockpiling deprives others of supplies they may need while you don’t use them.

Several times United Airlines has announced flight cancellations due to the arrival of the virus in Hawaii and in Guam.  According to The Village travel agency, who has not received an official notification from United Airlines who also did not confirm them for us, today was to be the last full island hopper flight from Hawaii to Guam until May 3, but it did not arrive.  This weekend they will do a short island hopper flight from Guam to Pohnpei and back again and will repeat that flight again on Monday.  After this weekend’s flights the short route will only fly on Saturdays until May 3.  Those route announcements are subject to change.  Kosrae will not have another flight from United until May 3.

Asia Pacific Airlines will continue to carry cargo to FSM’s states during that time.

Misinformation on social media and by word of mouth has become a big factor that FSM health practitioners have not had to deal with during past viral outbreaks like SARS or the Cholera epidemic.  The public is challenged not to share misinformation and rumors or discriminate against anyone associated with COVID-19. Don’t believe everything you read on social media or on the Internet in general.

Unfortunately, according to comments on social media, some residents of Pohnpei took the negative test result as a sign that all is well.  One FB poster wrote that the danger was over for now so they could go back to the sakau market.  Others agreed, however, the virus itself has not yet been defeated in the world and social gatherings are still a dangerous idea for all concerned.  Though the FSM has yet to have an identified case of COVID-19, it does NOT mean that COVID-19 is not already here and each person should act as if they are a transmitter of the disease and take precautions to avoid the possibility of infecting everyone they care about.

Another person on Facebook wanted to know why people are still in quarantine if the test came back negative.  People are in quarantine because they have come to Pohnpei on a flight that may have been carrying people who are infected but don’t yet know it yet; people who perhaps traveled from Guam or Hawaii where the COVID-19 virus has definitely been identified.  The quarantine is for observation of arriving passengers to ensure that they do not have the virus in order to protect the community.

As the press release from the National Government on page seven of this issue says, ALL travelers arriving in the FSM must be quarantined for 14 days.  For now, no travelers are allowed to disembark in Chuuk while it makes quarantine arrangements it apparently had not made before the virus arrived in Hawaii and in Guam despite having been given funding to do so.  Pohnpei will allow only residents to enter except for invited medical professionals and those residents will need to be evaluated for quarantine.  Qualified doctors make the call on how long a traveler must be quarantined based on a variety of factors and their professional opinion. Only they can authorize release a person earlier than 14 days. Some have been released earlier or even never admitted at all based on standards and qualifications that the doctors know.

FSM Information Services


Untitled 1PALIKIR, Pohnpei— The 21st Congress of the Federated States of Micronesia (FSM) began its Fourth Special Session on March 5th, 2020. After the opening session, the Vice President of the FSM, the Honorable Yosiwo P. George, received the Committee to Wait, chaired by the Honorable Ferny S. Perman, with committee members the Honorable Joseph J. Urusemal, the Honorable Aren B. Palik, and the Honorable Paliknoa K. Welly, to discuss their agenda for this session of Congress. It was noted, both in a formal communication to His Excellency David W. Panuelo, President of the FSM, from the Honorable Wesley W. Simina, Speaker of the 21st FSM Congress, as well during the opening session itself, that the primary purpose of the Special Session is to review the economic impacts of the COVID-19 coronavirus on the Nation.

“We are here to listen to the Executive [Branch],” Senator Perman began. “One of the main purposes for this Special Session is to address what’s happening with the coronavirus.”

Senator Perman first noted that the 21st FSM Congress’ legal staff, having reviewed the President’s declaration and clarification/s, was uncertain if the U.S. Territory of Guam and the U.S. State of Hawaii were being treated as the rest of the United States (i.e. as a COVID-19 affected country, where travelers to the FSM originating from there are subject to a 14-day delay in a COVID-19 free country). It was requested that the Executive Branch be clearer in its communications.

“For all [COVID-19 related] intents and purposes,” said the Honorable Joses R. Gallen, Secretary of the Department of Justice, “…we are treating Guam and Honolulu as being [separate from] the U.S.”

Senator Perman then noted the economic impact in the FSM due to the travel restrictions in place, and requested that the Executive Branch prioritize the development of a plan to assist. “We look at the economy today, and we know how it’s affected,” Senator Perman said, “Is there a way that the Executive are looking at this economic downfall to address it?” Senator Perman cited the hospitality industry as a prime example of an area feeling the economic impacts of COVID-19 travel restrictions right now.

The Executive Branch is aware of formal and informal communications from the hospitality industry regarding the impact of COVID-19-related travel restrictions on their financial wellbeing. To the knowledge of the President, Blue Lagoon Resort in Chuuk State has temporarily closed down, and Manta Ray Resort in Yap State has needed to layoff sixty (60) employees to remain financially solvent.

“The Executive [Branch] is aware of the negative impacts on the Nations economy,” Vice President George replied, followed by requesting Rob Solomon, Macroeconomic Advisor to the FSM, to describe in detail how the FSM is tackling the economic impacts.

By Bill Jaynes

The Kaselehlie Press


March 4, 2020

IMG 1765Pohnpei—The Credentials Committee of the Pohnpei State Legislature has refused to seat Ricky Carl to the seat that over 1800 voters of Madolenihmw chose him to occupy.  Speaker Ausen Lambert has declared the seat to be vacant and has transmitted his request that Governor Reed Oliver hold a special election to fill the seat which by law he must now do.

In August of 2019 Pohnpei’s Election Commissioner disallowed Carl’s candidacy for the legislature and also disallowed a request for reconsideration.  At issue was the question of whether or not Carl was a resident of Madolenihmw.  On August 26, Carl filed a legal action at the Pohnpei State Supreme Court and on September 16 the Court ruled in Carl’s favor.  The Court said in its ruling that though the Constitution does require that a candidate be a resident of the municipality he or she is running to represent for three years, both the Constitution and the Pohnpei State Code are silent on whether those years need be consecutive.

Carl had presented evidence that during his lifetime he has lived in Madolenihmw for over 30 years.  He also presented affidavits from Kerpet Hebel, Isipahu, Nahnmwahrki en Madolenihmw, and John Adolph, Iso Nahniken en Madolenihmw both testifying that Carl holds the high title of Luhk en Lengso in Madolenihmw.  Both affidavits testified that the title is never bestowed on a non-resident of Madolenihmw.

The ruling said that it had been proved to the Court that Carl owns land in Madolenihmw and often lives there.

The Election Commissioner appealed the Courts decision but the Apellate Panel did not render a ruling before the election and the Election Commissioner asked the Court to dismiss the appeal.  The September ruling of the Supreme Court is therefore still in place.

In a February 20 letter to Speaker Lambert, Carl asked the Speaker to reconsider.  The letter claimed that he had asked the Credentials Committee to appear before them to provide evidence in support of his position in the matter but that the Committee did not give him that opportunity.  He said that failure was a denial of due process.

Speaker Lambert did not respond to the request but did declare the seat to be vacant and notified the Governor.

The report of the Credentials Committee was issued and adopted on February 11, 2020.  It says that the Election Commissioner’s underlying reason for denying Carl’s petition for candidacy was that in 2003 Carl had registered to vote in Kolonia and didn’t transfer his voter registration until February 4, 2017. The Election Commissioner determined that as a result, Carl did not fulfill the three-year citizenry requirement. “Stated somewhat differently,” the report says, “Ricky Carl’s February 4, 2017 registration date falls 22 days short of the commencement of the Tenth Pohnpei Legislature Term (e.g. January 13, 2020)”

The Committee Report said that its members, cognizant of the Constitutional provision that “the Legislature shall be the sole judge of the qualifications of its members”, met three times to discuss whether Carl had satisfied Constitutional requirement for qualifications for membership.  It said that the Committee decided that in construing the intent of the Constitution, “one should endeavor to divine the plain meaning of the words utilized by the framers.”  They decided that the plainest explanation of the requirement that a candidate “has been a citizen of the local government that he represents for at least three years” is that of an action that began in the past and is still in progress—in other words, it requires at least three consecutive years of residency.  The Committee therefore recommended that Ricky Carl not be seated as a member of the Legislature.

The Committee provides no indication that it ever considered the Pohnpei State Supreme Court’s ruling that said the opposite of what they decided.

A petition demanding that the Legislature seat Ricky Carl as their representative as the voters chose to do during the election has begun widely circulating in Madolenihmw.  It is not certain whether a petition would in any sway the current course that has been set in place by the Speaker’s declaration of the seat as being vacant other than perhaps a political one.

FSM Information Services


sdfvcxcvxvxc copyPALIKIR, Pohnpei—On February 21st 2020, the Honorable Livingston A. Taulung, Secretary of the Department of Health & Social Affairs, received on behalf of the Federated States of Micronesia (FSM) a donation of 21,000 surgical masks from the Honorable Dr. Tan Siu Lin, Founder of the Tan Siu Lin Foundation and Honorary Consul of the FSM in the People’s Republic of China’s Special Administrative Region of Hong Kong, to assist the Nation in its capacity-building efforts to mitigate the effects of the COVID-19 coronavirus. Representing Dr. Tan was Mr. Lu “Benson” Deng, Base Manager for LianCheng Overseas Fishery Co. Ltd’s operations in the FSM State of Pohnpei.

Over the next several days, masks will be distributed to the FSM States of Chuuk, Yap, and Kosrae, along with teams of capacity-building personnel.

The FSM National Government extends its sincere appreciation to Dr. Tan for his generosity.


20200124 134844The Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) has started the “Project for the Introduction of Hybrid Power Generation System in Pacific Island Countries” since March 2017. This is a 5 years’ technical cooperation project targeted for 5 pacific island countries; Fiji, Tuvalu, Kiribati, RMI, and FSM. The aim of this project is to promote the deployment of a hybrid power generation system composed of Diesel Generators (DG) and Renewable Energy (RE) by providing technical support for the appropriate & economical operation and maintenance of DG as well as for the appropriate integration of RE, and operation and maintenance of RE. For this purpose, JICA offers technical assistance through Chief Advisor, Mr. Ogawa, from JICA Headquarters and a consulting team from Okinawa Prefecture, Japan in each states of the FSM, as well as inviting counterparts for trainings in Okinawa, and Fiji.

On January 24, 2020, the 3rd  Joint Coordinating Committee (JCC) meeting was held in Yap at the Yap Early Childhood Education Conference room with attendance from the Department of Resources & Development of the FSM, Lieutenant  Governor of Kosrae as a special guest, Kosrae Utilities Authority (KUA), Yap State Public Service Corporation (YSPSC), Chuuk Public Utilities Corporation (CPUC), Pohnpei Utilities Corporation (PUC), JICA Micronesia, and the expert team.

Through this 3rd JCC meeting chaired by Hon. Marion Henry, Secretary of Department of Resources & Development, the FSM side and JICA discussed the progress of the project activities based on Project Design Matrix (PDM), Plan of Operation (PO), and Project Monitoring Sheet for project evaluation. Both sides proceeded to update the project counterpart team and assignment of officials. It was agreed that counterparts will potentially be the core trainers with expectation to transfer technical knowledge and skills to other members periodically within the project duration.  Both sides carried on to actively discuss future project seminars and the upcoming 3rd Country Training in Fiji. Simultaneous to this 3rd JCC, was an ongoing Diesel Generation Training for core mechanics and engineers from each state utilities.

