Letter to the Editor: Secession?
- Category: Opinion
- Published: Friday, 15 December 2017 16:47
- Written by John R. Haglelgam
- Hits: 2025
I write this letter as an open letter to the Chuukese. I tried to discern the motive for the Chuuk secession, but I just cannot find it. I do not see any human right violation or heard of any genocide committed by the FSM government officials in Chuuk. Usually the justification for secession movement is systematic violation of human rights, genocide or ethnic cleansing committed by national officials (as in Kosovo, Southern Sudan, and other places). Chuuk is plagued with social and administrative problems, but it is all internally brewed. None of these problems are fomented by national officials or officials of the other states. The blame seems lie squarely with Chuuk state officials.
If Chuuk secedes, it will take all of these internally created problems with it. It owns all of its social and administrative problems. Chuuk officials complained almost incessantly about the formula used to divide Compact I funds, but Chuuk’s share was larger than individual share of the other states. All the three other states benefited from Compact I funds. They at least improve their infrastructures, but Chuuk did not have anything to show for its share. It just simply gobbled up its share of the funds.
I think the main impetus of the secession movement was to get more funds for Chuuk from its own Compact with the United States. Chuuk also want its own foreign aid money. Later in this letter, I will discuss the possibility of Chuuk negotiating its own Compact of Free Association with the United States and getting foreign aids from other countries.
The other day I read a posting on Face Book detailing the preparation for the plebiscite to take place next year. I am surprised that the Chuuk administration is pushing for secession from the Federated States of Micronesia. Under the FSM national constitution, no state can secede.
A proposal was introduced in 1975 Micronesian Constitution Convention, which drafted the FSM Constitution, to allow the state to secede in the first fifteen years under the constitution. Because of the importance of this issue of secession to national unity, the Convention created a special committee consisted of traditional leaders and chairmen of all the district delegations. The special committee considered this issue of state secession and what it reported out as a special committee proposal, which the Convention adopted, was a provision that prohibit secession. This special committee proposal became Section 3, of Article XIII (General Provision) of the FSM national constitution.
Section 3, Article XIII of the FSM constitution reads as follows:
“It is the solemn obligation of the national and state governments to uphold the provisions of this Constitution and advance the principles of unity upon which this Constitution is founded.”
When Chuuk voters approved the FSM constitution in the 1978 Trust Territory-wide referendum, Chuuk state assumed this “solemn obligation” to support, uphold, and advance the principles of unity in the Federated States of Micronesia. This “solemn obligation” is a perpetual and irrevocable public commitment assumed by Chuuk state as the successor to the Truk District in the Trust Territory.
When this current Chuuk separation movement is viewed from the point of view of FSM constitutional and the FSM national sovereignty, it becomes an attempt to commit crime against the national government and national sovereignty. Under international law, this national sovereignty is indestructible, indivisible, permanent, and continuous. According to Calhoun (2014, pp. 230-300),“it is an entire thing. To divide it is to destroy it.” This Chuuk state separation movement is not only unconstitutional, it is violating international law.
Chuuk state is definitely in breach of its “solemn obligation” under Section 3 of Article XIII of the FSM constitution, and I think FSM Department of Justice should investigate the secession movement for possible infringement on national security law.
This secession movement is all about money. Chuuk wants a new Compact that would provide more funding. Would the United States agree to negotiate a new Compact with a new state born out of unconstitutional means? Would the United States even recognize the existence of such a state? The United States experience with Chuuk under the first Compact was not good at all. Because Chuuk’s misused of Compact I grant funds led the United States to imposed JEMCO on the FSM during Compact II. With the assistance of JEMCO, Chuuk has had some major infrastructure funding. Even today with JEMCO, Chuuk still face huge challenge in providing education, health services, and public safety. The United States would probably be extremely reluctant to recognize an unlawfully created and failing state.
How about foreign aid from China? No countries in the world provide foreign aid before establishment of diplomatic relations. China would probably viewed Chuuk in the same way it viewed Taiwan: a renegade FSM state. It is unlikely that China and other foreign countries and international organizations would see Chuuk as a legitimate country because it achieves independence by unconstitutional means and it breaks international laws as well. It is a double whammy for Chuuk. It faces a problem of legitimacy, both domestically and internationally.
Finally, I am appealing to my good Chuukese friends who support this secession movement to stop wasting your time and resources on an unconstitutional movement, and start reforming your state administration to prepare for the termination of the amended Title Two-Economic Relations of the Compact.
The public education and health services need major improvement. The school buildings need major renovation, adequate textbooks and desks for students, and most importantly, trained and qualified teachers. The state hospital and all the state dispensaries need adequate supplies of medicine.
Obviously, Chuuk state needs to fund education and health service improvement programs; and not diverting its public fund to an unconstitutional secession movement.
Thank you very much and I remain
John R. Haglelgam
Division of Social Science
College of Micronesia-FSM