Koror, Palau – Palau’s incumbent Vice President Raynold Oilouch has officially declared to run for presidential post in the 2020 elections, becoming the third politician to do so.
Vice President Oilouch first broke the news publicly in a local radio program on Monday, October 28, expressing that he wanted to continue the foundation laid by the current administration and improve from there.
“The new government should not make a new foundation to work on, but instead look for opportunities to take care of the foundation that is already built now,” Vice President Oilouch said during his announcement.
He added that he chose yesterday to declare because it was a new moon and under Palau’s customs, the new moon is a very important day especially when one wants to embark on something big.
“As a Palauan, I believe strongly in our customs and traditions and so under our tradition, the new moon is a very important day because that is the start of the moon getting bigger and bigger,” he explained.
The Vice President said that there are a lot good projects that are currently going-on under the current administration, such as the housing project and the marine sanctuary, that he wanted to continue should he be given the opportunity to lead the country.
He, however, reiterated that he wanted to do more by incorporating new ideas which he said are “a little different.”
When asked if he gets the endorsement of the current president, the Vice President said that he hopes that he will get his support, adding that President Tommy Remengesau, Jr. is aware of his plan to run for the highest government post.
“The president and I had been working well together. I believe we worked well together. He can trust me. He puts his trust in me during our years together as President and Vice President,” Oilouch said.
On China and Taiwan relations
When also asked about his stance on the trend of new administrations switching ties from Taiwan to China, the Vice President said that it is always better to listen to the voice of the people.
He emphasized that it is very important to understand Palau whom he described as “very slow to make up its mind on many things” but that once it made up its mind, it is always “firm, loyal, and hard to change.”
“That’s what I see of Palau but having said that, I am not going to the office on my own. If I get lucky, it’s the people to put me into position so I have to listen to the people. If they think that this is a route that we have to take, then it’s the route that we have to take,” he said.
He, however, said that Palau should have no enemy and if he is given the opportunity to lead the country, he would like to improve its relationship with China.
“If I am lucky enough to get the position, I want to do my utmost best to improve Palau’s relations with Mainland China because I know and acknowledge that China in the second largest economy in the world and the way I see it, Palau needs to be a good friend of China as well and mutually benefit from each other,” he said.
He also considers his current experience with the government as a leverage when it comes to the current regional and international issues that affect Palau.
Oilouch said that his decision to run for the highest government post came only after some time when he was serving as the Vice President and Justice Minister after some people encouraged him to do it.
“I’m asking for your belief, good fortunes, prayers, and help from everyone in this election. And that we continue to be one and be peaceful. This is not the end because I will come back again to talk about the programs that I want to start in detail,” the Vice President said during his announcement on a radio program.
The Vice President was elected to the post during the national elections in 2016. Prior to his stint as Vice President, he served as a Senator for two terms during the 8th and 9th Olbiil Era Kelulau (OEK). He was also a lawyer under the Micronesian Legal Service for over five years and had later became a private practitioner for more than 10 years.
Vice President Oilouch will be one of the contenders for the presidential post in the upcoming 202O elections along with former President Johnson Toribiong and businessman Alan Seid who declared their presidential bids ahead of him this year.
Under Palau’s laws, an individual seeking presidential candidacy must acquire at least 100 signatures from voters to make their candidacy official. (Rhealyn C. Pojas)