Kosrae Utilities Corporation (KUA) later provided updates on the current condition of the training equipment donated to KUA under the project. According to the General Manager of KUA, Mr. Fred Skilling, equipment are in great condition since the handover and KUA is looking forward to hosting the next Project Seminar.

Furthermore, Secretary Marion Henry and Chief Advisor of the Project Mr. Ogawa were invited to V6AI Radio Station for an interview about the project purpose and current highlights of renewable energy on the island of Yap.

The Minutes of Meeting was signed by Honorable Marion Henry; Secretary of Department of Resources & Development,  Mr. Tadayuki Ogawa; Chief Advisor of the project, Ms. Emi Teshima; Project Formulation Advisory of JICA-FSM.

IMG 5873.1 copyMarch 2, 2020 – On February 14th to February 15th, 2020,  Pohnpei State Department of Resources and Development (R&D) and Pohnpei State Department of Public Safety, Division of Fish and Wildlife (DFW) were on Pakin Atoll with partners from Sokehs Municipal Police Department, the Conservation Society of Pohnpei (CSP), Nanwap Marine Protected Area (MPA) Community, Micronesia Challenge and Micronesia Conservation Trust (MCT) to conduct community awareness on conservation of natural resources.

On day one, the Acting Director of R&D, Mr. Mark Kostka, explained to the community a recent amendment to the Pohnpei State sea turtle legislation (S.L. No. 9L-149-19), which protects nesting turtles, eggs and hatchlings but not marine areas known to be congregation sites of sea turtles. The amended legislation calls for R&D to submit a draft legislation to propose “sea turtle conservation zones from which no sea turtles or parts thereof shall be taken, injured or killed at any time.” There are different locations throughout Pohnpei State that are known to be congregation sites for turtles and Pakin is one of them. Acting Director Kostka asked the community if they are willing to list Pakin Atoll as one of the first conservation zones for sea turtles in Pohnpei and requested that they make a decision at their earliest convenience as the deadline for the list is February 28th, 2020. Upon hearing the amended legislation, the community recalled local stories of their ancestors paying respect to nesting turtles through songs and prayers. In their recollection of old stories, the residents made it apparent that the value and respect for sea turtles still thrives in them. Following the site visit, R&D received a response from the community to list the entire Pakin Atoll as a sea turtle conservation zone.

Additionally, the Protect Areas Network (PAN) Coordinator, Mr. Carlos Kusto, presented to the community about the FSM PAN Policy and the Micronesia Challenge Endowment Fund, which would be an additional funding mechanism for communities with protected areas. PAN Coordinator Kusto explained how communities would be able to access the endowment funding and reminded the locals that he is available to assist the community in ensuring that they meet the eligibility criteria as well as help with the application process for the endowment. With the establishment of the Pakin MPA, more funding sources have been able to stream into the community. The endowment will expand the funding source but CSP reiterated to the community that MPAs are not only important for that but that they are also a vital tool to restore ocean productivity and replenish fish resources for the people to use.

Following Acting Director Kostka and PAN Coordinator Kusto’s presentations, MCT introduced the Coconut for Life (C4L) Project, wherein a group from one or more communities sells coconuts to FSM Vital as an alternative source of income. This project was piloted in Pohnpei and rolled out in Chuuk in 2019. The C4L project aims to provide sustainable livelihoods to local communities and to help alleviate fishing pressure in coastal communities or communities that have MPAs. From observations, transportation will be the biggest challenge to this community joining the project.  With this and other similar outreach activities, Pohnpei State Government, CSP, MCT and the Municipality of Sokehs hope to show this and other communities that no one will be left behind in terms of making communities aware of projects and opportunities that provide for people and their livelihoods. The community provided a response to MCT at a later date that they will enroll in the C4L project.

On day two, MCT and CSP spoke on the Pakin project called, “Building Pakin Community Resiliency to Climate Change Through an Enhanced Ecosystem-based Approach to Fisheries Management,” which is being sub-granted by MCT through CSP. The team recapped the project objectives with the community and explained the budget in detail. The community requested time to discuss amongst themselves whether they need to make minor adjustments to their budget and will communicate their decision to CSP and MCT. Lieutenant Basindo Ioanis from the Division of Fish and Wildlife shared penalties of breaking the conservation laws including serving time in prison, applicable fees, and confiscating equipment. At the end of the meeting, Acting Director Kostka reminded the residents that the work they are undergoing is critical for conservation, but it is most important to remember that conservation is ultimately for the people.

Pohnpei State Government and its partners extend their gratitude to Chief of Pakin (Sounihrek Pakin), Luhk en Sakon Sokehs, Nahnsahu Ririn Sokehs and the entire community of Pakin for receiving the team with great hospitality. Special thanks to the late Eugene Kohler, an active member of Sokehs community and strong supporter of conservation efforts in Pohnpei, for participating this outreach to Pakin Atoll.

xc copyIn partnership with the National Oceanic Resource Management Authority (NORMA), Caroline Fisheries Corporation (CFC) and the International Seafood Sustainability Foundation (ISSF) embarked on a trial project to test non-entangling and biodegradable fish aggregating devices (bio-FAD) as part of the Federated States of Micronesia (FSM) commitment to the Western and Central Pacific Fisheries Commission (WCPFC) Conservation and Management Measure (CMM 2018-01) that takes effect in January 2020.  To minimise the harm caused by drifting FADs, all existing and new FADs must be constructed so that marine fauna such as sharks and turtles cannot become entangled in them. 

FAD construction to use natural or biodegradable materials.  

There are about 30 bio-FADs constructed thus far by CFC and 100 will be deployed in total that use natural and biodegradable materials made of bamboo, jute canvas, coconut fiber ropes and stones placed inside the base of the bamboo with purse seine corks or floats wrapped with non-entangling net for buoyancy on the surface. These bio-FADs have about 95% biodegradable materials and it’s specifically designed to encourage fish aggregation at the device when drifting in the open ocean, and to reduce the impact of ghost fishing*, beaching and marine debris.  A bio-FAD data collection document is to be completed by the vessel captain on design, identification, activity and catch as part of the trial project.  CFC relies on FADs as part of its successful fishing operations and promotes sustainable fishing practices with the new bio-FAD construction designs. 


More research is needed in bio-FAD design construction and CFC is taking the lead in the FSM fishing industry to help promote better designs to reduce bycatch, beaching and plastic pollution in the WCPFC.      

*Ghost fishing: Any discarded, lost, or abandoned fishing gear in the marine environment has the potential to continue to fish, trap, entangle and potentially kill marine life.

FSM Information Services


PALIKIR, Pohnpei—On March 3rd, 2020, His Excellency David W. Panuelo, President of the Federated States of Micronesia (FSM) signed Public Law 21-93, which amends Section 404 of Title 24 of the FSM Code, formerly amended by Public Law 19-169. The new law grants the National Oceanic Resource Management Authority (NORMA) the capacity to exempt, on a case-by-case basis, certain gear types from the prohibition of fishing in the neighboring high seas pockets.

The FSM, through the Pacific Island Forum Fisheries Agency (FFA) and the Parties to the Nauru Agreement (PNA), collaborates with other Pacific Island governments in order to ensure fishing resources are sustainably exploited, including in the high seas pockets (i.e. ocean that doesn’t formally fall into the territorial jurisdiction of any single country, but is otherwise between the FSM and its Pacific Island neighbors).

“What this [amendment to the law] does is clarify that NORMA can exempt certain gear types from the prohibition on fishing in the high seas pockets,” said Mr. Eugene Pangelinan, Executive Director of NORMA. “The [former] law prohibits all gear types when in fact the [PNA] measure was only applicable to purse seine vessels. So, this [amendment to the law] improves NORMA’s ability to implement the [PNA] measures.”

“This law gives NORMA more tools and authority to take appropriate decisions for the good of our Nation’s fisheries sector; signing it into law is the easy part,” President Panuelo said. “I continue to be grateful for the leadership taken by [the Honorable Wesley W. Simina] and the 21st FSM Congress, and the close relationship we’ve built between the Executive and Legislative Branches.”

For more information about NORMA, please call +691-320/2700, email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it., or visit their website at


Provides key support to elderly in the Pacific


WASHINGTON - U. S. Department   of the Interior Assistant Secretary, Insular and International Affairs Douglas W. Domenech  has authorized   $820.600  in FY 2020 funding  for the Prior Service  Trust Fund (PSTF) Administration   which distributes   benefits  to the more than 700 former  employees   of the post-World  War II, .   Trust Territory of the Pacific Islands (TTPI) in the Western Pacific.

"The  Prior Service Trust Fund  program  is an ongoing  commitment   that the United  States holds in the Pacific and in particular  to individuals  who previously   served  in the former  Trust  Territory  of the Pacific  Islands," said Assistant  Secretary  Domenech.   "We appreciate that the U.S. Congress provides these funds for the Prior Service beneficiaries who rely on them for important basic needs."

Employee  benefits  provided  through  the Prior Service  Trust Fund represent  a responsibility   assumed  by the Federal  Government  following  the dissolution   of the TTPI in 1986.  The program serves beneficiaries with five years or more of prior service.   The four jurisdictions   to emerge  from  the TTPI  were the Commonwealth of the Northern  Mariana  Islands,  the Federated  States of Micronesia,  the Republic  of the Marshall  Islands.

and the Republic of Palau. The Commonwealth   of the Northern Mariana Islands is a U.S. Territory.  The latter three entities are independent   sovereign Pacific Island nations who each share a unique relationship with the United States under a Compact of Free Association agreement.

By Marstella E. Jack

 MG 0355 Edit 2 copySuzanne Lowe Gallen is a household name in FSM, and so it was just as well Governor Oliver decided to hire her as his Chief of Staff making her the first female ever to hold a Chief of Staff position in the entire FSM since constitutional government in 1979, the same year she was born. Sue has an extensive public service background, going as far back as a foreign service officer with FSM Department of Foreign Affairs in 2004…..which is sort of how we cemented our professional relationship…we are both products of FSM Foreign Affairs (or maybe by-products?)

I wanted to do a piece on her new role, and how fitting it is that she started on February 2nd, a few short weeks away from International Women’s Day March 8, 2020. While FSM women rightfully celebrate the day with dances, cultural exhibits and various other activities to showcase their appreciation for being recognized as nurturers – grandmothers, mothers, wives, sisters, daughters, aunties, nieces, PhD scholars, students, Bank Presidents, lawmakers, judges, community leaders, confidants, counselors, doctors, lawyers, police officers and most especially for being teachers, it was so right that the new Chief of Staff for the Pohnpei administration is none other than Sue herself. Sue prides herself in what she does. She believes that people should do what they can with they have, from wherever they are. Moreover, she is confident that the role of women in today’s society can be further enhanced and that they can help promote development in all walks of life.

I asked her about her first day in office.

“Well it’s my first time to work at the state level and I’m still trying to gain my footing. There’s a lot of ‘wahu’, and while that is a great thing, I am still trying to figure out how it can be more conducive to government efficiency. Also, I was disheartened when this lady walked into my office and asked if I wanted coffee.  It turned out she is not even the secretary, but has a more facilitative role in the government. I would’ve welcomed an update on her area of responsibility…..but not coffee. Women just naturally feel that they are obligated to get the coffee…why?”

