Seventeenth Congress of the FSM Elects the President and Vice President of the FSM
On a damp May 11, 2011 at around noon, in the presence of some highest ranks of traditional leaders of Pohnpei, Chief Justice Martin G. Yinug of the FSM, President John Haglelgam, President Leo A. Falcam, Governors of all the states, presiding officers and some members of the State Legislatures, members of the Diplomatic Corp in the FSM, various community leaderships and other highly dignified observers, the 17th Congress of the FSM on its opening day elected Honorable Manny Mori and Honorable Alik L. Alik to be the President and Vice President of the FSM for the next four years, ending long days of surmise and speculations by the general public.
The maintenance of status quo in the re-election of the three top posts in the legislative and executive branches is a rare reality. This will be the third time in history of the FSM to have a sitting president allotted another four-year term, maintaining leadership at the highest executive capacity.
After a brief welcoming remarks and introductory note by Ms. Lynn Narruhn, Public Relations Officer FSM Congress and Special Assistant to the Speaker on Public Information, and after all members-elect were called in one by one to take up their seats in the Congressional Chamber, Sen. Peter M. Christian of Pohnpei State, longest serving member of Congress, ascended Speaker’s bench to preside over the earlier part of the proceeding until the Speaker of Congress was duly elected by the body, following the “rules of procedure” of the previous congress. Acting Speaker Christian, who sat in that role for about an hour, appointed a Credentials Committee consisting of Sen. Paliknoa K. Welly of Kosrae, Sen. Joseph J. Urusemal of Yap, Sen. Dohsis Halbert of Pohnpei, and Sen. Tiwiter Aritos of Chuuk to review the eligibility of all the senators as mandated by congressional procedures and the FSM Constitution. All elected members were found to have met eligibility standards by the Credentials Committee.
Immediately after the Credentials Committee rendered its affirmative determination for all members, the Acting Speaker led the body in electing the Speaker of the Seventeenth Congress. By voice vote, all members re-elected Hon. Isaac V. Figir of Yap State to maintain his role at the speakership. Thereafter, the veteran congressman from Yap, who has held this very role ever since 2007, aptly presided over the rest of the day’s deliberation.
The vice speakership was given to Senator Berney Martin of Pohnpei who has held the same position at the Pohnpei State Legislature where he served as the representative of the Kitti municipality prior to being elected to the FSM Congress sixty-six days ago. Senator Martin’s takeover of such seat has extended Pohnpei State’s uninterrupted occupancy of the post to at-least six years, assuming he will hold this function all throughout this current congress.
Senator Florencio Singkoro Harper of Chuuk, who has been a parliamentarian since elected to House of Representatives in Chuuk in 1982, was inducted the Floor Leader in much the same pattern as the two officials elected few minutes earlier. Though a novice at the FSM Congress, Senator Harper is by no means a new-comer to legislative processes and procedures having spent a little over two decades at the Chuuk State Legislature.
After the triad of legislative leadership was in place, the much awaited election for the President ensued. The Speaker himself uttered, “this is the moment we have been waiting for” before calling for nomination – a statement that signaled the ending of days if not weeks of guessing, wishing, and hoping by the general public in the entire nation whose prospective choices for the highest executive helm at the national level hinge directly upon the intuition, wisdom, and perhaps mood of the fourteen-members legislative branch. The concluding moment began the minute Honorable Sen. Peter M. Christian ventured to make a nomination in which he said, “I nominate Senator Mori… not Roger S. Mori, but Manny Mori”, which was met with giggles from the audience whose stressful waiting was perhaps beginning to dissipate right then. As previously done, the nomination was not challenged, and Sen. Manny Mori was re-elected to the presidency.
Senator Alik L. Alik of Kosrae reclaimed his vice presidency role in much the same fashion as did the president without any apparent contestation with an unbelievable degree of ease that surely belied the commotions and maneuverings that went into caucus the past couple of days up to the start of the opening meeting, the first day of the Seventeenth Congress. Interestingly, the members went about all the formalities of choosing and electing individuals into coveted roles with precise and careful manners that secured the secrecy and originality of their decisions so as not to spoil the “element of surprise” and “sense of exuberance”, at the same time, drawing a crowd to the decision-making location and keeping it there up to the climax of the once-every-four-years national civic exercise that potentially defines the direction of the nation.
The Honorable Martin G. Yinug, Chief Justice of the FSM Supreme Court, administered the Oath of Office for the newly inducted President and Vice President.
Speaker Figir later appointed the chairpersons of the seven Standing Committees as follows:
Committee of Education, Chairman Joseph J. Urusemal, Yap State
Committee of Judiciary and Governmental Operation, Chairman David W. Panuelo, Pohnpei State
Committee of Resources and Development, Chairman Roger S. Mori, Chuuk State
Committee of External Affairs, Chairman Paliknoa K. Welly, Kosrae State
Committee of Health and Social Affairs, Chairman Tony H. Otto, Chuuk State
Committee of Transportation, Communication, and Infrastructure, Chairman Peter Christian, Pohnpei State