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On April 12, the Fifteenth Ngarchelong State Assembly adopted Resolution 15-26 immediately expelling and removing Chief TET Singich Sato from membership in the Assembly. The Resolution states that “Chief TET Singich Sato has undertaken a number of action which are contrary to his responsibilities and duties as a member of the Assembly.”
The Resolution went on to state that several months ago, “Chief TET Singich Sato opened the waters of Ollei Hamlet for the fishing/harvesting of sea cucumbers in total disregard of the Assembly and Traditional Chiefs’ effort to ban such sea cucumber fishing/harvesting in the waters of Ngarchelong State.”
As reported in Tia Belau last year, the State’s Council of Chiefs– RTEAI– “issued the traditional law of BUL on September 6, 2011 prohibiting [the] taking of seafood sea cucumbers from the state and selling them to another state.” BUL is a traditional conservation law, implemented to regulate the taking of marine and land life and “has been practiced since time immemorial in Palau in order to assure sustainability of land and water resources for future generations.”
In the same article, it was reported that the BUL had been violated on October 24, 2011 by “prominent individuals” who had collected sea cucumbers from the Ollei and Ngerkeklau and sold them to buyers in Ngardmau.
In a Tia Belau editorial published just a month later, it was revealed that despite the BUL imposed on sea cucumber “Chief TET, the First Chief of Ollei, [had] opened his village reefs for harvests.” It should be noted that the timing of Chief TET’s announcement counterattacked the trouble for which the “prominent individuals” were in for violating the BUL established by RTEAI.
The Ngarchelong State Assembly is composed of hamlet chiefs, as well as elected members, and “expects all its members to be held to a higher standard, to uphold the integrity of the Assembly and to discharge their duties and responsibilities for the benefit of the people of Ngarchelong.”
Per the Ngarchelong State Constitution, the Assembly “may discipline its members by censure for disorderly behavior, neglect of duty, or violation of the oath of office.” With a two-thirds vote, the Assembly may suspends or even expel their members.
The Resolution also states that Chief TET Singich Sato “deliberately interfered with, and in fact sought to stop, the survey of Ollei Port, which was authorized by Ngarchelong State Government for the purpose of creating business at the Port for the benfit of the government and people of Ngarchelong State.”
The Assembly also received complaints regarding the legitimacy of his chief title and he was accused of threatening the life of a fellow Assembly member.
In response to Chief TET’s disregard for the BUL imposed on sea cucumber and his other outstanding issues, the Ngarchelong State Assembly believed they had “sufficient causes for his expulsion from the Assembly.”
In light of this incidence and of accusations against other members of the Assembly, Ngarchelong State Speaker– Immanuel Maldangesang– has reinstated the Ngarchelong State Credential Committee to look into the credentials of the involved parties and thoroughly investigate reports against other members of the Ngarchelong State Assembly.
Speaker Maldangesang assures the citizens of Ngarchelong State that if the other Assembly members are found to be guilty of the accusations against them, the same procedure will be followed and that the Fifteenth Ngarchelong State Assembly is actively working to preserve siukang and the way of life for the people of Ngarchelong.
Tia Belau contacted Chief TET Singich Sato for comment on the Resolution. He responded by saying that he had thanked Assembly for their time working together and reminded them that they were all still citizens of Ngarchelong State– but would make no further comment without legal counsel.