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By Janet David

PALIKIR, Pohnpei (January 14, 1999 - The Island Tribune)---John A. Mangefel, one of the founding fathers of the Federated States of Micronesia (FSM), recently retired after 30 consecutive years of service for the governments of the Trust Territory and the FSM.

Mangefel was one of the first members of the Congress of Micronesia. In 1978, he became the first governor of Yap State, and from 1987 to 1988 Mangefel worked as a Special Assistant to the Governor of Yap State. He then moved to Pohnpei, where he served as the National Planner for the FSM Office of Planning and Statistics, until 1991. After that, he worked as Deputy Secretary of External Affairs, now Foreign Affairs. In 1995, Mangefel became a Special Assistant to the President, until his resignation on December 30, 1998.

When asked what he thought of the FSM Government, Mangefel said "the Government is okay; it is the people who work in it that cause problems."

Known for his no-nonsense attitude, acute mind and legendary command of the English language, Mangefel said the FSM Government is difficult to cope with, having four isolated States. "Ideally, we are not supposed to favor one State over the other," said Mangefel. "I understand it is human nature to look after our own, but this should not be practiced, or at least keep it to a minimum."

Mangefel believes that if the government is too big, then it weakens the government. "For instance, the schools exist only in the States, but the National Government used to have a big Education Department," he said. Mangefel believes the reorganization and other introduced reform measures are helping to take care of this problem.

"I'm beginning to see that the National and the State governments are drifting apart," said Mangefel. "Something needs to be done in that area to bring the National Government closer to the four States, so they can work cooperatively and harmoniously." Mangefel believes more State and National leadership conferences can help that. "Our cultures differ, but we can understand our differences and work together with that understanding," he maintained. "In that way, we can be a strong and beautiful Nation, like the different colors of the rainbow." Mangefel argued, that while it can be difficult, it is not impossible to do so.

Mangefel hopes that he can contribute to the overall development of the Nation, at the State level, by providing consultation services to the State of Yap, when needed.

At a farewell reception for Mangefel and his family, President Jacob Nena thanked Mangefel for his long service to the Government and presented him with a certificate of appreciation.

For additional reports from The Island Tribune, go to PACIFIC ISLANDS REPORT News/Information Links: Newspapers/The Island Tribune or http://www.islandtribune.com

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