Good question!!

The bigger impression was how she is overwhelmed with the tremendous amount of work that is needed to get the smaller issues sorted out—not revenue sharing and Compact renegotiation, but just basic administrative matters involving standard operating procedures (SOPs), performance evaluations, property/asset inventory and management, compound security strengthening, maintenance issues, littering in the office compound, personnel training and institutional strengthening, and many other issues.

When asked about cabinet nominations, she said she is not involved but she has been tasked with the responsibility to recommend names for the various state Board nominations. Apparently some of these statutory Boards have been dormant since the early 2000s.

I asked her why she took the job when the salary is less than half of what she was making before. “

“Well, sometimes it’s not even the salary that is a determining factor. Pohnpei State needs all the help right now. It seems like all the good talent ends up at the National Government—rightly so because that’s where all the money is. Meanwhile, people at the state level are suffering. How can we expect people to go to school and want to come back to a $200 or $300 biweekly paycheck? That’s why everyone is leaving. We can’t blame them for wanting to leave and have a better life. For me, I truly believe in this administration. Every time I start second guessing my decision, the Governor has a way with words that just inspires me to my core and reinforces my conviction that Pohnpei State can and will be better.”

You stay in the office up to 7 or 8pm on most days. As a mother of 3 with a baby, how do you do it?

“Well it’s not easy when you have to drive to U village to breastfeed during lunchtime. This made me

realize that the government needs family friendly offices so that nursing mothers can bring their babies to work and breastfeed when needed. I intend to suggest this to the administration to see if we can incorporate it into the renovation proposal, or shortly afterwards. It would definitely improve punctuality and productivity levels. Furthermore, my husband, Dr. Padwick Gallen is a huge help because we share the parenting responsibility, and it makes it so much easier on me. He is a busy doctor but he still provides the constant support I need and I am forever grateful for that.”

What is your advice to Pohnpei government employees?

“Please take GREAT PRIDE in what you do because the end result of your work reflects on your own personal work ethic, and Pohnpeians are not lazy people.”

I couldn’t agree more. Enginkehlap is the engine for this new administration but I say Lirorohki Pohnpei should be the driving force.

Sue Lowe Gallen is a graduate of Xavier High School. She received her Bachelor of Arts degree from University of Hawaii (Manoa) in 2003. She joined Foreign Affairs in 2004 and went on to receive a Certificate in Diplomacy from Chinese Foreign Affairs University, then a Certificate in Pacific Diplomacy from USP, and a recipient of Post Graduate Certificate in Diplomatic Studies at Oxford University in England in 2008. The most recent award is the post graduate diploma in development studies from USP in 2015. At present time, Sue is pursuing a Master’s Degree in Development Studies on Thesis: “The Mis-trusteeship: the case of disunity and the secession movement in the FSM”.

fbfb copyThe Kosrae Island Resource Management Authority (KIRMA) is happy to announce the recent appointment of Mr. Bond C. Segal as the Kosrae State Protected Area Network Coordinator. Based at KIRMA, Mr. Segal will be working with all stakeholder and partner agencies on all aspects of the PAN for the state and in conjunction with the National PAN Network. PAN Coordinator Positions are also being funded in Pohnpei, Chuuk and Yap through a grant to the Micronesia Conservation Trust (MCT) from the Adaptation Fund (AF).

Mr. Segal is from Utwe, Kosrae, Federated States of Micronesia. He began his education at Utwe Elementary School and graduated from Kosrae High School in 2004. After high school, he then decided to pursue his dream of having a degree in Marine Science where he first started at the College of Micronesia- National Campus at Palikir, Pohnpei.  After 2 years at COM, he transferred to the University of Hawaii at Hilo and earned a Bachelors (BA) degree in Marine Science. During his college years, he participated and was also certified in many environmental related activities. After college, he first started in March 2012, working at a local NGO called the Kosrae Conservation & Safety Organization (KCSO) as their Environmental Educator. In 2017, he became the Marine Program Manager for the same organization. Bond worked with KCSO for about eight years where he was involved in the development of various management plans for Kosrae communities.

Mr. Segal can be reached via email at: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Micronesia Trust


March 3, 2020

The Global Greengrants Fund (GGF) is a global organization that catalyzes grassroots-level solutions by putting resources directly in the hands of the best stewards of our environment— local people. GGF works worldwide and has been supporting work in the Pacific and Micronesia for the past two decades.

In this funding cycle, GGF approved 16 new grants of approximately $5,000 each to several community-based organizations in the Pacific, including 5 for the Federated States of Micronesia, 2 for Papua New Guinea, 3 for Tonga, 3 for the Solomon Islands, 1 for Samoa and 2 for Tuvalu.

The 5 GGF projects approved for the FSM this round include: Oneisomw Environmental Conservation Association(Project Lead: Mayor Enrino Paul) of Chuuk, Nan Madol en Ihmw, Inc. (Project Lead: Estephan P. Santiago), and Enimwahn Development Association (Project Lead: Stuard Penias)  of Pohnpei; and Tamil (Project Lead:  Sophia Beeliyew) and Okaw (Project Lead: Petra Falan) Women Associations of Yap.

The Oneisomw Environmental Conservation Association (OECA) will use their funds to support the following activities: to develop a specific workplan for their fisheries management plan, to work with state Department of Marine Resources and the leadership of Chuuk to legally establish Oneisomw as an official site in Chuuk State’s Protected Areas Network, to enforce boundaries, rules and regulations of OECA’s management area and to further build the capacity of OECA to manage conservation projects. The Nan Madol en Ihmw, Inc. will use their funds to build community resilience to climate change and to improve their food security by planting approximately 5,000 staple food trees and other local plant species at Lehiak village and in participating nearby villages. The Enimwahn Development Association (EDA), in partnership with EPA and other relevant entities, will reduce health risks induced by climate change by holding regular cleanup exercises to remove large waste items in their village. They will also carry out education awareness activities on vector borne diseases. The Okaw and Tamil Women Associations will use their funds to build their institutional and professional capacity to participate in the management of their natural resources and conservation areas.

The next round of GGF proposals are due on March 31, 2020. All community based organizations in Micronesia (FSM, Palau, Marshall Islands, Kiribati, Nauru, Guam and CNMI) who are interested in GGF grants may contact GGF Micronesia Advisor, William Kostka, at 320-5670/8903 or email him at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

Dr. H. Christian Hong

President of New Tokyo Medical College and a former Captain, U.S. Army Medical Department (AMEDD)

Chief Business Officer, EyeGene Inc.

Recently, we witnessed a cluster of pneumonia cases caused by a novel coronavirus-now named as COVID-19. This unusual viral infection imposed a global burden on various industries including tourism industry, air lines, retail businesses, hospitality industry etc. The spread of this viral infection is now reported in about 60 nations. For our island, the travel restriction has been effective since January. According to United Airlines “Anyone who’s traveled to mainland China since January 6, 2020 will not be allowed to enter the Federated States of Micronesia (FSM). Anyone who has been in a country with a confirmed case of the coronavirus (other than China) must stop in Guam, Hawaii or another location free from the virus for 14 days before entering the FSM.” (United Home Page, 2020)

Coronavirus has been a common causative agent for the common cold. A novel virus infection that we are witnessing today is basically due to “sub-types” of those common coronaviruses.  In detail, coronaviruses are enveloped non-segmented positive-sense RNA viruses belonging to the family Coronaviridae and it is widely distributed in humans and other mammals (Richman DD, 2016).

We hope this article will inform the Micronesian community of the emergence of this novel coronaviruses and its features in simple Q & A format.

  1. What is the route of infection? It is yet to be discovered further but scientists believe that the “droplets” from infected person’s coughing or sneezing can infect (pass through) other people.
  1. Is person-to-person transmission possible? The person-to-person transmission in family homes or hospital, and intercity spread of this novel coronavirus are possible (Chan, J. F-W., 2020)
  1. What are the clinical signs and symptoms? In the US study, subjective fever or measured temperature over 100.4 F (38 C) and cough or shortness of breath are the major signs and symptoms (Bajema, KL 2020)
  1. Can I get infected via my eyes or simple contact with skin? Coronavirus may survive longer in the air than influenza viruses. Contaminated hands with virus droplets may infect a person through the eyes and mouth. However skin is a good barrier against the virus; it is less likely that coronavirus can penetrate the skin.
  1. What is mortality rate (i.e., death rate) of COVID-19 as compared with other corona viruses such as Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS-Cov) and Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS-Cov)? The mortality rate from COVID-19 is estimated approximately 2.5% (Ji, Y. 2020). Meanwhile, worldwide fatality rate from SARS-Cov was 11% (range 7% to 27%) (Chan, KS, 2020). As we experienced, the mortality rate from MERS-Covid was much higher than that of SARS-Cov. The overall mortality rate of MERS-Cov was 29.8% (Ahmed, AE. 2017)
  1. How does the new Coronaviruses compared with flu (influenza viruses)? Between 1918-1919, the great influenza pandemic caused over one quarter of the US population infected and 675,000 Americans died (Billings, M, 2003). According to CDC estimation from 1 OCT 2019 through 22 FEB 2020, the flu has already caused an estimated 32-45 million illnesses, 14-21 million hospitalizations and 18,000-46,000 deaths (CDC 2020). Meantime the mortality rate from COVID-19 is about 2.5% while the mortality rate from influenza in the US is estimated as 0.02% (CDC, NCHS, 2017). The mortality rate for COVID-19 is higher than that of influenza.
  1. Beside the major sign and symptoms, what are other minor signs and symptoms? In addition to the major sign and symptom (i.e., fever, cough, and shortness of breath), the following signs and symptoms were reported (Huang, C., 2020): Myalgia (muscle pain) or fatigue; sputum production; headaches; and hemoptysis (coughing up of blood).
  1. Is facial mask effective to protect myself from the virus? There is no definitive cure (except for the experimental anti-HIV drug therapies) for COVID-19 at this time. A disposable facial mask may be the best option for the protection against the virus. In addition, paying attention to personal hygiene and hand sanitization is highly recommended.
  1. Is vaccine available? There is no vaccine available for protection against COVID-19
  1. Is gathering at schools, churches, restaurants dangerous? From lessons from other infected countries with COVID-19, gathering at certain places can be risky. However, there is no reported COVID-19 case in Pohnpei. Therefore, restriction on daily activities, attending schools, going to other public places and community meetings is not necessary at this point.

In conclusion, the risk of becoming infected with this new coronavirus (COVID-19) in Pohnpei is low. We would like to recommend the general public to increase the level of personal hygiene and hand sanitization (i.e., wash your hands with soap and water as often as possible) at all times. As we remember old quote from Sun Tzu“know yourself, know your enemy, and you shall win a hundred battles without loss,” we may be able to apply this quote to coronaviruses. Please remember that the best cure for COVID-19 is the prevention.

By Bill Jaynes

The Kaselehlie Press


February 10, 2020

IMG 3401Pohnpei—This morning the Pohnpei State Government and the College of Micronesia FSM (COM FSM) signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) for capacity building for the management of the Nan Madol World Heritage Site. The purpose of the MOU is to build capacity for the management of the Nan Madol World Heritage Site through educational programs, training, and certification of skills and abilities necessary or desirable for site conservation, interpretation, resource and visitor protection, administration, applications of technologies, and general management.  

