On the Public Hearing about Y.A.P.’s Petition to Yap State Legislature
Web-manager’s Note: On February 5, 2013, a public hearing of Y.A.P. (Yap Awareness Project Group) was held in Yap State Legislature regarding a petition submitted by Y.A.P. to the Legislature on November 28, 2012, requested the state leadership to be united in terms of ETG’s proposed investment (Ref). During the public hearing, Y.A.P. restated their concerns for the state’s anticipatable economic demise, as well as their request for the leadership to be united for the betterment of the entire state.
The following texts is from a facebook discussion posted by Mr. Clement Yow Mulalap (Resource). He has recorded and uploaded the public hearing (the audio files are downloadable here: http://bit.ly/Xmq3N2, http://bit.ly/WP9BFM, http://bit.ly/Wu3qZv). Moreover, he has pointed out several critical questions which have been raised in the public hearing. We re-post the whole article for it has clarified the important issues as well as the doubts from the general public pertaining to the division of the state leadership.
I was able to make audio recordings of the live radio broadcast of the public hearing held yesterday at the Yap State Legislature to discuss the public petition submitted by the Yap Awareness Project (YAP). As with past recordings of radio broadcasts of the meetings held by the Concerned Citizens Group at the Legislature, and of Governor Anefal’s radio address about ETG’s proposed Project in Yap, I wish to share my recordings of the YAP hearing with all of you. Unfortunately, I cannot upload the recordings to my Soundcloud account because the recordings run about three hours in length, and I have less than an hour of “storage” left in my Soundcloud account. For now, I have uploaded the audio recordings to a Dropbox account that I have created specifically for my audio recordings. (I will upload my previous recordings soon.) You can download each recording and play it back on your own devices. Here are the links to the three recordings:
(The recordings come in a set of three because there were two breaks during the hearing.)
A few notes about the recordings. First, you cannot stream the recordings from my Dropbox account (like you can with those from my Soundcloud account). If, however, someone has a Soundcloud account (or several people have Soundcloud accounts) that can host and stream the recordings in part or in full, then please feel free to download my recordings from my Dropbox account and upload them to your Soundcloud accounts for streaming. I ask that you share the links to those Soundcloud uploads here so that others in this group can stream the recordings.
Second, the quality of the recordings is quite poor. I really apologize for this. I do not have any sophisticated recording equipment, so I was not able to cancel out much background noise from my recordings, and I was not able to equalize the recordings properly to take out the broadcast hisses. I hope you can still understand most (if not all) of the audio. I should also note that there are a few gaps in the audio here and there, most likely because my computer’s Internet connection timed out at certain points and could not buffer the Internet radio stream in time. The gaps are very few and far between, though.
Finally, I will refrain from providing a comprehensive summary of what was said at the hearing (like I did with Governor Anefal’s address and the hearings for the Concerned Citizens Group), partly because at least half of the hearing was conducted in English (and much of the discussion that was held in Yapese was repeated, more or less, in the parts of the discussion conducted in English); and partly because there are folks in this group who were actually at the hearing and who can provide better summaries than I can. (See, for example, Kattinow‘s summation of YAP’s points and demands here: http://on.fb.me/WNaamt)
Aside from dispensing the technical information above, I want to thank the members of YAP for taking the time to present their positions and demands to the Yap State Legislature. Whatever our disagreements may be, I welcome open, constructive dialogue between the general public and our elected leaders, especially when that dialogue involves securing the peace and prosperity of Yap and her people. Kam’magar gad.
In that spirit of dialogue, I would like to make a few points and raise a few questions about YAP’s hearing with the Legislature. While I do not wish to summarize what happened and what was said at the hearing (for the reasons I explain above, as well as because many of the points raised during the hearing have been stated in this group repeatedly), I do want to point out several items that seemed to me to be new items of discussion in this whole ETG situation. (At least, I do not recall hearing about those items in any official/public forum or exchange.) I also wish to raise several questions to YAP.
First, regarding new items for discussion, one new item deals with Yap State Legislature Resolution No. 8-53, which was introduced and adopted by the Legislature on September 20, 2012. That Resolution was a Resolution “[r]espectfully calling on the Governor to submit a written notice to Exhibition Travel Group (ETG) to void the Investment Agreement between the State and ETG and to disapprove any and all master plans from ETG for investment in Yap State.” That Resolution was adopted a week after the Concerned Citizens Group held its last meeting at the Legislature and presented a traditional wenig to Governor Anefal to stop ETG’s proposed Project. A little over a week after the Legislature adopted that Resolution, Governor Anefal sent his October 1, 2012 letter to ETG (via Chairman Deng Hong) asking ETG to, among other things, “dissolve the Investment Agreement and any legal documents preceding it.” (See the letter here: http://bit.ly/WsMsMT) In that letter, Governor Anefal cited Resolution No. 8-53 as one of the reasons why the Governor felt it necessary to warn ETG about the prospects of its proposed Project in Yap and seek a dissolution of the legal agreements between ETG and the State of Yap.
