Government of the Federated States of Micronesia

Vice President delivers keynote address to FSM Law Day debate teams

POHNPEI, Palikir (FSM Information Service): July 2000 - Vice President Redley Killion addressed land ownership issues in his keynote address, July 12, before the FSM Law Day debate teams.

This year's FSM Law Day debate centered around the issue of foreign ownership of land in the FSM.

The Vice President pointed out that land holds a very crucial role in all societies and that it is a very sensitive topic because of the cultural and traditional values Micronesian attach to it.

He said, "Our ancestors have lived directly off the land, as they built shelters on it and grew food on it for their sustenance."

The Vice President also added that new realities concerning land use in the FSM have come about as a result of the FSM becoming more and more engaged in the world economy.

He said the FSM, like many developing nations in an early stage of development, cannot depend entirely on its domestic resources to develop a private sector; thus, there is a need to encourage foreign investors.

"One of the ways in which we can encourage foreign investors to invest in our country is by making land readily available to them for their uses. And to do so in a way, which makes them feel secure in their rights to make use of the land for productive purposes over a long enough period of time to be able to again gain back their investment of financial and human capital - and to gain some reasonable profit," said Killion.

The Vice President said that all the FSM governments have taken steps over the past few years toward encouraging foreign investment, including amending foreign investment laws of the four states and the national government to create an environment encouraging to local investors and more friendly toward and conducive to foreign investment.

Killion said that in some states the limit on the number of years for leasing land has been increased to allow for longer periods, so foreign investors can recoup their initial investment.

The Vice President pointed out that the question at hand is really, "Do we have to take such serious measures as changing our constitution to permit foreign citizens to own land in the FSM?"

In answering the question, the Vice President said, "We must be ever mindful of indigenous peoples living below poverty level in their own land."

The Vice President in his keynote address, also, asked the debate participants to join him in focusing on the significance of FSM Law Day.

He said law is a "means of keeping order in a society, a community, in a country. And in this connection, I call on the people of this country to reflect on the meaning of law. It must be respected."

He added, "There are some aspects of our laws that are common to any democratic and traditional society; however, there are a few unique customs that set us apart from the rest of the world - Ones that we can rightly be proud of.

For further information on this release, please contact:

FSM Office of the President
Public Information: Press, Radio, Video
P.O Box 34
Palikir Station, Pohnpei, FM 96941
Tel.: (691) 320-2548/2092
Fax.: (691) 320-4356