The government has agreed, within budgetary constraints in cooperation with external partners, to provide financial support to COM FSM to pay for the develop and delivery of education, training, and certification programs related to the management of the Nan Madol World Heritage Site.  The payments would be based on contracts for services negotiated with COM FSM.  It agrees to provide COM FSM with access to resources it has in order for COM FSM to develop educational programs related to the management of the Nan Madol World Heritage Site.

Among other things, COM FSM has agreed to develop courses, training programs, workshops and associated outlines, syllabi, and any other necessary training materials for the management of protected areas, specifically World Heritage Sites and national parks.

Acting COM FSM President, Vice President Karen Simion signed the MOU on behalf of the College.  Pohnpei Lt. Governor Feliciano Perman signed the MOU on behalf of the government during a brief ceremony in the Governor’s conference room.

By Bill Jaynes

The Kaselehlie Press


February 19, 2020

IMG 3642Pohnpei—Ambassador Sobashima, Japan’s Ambassador to the FSM hosted a celebration of Japan’s National Day, the Emperor’s birthday at his home in Nett this evening.  Each year, the people of Japan have celebrated the Emperor’s birthday and that fact did not change after the enthronement of Emperor Naruhito in October of 2019.  Emperor Naruhito will be 60 years old on February 23.

Ambassador Sobashima expressed his appreciation to FSM President David Panuelo for having attended the enthronement ceremony and also for his bilateral visit with Japan’s Prime Minister Shinzo Abe.  The Ambassador said that during that visit, Prime Minister Abe told the President that Japan would strengthen support for the FSM’s sustainable economic and social development.

Ambassador Sobashima began his speech by saying that he has been impressed by the leadership of President Panuelo, and the efforts of all concerned as the Novel Coronavirus virus crisis has arisen, in order to prevent infection in the FSM.

“The Government of Japan, for its part, is endeavoring to contain and effectively control the disease, including at the cruise ship Diamond Princess. I sincerely hope that we will win this fight against the new infectious disease soon,” he said.IMG 3551

He encouraged those in attendance at the evening’s ceremonies to take advantage of the many hand sanitizers placed around the reception area.

He reminded the invited guests that though Japan and the FSM established diplomatic relations in 1988, their people’s exchanges date back more than 120 years ago.

FSM Information Services


bjkPALIKIR, Pohnpei—On February 18th 2020 His Excellency David W. Panuelo, President of the Federated States of Micronesia (FSM), and the Honorable Yosiwo P. George, Vice President of the FSM, received His Excellency George Fraser in a courtesy call. The purpose of the meeting was to broadly discuss a series of topics of import to the FSM and Australia, such as agricultural development, coronavirus travel restrictions, Australian scholarships for FSM students, Australia’s appreciation for the FSM’s financial contribution in the aftermath of the bushfires earlier this year, and the date for Ambassador Fraser’s replacement in March.

President Panuelo explicitly solicited the Ambassador’s frank and cordial opinions, noting that one of the reasons for the close relationship between the FSM and Australia is due to mutual respect for each other’s sovereignty and development agendas.

The conversation began on the topic of agricultural development in the FSM. Ambassador Fraser highlighted President Panuelo’s keen desire to lessen the Nation’s reliance on imported fruits and vegetables, particularly in light of the FSM’s extraordinarily productive soil conditions.

“If [citizens] wanted to compete with the prices in the supermarkets by growing locally, they could make money,” Ambassador Fraser said. “[Australia] is interested in doing this work in the North Pacific, but the question is: what would they do? Some examination on what’s possible may be the best input…. If you wish to go ahead, I could mention it to my successor.”

“Absolutely,” replied President Panuelo, who spoke in detail about the need for the FSM to be able to provide its citizens fresh fruit and vegetables. It was argued that this should occur predominantly in the private sector, which spurred the conversation towards private sector development more generally.

“We look very much to seeing a bright future for the FSM,” Ambassador Fraser said, “and we would like to see a greater and more active private sector. I know that we have a responsibility and our part to play in that—I mentioned to the Ambassadors [from the United States and Japan] that we all need to somehow encourage business to come here. And not just extractive business, but business that does something.”

Pohnpei Office of the Public Auditor (POPA)

European Union (EU) representative Ms. Marga Peeters had a meeting with the management of Pohnpei Office of the Public Auditor (POPA) on February 4, 2020. The meeting is about the possible technical assistance of EU to the FSM government, specifically to the FSM Finance Department and Public Auditors’ Offices in Pohnpei, FSM. The technical assistance is part of the EUR 14.2 million grant under the European Development Fund (EDF 11) that FSM congress recently approved. In the meeting, Ms. Peeters discussed the possible assistance that EU can provide to Public Auditors’ offices in the FSM. POPA is exploring the possibility of a consultant who will train and/or work with POPA’s staff for not more than one (1) year. POPA is currently working in collaboration with the Office of the National Public Auditor (ONPA) on the proposal for possible Technical Assistance grant under this program.

February 18, 2020

senator the hon marise payne highresToday I announce the appointment of Ms Jo Cowley as Australia’s next Ambassador to the Federated States of Micronesia (FSM). Ms Cowley will also be accredited to the Republic of the Marshall Islands (RMI).

Australia has strong relationships with both FSM and RMI, built on over three decades of cooperation following Australia’s early diplomatic recognition of both countries in 1987.

We work with FSM to support a secure and prosperous Pacific region, including through defence, development and community links. Australia will supply two Guardian-Class Patrol Boats to FSM in 2022 to bolster maritime security. Australia is a long-term development partner for FSM, working to support improvements in education and gender equality.

Australia’s engagement with RMI continues to grow. We are working with RMI to strengthen maritime security, including by providing a Guardian-Class Patrol Boat in 2022. Our work in development cooperation aims to improve water and sanitation, enhance women’s empowerment, and respond to emergencies, including the recent outbreak of dengue fever. We will cooperate closely with RMI on the United Nations Human Rights Council during RMI’s three-year term.

Ms Cowley is a senior career officer with the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade and most recently was Assistant Secretary, Scholarships and Alumni Branch. She has previously served overseas in New Zealand and Italy and in Canberra has led work on Pacific strategy, security cooperation and partnerships with Pacific island countries.

Ms Cowley holds a Bachelor of Arts from the University of Technology, Sydney.

I thank outgoing Ambassador George Fraser for his contributions to advancing Australia’s interests in FSM since 2016.

Micronesia Conservation Trust


Jo LynneKolonia, Pohnpei- The Micronesia Conservation Trust (MCT) prides itself on building the capacity of Micronesia’s young and emerging conservation champions through its peer learning networks, internships and scholarship programs. Over 100 young Micronesian women and men are supported by these programs, and recently one of MCT’s own, Senior Grants Officer, JoLynne Gallen Mori, graduated with a Master of Business Administration from the Benedictine University with a 4.00 average in every single semester she completed. JoLynne has been with MCT since 2014 and will continue serving in her capacity as a Senior Grants Officer. Her main role as Senior Grants Officer is to manage a number of grants that MCT has secured from international donors. She manages over 25 subgrants to our local implementing entity partners, supporting a wide range of conservation and climate change adaptation projects.

Jo Lynne joined MCT in 2014 after 2 years with the GEF Small Grants Programme (GEF-SGP) where she served as the Programme Assistant. She earned her Associate Degree at the College of Micronesia-FSM in Liberal Arts in 1996. She worked at the FSM Department of Economic Affairs as the Assistant Registrar of Corporations from 1997-2002 where she decided to further her education at the University of Hawaii in Hilo. In 2005, she graduated from the University of Hawaii with a B.B.A in Business Administration.

Outside of MCT, Jolynne enjoys spending time with her family and friends, caring for her Mom and her home, participating in community events and volunteering whenever she can including being a founding member of the newly established KOHWA NGO in Pohnpei. KOHWA stands for Koupweliki OH Wauneki Atail -sohso, which means to have pride and respect for our inheritance including natural resources and culture. KOHWA is based in Pohnpei, FSM and works with communities to improve sustainable practices through alternative income generation and community education on health, environment and cultural heritage in Pohnpei.

Congratulations to JoLynne for a job well done! JoLynne’s graduation with a masters degree increases the number of recent MCT supported graduates students to four (4) in the last few months. MCT will continue to support our emerging leaders in the coming years and this year will soon be announcing four new scholarship opportunities for Fall2020.

Republic of the Marshall Islands

Public School System

fMajuro, Marshall Islands – On Tuesday February 18th, 2020, the Republic of the Marshall Islands contributed its second $25,000 check to the Bill Raynor Micronesia Challenge (BRMC) Scholarship Fund, for a total contribution from the RMI government of $50,000. This contribution will secure a 1:1 match from a US based anonymous donor.

The Minister of Education, Sports and Training Hon. Kitlang Kabua presented the check to the Micronesia Conservation Trust (MCT) Board of Trustees, Mr. Francis Carlos Domnick at the Ministers office.

Also, present to witness the handover was Associate Commissioner Sally Ann deBrum.

This contribution is to support a target goal to raise an endowment fund of approximately $1.2 million dollars to generate at least 5% earnings per year, to support two full time students per year with $30,000 annual scholarships.  This endowment fund is to support graduate students in natural resources management fields who are citizens and/or long-term residents of the five jurisdictions of Micronesia, the Federated States of Micronesia (FSM), the Republic of Palau (ROP), the Republic of the Marshall Islands (RMI), US Territory of Guam and the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands (CNMI) pursuing their graduate degrees in biodiversity conservation and other related sustainable development at universities within the Pacific region or in the US mainland.  To date the fund has supported 13 students from across Micronesia with 3 having graduated thus far.

Mr. Lakjit Rufus of the Ministry of Natural Resources and Commerce is the first Marshallese recipient of the scholarship. He is expected to graduate with a Masters in Global Environmental Studies from Sophia University in Japan this summer. Applications are now

open, please go to www.ourmicronesia

.org/scholarships for more information.

The Micronesia Registration Advisors, Inc. or MRA as it known in Pohnpei, has met with the General Manager of the Pohnpei Port Authority to discuss a donation to the people of FSM.  MRA is looking to improve the check-in/lobby area of the Pohnpei International Airport by enclosing it completely with walls and doors and installing air-conditioning in the lobby area where people check in for their flights and wait for the screening to open before entering the departure area.

Currently, the lobby area is open to the elements and on days when there is little breeze, it can get very hot in the lobby.  Air-conditioning will alleviate this issue and create a pleasant atmosphere for our visitors and for people coming to the airport to say goodbye to their family and friends.  The total cost of the upgrade is valued at $27,500.

The Pohnpei Port Authority would like to thank MRA for its donation and is looking forward to the renovations to the lobby area in the near future.

As background, Micronesia Registration Advisors, Inc. (MRA) was established in 2005 and has a long-term contract with government of the Federated States of Micronesia (FSM) to promote the FSM Captive Insurance Domicile and the FSM Corporate Registry Program to corporations in East Asia.