As was revealed during the YAP hearing yesterday (and this is the new item I wish to point out), the Yap State Legislature adopted Resolution No. 8-53 because Governor Anefal asked the Legislature (via Speaker Falan) to do so in order to support the Governor’s October 1, 2012 letter to ETG. According to several Senators (including Speaker Falan), the Governor met with Speaker Falan and members of the Concerned Citizens Group after the last meeting of the Group at the Legislature to discuss ways to extract the State from proceeding with ETG’s proposed Project in Yap. The securing of the Resolution was a key component of the plan that they eventually agreed on. (The Governor may have also requested/welcomed the prohibition edict by the Dalip pi Nguchol as another piece of support for his October 1, 2012 letter, but I am not entirely sure about that. I think I heard that mentioned during the hearing, but I may have misheard.)
In light of that revelation, I do need to point out that at one point in this whole situation, there WAS unity in our government, at least between the Executive Branch and the Yap State Legislature. Those two branches heard the cries of the public (through the Concerned Citizens Group and others) and decided to work together on crafting a way to stop ETG’s proposed Project. Governor Anefal’s plan was an act of political bravery, one that needed the support of the Yap State Legislature in order to succeed. Whatever the situation may be right now, at least there was government unity at one critical point.
Unfortunately, the Executive Branch seems to be minimizing its involvement in that plan, and so there is disunity once again. This brings me to what I think is a second new item brought up during yesterday’s hearing. At one point during the hearing, Vice Speaker Rutun (who chaired the hearing) announced that he had received a note from Lieutenant Governor Tareg during the hearing saying that Governor Anefal’s October 1, 2012 letter to ETG merely asked that the State and ETG reconsider ETG’s proposed Project. This seemed to be an attempt by the Executive Branch to downplay/ignore the language in the letter that calls for a dissolution of the signed Investment Agreeement and any legal documents preceding it. In light of the revelation that Governor Anefal drafted the October 1, 2012 letter as part of a plan with the Legislature to use Resolution No. 8-53 to justify the State’s stoppage of ETG’s proposed Project in Yap, Lieutenant Governor Tareg’s note seems to be an interesting take on history. Was the note sanctioned by Governor Anefal? I do not know.
Aside from that interesting take on history, the new item of discussion that I want to point out is that Lieutenant Governor Tareg’s note to Vice Speaker Rutun during yesterday’s hearing represents, I believe, the first time that the Executive Branch has publicly acknowledged the existence of Governor Anefal’s October 1, 2012 letter to ETG. Indeed, Chairman Deng Hong responded to that letter officially before the Executive Branch even acknowledged its existence. Even with Lieutenant Governor Tareg’s note, though, one can argue that the note was not an official communication from the Executive Branch to the Legislature (per government protocol, as I have discussed in this group previously), and therefore, the Executive Branch still has not officially acknowledged Governor Anefal’s October 1, 2012 letter. At least the Executive Branch has publicly acknowledged the letter, even though it may not have done so in an official communication.
(If the Executive Branch had, indeed, officially and/or publicly acknowledged the letter prior to yesterday’s hearing, then I deeply apologize, and I stand corrected.)
In light of the Executive Branch’s acknowledgement of Governor Anefal’s October 1, 2012 letter, I think it is time for the Executive Branch to make a clear public announcement/statement of its views of the current legal status of ETG’s proposed Project in Yap. Does the Executive Branch believe that the signed Agreement and all related legal documents preceding it are void, and if not, then what is the status of those documents, according to the Executive Branch? We have repeatedly heard from the Legislature, the Concerned Citizens Group, YAP, and even ETG (via Chairman Deng Hong) about Governor Anefal’s October 1, 2012 letter, but there have been no official comments from the Executive Branch about the letter to date. I think the people deserve an explanation.
