FAICHUK LEADERS WANT OUT OF CHUUK, FSM

CHUUK (Marianas Variety, Jan. 31) - For 40 long years, the Israelites wandered before they actually set foot on Canaan, their promised land. The people of Faichuk for over 40 years are still struggling for a mere glimpse of their "promised land."

In the words of the Faichuk leadership, a separation from Chuuk and the Federated States of Micronesia under a republican government in free association with the United States is the solution to Faichuk’s underdevelopment.

The idea to be independent of Chuuk does not belong to the present Faichuk leaders. The former leaders of Faichuk, most of who have already passed away, shared the same vision of the leaders of Palau, the Marshall Islands and the Northern Mariana Islands.

Today, anyone can see the big difference between Faichuk and the Northern Mariana Islands and their peoples. There is hardly a Chamorro in Chuuk while Faichukese residing in the Northern Marianas and other United States possessions are skyrocketing.

The reason is simple. The Faichukese knew that there is barely any opportunity in Faichuk for them. The main roads are inaccessible and there is not a single automobile. Although overgrown with bush and trees, the old roads for vehicles under the Japanese government are still visible. There is no hospital, no airport, no seaport, no electrical power generation, no decent school except for Faichuk Junior High School, which may be equivalent to an elementary school.

For over 40 years under the Trust Territory of the Pacific Islands and under the FSM governments, Faichuk remains underdeveloped.

With the money given under the Compact of Free Association, Faichuk could have developed at least its basic infrastructure. Apparently, the core of the millions of funding allotted for Faichuk were not spent in Faichuk.

At present, Chuuk is financially strapped and Faichuk now believes that it would have been better off had it left the Trust Territory like Palau or the CNMI.

Chuuk’s present financial asphyxiation is another convincing evidence why Faichuk needs to be independent of Chuuk and the FSM for that matter.

"It would be a total neglect not to address the real needs of the people of Faichuk," said Karsom Enlet, a staunch Faichuk leader.

Faichuk, which has a bigger land mass compared to the four other regions of Chuuk, has a larger population than Kosrae and Yap combined.

According to Anthony Albert of the FSM Statistics Office, Yap and Kosrae’s projected population in 2003 will be 20,834. Faichuk population at present is 25,000 and yet when Kosrae opted for statehood, FSM allowed it to do so with "no strings attached."

Faichuk, which is made up of eight islands, has fulfilled the requirements to be an FSM state but has never been allowed to do so.

Under a statehood arrangement, Faichuk would receive more monies than what it does as a region of Chuuk. But as an independent nation associated with the United States, Faichuk would receive much more.

Under Compact I, there were over 10,000 Faichukese emigrating to Guam, Saipan, Hawaii, the continental United States, and other places because "the grass on the other side is greener."

There is hardly any opportunity in Faichuk during the Trust Territory of the Pacific Islands era, in Compact I, and in Compact II.

"Under Compact II, there is still no development in Faichuk. A Washington consulting firm, Nathan & Associates, which the U.S. and the FSM jointly contracted, provided the (Joint Compact Negotiation team) with a full report on Faichuk infrastructure. Unfortunately, the JCN did not use that report in their negotiation. Even if we are not a state or a nation, these needs should have been addressed. Many Faichukese will certainly return to Faichuk when it becomes a nation, reducing the immigration strain on the United States and its possessions," said Faichuk Sen. Setiro Paul, deputy commissioner of the Faichuk Commission for a Republic of the Faichuk Islands.

"We are ready to sit down with the United States and iron out what they want and what they don’t want. We are ready to negotiate. The configuration of the FSM is expensive. Basic services in health, education and others are not met. Central government needs to be closer to the people. Economic and social development is very hard to achieve with the present government setup," Paul said.

In the 1980s, FSM conducted a referendum in which majority of the people of Faichuk voted for a commonwealth status.

January 31, 2003

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