DEATH OF PALAU CHIEF TESTS TRADITIONAL PROTOCAL

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Families are falling apart

KOROR, Palau (Palau Horizon, Sept. 22, 2008) — Palau has clearly defined traditional protocols that govern specific aspects of life -- from the celebration of birth to the burial of the dead and everything in between.

These rules have survived colonialism, wars and even the influence of current political practices.

However, families are now falling apart as a result of individuals or groups who have proposed alterations to the protocols specifically to promote individual interests and to gain power, prestige and honor.

Earlier this year, the highest-ranking chief of the village of Ulimang in Ngaraard, Beches Iluches Reksid, passed away.

Unacceptable behavior of advocates to the chiefly title was displayed during a symbolic and revered part of the funeral in which the title was to be handed to the highest ranking woman of the Otong clan from which the chiefly title originated.

Names were called and the relationship among closely linked members of the clan disintegrated.

The dispute over who is the right person to bear the title remains unresolved.

To re-establish coherent clan links and promote peace among all the members of the Otong clan, Ebil Er a Otong Ereong Remeliik, the highest ranking woman of the clan and the village of Ulimang, is urging the chiefs not to accept any nominations of any person -- including her own nominee - until matters relating to traditional nominating protocols are addressed.

Remeliik, along with other high-ranking women of the Otong clan, nominated Evangelisto "Aban" Ongilibang as the rightful and deserving person to assume the chiefly title of Beches.

She said she followed traditional protocol and made the nomination known to everyone 100 days after the funeral for Beches Iluches Reksid.

Tradition dictates that the chiefs of the village should communicate their approval or disapproval of the nomination to her and the other women members of the clan.

This process will continue until a nominee is accepted by the chiefs.

Remeliik had not received any communication regarding the nomination of Ongilibang.

However, she did learn that the chiefs entertained another nomination submitted by another faction of the Otong clan.

This, she said, is a questionable nomination.

In a letter to the village chiefs, Remeliik said traditional practices should be respected.

She said the chiefs should remain neutral until members of the Otong clan have reached a consensus and endorsed a single nominee.

Issues regarding the clan, she added, are best addressed at the clan level to ensure that peace among all its members is maintained.

Remeliik does not want her clan and her village to be included among those elsewhere in Palau that are disputing chiefly title matters.

She hopes to bring peace to her people while not forsaking her heritage.

As of Thursday, Remeliik had not received any response to her letters that she sent on June 30, Sept. 9 and Sept. 16.

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