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FSM Women’s Conference works together for progress

 MG 1778By Bill Jaynes

The Kaselehlie Press

August 30, 2018

Pohnpei—With the theme “Working Together for Progress”, the 8th FSM National Women’s Conference kicked off with a welcome reception at the Kolonia-China Gym on Sunday, August 26.

The stated goal of the conference was to continue to build and support social development that is inclusive for women across the FSM.  Hundreds of women from each of the four states participated in the event where they heard presentations from authorities on a huge variety of important issues that affect everyone in the FSM but focused on the particular impacts on women. MG 1860

Organizers invited and encouraged men to also attend and many did.  The vast majority of presentations were made by women but there were also presentations by men.

The stated objectives of the conference were to provide a platform where women from the four states can come together and engage in discussions on issues affecting them, to have a forum where FSM national and state level stakeholders can harmonize their understanding and status of women’s issues in relation to different policy frameworks at the national, regional, and international level and to unify the collective efforts of the country’s response to resolving women’s issues.  It was also to engage the participants of the forum with resource people in different fields to uplift the level of understanding and support for women and girls in the FSM.

The signing of the resolutions and outcome documents won’t come until after we have gone to press.  Those will be much more specific than the stated hope of outcomes on the printed program for the conference. 

 MG 1848Those hoped for outcomes are an increased awareness and understanding of issues affecting women in the FSM; a better understanding of national and state level policy frameworks that are guiding the governments’ work to advance the status of women of the FSM; priorities of the states identified to the progress of women’s status and linking them to available technical assistance and funding support; improved coordination of the FSM national and states’ government actions to respond to regional and international commitments to advance the equitable development for women in FSM.

On day one the presentations began with lessons for the FSM on women, democracy and accountability in Pacific Islands, and continued through good governance, climate change issues and its impact on women, the role of women in sustaining a healthy nation and onto the important topic of women’s participation in politics in the FSM, including the recently introduced temporary special measure to add four new seats specifically for women in the FSM Congress.  The day ended with a reception hosted by the Australian Embassy where several more presentations were given. MG 1769

On day two the presentations began with discussions on women’s economic empowerment and the morning concluded with a presentation on FSM Social Security.  After a break the topics were Micronesian women and sustainable futures for FSM, and regional projects targeting women to ensure gender inclusiveness.  Dinner was hosted by Pohnpei State Legislature.

On Wednesday presentations were made for recommendations from the states followed by a climate adaptation survey.  After lunch presentations centered on gender violence and family safety issues and mitigating services designed to help.  The United States Embassy hosted a dinner reception that included presentations on qualifications of a mother to be a leader by PhD candidate Myjolynne Kim and a presentation on Human Trafficking eradication enforcement efforts.  Before dinner the video on FSM Female Pioneers was screened.  Organizers hope to be able to find funding to flesh out the content of the video to include interviews and more listed FSM female pioneers. The video was produced by Micronesia Productions as a volunteer effort. MG 1823

On Thursday, before afternoon breakout sessions, presentations centered on women’s health issues.  Dinner was hosted by Kolonia Mayor Jose San Nicolas at Flamingo.

A closing reception will be hosted by FSM Congress Speaker Wesley Simina and Senator Ferny Perman.  It will include performances from each of the states.

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More than 60 year old Pohnpei Public Broadcasting Corporation building renovated

By Bill Jaynes

 MG 1811The Kaselehlie Press

August 29, 2018

P o h n p e i — Dignitaries gathered this afternoon for a ribbon cutting ceremony at V6AH, Pohnpei’s public radio station. The building had not been renovated in many years.

Commissioner Peterson Sam said that in addition to brand new paint and signage, structural repairs and improvements were made that now makes it possible to use areas that had long been relegated to storage. The hallways were widened to allow for access for people with disabilities. Other improvements are planned and in the works.

The purpose of the renovation was for the enhancement of early warning and supporting the effective delivery of public information and awareness raising. It was funded by the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) and the US Department of Agriculture and Rural Development (USRDA), and also by the FSM Congress. The project was implemented by the International Organization for Migration – PREPARE program with cooperation from Pohnpei Governor’s Office and Pohnpei Public Broadcasting Corporation.

