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Palau Land Court and the Silence of Leadership

Most annual address by our nation’s president to the Olbiil Era Kelulau keep true to their basic outline — economy, tourism, health, education, and etc.

We have grown to have a pretty good idea of what would be the main elements to be covered by President Tommy E. Remengesau Jr’s upcoming state of the republic address on April 13. If you are counting, this would be an unprecedented thirteenth time Remengesau has given the annual progress report to the national congress.

But one item that will be followed closely this time around, is what would be his response to the Land Court, saga, which since August 11, 2016 has lost its core functions to conduct hearings and issue determinations of land ownership.

Any optimism with this new 10th Olbiil Era Kelulau that restoring Land Court functions will be given the proper attention it urgently demands has been met with disappointment. The new Olbiil Era Kelulau has dodged this issue, which is not any different from the attitude displayed in the last Congress.

For some reason, the House of Delegates and the Senate — even with new chairmen for the respective Judiciary and Governmental Affairs Committee of both houses have not even picked it up as a matter of national priority. This is perhaps the first sign that the honeymoon period of this new government with the public is coming to an end earlier, before any bill has cleared the national congress.

President Remengesau can’t remain silent on this any longer, which is in its seventh month. The president has to step out from the cover of the apparent failure of the Olbiil Era Kelulau. He has to ensure that the long suffering of the people, who have entrusted to their leaders to seek resolution to their outstanding issues must be taken seriously. Every day the Land Court ceases to exist, the suffering and the injury is prolonged, and it is effectively the same as denying justice to those who have cried and fought hard over many years to bring their cases forward.

And so we hope to hear the president's progress report on the Land Court which has been idle for more than half-a-year.

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