PALAU LAWMAKERS MUM ON CHINA TRIP FUNDS

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By Agnes M. Abrau

KOROR (Palau Horizon, June 15) - Two members of the Palau House of Delegates who went to China for a "private trip" insist that the trip was not illegal because there was no government money involved.

Delegates Lucio Ngiraiwet of Ngardmau and Kalistus Ngirturong of Aimeliik said they went to China to promote Palau as a tourist destination and as a stable place to invest.

However, neither of the delegates nor President Tommy Remengesau disclosed who paid for the China trip.

Ngiraiwet said the trip was arranged by the Office of the President.

"As elected officials, it’s our duty to promote Palau. When opportunity presents itself, just like this, (when) an investor shows real interest in coming to Palau and invest here we should be there to promote Palau," Ngiraiwet said.

Last week, Remengesau and Senator Alfonso Diaz denied that the two delegates’ trip was illegal and in violation of the Code of Ethics Act.

"We went on this trip which is privately funded but there’s nothing illegal with it," Ngiraiwet said.

Members of the delegation included five delegates, a senator and Kione Isechal.

Ngirturong said they visited all possible investment sites of real estate magnate, Hui Ming Mau. The Chinese tycoon reportedly has massive housing investments in Hong Kong and China.

"We went there to see different projects that some investors are doing there," Ngirturong said.

June 16, 2005

Marianas Variety: www.mvariety.com

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