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The Contemporary Pacific 13.1 (2001) 200-203

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Federated States of Micronesia

Micronesia in Review: Issues and Events, 1 July 1999 to 30 June 2000

The period under review ushered in a new administration for the nation as major economic issues were negotiated in the ongoing discussion of sections of the Compact of Free Association. The state of Pohnpei was hit by cholera, making matters unstable for the nation's capital and producing ripple effects at home and abroad. A movement for statehood within the biggest state, Chuuk, and old issues of state versus national control of economic resources, continued.

FSM President Leo A Falcam (Pohnpei) and Vice-President Redley Killion (Chuuk) assumed office early in 1999. In his inaugural address the president outlined a new reform package for the nation, with three major themes. First, the national government must work diligently toward balancing its finances because the compact will no longer be the main source of income. Second, there is a need for the federation to concentrate more on the private sector to stimulate the domestic economy and further integrate the nation into the current global economic structure. Third, Micronesians must realize the importance of maintaining their unique cultural values and identity, as that in itself would place them on the international stage.

To fulfill one of his ambitions before being elected president, Falcam took the time to meet people in all regions of the country before facing the international stage. Immediately after his inauguration, he traveled widely to different parts of the nation with the aim of reinforcing that his foremost priority is the people. During his meetings, he reminded them to be proud of being Micronesians, as no one can steal that reality away from them. Micronesian people need to strive together to better the nation, both economically and culturally, before they can stand firmly in the international arena. Thus the doctrine of "think globally but act locally" was at the heart of the president's domestic meetings.

Falcam's first political challenge came in October 1999. The Congress proposed certain bills for so-called capital projects, which many saw fell within the interests of the incumbents. The money was for pork-barrel funds to be distributed among the current members of Congress. The president vetoed the bills, citing inappropriate spending, especially at a time when the nation was reevaluating its economic policy. Many of the incumbents saw the president's act as nothing more than a rubber stamp and moved to use Congress's constitutional right to veto Falcam's wishes. This was a political blow to the president and the nation alike. The "might" of Congress continues to hamper the Federated States' future and creates a climate of political mistrust. However, according to many political observers, this act of [End Page 200] Congress did not (and will not) sway positive public opinion toward President Falcam.

On the international scene, the president's first trip was to the People's Republic of China, the first ever by a president of the federation. The purpose was to strengthen the relationship between the two nations. China has been a great friend of the Federated States of Micronesia and has assisted the nation in many ways, including development aid. The trip highlighted the widening of the nation's stance in the world and reflected the president's vision for the future.

The legislative arm of the national government remained intact despite two new figures, Resio Moses and Manny Mori, both of whom have spent many years in government and the banking sectors. Their presence in Congress raises new hopes that they are breaking new ground and paving the way for more new faces in the assembly. The blazing battle within Congress, for now and the foreseeable future, will be between the new members and many of the incumbents concerning the pork-barrel appropriations that have been handicapping the nation for many years. Only time will tell whether any major changes will be attributed to Moses and Mori.

As 1999 came to a close, the State of Pohnpei woke up to a...