His Excellency Manny Mori
Federated States of Micronesia
COM/FSM ~ Palikir, Pohnpei
JULY 16, 2007 ~ 10 am
Please allow me
to pay my personal respect and recognition to our traditional leaders, particularly
those from our host State of Pohnpei, from Chuuk, Yap and Kosrae.
Ach ennetin tirow me fairo mi fiti suffen me mennin.
Thank you indeed for the grace of your presence this morning. I also thank those who are listening-in to the radio stations and websites throughout the nation and beyond.
Vice President Alik, Speaker Figir and honorable members of the 15th Congress, Chief Justice Amaraich, former Presidents Haglelgam, Nena, Falcam and Urusemal, former Vice President Ishmael and Killion and former Speakers Henry, Fritz and Christian, Governor David, Governor Simina, Governor Anefal and Governor Weilbacher, and a special warm welcome to President Remengesau, Jr. and the First Lady. Members of the Diplomatic Corps and Foreign dignitaries, representatives of the private sectors and NGOs, members of the Clergy, National and State Officials, friends and families, and special mention of my family members, my daughter Janelle, Elmae, Ume, and Tanya together with their respective families.
My fellow citizens,
I want to begin by acknowledging the very special significance of this moment to me and to our nation.
First and foremost,
I thank almighty god for his kindness and generosity. We thank him for what
he has planned for each and every one of us today and for each and every day
of our lives.
On a more personal note, I want to dedicate this very special moment to my beloved wife, Elina, my precious, 9-year-old daughter - Merriam, and to those six brave young men: Jem, Dominick, Eplin, Resemin, John and Rater, who lost their lives at sea in the pursuit of my public service for our country. The loss of these individuals is now the strongest inspiration for me to conduct my public service career to the fullest of my ability, so that my family’s painful loss, and the loss of the brave young men, would not have been in vain. For this, I ask for the lord’s sustenance and guidance.
I want to thank my fellow Chuukese for their generosity and confidence. [Fokkun Kinisou Chapur). I am always humbled by the trust and kindness they have shown me in my public service. And I have therefore resolved never to betray that trust, while always remaining true to my duties to all of the people of our great young nation.
I thank the members of our 15th congress, in particular the Chuuk delegation, for their confidence in entrusting the helm of our nation to me and Vice President Alik -- at least for the next four years. But I would not mind for the next eight years.
I extend a special welcome to our new senator at-large, Setiro Paul, from Chuuk, and Claude Phillip, from Kosrae.
I also extend a very special thank you to President Urusemal, Vice President Killion and Speaker Christian and their families, and to all our former presidents, vice presidents and former speakers---those who are with us and those who are unable to be with us today. May we, as a nation, never forget our gratitude to them and those whose efforts have made our nation what it is today.
(THE ADMINISTRATION’S VISION)
My fellow citizens,
I want to begin my message with a brief survey of how far we have traveled as a people, and where we are heading as a nation.
Some thirty years ago, our people decided to forge a self-governing political entity which today we call the Federated States of Micronesia.
Our federated States are a statement of our commitment, of our determination and purpose as Micronesian Islanders. It is a statement of our determination to overcome the barriers that were thought to divide us from each other -- the barriers of history, of geography, of language, and of cultural differences.
It is a statement of our commitment to one another that, despite all of the adversities and limitations we have faced, we continue to strive together as a Micronesian nation.
We have, one and
all, committed ourselves to the national purpose set forth in the preamble of
our Constitution and abbreviated in our official national motto: “Peace,
We have committed ourselves to the ideal of constitutional government because we believe our fate and destiny should include such basic values as liberty, justice and equality.
And from the earliest days, we have understood that our political liberty would not survive without economic liberty. We have understood that our people cannot preserve their human dignity and self-respect without political freedom and economic security. My fellow citizens, those are the promises to which our nation has committed itself.
Today, I renew the call to keep faith with those commitments.
Within our communities, there is growing concern and anxiety over our collective future. Some feel we are drifting away from our national purposes. Others fear we are seeing an erosion of our sense of community. Some fear we are losing our self-respect and honor, as a people.
I therefore offer a challenge to you, my people and leaders.
We need to change our mindset, our understanding of our relationship with our governments. We, as individuals, cannot continue to perceive government as the answer to all our problems. We must take responsibility for ourselves and for one other.
Likewise, those of us in government must remember that we are here to do a job. The government is not an end in itself; it is a tool to serve the people. We are part of that tool, and we must combine our energies and resources to fulfill the commitments and aspirations of our people.
I extend this challenge to our public leaders: Micronesian leadership does not have to mean taking a controversial stance or a confrontational approach for its own sake. Instead, leadership means rallying the people around issues of public good, irrespective of political popularity. It means restoring the people’s confidence in our public institutions.
For my part, my Administration will work with every level of government and with every segment of our community on issues of national interest, irrespective of the consequences to my own political career. To do what is right for our nation is not always do what is easy; and it is my commitment to each of you my fellow citizens, that I will always endeavor to do what is right.
( ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT: IMPROVING THE QUALITY OF LIFE)
My fellow citizens,
To secure the aspirations of our people and to preserve our identity as a nation, we must have an economic vision. Like every administration taking over the reigns of government, Vice President Alik and I do have a vision for our economy. It is a vision based on a balancing of our people’s hopes and dreams against the realities and limitations of our island resources.
For those of you who have been in government long enough, you will know that our aspirations of economic development have remained elusive.
According to some, the FSM is a place where “economic hardship” is prevalent among the population.
If “hardship” is defined as “a lack of access to services and opportunities,” then it is difficult to argue with this assessment. The number of our citizens migrating overseas, searching for meaningful opportunities elsewhere, is a sobering reminder of a regrettable socio-economic reality.
And compounding these challenges is the inherent limitation of our federal system of government. It must always be kept in mind that it is the four states that are ultimately responsible for their own economic policies and programs.
Our national government
is only a coordinator and facilitator of these state actions. And as such, the
national government can not be expected to achieve sustainable economic growth
only insofar as it is an effective coordinator and facilitator of state policy.
Consequently, it is the first part of this administration’s economic vision to improve the efficiency of the national government, even as it acts in its role of economic facilitator.
Improving efficiency in the national government will necessarily include rightsizing the structures and streamlining the processes of government.
It is my wish to cut down on the bureaucratic red tape that hinders economic growth, and to do so without sacrificing the accountability and transparency that maintains our collective faith in government.
It is my further hope that this transformation can take place at all levels of government; and toward that end, we will be inviting the states to assess their own activities and to join us in making all of our governments more responsive to the needs of the people.
The second part of our economic vision is to help improve the environment for commerce and industry in the FSM, since it is only through increased investment and entrepreneurship that our people will achieve economic security.
Building such an environment will require many actions. Our efforts must of course focus on the formation of “hard” capital – on the building of roads and schools and other basic infrastructure. But at the same time, we must also focus our efforts on the formation of Human capital, on our most precious resource – our people.
Manpower development – the development of our human capital -- is a lifelong process that is normally achieved through formal training at the college level. To accelerate this process in the FSM, both formal and informal training must be employed in our institutions, both at the College of Micronesia and through the T-3 Program.
This training must be tailored to meet our economy’s requirements for specific skills. We must train our people to meet real economic needs, and in doing so, we must encourage the involvement of private employers in developing a curriculum fit for the twenty-first century.
And once we have imparted knowledge, we must ensure that appropriate incentives are put in place to attract and retain our young people. We must keep valuable skills at home for them to be of use.
We must further acknowledge the progress at our college of Micronesia. It is this Administration’s plan to help the college in the process of becoming a Four-year institution, catering to our nation’s manpower requirements.
And at the end of our terms in office, we want to see a tangible improvement in our students’ scholastic performances. We want to see an increase in the number of certified teachers, an increase in the number of our schools operating in decent learning conditions. We want to see an increase in the number of our students attending and graduating from post secondary institutions with marketable skills for our island economy.
But we must do more. As essential as investment in human resources will be, it will not sustain economic development without an equal investment in our critical infrastructure. Nations will always need roads and schools and power plants to achieve their goals, and it is a key task of government to deliver these critical assets to the economy.
It will therefore be a priority of this administration to accelerate implementation of our infrastructure development plans. To do so, it will be necessary to streamline the review and approval of critical projects at both the state and national levels. And as part of this process, it will also be necessary to assist the states as they improve their land surveying and title registration systems.
But even these actions will still not be enough. Facilitating economic development is more than a process of rolling out college programs or building roads. To grow our economy, we must also ensure rationality and fairness in the process by which government funds itself.
It is for this reason that my Administration will strive to improve the tax system and build a unified tax regime, one that will help improve the oversight of our tax laws and regulations.
And as part of this process, we must also take the initiative to encourage foreign investment in the FSM. Rational tax laws are one step, but more than this, we must ensure that our attitudes toward foreign investment are consistent with our desires to join the global economy as an equal partner.
As such, we will also encourage the state governments to promote an “open door” policy toward foreign investment.
But it is a fundamental truth – in this day and age, open doors must always be watched, and even as we act to encourage investment, we must always ensure that proper control is exercised so that opportunities are preserved for equitable ownership and participation by our local entrepreneurs.
It is another fundamental truth that building a favorable business climate in the FSM will require continued investment in our transportation and communication systems. Given the geographical makeup of our island nation, efficient transportation and communication is a critical ingredient to our social and economic development – and indeed, to our unity as a people.
While a good portion of our existing infrastructure funding has been earmarked for the transportation sector, it is still inadequate to fully address our transportation needs -- needs that have been increasingly compounded by the rising cost of fuel.
I have therefore attached the highest priority to the creation of a national fuel corporation as recommended by the epic council. It is only through local control over our fuel infrastructure that we can ensure access to competitively priced energy for years to come.
And as to communication, this administration assigns high priority to the ongoing efforts to connect our four states to each other and to the world through high-speed fiber optic cable. The business opportunities and social windfall expected from such a connection are enormous and merit our continued efforts.
But as exciting as these new technological developments are, we must also keep in mind the local resources available to us. We have had our share of regrettable experiences in the area of fisheries development, and we must keep in mind that substantial investment capital will always be necessary to grow this industry.