The Master of Ceremonies for today’s program was Brenda Eperiam. Deacon Augustine Damarlane gave the invocation. Speakers were Kester James, the Chairman of the PBBC Board of Directors; Governor Marcelo Peterson; Ambassador Robert Riley, US Ambassador to the FSM; Nathan Glancy, Chief of Party, IOM; and Lt. Governor Reed Oliver.

The ribbon was cut by Ambassador Riley, Mr. Glancy, and Governor Peterson.

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Pohnpei legislators mulling mandatory vehicle insurance bill

Pohnpei legislators mulling mandatory vehicle insurance bill

By Bill Jaynes

The Kaselehlie Press

August 30, 2018

Pohnpei—The Pohnpei State Legislature is considering a bill (LB 355-18) to require all vehicles to have a minimum of $15,000 of Property Damage Liability Insurance and the same amount for Third Party Bodily Injury Liability before a vehicle can be registered.

The Justice and Governmental Operations Committee has already conducted at least one public hearing on the bill but a committee report has not yet been introduced.

“The Legislature finds that motor vehicle insurance is necessary to assure that injured Pohnpeians receive adequate compensation when they are injured in their person or their property. It is the intent of this legislation to require mandatory motor vehicle liability insurance in order to guarantee adequate protection for victims of car accidents who are injured in Pohnpei or who are injured while riding in motor vehicles which are operated in Pohnpei,” the bill says.

If the bill passes it would go into effect on January 1, 2019.

Certification of insurance would be required before a vehicle could be registered. The insurance must be in effect for the entire year of registration unless the vehicle is sold or otherwise transferred, at which time the new owner would be required to have insurance before it can be re-registered.

If the vehicle owner lies about having insurance, the Director of the Department of Public Safety would have the power to revoke a registration. If that action is taken, that vehicle would not be eligible for registration for six months. If a person’s registration certificate is revoked, the registration certificate cannot be transferred in any other name unless the Director is satisfied that the transfer was made in good faith and not for purposes of defeating the purposes of the law.

The Department of Public Safety would be authorized to immobilize any vehicle that has a revoked registration certificate.

The bill, in its current form would require insurers to notify the Department of Public Safety of any insurance cancellations or lapses. The Director would then inform the insured that insurance for the vehicle has been cancelled. The insured would then have 30 days to procure a new policy or re-instate a policy. If that is not done within the imposed time limit, the owner of the vehicle would be fined $500 and the vehicle will be subject to impoundment.

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Traffic snarled in Pohnpei as hundreds gather at Pohnpei Public Market on “deadline day” for legal actions on alleged squatters

By Bill Jaynes

The Kaselehlie Press

August 31, 2018

Pohnpei—Two weeks ago, Pohnpei’s Attorney General Dana Smith issued notices for alleged trespassers on Pohnpei state lands at the Public Market site in Kolonia and on property located near PICS High School to vacate or face legal action.

That legal action didn’t come in the way that some expected it would come. The expectation of a forced removal of so called “squatters” at the Public Market had never been planned. Just the same, protestors gathered en masse, ready for a confrontation that was never intended and was never planned.

Quietly, the Attorney General filed civil actions at the Pohnpei Supreme Court against more than 200 alleged squatters at both sites as he had promised to do in his public notice and direct service methods. Those notices never said that the alleged trespassers would be physically removed on August 31, only that those who are occupying the properties in question should be out on or before August 31.

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Fraud Awareness presentation at 8th FSM National Women’s Conference

IMG20180827124821Pohnpei Office of the Public Auditor

On August 27, 2018, Pohnpei Office of the Public Auditor (POPA) presented its Fraud Awareness Program at the 8th FSM National Women’s Conference. The conference was held at FSM-China Friendship Center (COMFSM) and attended by more than 300 delegates of women from Pohnpei, Chuuk, Yap and Kosrae States from different fields. The theme for this year’s conference is “Working Together for Progress”. The conference provided a good opportunity for POPA to promote its value and benefits especially to FSM women. This is the first time POPA distributed brochure about Public Auditor office as part of its Communication Strategy. The Fraud awareness which focused on “Working together for good governance was presented by Ms. Sophia Pretrick, Investigative advisor of POPA. Ms. Pretrick emphasized the impact of women in preventing corruption in Micronesia. The first day of conference focused on the important role of women in improving social development across Micronesia. They represent 49% of total population of Micronesia. For more information about Pohnpei Office of the Public Auditor visit the POPA’s website: http://opapni.fm/

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UNICEF and SPC partner to improve data for children, women and people with disabilities across the Pacific islands

28 August 2018

SUVA, Fiji – Today, the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) and The Pacific Community (SPC) announced a new partnership to support the strengthening of data collection and data analysis to improve the lives of the most vulnerable children, women and people with disabilities across the Pacific islands and territories.

