Palikir, Pohnpei - May 14, 2007 - On Monday we celebrated with the President the one year one day anniversary of the birth of this 15th Congress and of his new administration. Today marks the one year three day anniversary. I suggest that today is no less important for its lack of celebration and ceremony than Monday and is maybe even more important. Today marks the first day of the rest of this Congress. It is the first day of the time we have left to make our mark on the future of this nation and the futures of our children and our grandchildren. It is a time to pause and reflect.
The days and months since May 11, 2007 have been eventful. There is much for which we can be proud.
As our first act we elected a new President and Vice President and new leadership in Congress. This accomplishment, alone, deserves special recognition. With a Nation consisting of four distant states, each with its own native language and its own distinct customs and traditions, the ability to peacefully select national leaders and to transition from one government to the next is something for which the people of this great nation should be thankful. It is a testimonial to the wisdom of our Constitution that we have been able to accomplish this feat, not once but seven times over our brief history. Not all nations are so blessed.
During the past year much of our energy has been devoted to this transition. With this, as with any new administration, there have been challenges and there have been differences. But despite those differences, this Congress responded to the call of the President to support the reorganization plan that was the early focus of his Administration.
This Congress has further responded to the President's call by giving its advice and consent to well over 30 of his nominations for public office since May of 2007. We have given our authorizations to the grants he has negotiated with foreign nations and the distributions he has proposed.
The President, on the other hand, has supported our own initiatives and has signed our bills to reform the election laws, to make judicial salaries in the FSM more competitive, to modify our residency permit rules for the surviving spouses of our citizens, to broaden the opportunity to FSM nationals and children of FSM citizens for citizenship through naturalization, to expand the availability of our scholarship programs to new vocations. and many others.
Together we have created a new Petroleum Corporations and provided to this nation the opportunity begin controlling its own energy future.
We have already accomplished much. After this first short year, the President and this Congress continue the process of learning how we can work together in an environment of trust and confidence. In our system of checks and balances we must have the ability to disagree, or there are no checks and balances. How we react to disagreement or disappointment will be one of the measures of the success of this government. We must reaffirm that pettiness and vindictiveness are beneath our dignity.
Under our Constitution and our laws, the President will always be the principal architect of how his Administration and this government is perceived. Yet under our system of checks and balances Congress will play a role by giving its support to policies wise and fair and withholding its support from excess and vanity. It will always be our job to insure that the work of government is conducted with integrity and transparency.
As with the past, over the coming months this Congress will be subject to scrutiny for the way it conducts its own business. This is as it should be. How we respond to criticism and suggestions for improvement will be the measure of this body. Public trust requires that we act in a manner that is consistent with the values of the people of Micronesia. They have a right to expect nothing less. When we discover practices or policies that are not consistent with those high standards, we must demonstrate that this branch of government has the ability to correct them. This is where Congress can set a high example for all public officials and all branches of government, state and national.
The National Government must be the model for all of the governments of this great nation to follow. Promoting and retaining the public trust obliges government officials to lead by example in practicing ethical values and adhering to laws and policies. To this principle we must all pledge our commitment.
As we convene this Fourth Session of the Fifteenth Congress we should all be mindful of the fact that our legacy is now half finished, but how we will be remembered in the years to come is yet to be determined.