FSM Information Services


Untitled 1PALIKIR, Pohnpei—On February 12th, 2020 His Excellency David W. Panuelo, President of the Federated States of Micronesia (FSM), following the Chief Executives Council with FSM Petroleum Corporation/Vital, convened the Chief Executives Conference to discuss matters of import with the Nation’s Governors. Agenda topics included the Nation’s relationship with the Blue Prosperity Coalition and the National Geographic Society, the proposed Foreign Investment Bill, financial assistance from the People’s Republic of China (China), updates from the Joint Committee on Compact Review & Planning (JCRP), Tax Reform, and Overseas Development Assistance, among others. The purpose of the meeting was to begin discussions on topics of interest so that the May 2020 iteration of the State & National Leadership Conference can make executive decisions and agreements immediately prior to the Fourth Regular Session of the 21st FSM Congress.

Regarding the Blue Prosperity Coalition, the State Governors commended the Nation’s initiative and encouraged further collaboration among the five Governments.

Regarding the Foreign Investment Bill, it was recommended that Governors convene discussion on this issue with their respective states on the premise that the FSM—internationally regarded as a weak choice to invest in due to five separate foreign investment regimes—must improve its investment image abroad, and the best means to do so is to have a single, nation-wide standard as opposed to five separate foreign investment regimes. “I want to be part of the movement going forward,” Governor Falan said, in comments echoed by the other Governors.

Regarding assistance from China, the Department of Foreign Affairs provided a briefing on the six agreements signed in December 2019 (which were the agreements on economic and technical cooperation, the MOU on agricultural cooperation, letters of exchange on renovating the Pohnpei State Government Complex, letters of exchange on a feasibility study for road improvements and the Micronesia subregional training institute, protocols between FSM and Chinese medical teams, and a visa waiver for Government officials). Governors urged the Department of Foreign Affairs to follow-up on with the Chinese Government on the progress of aid for all four FSM States.

FSM Information Services


PALIKIR, Pohnpei—On February 12th, 2020 His Excellency David W. Panuelo, President of the Federated States of Micronesia (FSM), alongside the Honorable Johnson S. Elimo, Governor of the FSM State of Chuuk, the Honorable Carson K. Sigrah, Governor of the FSM State of Kosrae, the Honorable Henry S. Falan, Governor of the FSM State of Yap, and the Honorable Reed B. Oliver, Governor of the FSM State of Pohnpei, convened the 2020 iteration of the FSM Petroleum Corporation (FSMPC)/Vital’s Chief Executive Council (CEC). As prescribed in Public Law 15-08, the CEC must meet annually with the Board of Directors to review FSM Petroleum Corporation/Vital’s ongoing work.

                The President and the Governors began the CEC with opening remarks. “I just want to open with saying that, as a country,” President Panuelo said, “I believe that everything we do in the area of economic development must be in harmony with our environment because our environment truly sustains us. [FSMPC/Vital] has already transformed from its origins [in Public Law 15-08] as an entity that was supposed to stabilize the price of fuel, to better facilitate the buying, selling, exporting, manufacturing, and processing of copra and other coconut tree products with the FSM through [Public Law 18-68, also known as the ‘Coconut Tree Act’]. The FSMPC Transformation Act would further evolve their mandate to focus on renewable, sustainable, and clean energy. I encourage the [CEC] to deeply consider the merits of such legislation and how it would positively impact development in your State and in our Nation.”

                “The development needs for each of the [FSM] States must be recognized,” Governor Elimo began. “I am thankful to you Mr. President for honoring our request to…come together and discuss the unique issues [that each of our states face]. …[Today] we are going to discuss another effort of our Nation in promoting the [FSMPC/Vital], which is a vitally important aspect of our Nation and its unity…[as we] forge our way forward.”

                The Governors of Kosrae, Pohnpei, and Yap shared similar remarks on the importance of national unity and the duty of the CEC to oversee and support FSMPC/Vital.

                In the past decade, FSMPC/Vital has reduced the price of gasoline approximately $1.40 at the pump, with approximately 80 million dollars in financial benefits to the Nation. These equate to 14 million in debt repayments; 15 million in cash, inventory, and stock; 10 million in risk mitigation and assets; and 42 million to people in the form of passing on savings at the pump.

                Leaders queried how FSMPC/Vital passes on savings to citizens.

FSM Information Services


PALIKIR, Pohnpei—From February 19th, 2020 to February 20th, 2020 the FSM Department of Transportation, Communications, & Infrastructure (DTC&I) hosted an Emergency Telecommunications Cluster (ETC) workshop with the United Nations World Food Program. Inclusive of attendees such as FSM Telecommunications Corporation (FSMTC), the FSM Telecommunications Regulation Authority (TRA), Micronesia Red Cross, the Weather Service Office, Pohnpei Port Authority, the Department of Environment, Climate Change, & Emergency Management (DECCEM), and the FSM State Disaster Coordination Offices, the purpose of the workshop was to explore how the FSM presently communicates to citizens during national emergencies and crises and to determine means of improvement. The primary outcomes of the workshop included the development of the FSM’s ETC Cluster Terms of Reference as well as an Action Plan for the remainder of 2020.

                The workshop began with opening remarks from the Honorable Carlson D. Apis, Secretary of DTC&I. “The FSM Telecom Act of 2014 points to the provision of disaster relief services under the universal access policy while the National [Information & Communications Technology/ICT] Policy of 2012 outlines the use of improved public safety through ICT, specifically disaster communications, as one of the FSM’s strategies,” Secretary Apis said. “Our aim today is to strengthen national and state coordination in the area of emergency telecommunications.”

By Bill Jaynes

The Kaselehlie Press


Pohnpei—“Permaculture” isn’t all that easy to explain but the idea seems, on the face of it, to be a good one—a self-sustaining homestead.  Marek Albrecht, a US citizen of Polish origin213213 who has retired to Pohnpei thinks it’s an idea that would work here and wants to set up a demonstration center to help people here to put in their own infrastructure to live “off the grid” in a sustainable way.

“I wouldn’t want to be in their shoes,” Albrecht says speaking of Pohnpei young people who he says he wants to reach out to.  “Imported food is too expensive and who knows if it will always be able to be shipped?  So this is sort of my gift to the next generation.”

He calls it the Pohnpei Homestead Project.  Once he identifies a site for the demonstration center, he plans to build the structures from recycled and locally grown materials such as bamboo. It would be open to the public for instructional purposes.  There he would teach about composting, water purification systems, low effort agricultural methods, biogas, solar energy and other concepts to built a self sufficient homestead.

He said that the project is a way for him to give back to the island.  It is not intended to be a profit center for him.  He said that he is funding it himself.

He arrived in Pohnpei four months ago and since then has been doing some agricultural experimentation to determine the best and most productive type of soil and composting methods.

Caroleen Eliam Becomes Pohnpei State Spelling Bee Champion; Jerishameri Benjamin, Jadea Gene Salvador, and Teeshantra Amor Runners-Up

KOLONIA, Pohnpei—On February 11th, 2020 the COM-FSM Educational Talent Search Program (TSP), in partnership with Pohnpei Rotary Club, Pohnpei Department of Education and Pohnpei Catholic School, held the 6th Annual Pohnpei State Scripps Spelling Bee at the Pohnpei State Legislative Chamber. The Champion of the 6th Pohnpei State Spelling Bee is Ms. Caroleen Eliam, representing Ohmine Elementary School, with Runners-Up include Jerishameri Benjaming (Ohmine), Jadea Gene Salvador (Saladak), and Teeshantra Amor (Sapwalap). These four students will represent Pohnpei State at the Scripps Spelling Bee Regional in Guam on March 7th, 2020.

After an opening by Mr. Diopulos Diopulos who served as the emcee, and an invocation by Bernadita Benavente Helstrom, Principal of Pohnpei Catholic School, CTEC Dean, Mr. Grilly Jack, of the College of Micronesia provided welcoming remarks.

Attendees of the 6th Pohnpei State Spelling Bee enjoyed fifty-four (54) rounds of spelling. The Championship word was “totipotency”, which is the ability of a cell to differentiate into any other type of cell and thus form a new organism OR to regenerate any part of an organism.

Facilitated by Mrs. Kamleen Sam, the 6th Pohnpei State Spelling Bee included Mr. Patrick Petrus as the Pronouncer, Elder Blake as the Assistant Pronouncer,  Ms. Phyllis Silbanus as the Judge, and Ms. Terleen Shelten & Ms. Drystal Silbanus as the Record Keepers.

Prior to the State Bee on February 11th, which consisted of champion spellers from schools across the State, were the School Bees. In this respect, TSP recognizes the following students as School Bee Winners:

  1. Ohmine Elementary School—Caroleen Elmera Eliam (7th grade), Jerishameri Benjaming (8th grade), & Ioreen Lopez (8th grade);
  2. Kolonia Elementary School—Omar Kenyon Santos (8th grade), Grace Aldis (8th grade), &Chirstenson Nelper (8th grade);
  3. Nett Elementary School—Lana S. Lucios (8th grade), Cailyn Ponapart (8th grade), & Hector David (8th grade);
  4. Awak Elementary School—Lora Victor (8th grade), Deshawn Obed (8th grade), & Elray Silbanuz (5th grade);
  5. Saladak Elementary School—Jadea Gene Salvador (8th grade), Sean Dae Amor (7th grade), & Lilly Jean Alex (8th grade);
  6. Lukop Elementary School—Louisantra Ladore Sahle (8th grade), Kayleen Usor (8th grade), & Hasten Valentine (8th grade);
  7. Sapwalap Elementary School—Haley Jonathan (7th grade), Teeshantra Amor (7th grade), J-marisha Dee Redes (8th grade);
  8. Pohnpei Catholic School—Gabriela Gallen (5th grade), Jasma Rose Ringlen (6th grade), Sheridan Giltama (8th grade);
  9. Nanpei Memorial School—Danylove Tom (8th grade), Itleen Santos (8th grade), Herbieshae Santos (8th grade).

TSP notes that the nine schools that held School Bees are all schools that are either Level Three or Level Four per the FSM School Accreditation Procedures. Further, the Champion and Runners-up are all students at Level Four schools per the FSM School Accreditation Procedures. TSP encourages schools presently at Level One or Level Two to implement School Bees as part of their regular extracurricular academic programming.

Congratulations to all for their participation and for making the 6th Pohnpei State Spelling Bee a success!


By Bill Jaynes

The Kaselehlie Press


January 31, 2020

Chuuk—The Office of the Chuuk State Public Auditor has discovered that Chuuk State Finance Funds Division failed to collect over $396,000 in reimbursements for funds the Chuuk government advanced in order to run U.S. government funded programs for fiscal years 2016 through 2018.  According to the auditor, some of those funds may now be uncollectible.

“Aside from the Sector grants that Chuuk receives as its share of Compact money, it is also receiving different federal grants from US federal agencies to fund various federal programs such as Special Education, the Substance Abuse & Mental Health (SAMH) program and the Comprehensive Cancer Control (CCC) program. These federal grants are the main source of funding for the twenty-plus programs that provide valuable services to the citizens of Chuuk. The nature of these federal grants is generally reimbursable; this means that Chuuk government must first expend its own money before collecting the reimbursement for its expenditures from the different federal agencies. Whenever advances by the Chuuk government were not fully collected at fiscal year-end, an accounts receivable is recorded. Close monitoring of accounts and prompt resolution of issues should allow Chuuk government to be able to fully reimburse its advances the following fiscal year or before the expiry of grant.”