Yet, Fisheries undoubtedly remains one of the most promising sectors of our economy. We will therefore continue to pursue and encourage joint ventures in this area while remaining vigilant in preventing overexploitation of our scarce resources and endangerment of our fragile marine ecologies.
It is a further inescapable truth that economic development in the FSM will mean more than ensuring a sustainable government revenue base or sustainable resource use … it will also require that we live up to our obligations under the compact of free association, especially in the implementation of our major social development programs.
We must therefore strengthen our relationships, both among the four states and with the United States, to maximize efficient implementation of critical health and education sectoral grants. To maximize the efficient implementation of these programs, I have therefore proposed the creation of a cabinet-level office to coordinate these efforts.
in pursuing economic development, we must never neglect our responsibilities
to our environment and to our cultural heritage.
Our administration has already submitted proposals to elevate environmental protection and cultural preservation functions to cabinet-level offices within government. In so doing, we wish to ensure that the natural and cultural legacy we leave our children will be richer than that we ourselves inherited.
These are the elements of our administration’s development agenda for the next four years.
Vice President Alik and I do understand the magnitude of our nation’s economic challenge. We have no illusions. We will do our part to implement this vision so that after our term ends, we will have tangible results to which we can all look to evaluate our progress.
My fellow citizens,
I would like to turn now to this Administration’s vision for Foreign Policy, and address how that vision will relate to the development of our people.
It has been said
many times already, but it is no less true -- the world has become a community
of nations. Globalization is the new world order; and in this world order, no
nation -- even ours -- is an island unto itself.
The latest advances in science and technology have made territorial boundaries almost irrelevant; the same is true for the impact of trade and commerce on national ideologies.
Yet, even as most
countries have come to realize their mutual stake in friendly cooperation, there
are growing problems, such as environmental degradation and resource overexploitation,
that remain beyond the ability of any single country or organization to address;
and it is only through even greater world cooperation and collaboration that
these collective problems can be solved.
And thus, it is against this international setting that we must define our nation’s role in the world. Realistically, we know we have limited capabilities to influence the course of global events; but at the same time, we do not intend to sit idly by and let events dictate our fate.
Our foreign policy goals need be made clear:
First, we will conduct our foreign relations based on established international norms and principles within the limitations of our resources.
Second, we will strengthen our relationships with our friends; strive for mutual respect in the international community; and work to become a productive and respected partner to all our friends and neighbors.
And perhaps most importantly of all, we will continue to extend to all nations what we seek from each: “Peace, Unity, Liberty…”
And it shall be through this small but courageous action – that of staying true to the principles that make us what we are as a nation, even as we join the community of nations -- that we will contribute to the building of sound international institutions. And it shall be through this same courageous action that we will ensure that the global environment remains conducive to our own national development.
(The Micronesian Spirit)
My fellow citizens,
In closing I come to the topic about which I feel the greatest need to speak -- about our actions at home and abroad and what they say about our character as Micronesian and Pacific islanders.
I believe it possible for us as Micronesians to pursue our national commitments, to improve our economic wellbeing and to enjoy our new political liberties without losing our distinct characteristics as a Micronesian people.
A few months back, we mourned the recent passing of two of our islands’ Founding Fathers: the late President Tosiwo Nakayama and Governor John Mangefel. God bless their souls.
In the lives of these two great men, we saw true reflections of the Micronesian character that we were brought up to cherish. And we mourned their passing as a nation, in part I think, because we wondered whether those values are still relevant in today’s highly-competitive world.
In President Nakayama and Governor Mangefel, we saw the exemplary achievements of simple and humble Micronesian leaders.
We saw that it is possible for Micronesians to be accomplished leaders and still be courteous human beings.
We saw that it was possible for Micronesian leaders to achieve the dreams of their people, gracefully and honorably, without compromising either the principles of their position or the honor of their nation.
I, too, believe it is possible to continue striving for our individual and national development while preserving our national character and identity – values which have been the fabric of our social stability and communal harmony.
I call on you my fellow citizens to rise to the occasion and show each other what it takes to be a Micronesian.
To show each other the warmth and compassionate side of our people.
Whether you happen to be a farmer working on a farm, or being a fisherman on a boat or a customer representative in our shops, maintain your grace and professionalism. Do not let stress detract you from your humanity.
I call on you my fellow Micronesian leaders, to remember our Micronesian heritage: to foster our people’s sense of community; and to use our authority and resources to foster that community and stability.
For you see, Micronesian political unity and social stability are an enshrined virtue in our constitutions and are encouraged in our Compacts of Free Association. This is so because unity and stability discourages the impulse for secession or separation.
And it is only through unity and stability, not secession and separation, that we will achieve the aspirations of our people.
That, my fellow citizens, is what we hope to be the legacy of our Administration. We hope that after we leave office, we will have left behind a better foundation for those who follow.
And we hope above all that, with God’s grace, the next four years will be a smooth sailing into a new dawn for our nation.
Kinisou chapur, Kulo Mulalap, Kalahngan, Kammagar.
I thank you, and may God bless our Federation.