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Concerned Citizens Group
March, 2013

Who “Owns” Land?

Caution!

The ETG’s land lease template (the Template) strongly favors ETG but not Yapese landowners.

The Templates States:

— ETG uses the leased land in whatever way ETG wishes, as long as the use of land does not violate Yap State laws and regulations. The Template allows a local landowner absolutely NO SAY in what ETG does on his/her land leased to ETG.

Who knows whether Yap State laws and regulations can remain the same or will be changed in favor of ETG in the future?

— ETG owns everything that it constructs or brings to the leased land. The landowner has no right to control any of those Project assets. ETG can also give any of those Project assets to any third party without getting landowner’s consent.

The ETG’s land lease template (the Template) states:

— ETG leases land for no less than 99 years. After 99 years, the lease agreements will AUTOMATICALLY RENEW for 100 years if ETG wishes, while a Yapese landowner does NOT have any power to stop that automatic renewal.

— While Yapese landowners are NOT given any right to terminate a finalized lease agreement without taking legal actions, ETG has the right to terminate the lease agreement as soon as the law is amended to ALLOW ETG to PURCHASE LAND in Yap. Yapese landowners cannot stop ETG from terminating the lease agreement when it happens.

— ETG has a “right of first refusal” on leased land if a landowner wishes to transfer/sell the land to some other Yapese. ETG can use it to prevent anyone from acquiring the land that ETG wishes to lease until such time that ETG can acquire the land on its own.

— If a dispute arises under a finalized lease agreement between ETG and a Yapese landowner, it must be submitted to the FSM Supreme Court but not to the Yap State Court.

— ETG does NOT have any obligation to help Yapese landowners relocate from the leased land. Now the relocation is the responsibility of the landowners, different from what ETG stated in its own brochure.

— ETG will begin paying rent on leased land as soon as ETG takes possession of the land, completely ignoring the signed Cooperative Investment Agreement with Yap State Governor. The agreement prohibits ETG to “develop” its proposed Project in Yap, unless and until the State reviews and approves ETG’s Master Plan. ETG should not enter into a final lease agreement with a Yapese landowner before that Master Plan is reviewed and approved.

What will happen if Yap State does not approve ETG’s Master Plan?

— ETG will first pay what is called an Initial Rent monthly for the first ten years. After that, ETG will increase the monthly rent by 10% for the next ten years. After the second decade is over, ETG will increase the monthly rent by 10%, and this will continue until the original lease ends. When the initial lease is renewed, ETG will pay double the Initial Rent. The landowner CANNOT negotiate a new rental rate or payment schedule for the renewed lease period, of which there is no 10% increase per decade.

This way, ETG can lock in how much rent it will pay to the landowner for 199 years in advance. ETG will make sure that the Initial Rent as low as possible when it negotiates the original lease agreement.

Do you remember how much 1 can of tuna was only 5 years ago? How much is it now and how much will it be 99 years later?

Today’s $100.00 does NOT promise you the same value many years later!

By Reading the Template;

One can sense that ETG is trying to snap up Yapese land for nearly 200 years, doing whatever it wants, without any input or participation from the landowners and paying as little as possible. Can this kind of corporation be considered good for the people of Yap?

What is ETG really for?

Less than 2 years ago, ETG announced that it would project to develop more than 10,000 hotel rooms with several golf courses and casinos by 2020. Their plan was downsized from the initial plan to 4,000 rooms last year then now according to FSM President’s Report, only 1,500 rooms. How can they change their investment plan so quickly?

Let’s see their newest plan with 1,500 rooms. To run 1,500 room hotel facilities, more than 3,000 employees will be needed. Assuming 20% being locally manpowered, 2,400 will be foreign employees and many of them will bring their families. Suppose half of them are accompanied by 3 family members. That makes nearly the same size of Yap’s population right now. Where will they live and for how long? How will Yap be when more than half of its residents are not from Yap?

ETG also has plans in Samoa;

where some political leaders and large tourism business establishments are supporting it to allow casinos into their nation in spite of strong opposition from the people. Interestingly, next to Samoa locates American Samoa. Both Guam and American Samoa are US Territories and accommodate US Military bases since 1899. Why does ETG want to have their assets really close to US military bases?

What can we do?

Some may think it is OK to offer some portion of their property because they are not using it and they still have more than enough land. Or some may think that they cannot have any say because the land to be offered to ETG is not theirs.

However, the history tells that once immigrants start coming in from powerful countries, it is hard to stop it. Once it happens, it will affect all lives of the indigenous generations to come.

In the US only the indigenous peoples lived for centuries until immigrants from Europe came 400 years ago. The natives quickly lost their rights to access their own land. Now the indigenous Americans consist less than 0.9% of the total population in the US.

Captain James Cook “found” Hawaii in the late 18th century. Now the indigenous Hawaiians consist less than 1% of the total population in Hawaii State. Captain Cook also “found” Australia and the British settlement started. Now the indigenous Australians consist only 2% of the nation’s total population.

Taiwan was inhabited only by the indigenous peoples who are linguistically and ethnically close to Micronesians until a significant number of immigrants from southern China started to settle down 350 years ago. Now the indigenous people consist only 2% of the total population of Taiwan, facing language and cultural loss.

This is why we Yapese need to be very careful. Our decision today will determine the future of our children, grandchildren, great-grandchildren, and so forth. We must take care of the lands we inherited or are assigned to by our ancestors for our own survival.

CCG strongly believes that land leases to ETG must be rejected and the Cooperative Investment Agreement with ETG must be terminated.

Buut’ ea Chaaw ngea Yafas Roodaed;

Gaathii Salpiy faa Waasool!

Please download the PDF file and give it to your family, especially for those without internet access: Who “Owns” Land

Visit Nature’s Way Archives to download the pdf file: link

*We sincerely thank Nature’s Way for assistance.

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