The auditor recommended that the Funds Division Accountant in charge of federal grants should establish an accounts receivable subsidiary ledger for each of the federally funded programs and maintain their own record of collections to reconcile the billed amounts and its subsequent collections with that of the national government.

They also recommended that the Federal Grants Fund Accountant or the Director of the Department of Administrative Services’ designee should study the collectability of the accounts receivable and initiate collection if still collectible. Otherwise, they should initiate a write-off of uncollectible accounts.

“We conclude that the monies advanced by the Chuuk Government for the purpose of running different reimbursable federally funded program were not fully recollected back. Uncollected amounts were dated as far back as 2015.  The old uncollectible amounts from the Accounts Receivable from Federal Agencies/Grants were explained as due to expiry of the grant, amount reimbursed was less than the actual expenditures advanced and some expenditures were not allowable,” the audit said.

“…Non-collection of money advanced by the Chuuk government to run federal programs may also result in a loss of precious local funds for local operational budget purposes. In this case, the possible loss of about $300,000 is material enough for local budget purposes,” it said.

Embassy of Japan in FSM

dvOn January 9, 2020, the signing ceremony for the Project for Procuring a Portable X-ray Machine in Chuuk State was held at the Chuuk State Hospital to provide Department of Health Services, Chuuk State with the funds up to US$ 85,850 under the Grant Assistance for Grass roots Human Security Projects by the Government of Japan, to this end.              

This project will provide a portable X-ray machine, in order to improve the healthcare services in Chuuk State by detecting the prevalent Tuberculosis promptly leading to providing the appropriate treatment for the people in remote islands. The portable X-ray machine to be provided will enable the mobile clinic activities in remote islands in Chuuk and will benefit 6,000 residents in 2 remote islands, to begin with, with X-ray examination and appropriate treatment.


At the ceremony, Mr. Julio Marar, Director of Chuuk State’s Department of Health Services expressed deep appreciation for Japan's continuous support to Chuuk State particularly that from the Government of Japan, through JICA and other organizations. He stated that while Chuuk State had various challenges in the healthcare sector, the portable X-ray machine would significantly improve the situation.


Ambassador Sobashima Hidenobu stated that Japan decided to finance the provision of a portable X-ray machine to address the problem of the prevalence of tuberculosis in Chuuk State, and that he hoped that the portable X-ray machine would enable early detection and appropriate treatment of tuberculosis, and thus would contribute to the good health of the people in Chuuk State.


The ceremony was attended by the Hon. Mark Mailo, Lieutenant Governor, Mr. Julio Marar, Director of Department Health Services, and other officials of the Government of Chuuk State, doctors and members of Chuuk State Hospital, and members of the Embassy of Japan in the FSM.

FSM Information Services


February 7, 2020

With reference to the emergency declaration issued on January 31, 2020, as amended on February 4, 2020, it is clarified that Article X Section 9 of the FSM Constitution is the constitutional basis for the emergency declaration.

(A) It is further clarified that with respect to paragraphs #3 and #4 to the extent concerning “commercial sea vessels” (which means: fishing vessels, cargo vessels and oil tankers), travelling to the FSM for the purpose of trade and commerce, the following understanding applies:

(1) Commercial sea vessels traveling from or transiting through mainland China or any country, state or territory with confirmed cases of the Coronavirus are allowed to continue to deliver goods, commodities or supplies to the FSM as part of regular trade and commerce; provided, that such vessels have spent an uninterrupted period of no less than 14 days at sea prior to arrival in the FSM. If commercial sea vessels transit or stop in a port or anywhere in a country, state or territory that has no confirmed cases of the Coronavirus, then such transit or stop is not be considered as an “interruption” of the 14 days required in this paragraph.

(2) While operating at sea, should any of these commercial sea vessels come into contact with any other vessel that does not meet the requirement of paragraph (1), then these commercial sea vessels must comply with the 14 days requirement prior to their entry into FSM.

(3) Upon arrival, crewmembers of such vessels are subject to normal customs, immigration and quarantine inspections; additionally, they will be subject to any additional screening and inspection processes mandated by national and state Health authorities. All crewmembers must remain on board the vessels and comply at all times with directives and instructions by the FSM Emergency Task Force, and Health authorities. Fishing vessel crews may be allowed to proceed onshore provided that their 14 uninterrupted days at sea can be verified, and they are cleared by Health authorities.

(4) Any crewmembers showing any symptoms of the Coronavirus as determined by the FSM Health authorities are subject to quarantine procedures.

(B) It is further clarified that with respect to commercial airlines conducting regular transit service through the FSM, crewmembers and technical support personnel on board the aircraft may exit the aircraft in order to carry out inspection and regular duties around the aircraft, but they are not permitted to enter any airport facilities except for those necessary for the safe operation of the airline.

Congress of the Federated States of Micronesia


January 31, 2020

PALIKIR, POHNPEI – At the end of the first week of its Third Regular Session, the 21st Congress of the Federated States of Micronesia passed three Congressional Acts along with two Resolutions to address current issues of national and regional concerns.

The 21st Congress had convened on January 27, 2020, for its Third Regular Session to address matters pending before the Body and also review matters submitted by the Executive Branch for its consideration. The Committee to Wait met with President David W. Panuelo where the Executive’s issues were discussed at length and prioritized for consideration and action by the Congress.

At the end of Week One of the Third Regular Session, the first measure enacted by the Congress is a prohibition on the importation of one-time-use disposable items. Congressional Act (CA) 21-73, created a new chapter four under the statute on Environmental Protection - Title 25 of the FSM Code, to prohibit the importation of one-time-use disposable Styrofoam and plastic food service items along with plastic shopping bags.  The Act allowed for a transition period until July 1, 2020.

Through CA 21-74, the Congress clarified that the allowable recesses to be called by the Constitutional Convention included “one extended recess of between 3 and 30 consecutive calendar days.”  The Act further noted that those Delegates not paid by the national state and state government are entitled to $200 daily allowance. 

In light of the recent Australia Fires the Congress enacted CA 21-75, to appropriate $100,000 to fund relief efforts currently underway in Australia due to recent wildfires.

Along with the Congressional Acts, the Congress had during its first week of session adopted Congressional Resolution (CR) 21-96, to confirm the Johnny P. David to serve as the National Government’s representative on the Board of Directors of the FSM Petroleum Corporation.

The final measure of week one of the Third Regular Session of the 21st Congress of the Federated States of Micronesia is CR 21-105. Through CR 21-105, the Congress approved a $102,640 grant from the United Nations International Children’s Emergency Fund (UNICEF) to fund and support the Measles Outbreak Responses Program in the Nation.

The Third Regular Session of the 21st Congress is scheduled for 20-days and is open to the interested general public.

Embassy of the United States of America Kolonia

321123On Friday, January 31, 2020, Carmen G. Cantor presented her credentials to President David W. Panuelo at the FSM National Government compound in Palikir, Pohnpei.

A native of Puerto Rico, she earned her Certificate in International Migration Studies from Georgetown University’s School of Continuing Studies, an M.A. in Labor Relations from the Inter American University of Puerto Rico, and a B.A. in Sociology from the University of Puerto Rico, Mayaguez Campus.

A career member of the Senior Executive Service, Ambassador Cantor most recently served as the Director of the Office of Civil Service Human Resource Management in the Bureau of Human Resources, Executive Director for the Bureaus of Educational and Cultural Affairs (ECA) and International Information Programs (IIP), and Executive Director of the Bureau of Counterterrorism (CT) at the U.S. Department of State.

Prior to joining the U.S. Department of State, Ambassador Cantor worked in U.S. federal government positions at the Federal Maritime Commission, the Foreign Agricultural Service and at the U.S. Postal Service.

In her address to President Panuelo, Ambassador Cantor shared her excitement about experiencing the culture and visiting the rest of the FSM. She shared with him that upon her arrival into Pohnpei the previous day, she noted the similarities in vegetation and topography between Puerto Rico and Pohnpei and felt almost as if she were coming home.

Ambassador Cantor talked with President Panuelo about the United States’ willingness to defend the FSM against the threats posed by transnational crime, terrorism, and illegal fishing in its 1.3 million square mile Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ), and about the shared goal of promoting a free and open Indo-Pacific region.

Following Ambassador Cantor’s remarks, President Panuelo reiterated his statement from his inaugural address, that the United States is FSM’s closest ally and partner. “We are super delighted to welcome you to our country. With the wealth of experience that you do have, I am more than confident that you will uphold our relationship between our two countries.”

Present during Ambassador Cantor’s credential ceremony were: FSM Vice President Yosiwo P. George; Secretary Kandhi Elieisar, FSM Department of Foreign Affairs; Secretary Joses Gallen, FSM Department of Justice; Secretary Kalwin Kephas, FSM Department of Education; Secretary Marion Henry, FSM Department of Resource and Development, Secretary Livingston Taulung, FSM Department of Health and Social Affairs; Deputy Secretary Ricky Cantero, FSM Department of Foreign Affairs; Deputy Assistant Secretary for American Affairs Kehlen Halbert, FSM Department of Foreign Affairs; Chief of Staff Leo Falcam Jr; Deputy Assistant Secretary for European Affairs Kalvin Ehmes; Deputy Assistant Secretary for Multilateral Affairs Stacy Yleizah, and FSM Public Information Officer Richard Clark.

Embassy of the

United States of America Kolonia

IMG 8013At the ribbon cutting at Pehleng Elementary School to celebrate the completion of the renovations conducted by the Civic Construction Action Detail (CCAD) Program Naval Mobile Construction Battalion FIVE (NMCB5), Deputy Chief of Mission at the U.S. Embassy, Heather Coble, talked about how the work of the Construction Battalion plays an important role in strengthening our ties and special relationship. “Members of the U.S. government funded Construction Battalion, or “Seabees,” have been deployed to FSM for decades to continue building the partnership between the two countries, but they are also deployed throughout the Pacific region to include, Guam, the Philippines, Palau, and the Marshall Islands to name a few,” she said. 

In attendance at the event were Governor of Pohnpei State, Reed Oliver, Senator Dahker Daniel, Pohnpei State Legislature, Chief Magistrate Antonio Sarapio, Kitti Municipality, Acting Director Arwelson Arpona, Pohnpei Department of Education, Principal George Barnabas, teachers, and students.

Governor Reed Oliver noted the enthusiasm of the young school students, expressing utmost appreciation to the CCAD team and telling them that he hoped they had had the time to build many friendships at the school and within the community of Kitti. During the site tour, Governor Oliver, who had previously visited the site with U.S. Ambassador Robert Riley during the initial stages of the renovations, expressed to Lt. Brian Wood, Officer in Charge NMCB5, how he appreciated the quick turnaround and quality of work that was done.

The CCAD program has proven to be successful not only with its projects, but with other activities in the communities in the FSM, including:

ASVAB tutoring for students who are interested in taking the enlistment test.

Briefing on various job opportunities in the U.S. Navy.

Community relations with the various schools and communities throughout Pohnpei.

At the Pehleng school, the CCAD members have been performing renovations, such as painting, fixing plumbing and electrical functions, framing the roof, installing metal roofing, replacing doors and windows, and providing wall sheathing. Four classrooms now have new tile, new fans, new lights, and new solid core doors. Two bathrooms have new toilets, new sinks, new plumbing, and new roofs. Before this project, they completed the Nan-Uh Dispensary that will be servicing the community in both Uh and Madolenihmw.  Ms. Coble congratulated the CCAD Team for their great work, and wished Principal Barnabas, teachers, and the students many fruitful years enjoying their newly renovated school.

