"Drugs, hotels, gambling, and school lunches in Pohnpei"

August 05, 2009

By Bill Stinnett
The Kaselehlie Press

Peilapalap, Pohnpei, FSM - Pohnpei's Governor Ehsa held a special press conference on the 24th of July. It was the fourth of his term which began in January of 2008. His announced intention was to discuss two subjects: the Memorandum of Understanding that might ultimately lead to the development of a "Five Star (Casino) and Resort" in Madolenihmw, Pohnpei, and his school lunch program, slated to begin with Pohnpei's new school year.

The press conference, which was scheduled to last for a maximum of one hour, was aired on the State radio station. The content of the State radio station is streamed live to the Internet on the FSM Telecom website (

Governor Ehsa began the press conference with a news item not announced to media outlets in Pohnpei. He said that Pohnpei State had, in January, begun a campaign against illicit drugs in the state. The previously unannounced campaign had resulted in the seizure and destruction since January of this year of 1,289 mature marijuana plants and, 1,660 marijuana seedlings in Madolenihmw, Kitti, Nett, and U.

Ehsa said, "This administration will go after all those who grow or distribute illicit drugs."

He warned those people who produce, consume, or distribute drugs in the FSM that the enforcement actions will only intensify and that those efforts will not go away.

On the issue of a "Five Star Hotel" and gambling casino, Governor Ehsa, for the most part, reiterated what The Kaselehlie Press had printed in its July 22, 2009 issue.

He added that the general populace would not be admitted to the casino. He said that the intent of the proposed resort was not to open up widespread gambling in Pohnpei.

A task force is being created by his office to look into the cultural, social, and environmental impact of the plan.

When asked what assurances he could offer to his constituents that he or anyone in the government would not personally benefit from the proposal, Governor Ehsa said, "Right now I can only give my word."

He added that the process for the development of the resort/hotel/casino would be transparent and subject to Legislative approval.

Governor Ehsa said that the issue of squatters on the land that is designated for the development of the resort will need to be resolved in addition to other issues that might hinder the proposed development.

In his third press conference Governor Ehsa announced that his proposed school lunch program would begin in August. At the press conference on the 24th of July he said that he had sent a budget proposal to the Pohnpei State Legislature that included a budget request of $250,000 in order to "kick start" the program. He called a special session of the Legislature which took place from the 21st to the 24th.

At that special session the Legislature rejected the budget figure. Governor Ehsa said during the press conference that if that happened he would not be able to start the school lunch program.

Governor Ehsa was asked to give whatever details he had on a proposal by Luen Thai and the Chinese government to refurbish fishing facilities throughout the FSM. He said that Luen Thai had indeed made a proposal that would mobilize a $16 million soft loan from the Chinese government to renovate facilities in each of the four states. If the plan goes through it would mean a doubling of capacity in Pohnpei and increased capacity in Chuuk, Yap, and Kosrae.

A representative of the US Embassy asked the Governor about the status of the Foreign Investment Board. He said that he had submitted a reorganization plan to the Legislature that would eliminate the board in order to "even the playing field."