- Micronesia in Review: Issues and Events, 1 July 2007 to 30 June 2008
Reviews of Kiribati and Nauru are not included in this issue.
- Federated States of Micronesia
The beginning of this review period was particularly busy. The new national administration led by President Emanuel Mori had just been inaugurated and the political watchers were focusing on nominations for department heads. The first batch of nominees the president submitted included his uncle for secretary of resources and development, and his brother-in-law for FSM ambassador to the United States. The respective congressional committees favorably recommended the nominations for approval. However, the whole congress rejected both. Neither the reports of the jurisdictional committees nor the floor debates addressed the issue of nepotism, which was foremost in everyone's mind. Regardless, the political pundits knew that the two nominations were rejected because the nominees are close relatives of the president, who is from Chuuk State. In this particular case, the FSM public can heave a sigh of relief that the built-in checks and balances at the national level worked.
The president nominated Makato Robert from Chuuk as his attorney general. At the time of his nomination, Robert was still facing charges of unethical practices in the FSM Supreme Court. In its report, the Judiciary and Governmental Operation Committee criticized the court for not acting promptly on the nominee's application for reinstatement to the FSM bar, but ignored the fact that the nominee still cannot appear before the FSM Supreme Court. Regardless of the deficiency in Robert's credentials, the FSM Congress took the bizarre action of approving his nomination. It is not clear how the new attorney general will represent the nation before the FSM Supreme Court, and how much damage this action has done to the reputation, image, and legitimacy of the national government.
At the time of this writing, the Mori administration has filled almost all the major overseas posts with new ambassadors. Yosiwo George, the former governor and chief justice of Kosrae and most recently the manager of MiCare, the national government health insurance program, is the new FSM ambassador to the United States. John Fritz, a Japanese-educated Chuukese and longtime staff member of the embassy in Tokyo, has taken over from Kasio Mida as the ambassador to Japan. The former counsel general in Guam, Samson Pretrick, has become the new ambassador to Fiji. Masao Nakayama remains the head of the FSM Permanent Mission at the United Nations. Beijing is the only unfilled overseas post, but Carl Apis, a Pohnpeian, has been appointed as deputy chief of mission there. The consul general positions in Guam and [End Page 114] Honolulu are filled respectively by Gersen Jackson of Kosrae and Akilino Susaia of Pohnpei. Jackson is a former lieutenant governor of Kosrae, and Susaia served as the secretary of the Department of Economic Affairs under former President Joseph Ursemal.
It is interesting to note that Masao Nakayama is the only remaining member of the old FSM diplomatic corp. Yosiwo George served a couple of years as head of the FSM mission at the United Nations in New York. Pretrick and Fritz are new in their posts but they are experienced diplomats. The two consul generals are new to diplomacy, but they are experienced administrators.
The FSM president's cabinet consists almost entirely of new members. Finley Perman, a former official of the Pohnpei state government, now heads the Department of Finance and Administration; Lorin Robert, the former deputy secretary of foreign affairs, became the head of that department. Vita Skilling, a physician at the Kosrae state hospital, became the secretary of the new Department of Health and Social Affairs. The head of the newly renamed Department of Resources and Development is Peter Christian, the former Speaker of the national congress. Casiano Shoniber, the former Pohnpei state director of education, took over the new Department of Education. Francis Itimai, the former director of planning and budget in Yap, became secretary of transportation, communication, and infrastructure; the former head of that department, Andrew Yatilmal, now heads the Office...