79701915 2165349723772801 4333993911472095232 oOn December 20, 2019, the College of Micronesia Trial Counselor’s Program in Chuuk held its commencement ceremony for ten (10) students who completed the program.  The commencement exercise was held at the FSM Supreme Court in Chuuk.

Although courses were taught from 2004 to 2007 in Chuuk, because of a lack of instructors, the program did not produce a graduating class.  After a 15-year absence, this program restarted in January of 2019, with its first graduating class in December of 2019. 

This program serves two main purposes. First, it serves as a stepping stone to those who want to pursue a legal education.  Graduates from this program have gone on to continue their legal education in the U.S., China, and at the University of South Pacific. 

This program also prepares current and aspiring legal practitioners.  The 10 courses offered in the program are designed to give students exposure to basic legal principles and rules of law, and prepares individuals to take the FSM Bar exam and to enter into the legal field. A one (1) year externship is required before being eligible to sit for the FSM Bar exam.

The program has found on-going success in Pohnpei through the College of Micronesia national campus, where classes have been held since the inception of the program in 1995.  Courses were also taught in Yap for a short period, but also because of a lack of instructors, classes are currently not being held.

The courses offered in the program are: 1) Contracts, 2) Criminal Law, 3) Torts, 4) Legal Research & Writing, 5) Constitutional Law, 6) Criminal Procedure, 7) Civil Procedure, 8) Property, 9) Evidence, and 10) Trial Practice.  Assuming that there are enough instructors, students usually take one (1) year to complete the ten (10) course program.

The courses in Chuuk were taught by Sabino Asor, Attorney General of Chuuk State, Kembo Mida Jr., Chief Executive Officer  of the Chuuk Public Utility Corporation, Daniel Rescue Jr., Directing Attorney for the Micronesian Legal Services Corporation Chuuk office, Lukas Padegimas, Staff Attorney for the Chuuk State Supreme Court, and Mark Jesperson, Staff Attorney for the Micronesian Legal Services Corporation Chuuk office.

The following is a list of the graduates: Kalvin Assito, Ioster Ifenuk, Otoko Kannys, Jonvan Kando, Fanes Meika, Sampora Moses, Redeemer Nelson, Josef Rold, Pastor Suzuki, and Kind Kando.   

FSM Information Services

January 28, 2020

PALIKIR, Pohnpei—As a component of the Digital Federated States of Micronesia (FSM) Project, from January 28th, 2020 to January 31st, 2020, the FSM National Government hosted a Cyber- Security Capacity Maturity Model Workshop. Implemented in close collaboration with its partners from the World Bank, the Asia-Pacific Telecommunity, and the Oceania Cyber Security Centre, the purpose of the workshop was for the FSM National Government, the FSM State Governments, and the FSM’s Private Sector to provide and receive information on the Nation’s contemporary cyber infrastructure, and its associated strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats. The physical product expected as an outcome of the workshop and the activities that follow is a report on national cybersecurity capacity, and recommendations for advancing maturity in the future, which will be used by the newly established Office of Information Technology & Supporting Services within the Department of Transportation, Communications, & Infrastructure (DTC&I) as a means of framing its short, medium, and long-term objectives.

“I believe this exercise is timely,” said the Honorable Carlson D. Apis, Secretary of DTC&I, “as we will expect that this review…will be significant in providing the policy guidelines necessary in the next phases of our development efforts, to complement and support the on-going and proposed FSM Digitalization Projects beginning this year and consequently the development of our cyber legislation, a necessary component of our [digitization] efforts.”

Although the FSM is contemporaneously one of the least digitally connected countries in the Pacific, the democratization of accessibility to the internet (and thus the democratization of knowledge) is a key agenda item in the administration of His Excellency David W. Panuelo, President of the FSM, and the Honorable Yosiwo P. George, Vice President of the FSM. As an example, with affordable access to highspeed internet in main and remote islands, the presently impossible task of an FSM citizen submitting a passport renewal request to the FSM National Government through a one-stop- shop service would become possible. However, such a task would also necessitate that accessing Government services online be intuitive, and that the security for such services be sufficient to protect citizens’ personal data and privacy.

Alvie B. Cabañez

Kaselehlie Press Volunteer Contributor

jfjfjTo benefit the victims of the eruption of the Taal volcano in the Philippines, the United Filipino Community in Pohnpei (UFCP) sponsored a “Flea Market for Cause” on February 1, 2020.

Held in the parking lot of the Pohnpei Cinema, vendors sold their wares and donated a portion of their profits to UFCP to send to the Phillipines on behalf of the victims.

On January 12, 2020, the Taal Volcano in the Batangas province erupted for the first time in 42 years spewing thick clouds of ash and lava fountains.  The eruption affected thousands of families and caused millions of dollars’ worth of damage.

At 311 meters hight, the Taal Volcano is classified as one of the world’s lowest and deadliest volcanoes. It has 47 craters, the main crater being 1.9 kilometer in diameter.

 “Upon hearing the news, I was saddened by it and worried at the same time because some families of our fellow Filipinos here in Pohnpei were affected,” said Gerry Figueras, UFCP President. “This initiative came as no surprise given the reception of the stall owners and customers especially it’s for a noble cause,” he continued.

Shoppers could buy a wide array of second hand items ranging from clothing, electronic gadgets, sports apparel, to kitchenware, all at reasonable prices.  The could also buy and enjoy Filipino delicacies like vegetable lumpia, palitaw, gotong Batangas, siomai, suman, cakes and pastries, porridge, grilled chicken and pork while shopping.

One World Plaza Coffee shop, Eco-Friendly Options, Walwal is Life, Sheena Mamangon, Dimple Bacareza, and the different regional organizations of UFCP were among the groups and individuals who registered for the event.

The event was headed by Engr. Figueras, UFCP President, the Filipino regional organizations, and supported by Ace Office Supplies, and FSM Telecommunications.

Congress of the Federated States of Micronesia

January 31, 2020

PALIKIR, POHNPEI - The Third Regular Session of the 21st Congress convened on Monday - January 27, and in accordance with the Congress Rules of Procedures, a Committee to Wait on the President was duly appointed chaired by Senator Robson Romolow consisting of members: Senator Joseph J. Urusemal, Senator Dion Neth and Senator Aren B. Palik.

The Committee met with President David W. Panuelo, Vice President Yosiwo P. George and their Cabinet to inform them that the Congress was in session and ready to transact business. President Panuelo welcomed the committee and provided an executive agenda for the meeting.

The agenda in brief, covers the Executive’s concerns and response to the growing epidemic of the Coronavirus; the measles outbreak in the region; the status of the 4th FSM Constitutional Convention; Philippine’s Labor issue in the Nation; the Foreign Investment Bill; and nominations to the national boards and commissions.

According to the President, in light of the recent outbreak of measles in the region, the Department of Health and Social Affairs (DHSA) increased its efforts in extending the availability of vaccinations to the outer islands and remote areas of the Nation. A projected cost of $500,0000 is needed to address the measles campaign but $200,000 is requested as an immediate startup budget.

On the same note, the President voiced his concerns of the growing global ‘coronavirus’ epidemic and explained that DHSA is coordinating efforts with the Department of Justice to determine the nation’s best approach to dealing with the epidemic. Ongoing meetings between the two departments will be conducted and further updates will be shared with the Congress during the session.

President Panuelo informed the Committee that the Constitutional Convention went into recess. He was informed by the Committee that a budget proposal was submitted by the Convention for completion of its work. An amount that the President assured the committee was already incorporated into his supplemental budget transmitted for consideration by the Congress.

Regarding the labor issues with the Philippines, the President is optimistic that the ban on Philippine workers will be soon lifted and that by the February a labor treaty between the FSM and Philippines will be in place to avoid future labor disputes.

Finally, the President proposed to the Committee that the foreign investment bill be reviewed by all stakeholders for possible inclusion in the state and national leadership conference tentatively scheduled for May. This would allow ample time for review and discussions to finally move the effort forward.

The Committee returned with the Executive’s concerns and priorities for consideration by the Congress.

Ambassador Huangs photoRecently, an outbreak of pneumonia caused by the novel coronavirus (2019-nCoV), first identified in Wuhan City of China, has gradually spread all over China and to 24 other countries in the world. State leaders and high officials around the world have extended letters of condolences to or held telephone talks with Chinese leaders to show their understanding, support of and confidence in China’s unprecedented measures to prevent and control the epidemic. I’d like to express my special thanks to H.E. David Panuelo, President of the FSM, for his letter to H.E. Chinese President Xi Jinping, expressing his strong support and sympathy for the Chinese government and people.

Though the 2019-nCoV epidemic looks formidable and menacing, it’s actually not as horrible as people may imagine. According to a WHO report released on February 5th, there are altogether 191 confirmed cases outside China, which is less than 0.8% percent of the number in China. With China’s unrelenting efforts, the mortality rate in China is about 2.0%. In contrast, according to the media reports, in 2009, the H1N1 flu in the US spread to 214 countries and regions, which was estimated to have infected more than 60,800,000 people in the US with a mortality rate of 17.4%, causing the death of more than 284,500 people around the world. Due to the flu’s uncontrolled spread, the WHO gave up counting the total confirmed cases globally. The mortality rate of MERS of 2012 was 34.4% and Ebola 40.4%.

Here, I’d like to responsibly tell our FSM friends that the pneumonia caused by 2019-nCoV is totally preventable, controllable and curable.

News of more than 500 deaths caused by the new Coronavirus (2019-nCoV) has many residents of the FSM, if not panicked, at least highly concerned that the virus might arrive in this country.  Some are absolutely certain that if even one infected person arrives in the FSM the disease will wipe out the population in short order. In Pohnpei, all paper masks in retail outlets are entirely sold out.  Some have reported having witnessed stockpiling and hoarding activity out of fear that in addition to the extensive travel ban, the government will shut down inbound shipping of crucial dietary and other supplies such as fuel which powers the generators that supply power to the FSM.

Residents of the FSM can rest easy at least regarding the incoming shipping concerns. The FSM released yet another amended emergency health declaration today saying that as long as shippers abide by FSM quarantine policies, shipping will go on uninterrupted. Fishing vessels will also have to comply (see page 6).

It is absolutely vital to remain diligent and protect ourselves from the virus in every way we possibly can, both on individual levels by diligent hand washing and other recommended practices, and by country wide policies.  It is important to be diligent. It is a serious virus and it is spreading, but it is counterproductive to panic.

Sometimes just having information on what scares you can stave off hysteria and overthinking.  It certainly has helped me as I’ve lived and breathed the 2019 coronavirus crisis and FSM’s response to it.  Statistics sometimes help.

According to a tracking site provided by Johns Hopkins CSSE (Center for Systems Science and Engineering), as of this morning there have been a total of 28,353 confirmed cases of novel coronavirus (2019-nCoV) since the beginning of the outbreak in late December, 2019. Of those cases, 565 people (approximately 1.99%) of those people have died from the infection.

Of the total number of cases identified, only 265 have been in countries other than mainland China. So far, the virus has been identified in 28 countries. Of the 565 deaths, two have occurred outside mainland China, one in the Philippines and one in Hong Kong.  So far, 1,382 people have recovered after being infected. 11 of those recoveries were outside mainland China in six different countries.

