Congress of the Federated States of Micronesia

FSM Congress News, January 27, 2004

PALIKIR, Pohnpei (FSM Congress): January 27, 2004 - The gallery was unusually packed even before Congress went into session this morning and before it adjourned sine-die. People filled the 170 seats in the gallery and more people were standing in the hallways and outside of the chamber, trying to listen to the proceedings and hoping to hear what they come here to hear about the recently introduced amnesty bill.

People from all parts of Pohnpei came, residents and visitors alike, government officials, students, business people, and regular citizens who wished to witness the action of Congress on the bill, which has generated unprecedented interest more than any other bill in the history of the FSM Congress.

People have been calling the congressional central office and Members of Congress for information and comments. People have been writing opposition letters and running extensive petitions against the bill and today approximately 500 people came before and during the plenary session this morning. When Congress finally recommitted the bill to the Committee on Judiciary and Governmental Operations for further study and investigation, most people in the gallery stood up and left the chamber.

Before re-committal of the bill to the assigned committee, Floor Leader Henry C. Asugar made a lengthy statement about the congressional bill. In his statement, Asugar pointed out the reasons the bill was introduced and explained why he believes the bill is good and timely. He believes that citizens supporting some politicians have been unfairly targeted for investigation and prosecution, while others not being investigated who support opposition politicians are not.

Floor Leader Asugar also made reference to the fact that amnesty was granted in the United States after the civil war for far more horrible acts than have been alleged to be committed here in the FSM. The floor leader pointed out that the bill seeks to forgive all classes of citizens of the nation who have committed wrong against the nation. "It does not seek to forgive only those citizens of this Nation from the State of Chuuk. Rather, it seeks to forgive all of those who are similarly situated." The bill seeks to forgive all those who wronged the FSM Government since the beginning of the Compact November 3, 1986 to the end of the first part of the Compact November 3, 2003 and are not yet convicted.

The bill claims that the national government has singled out certain classes of people for investigation and prosecution based on the exercise of their political right and claims that other classes of people who may have equally committed the same types of wrong, are not being investigated or prosecuted simply because of their political bent. The bill aims to clean that selective process and start the year 2004 fresh, with a transparent and accountable government. The bill is now with the Committee on Judiciary and Governmental Operations for further study and investigations.

Other actions of Congress before it adjourned was the passage a bill on 1st Reading that would allow payment of surviving spouse benefits under the Social Security Act to continue after the surviving spouse has remarried, and the passage of two other bills on final reading to change the use and extends the lapse date of certain funds previously appropriated for the States of Pohnpei and Chuuk. Congress also passed a bill on Second and Final Reading to provide $2.8 million to fund social and economic development projects throughout the nation.

Congress also approved an additional $15,682,670 from the general fund of the FSM to fund the remaining 3rd and 4th quarters of the fiscal year 2004 for the operations of all branches of the FSM National Government, its agencies, programs, grants, subsidies and contributions, and capital and human resource development.

Congress also approved several resolutions, including resolutions expressing profound gratitude and appreciation of the 13th Congress to the United States Congress delegations that visited the FSM for blessing the nation and its people with their visit, a resolution approving a grant application for technical assistance to supplement funding for the Third Economic Summit, and a resolution indicating the total funds estimated to be available for appropriation by Congress for the current fiscal year 2004.

Finally, on the last day of the session, Senator Isaac Figir of Yap introduced a resolution that, if adopted, would reinstate the continued service of retired FSM Supreme Court Justice Richard H. Benson whose service was brought to a halt by an earlier resolution of the Congress that was adopted this session.

Speaker Peter M. Christian appointed Senator Dohsis Halbert as chairman, Vice Speaker Claude Phillip, and Senators Dion Neth, Ramon Peyal and Moses Nelson as members of a new Special Committee designated to look into the issues surrounding the College of Micronesia-FSM and the real property purchased by the College in Chuuk.

For further information on this release, please contact:

Congress of the Federated States of Micronesia
Public Information Office
P.O Box PS-3
Palikir Station, Pohnpei, FM 96941
Tel.: (691) 320-2324/2325
Fax.: (691) 320-5122