Palau President Tommy Remengesau Jr. has earned plaudits at home and abroad. Known for his world-renowned environmental initiatives, including the famed Palau National Marine Sanctuary, the outgoing leader also passed one tough leadership test this year- keeping the nation COVID- free.
President Remengesau retires from politics in January 2021. This is Remengesau’s last rodeo, having served the tiny nation as a public official for over 20 years and a respected and seasoned statesman in the Pacific.
Remengesau is leaving the world of politics, and as for his legacy; he says he wants to be remembered as the leader who maintained a ‘Pristine Paradise Palau’.
“Nation-building has been a balancing act for me, I felt with the majority of Palauan people, we needed to preserve the best, while improving the rest.”
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Palau's National Marine Sanctuary— which is hailed as the tiny nation's much celebrated signature policy—may face review from President Tommy Remengesau Jr’s successor.
More than five years in the making, Palau’s marine sanctuary law took effect on January 1 this year. It closed 80% of Palau’s exclusive economic zone to commercial fishing, a monumental policy for a tiny island nation with a population of 18,000.
The sanctuary however is at the centre of election debate, with presidential candidates Surangel Whipps Jr. and Raynold Oilouch saying during their campaign sorties that they are considering reassessing the PNMS, to ensure Palau’s people get the best benefits out of it.
Presidential candidate Surangel Whipps Jr. believes that the PNMS policy is a good one, telling the National Environment Symposium in late September that he supports the marine sanctuary. However he believes there are things in the policy that can be refined and amended to give more opportunities for Palauan fisherman to fish.
His rival for the Presidency in November, current Vice President, Raynold Oilouch said he is not in favour of abolishing the PNMS, but if he sees problems with the sanctuary, then it should be reviewed to ensure that the law will be improved.
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