The science of epidemiology which deals with the incidence, distribution, and possible control of diseases and other factors relating to health is a complicated one.  It relies heavily on Mathematics: dynamic systems and differential equations, graph theory, probability theory and more disciplines are at the heart of epidemiology. It is far too early to say how far 2019 coronavirus will spread or how devastating it will be. I’m told that since SARS and the new coronavirus are related but different viruses, drawing comparisons between the two viruses isn’t very helpful.  The Doctor who told me that didn’t make an effort to explain why. The World Health Organization draws comparisons on their website while making it clear that they are different viruses and so I will do the same.

Perhaps, at least in layman’s terms and without heavy Math, it would be helpful to know that, according to experts, while the 2019 Coronavirus spreads differently and perhaps faster than SARS did, it causes less damage. SARS had a mortality rate of approximately 10% while 2019 Coronavirus has had a 2% mortality rate.

So far, NO Pacific Island State has yet had a confirmed case of 2019 coronavirus and all are working to ensure that remains to be the case.  That’s encouraging as well.

The response of the FSM government, while intense and personally difficult for some of its residents has also been encouraging to the people of the FSM who are worried about the spread of the virus.

One professional member of the FSM task force said that each lab in the FSM now has at least one certified Biological Safety Cabinet that are each certified to meet Australian and US standards. They have a bio-safety program and all lab techs have gone through a series of bio-safety trainings and so now understand, and are able to perform risk assessments for Laboratory Acquired Infections.  Labs in Australia and in the US can evaluate samples sent from labs in the FSM and lab technicians know how to properly handle them.  FSM doesn’t have the capacity to determine whether a flu like virus is 2019-coronavirus or a common flu but personnel know how to get the answers and that’s encouraging.

Pohnpei has developed a plan of action for response to the international crisis.  It said that the SARS outbreak of 2003 that we were cautioned not to mention, led to the building of an isolation ward at the Pohnpei State Hospital.  Other states have their own action plans. That’s encouraging.

Physical quarantine sites have been identified to keep potential victims of the 2019-coronavirus away from the general populace.  That’s encouraging.

On a less encouraging note, the World Health Organization has said that older people and people with pre-existing medical conditions (such as, diabetes and heart disease) appear to be more vulnerable to becoming severely ill with the virus.  Unfortunately, the FSM has a higher number of people with diabetes and also of people with respiratory ailments.  If the virus lands here and IF it spreads here, those people might have a more difficult time fighting the virus off.

Still, vigilance is required.  Panic is not.

Bill Jaynes

Managing Editor

The Kaselehehlie Press

By Bill Jaynes

The Kaselehlie Press


IMG 3723IMG 3735February 21, 2020—With the novel corona virus (now officially known as COVID-19) rapidly spreading in many places in the world, FSM President David Panuelo instituted a strict policy outright banning travel to the FSM from anywhere in mainland China.  He also established travel restrictions for travelers to the FSM requiring them to have spent 14 days in a country or territory that had not had any confirmed cases of the virus.  For FSM travelers, that primarily meant Hawaii or Guam.

On the morning of February 12, a committee of Congress held a public hearing on a resolution that had been introduced that would keep the outright ban on travel from China to the FSM in place but lift the quarantine restriction for travelers.  It also would extend the Emergency Health Declaration by 60 days. The resolution would also authorize the President to reinstate the quarantine restrictions if the World Health Organization (WHO) provided guidance that led him to believe that he should do so.

A WHO representative provided testimony during the hearing.  He reiterated several times that travel bans are not effective as the ONLY tool for the prevention of the spread of the virus but that it could be an effective tool for a government to buy time while readying its response to the virus.  Since that time, an anonymously sponsored website has been spreading the message that the WHO says that travel bans are ineffective.  That is not the position of WHO either in its testimony at the FSM Congress hearing or in its official policy statements.

The WHO representative testified that the WHO does not dictate to countries what their response should be and that every country should decide based on their level of preparedness, the impact on the local economy and a variety of other factors.

In that morning’s session Congress passed the resolution. The new policy was effective immediately on passage and Congress resolutions do not require Presidential approval.  However, enforcement is the responsibility of the Executive Branch which was to have notified airlines and others that Congress had lifted certain travel restrictions.  It didn’t do so.  In practice, a traveler who had not yet spent 14 days in a country or territory that had not yet had a confirmed case still could not be boarded on an airline that travels to the FSM because no one notified the airlines or enforcement officers at points of entry that the restrictions had been lifted.

By Bill Jaynes

The Kaselehlie Press


February 10, 2020

Madolenihmw, Pohnpei—Prosecutors at the Pohnpei Office of the Attorney General have filed criminal charges against four representatives of the Madolenihmw Government for the theft of over $67,000.

Each of the defendants is charged with Grand Larceny, Embezzlement, Theft by Failure to Dispose of Funds Received, Cheating, Misconduct in Public Office and Criminal Conspiracy.

The charges are the result of a criminal investigation recommended by auditors of the Pohnpei Office of the Public Audit after an audit of Madolenihmw, conducted in August of last year.  That audit questioned many unpaid salary advances that were never reimbursed.

The criminal charges accuse Pretrick Ringlen, Meninkeder Lapalapen (Mayor) of Madolenihmw of having “obtained for himself $29,542.18 in form of salary advancements outside of his regular payroll checks.”  The advances occurred of the course of 12 years beginning on July 6, 2007 with the last reviewed advance in July of 2019.

The charges accuse Meioleen Etse of advancing and not repaying $9,200.18 in advances above salary during the period beginning on September 9, 2007 through June of 2019.

They accuse Sohnasem George, the Account Clerk of receiving and not reimbursing $16,910.10 in salary advances beginning on June 19, 2009 and concluding in September 2018.

Hernet Ringlen, Madolenihmw Tax Collector stands accused of taking $11,872.38 in “loans” beginning on August 14, 2014 through June of 2019.

The defendants are merely accused and are presumed to be innocent in the eyes of the law unless otherwise proven during a fair hearing.

By Bill Jaynes

The Kaselehlie Press


CaptureFebruary 7, 2020

FSM—In a concerted effort to keep the novel coronavirus (2019-nCoV) from infecting anyone in the FSM, on January 31, 2020, FSM President David Panuelo declared a public health emergency.  The declaration banned all outward bound travel to mainland China or to any country where the virus is present including the U.S. mainland, which as of today has 12 confirmed cases of the virus.  Citizens and residents returning to the FSM from a country where the virus is present are not allowed to enter the FSM unless they have first stayed in a country, state or territory with no cases of 2019-nCoV for 14 days immediately prior to re-entry.

On Saturday, February 1, the President released a clarification on the travel ban saying that Guam and Hawaii would be treated separately from the mainland United States.  Travel to and from those places was unrestricted with the exception that people returning from the US mainland or any other country where the virus has been identified would be required to spend 14 days in one of the unaffected areas immediately before returning to the FSM.

The clarification also said that exceptions to the outward bound travel ban would be allowed for people requiring urgent medical care that could not be provided in the FSM.  That urgent medical care would need to be certified by a physician.

On Tuesday, February 4, President Panuelo amended the travel ban by lifting the ban on outward bound travel with the exception of mainland China.  FSM residents may not travel to mainland China.  “Although there is no ban on travels to destinations other than mainland China, citizens are nevertheless strongly advised against taking unnecessary travel to other countries with confirmed cases of the Coronavirus.”

If outward bound travelers do decide to travel to countries where the virus is present and want to return, they will still be bound to spend 14 consecutive days in an unaffected country, state, or territory before they can return to the FSM.  Currently air travelers could wait out their time of quarantine in Hawaii, the Marshall Islands, or Guam, but as the disease widens its global footprint, there is no way to know if those three places will remain virus free.

Though it took some time for United Airlines to receive word of the various aspects of the ban and the various changes and clarification, they will be enforcing the ban for travelers attempting to return to the FSM.  They are now informed that outward bound travel is allowable and are again allowing passengers to board outbound flights from the FSM.  Recently, Air Niugini also agreed to enforce the ban for their travelers.

By Bill Jaynes

The Kaselehlie Press


February 6, 2020

Pohnpei—Because of a new Pohnpei law, the claims of young plaintiffs against Young Sun International Trading Company and Pohnpei State to halt the harvest of sea cucumbers are moot. The law established a five year moratorium on sea cucumber harvests in Pohnpei as well as the terms for the establishment of a Sea Cucumber Commission. It became law without the Governor’s signature on January 20.

Attorney Marstella Jack orally asked the court to drop the claims of her young clients against the State and Young Sun. The counsel for Pohnpei State agreed to allow the matter to be dropped.  Young Sun did not.  Plaintiffs and defendants are now awaiting a court ruling on whether or not it will dismiss the court action.

The sea cucumber matter is not over by a long shot.

Young Sun still has a counter claim against the Conservation Society of Pohnpei from an earlier case on sea cucumber harvests that has not been pursued nor adjudicated.  Young Sun could file a counter claim against the young Plaintiffs in the current case for losses it says it sustained as a result of the civil action the Plaintiffs filed that resulted in the halting of their ongoing sea cucumber harvest. 

Young Sun may also decide to sue the Pohnpei State Government for breach of contract or other causes.

By Bill Jaynes

The Kaselehlie Press


February 7, 2020

FSM—The Internet is rife with blatantly inaccurate information on the 2019 corona virus.  It is important to arm yourself with the most accurate sources of information you can find. The World Health Organization is one of those sources.  It can easily be found by searching for “what is coronavirus”. is an excellent source of information for what the virus is and what can a person do to protect themselves.

What is it and what does it do?

Coronaviruses are a large family of viruses found in both animals and humans. Some infect people and are known to cause illness ranging from the common cold to more severe diseases such as Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS) and Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS).  But, though the new virus is in the same family as SARS and MERS, it is a different virus. A novel coronavirus (CoV) is a new strain of coronavirus that has not been previously identified in humans. The new, or “novel” coronavirus, now called 2019-nCoV, had not been previously detected before the outbreak was reported in Wuhan, China in December 2019.

As with other respiratory illnesses, infection with 2019-nCoV can cause mild symptoms including a runny nose, sore throat, cough, and fever.  It can be more severe for some persons and can lead to pneumonia or breathing difficulties.  More rarely, the disease can be fatal. Older people and people with pre-existing medical conditions (such as, diabetes and heart disease) appear to be more vulnerable to becoming severely ill with the virus.

The 2019-nCoV causes respiratory disease and can be transmitted from person to person, usually after close contact with an infected patient, for example, in a household workplace, or health care center.

The incubation period, time between infection and the onset of clinical symptoms of disease is currently estimated in a range of 1-12.5 days with median estimates of 5 to 6 days.  Based on information from other coronavirus diseases, such as MERS and SARS, the incubation period of 2019-nCoV could be up to 14 days.  According to recent reports, it may be possible that people infected with 2019-nCoV may be infectious before showing significant symptoms. However, based on currently available data, the people who have symptoms are causing the majority of virus spread.

WHO says that people receiving packages are not at risk of contracting the new coronavirus. From experience with other coronaviruses, we know that these types of viruses don’t survive long on objects, such as letters or packages.

What can you do to protect yourself