June 24, 2009

By Bill Jaynes
The Kaselehlie Press

Peilapalap, Pohnpei - The 28th General Assembly of the Association of Pacific Island Legislators met at the Pohnpei Legislative Session Hall. The meetings which attracted members from nine Pacific Island nations and the four states of the Federated States of Micronesia opened on June 9, 2009.

The primary topic of the 28th General Assembly of APIL centered on the US military build up in Guam and its effect on the Pacific Islands. The legislators from American Samoa, the Commonwealth of the Northern Marianas Islands, the FSM States of Chuuk, Kosrae, Pohnpei, and Yap, the Island of Guam, the Republic of Kiribati, the Republic of the Marshall Islands, the Republic of Nauru, the Republic of Palau, and the State of Hawaii heard presentations from a diverse group of speakers. The speakers delivered messages regarding the military buildup in Guam in terms of educational preparedness, infrastructure needs, regional opportunities, and economic outlooks expected as a result of the buildup. Legislators also heard presentations on the efforts of Reach Out Pacific and their charitable efforts on behalf of the Pacific Islands. They also discussed grant writing and web technology that could benefit the islands.

Before the 28th General Assembly adjourned members passed 14 resolutions. Not all of the resolutions were provided to the Kaselehlie Press. APIL staff member Walden Weilbacher said that those resolutions were congratulatory in nature but didn't elaborate further:

28-GA-01 - "Urging the Association of Pacific Island Legislatures Regional Governments to request that the spouses, children, and immediate relatives of COFA Migrants be allowed to enter, engage in occupations, and establish residence as non-immigrants in the United States and its territories."

28-GA-02, CD1 - "To request that President Barack Obama, the Secretary of Homeland Security, the Secretary of State, the Secretary of the Interior, the Secretary of Labor, and the United States Attorney General ensure that the regulations implementing the Consolidated Natural Resources Act of 2008 include China and Russia in the Guam and Northern Mariana Islands Visa Waiver Program."

28-GA-03 - "Expressing the deepest sympathy and sincerest condolences of the Association of Pacific Island Legislatures (APIL) to the family and friends of the late Sergeant Jasper Obakrairur for his untimely passing."

28-GA-05, CD1 - "Relative to supporting the establishment of the Micronesian Center for a Sustainable Future, an administrative, research and development center for the Western Micronesian Chief Executives' Summit and the Micronesian Presidents' Summit and further requesting for greater participation in the Micronesian Center for a Sustainable Future by allowing for direct representation from its members and authorizing the involvement of the APIL President or designee in the ongoing strategic development plan process for the Center."

28-GA-06 - "Expressing the support of the Association of Pacific Island Legislatures for the efforts of the Legislature of the Island of Guam to establish aboriginal indigenous fishing rights within the Island of Guam, and to request that the President of the United States include Guam with the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands relative to providing that subsistence and traditional aboriginal indigenous fishing shall be managed as a sustainable activity consistent with other applicable laws therein."

28-GA-08 - "Expressing the strong support of the members of the Association of Pacific Island Legislatures for the efforts by Guam to enter into intergovernmental agreements in support of the military build-up."

28-GA-09 - "Requesting the leadership of the Federated States of Micronesia to support efforts by the College of Micronesia-FSM to supply trained personnel for the military build-up on Guam."

28-GA-10 - "Respectfully requesting the United States Department of Defense and the Governments of Guam and the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands, as well as the private sectors, educational institutions, trade organizations and non-profit associations involved in preparing for the military build-up, to make an extra special effort to extend the benefits of the build-up to the citizens of the Republic of Nauru and the Republic of Kiribati."

28-GA-11 - "Requesting the leadership of Micronesia to build air links between United States-in- fluenced Micronesia and Commonwealthinfluenced Micronesia."

28-GA-13 - "Respectfully requesting the United States Department of Defense to commence a dialogue with the APIL member jurisdiction governments to explore appropriate means by which to share with the Pacific Island governments vital information about the surrounding seas, gained through the state of the art technology being emplaced on Guam that can readily and accurately detect and monitor the activities of vessels operating in the Pacific which may be violating national laws and international agreements."

28-GA-14 - "Expressing the commendation and appreciation of the 28th Association of the Pacific Island Legislatures (APIL) General Assembly to all the Presenters for the informative and thorough presentation to the Assembly."

Each of the resolutions has sufficient information accompanying them to warrant full stories of their own. Interested readers can find the full text of the resolutions at www.

APIL's President, Senator Kalani English of Hawaii was reelected for another term with APIL. He said that he has seen the strength of APIL grow since he became a member and that he wants to continue to move the organization forward. He said that he hopes to see APIL develop a more international membership. He hoped to one day see French Polynesia join the group as well as other South Pacific Island nations.

APIL met through Thursday, June 11 and sponsored a fishing derby on June 12 with over $2000 in cash prizes for the top fisherman. All of the fish caught on that day were donated to the Pohnpei State Hospital.

The next meeting of the Association of Pacific Island Legislators will be held in Honolulu in December of this year.