ANOTHER TRADITIONAL POHNPEI LEADER UPSET OVER SECESSION TALK

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By Jasmine J. Henry

KOLONIA, Pohnpei, Federated States of Micronesia (November 15-28, 2001 - The Kaselehlie Press)---Reverend Johnny Hadley, Iso Nahnken of Madolenihrnw, is upset about the reports he had been receiving concerning secession.

"Whatever problems Pohnpei State has now," he said, "a system is already set to address these problems. We do not need to leave the Federation to solve these problems."

For a man who had been part of the initial move to form the Federation, speaking of secession was hard for Reverend Hadley. Tearful at times, he explained that Pohnpei had joined the Federation, indeed had been one of the strongest advocates for the Federation, because its Sohpeidi, or noble class, believed in the Congress of Micronesia’s aspiration "to formulate a Government wherein indigenous people would govern our own islands."

At the time, six island nations were on the verge of deciding their futures: the Marianas, the Marshalls, Palau, Yap, Chunk, Kosrae, and Pohnpei.

The Northern Marianas wanted to be on their own and to prove it; they burned down the buildings in Saipan, where the capital of the Trust Territory had initially been located, of the Congress of Micronesia.

To expedite the process of creating a Federation, the Sohpeidi offered Pohnpei, the largest island in Micronesia, to house the capital of the new Federation.

Eventually, the Sohpeidi traveled the width and breadth of Pohnpei convincing the locals that the Federation would herald a new era of self-governance. And afterwards, they traveled all over Micronesia.

"We received abuse for our support of the Federation in the other islands," said Reverend Hadley. "We were told we were unwelcome. In the Marshalls, they picketed us as we came off the airplane. People held up signs and chanted, ‘Why do you want our money?’ It was humiliating. We lost a lot of respect and were treated as if we were less than human. It was beyond anything I had ever imagined."

The tension between the islands was due to money. The other islands were afraid the FSM would consume most of the funds and were unwilling to step into a union with them. But to create a Federation, a minimum of four states was needed. With Yap, Chunk, Kosrae and Pohnpei standing firm, the FSM was born.

"It upsets me to hear of secession because we worked so hard during that time, flying from island to island, trying to talk to people who were suspicious and unwelcoming. We ruined our names for the Federation and lost face for it," said Hadley tearfully. "I get so emotional." He apologized for his tears. "And now, they talk of secession. Where is the reasonable cause?

There can only be two reasons why Pohnpei would wish to leave the Federation: land or money. If it’s money, we can go to Congress and start a dialogue. If it’s land, then they are targeting the wrong government. If it’s land they have to look to Pohnpei State Government because the National Government has no jurisdiction over State land. They are just using the National Government as a scapegoat because it’s harder to look at the State Government for blame because it will be found that we are the ones at fault. The point is, these issues can be solved now. There is no need to panic out these kinds of problems; we should solve them and be proactive about them. But these issues do not warrant secession."

Hadley also disagrees with the report submitted by the Legislature Committee on Seceding from the FSM that stated that secession is an issue particular to Pohnpei and therefore does not involve the other States.

"Pohnpei cannot decide it’s own future. We are Pohnpei-FSM. We are no longer Pohnpei before the Federation. We are a part of a whole. As Pohnpei-FSM, Pohnpei is no longer for Pohnpeians only because what we do will either hurt or help the other States. Pohnpei is still there, but we are not alone. Because of this, I believe that secession is an issue that all the other States must be involved in."

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