The collection and dissemination of reliable data of children and women worldwide is vital to identify and plan for their needs and to inform policies.

UNICEF Representative, Sheldon Yett, said, “Statistically sound and internationally comparable data is essential for the targeting of resources to reach the Sustainable Development Goals and meet the needs of the most vulnerable. We welcome this partnership with SPC, which will work towards ensuring that global best practices are in place for data collection and analysis for women and children in the Pacific.”

Through the collection of quality data, decision-makers are able to make positive change by identifying needs and monitoring progress in their countries. Quality data is essential for measuring a country’s progress against the Sustainable Development Goals and currently in the Pacific islands, there is a lack of data to accurately measure this progress.

Highlighting the potential impact of this agreement for the Pacific, SPC’s Deputy Director General, Audrey Aumua, said, “Good policy is formed on a foundation of good data. Through this agreement, SPC and UNICEF will be able to better support the work of Pacific leaders to improve the lives of women and children across our region.”

The new UNICEF-SPC partnership aims to support Pacific island governments to:

  • Improve the quality and standards of data collection for children, women and people with disabilities
  • Analyse and utilize new and existing data to report and monitor the situation of children, women and people with disabilities; and
  • Disseminate statistics, engage stakeholders and advocate for the collection and use of statistics in policy formulation.

This new initiative is aligned to the joint UN Data, Monitoring and Evaluation Group, established in Fiji and Samoa, which coordinates efforts to improve data collection, analysis and utilization for evidence based decision making and policy development in the Pacific islands and territories.

The 2017 World Bank Statistical Capacity Indicator reports that the Pacific Island countries rank significantly below the Asia-Pacific regional average and that the Pacific needs to improve specifically on health and poverty surveys as well as vital registration systems. Insufficient or no data risks leaving children behind on critical issues such as improving health, sanitation, education, and protecting children from violence, abuse and exploitation.

Regional initiatives, such as the Ten Year Pacific Statistics Strategy (TYPSS), seek to address some data collection challenges, however, despite these efforts, greater attention is needed to produce regular statistics on marginalised populations, including children, women and people with disabilities.

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Former “Saki Stores” employee sparks Immigration and Labor investigation

By Bill Jaynes

The Kaselehlie Press

August 31, 2018

Chuuk— In an email circulated to a large group of FSM and international government officials and others, Vikas Bijlwan, a former Padma Enterprises- Saki Store employee from India made several serious allegations of wrong doing associated with the store. He made the claims from India after he was allegedly summarily dismissed from employment with the store in Chuuk on the evening of August 4 and handed a plane ticket for a flight that departed for India just over five hours later.

FSM Secretary for the Department of Justice Joses Gallen has dispatched investigators from Immigration and Labor to investigate the claims. In an online interview on Wednesday of this week, Gallen wrote that their investigation into various labor claims, including allegations that owners of the Saki store confiscated passports of foreign workers on arrival, a claim that if true might have meant that employees were held against their will, should soon be completed.

He wrote that Immigration and Labor were already assigned to investigate the claims when National Police officers in Chuuk began their own investigation so he instructed them to “hold on and not interfere with the immigration investigation.”

“Yes, we will pursue to criminal investigation if warranted from the immigration report,” he wrote.

Bijlwan claimed that employees feared reporting any of the accusations he made in his email because they had been told that the foreign owner allegedly claimed to have influence through bribery and other means with government officials including FSM Attorney General Joses Gallen.

Gallen said that he had no idea what would lead Bijlwan to make that claim. Gallen said that he is not a part owner of any Saki Stores and that he solely owns JG Stores with no partner. He said that he has no association with the owner of Saki Stores.

One result of the investigation so far is that employees from India whose work permits had expired were repatriated to India but at press time, the Immigration and Labor investigation had not been completed.

Bijlwan’s widely circulated email message which included copies of his contract, his expired entry permit, and his passport also included a link to a “warning” he had written on “blogspot” to other Indian workers considering employment with the store. That warning included several allegations not under the purview of Immigration and Labor. We could not confirm whether those allegations are being investigated.

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