By: L.N. Reklai
December 21, 2017 (Koror, Palau) Letters from Senate President Hokkons Baules and members of the House of Delegates to Minister of State Faustina Rehuher-Marugg expressed their concerns and upset over comments made by Ambassador Dilmei Olkeriil to Taiwan News Agency in Taiwan. [restrict]
In an interview with CNA on December 16, Ambassador Olkeriil expressed that Palau’s relationship with Taiwan is “extremely stable”. Ambassador Olkeriil added that “Palau will not be establishing official ties with China”.
Senate President Hokkons Baules in his letter to Minister Rehuher-Marugg question the statements made by Ambassador Olkeriil to CNA and asked if they were Palau’s official foreign policy position with People’s Republic of China.
Senator Baules expressed that such statement might end visitors and tourists from PRC and possibly adversely affecting China’s support for Palau’s initiatives in international organizations in the UN.
Other Senators contest the statements and position made by Senator Hokkons Baules in his letter to Minister of State Marugg, saying that those opinions are his personal opinions and do not represent official position of the Senate.
A letter signed by five members of the House of Delegates, Delegate Gibson Kanai, Delegate Mario Gulibert, Delegate Swenny Ongidobel, Delegate Jonathan Isechal and Delegate Marino Ngemaes, also state that Ambassador Olkeriil’s comments that Palau’s relationship with Taiwan is “extremely stable” and that Palau will not establish diplomatic relations with China, are “unauthorized overstep by an Ambassador and that they damage ongoing commercial relationships that Palau has developed with China.”
The letter further emphasized that “chinese investors have committed hundreds of millions of dollars in investment in Palau.” They added, “these realities have resulted in a commercial relationship with China that Palau treasures.”
Delegates asserted in their letter to Minister Rehuher-Marugg that they are aware of tensions between Taiwan and China. “We understand that that’s their issues not ours to address.”
Delegates called Ambassador’s comments “careless and untimely dismissal of the valuable partnerships between Chinese investors and Palau offends the very relationships that Palau has worked to develop.”
Delegates letter calls to reduce Palau’s presence in Taiwan, saying to “ensure that the voices representing Palau will reflect the partnerships that will continue to spur Palau’s growth.”
No official response has been received by Minister of State Rehuher-Marugg as of this publication.
Palau officially has diplomatic ties with Republic of China (Taiwan) since 1991 and has had close relationship with Taiwan in many areas of development. Taiwan invests approximately $10 million every year into Palau’s infrastructure development and provides scholarships to Taiwan universities to Palauan students each year. Palau also sends over 60% of its referral patients to Taiwan each year for medical services. Other areas of cooperation include agriculture, aquaculture and social programs. [/restrict]