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Masang pushes back against Senate, gives no hint of stepping down

Koror, Palau- Instead of heeding the Senate’s call to resign from his post, Palau Public Utilities Board Chairman Sam Masang is pushing back against the Senate.

MLXLIn a letter dated February 2, Masang fired back at the Senate saying it has no right to discredit him in his absence at the January 29 public hearing.

Masang said the Senate, specifically the Senate CIP Committee, misinterpreted his nonappearance from a previous public hearing as refusing to face the panel.

He said that he has asked the Senate for another time to attend the public hearing to give him and the PPUC time to prepare answers to questions that may be asked by the panel.

“It is deeply sad and extremely regretful that you interpreted my letter as a refusal to meet with you and or challenging your authority or any authority of any chairman committees to convene public hearings,” Masang said.

Senator John Skebong, chair of the Senate CIP Committee, on January 29 demanded Masang to resign as a member of the PPUC Board of Directors.

Skebong also cited other grounds for Masang to vacate his post, from failure to answer inquiries of the Senate; failure to compel investigation of customer complaints at not providing a necessary solution; and for failing to implement corrective action from the PPUC management.

Masang is also accused of profiting from his board position with his company Palau Telecoms, being paid over $75,000 for communication services to PPUC.

However, PPUC denies that there was a violation.

“If there were violations, the transaction will be cited as Findings in the auditor's report and these findings would explain the violation and offer recommendations and proper action to be taken by the management and board. Furthermore, the PPUC procurement and employment regulations allow for such procurement under very specific guidelines. So in a way, yes, we viewed this as a provision of legitimate contractual services for the company,” PPUC Director of Administration, Tmetuchl Baules, said in response to an email inquiry.

However, Masang did not address the grounds cited by the senators for him to resign. Masang instead accused the Senators of using their powers to attack him. He also citiciized the Senate for its apparent "ambush-style fashion" when conducting public hearings.

“…disagreeing to the date of the meeting that you arbitrary and unilaterally decided and to request to reset the meeting for another day where we can be able to attend, was within our right as citizens, taxpayers, voters, and your constituents,” Masang said.

“There was no need to respond to us in such a demeaning way where you sound as if the Senate has become your exclusive private club, neither it was right to attack our integrity in the floor of the Congress at meetings or sessions...As citizens, voters, taxpayers, and your constituents who put you in the Congress, we have a right to complain how you have treated us,” Masang added.

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