A third new item of discussion is the clarification provided by several Senators during the hearing yesterday about the so-called Task Force that was supposed to be created in 2011 in response to ETG’s expressed interest in Yap. According to several Senators (including Senator Mooteb, who was present in the leadership meeting that agreed on the creation of the Task Force), the Yap State leadership–including Members of the Yap State Legislature–initially agreed during a leadership meeting in mid-2011 to put together a group with representatives from the government branches to formulate a comprehensive sustainable development plan for Yap that Yap can present to ETG and other foreign investors for their review. The thinking was that such a plan would allow ETG and other potential foreign investors to review what Yap’s development aspirations are and see if those investors could tailor their projects to fit Yap’s aspirations. The Legislature was supposed to submit representatives for the group. However, before the Legislature chose its representatives, the Legislature received a communication from Governor Anefal requesting the Legislature to submit its representatives for a Task Force that will identify land in Yap for ETG to use in its proposed Project. This, according to the Senators during yesterday’s hearing, was not the purpose of the group that the leadership agreed on during its mid-2011 meeting, and so the Legislature declined to participate in that Task Force.
I want to note that if the leadership had stuck to its original plan to craft a sustainable development scheme to present to ETG and other foreign investors, they would have engaged in precisely the sort of activity that I and many others have been advocating in this group and elsewhere. We have insisted that before Yap embraces ETG or any other sizable foreign investor, Yap needs to first craft a comprehensive sustainable development plan–one that reflects Yap’s aspirations and limitations; one that stands on the four “nguchol” identified by Senator Mooteb in yesterday’s hearing as critical components of sustainable development for Yap; one that is truly sustainable as well as successful–that Yap can then present to potential foreign investors. Yap can still do this, even with ETG’s proposed Project looming over everything, but Yap needs to halt ETG’s current Project-related activities so that the Yap State Government and her people can conduct the necessary discussions and make the necessary decisions in relative peace and stability.
Finally, a fourth new item of discussion is the revelation during yesterday’s hearing by one of the Senators that in a meeting between the Legislature and the Executive Branch prior to the State’s issuance of a Foreign Investment Permit to ETG, the Members of the Legislature expressed their strong concern to the Governor that the State was heading toward embracing ETG before the general public had had a chance to be fully educated about ETG’s proposed Project. In response, and in front of the Members of the Legislature, Governor Anefal ordered Frank Haregaichig, the Director of the Yap State Department of Resources & Development (who was in attendance during that meeting), to not issue ETG a Foreign Investment Permit until the public had been properly educated. Of course, as we know, the Director issued ETG a Foreign Investment Permit anyway, even though the public had not been (and still has not been) fully educated about ETG’s proposed Project in Yap. Indeed, from what I understand, ETG was issued a Foreign Investment Permit before the State held the sole Town Hall meeting to discuss ETG’s proposed Project in Yap, and before the Legislature held its sole public hearing on one draft of the Cooperative Investment Agreement. There seems to have been a communication breakdown between Governor Anefal and the Director of the Department of Resources and Development.
Moving on from the new items of discussion, I do have several questions I want to ask members of YAP who participate in this group.
First, is it the position of YAP that if the State and ETG somehow manage to agree to void the current signed Agreement and return to the negotiating table, the general public should not be involved in that renegotiation? I heard at least one YAP representative say during yesterday’s hearing that such a renegotiation, if it comes to pass, should be handled solely by the State leadership. I have repeatedly expressed my opinion in this group that the general public should participate meaningfully in any renegotiation process, given the trouble that has occurred as a result of the general public (as well as the Legislature) being shut out off the negotiation process for the current signed Agreement. (See here for my latest comment on that:http://on.fb.me/TGUdym ) Does YAP feel that the general public should not be involved at all?
Second, is YAP, among other things, a lobbying group, and if so, what is YAP lobbying for and/or planning to lobby for? I have read past statements in this group by YAP members saying that YAP is a lobbying group with various objectives, but at yesterday’s hearing, the predominant demand made by YAP was for government unity–something which, by the way, all the branches aspire to (albeit to less-than-complete success). Aside for calling for government unity, what else is YAP willing to lobby for at this stage? Is YAP willing to push for a renegotiation of the signed Agreement, or is YAP simply leaving that matter to the State leadership?
Finally, given the fact that the signed Cooperative Investment Agreement is (as several Senators said during yesterday’s hearing) the “blueprint” for ETG’s proposed Project in Yap and the State’s obligations toward that Project, has YAP done an in-depth, independent legal analysis of the signed Agreement, and if so, is YAP willing to share that analysis with the general public (including this group) for the sake of public awareness?
I apologize for the length of this post. Again, I sincerely thank YAP for taking the time to present its positions and demands yesterday during the hearing. I offer my points and questions in this post in an effort to continue the dialogue started by YAP during yesterday’s hearing.
Kam’magar, ma siro.