Pending at the Congress is a legislation proposing to separate the divisions within the Dept of Health, Eduation & Social Affairs. Usually, when this take place, the smaller division is sweep under either one of the two giant divisions: education and health. Our Compact II fund donor strongly recommended the division of the two bigger divisions and upgrade them into departments, as they are priority under the amended compact. It is already been four year since, and FSM still drags its feet on this division.

What is your opinions about this division? If you're for it, why; and if not, why?
We're the only nation in Micronesia (if not the Pacific) which combined the two largest government operational department into one single one, making it too big and awfully too complex to administer it. It is so humongous, it now requires anyone to run it, as we could rarely find anybody capable of running it. Ever wonder why schools and dispensaries are in state of shambles even to this date?


  • Before we talk about separating education from health, I think we need to know the roles and functions of the national education and health divisions vis-a-vis the overall delivery of education and health services in the FSM. For education, the national division of education does not run any schools, elementary or secondary. COM-FSM is the responsibility of the national government but task has been assigned to the COM-FSM Board of Regents, a national independent agency. The national division of education can set the minimum national standard of teachers' qualification, curriculum and serve as recipient of funds from governments and international agencies. Do we need a whole department to do these few things? As for health, again the national government does not run any hospital or dispensary. I think the national health division can assist the states to vendors for medicines and other medical supplies. It can serve as conduit for funds provided by foreign governments and international agencies. Do we need a full-blown department to perform these tasks? The separation and upgrade of these two divisions into two separate full departments will increase personnel and operational budget of the national government. Starting this year, Compact funding will decrease by about $800,000 annually until 2023, the end of funding. The question is: Do we need to expand the government and increase operation fund in the face of impending decrease in Compact fund?
  • To Wei...

    What few things are you referring to? Do you know that a great many basics have not been in placed in HESA because no one is there to do it? Or do you have any idea of the sort of qualifications needed for the Secretary post without being biased to one or the other units? Finally, do you know or know of someone who might know...of how small a national government should be, because our key donor is telling us we needed to step up the national role and authority to instill more stakes at what happens in the state. The roles of standards setting, monitoring or even receiving and disbursing funds should not be belittle just because the national government doesnt run schools or dispensaries.

    Let's take Pakin as an hypothetical case study here. Lets say there are 3 teachers and 24 students at their schools. Do you know how many staff at the state DOE needed to monitor, inspect and survey the school? Whats needed to be inspected, monitor, survey or assessed would include: curriculum specialist to ensure compliance; staff development specialist to assess teachers qualifications; special ed specialist or diagnoctician to assess learning disabilities, textbook and supply specialist to assure school texts and supplies; school facilities specialist to assure facility standards; health and dental specialist to assure health and environmental requirements; ... the list goes on and I havent even look at the administration and money part yet.. i hope this little exercise will shed light on you..because the national government roles even magnifies when you do the four states and couple hundred schools.. Once you have one staff handling two or more functions...the roles are compromised and that is the scenario today. I havent even start health yet..which is more complex too...
  • I agree with you, snapshot. Even the increasing costs for the National government, health and education should not be compromised from restructure of Dept. The national government should look elsewhere to balance out the high costs of incrueing the seperation.
  • Snapshot,

    Do you know that the allocation of power between the national government and the states is done by the FSM Constitution? I suggest you read the FSM national constitution before you discuss the issues of educational responsibility in this nation. The reason you are confused is because you don't have a clue of the powers assigned to the national government and the states under the constitution.
  • To Wei..

    On the contrary comrades. I read the constitution and realized it was constructed largely on presumptions or predictions.. Today is the real time and today dictates differently. I should know.. because...
  • ...too much bureaucratic process (I) dealt with. You are speaking from experience. An idiot like me can still question the malfeasance of that department pre-laying the discrepancies of the outcome results. Thanks for the contribution to our hopes.
  • To Turmai...

    Cheers! You's alway a difficult thing to balance the virtual world and the real world. The virtual world to me is like our constitution which obviously needed to be amended and reflect the real world today. There are still basic requirements not in place at the national level on account of the RIF impact and employees refusing to do works not in their job description... a justified abandonment of the needed basic fundamentals which on the long run is hurting the states because of a melt-down leadership from the top down. Guidelines and standards are far from being put in place at all departments...and one seemed to care. This is my greatest fear of all because it could be claimed at a justified oversight, hence the national continues to maintain low-key profile. There are of course other areas needed to be delegated to the states, including the financial backups and all.
  • Snapshot,

    I think you really need to snap out of it. The FSM Constitution is not built on presumption and prediction as you said. The FSM Constitution establishes a federal system of government which distributes power between the national government and the states. I suggest you read Article VIII, sections 1, 2, and 3. Let me write these sections out for you and you tell me if this Article is based on presumption and prediction. Section 1. A power expressly delegated to the national government, or a power of such an indisputable national character as to be beyond the power of a state to control, is a national power. Section 2. A power not expressly delegated to the national government or prohibited to the states is a state power. Section 3. State and local governments are prohibited from imposing taxes which restrict interstate commerce. There is nothing presumptive or predictive about this Article.
  • Wei,

    I think snapshot has a point

    Perhaps the Constitution is adjectively presumptive because it is not predictive, and it is predictive because it is presumptive. Both scenarios are subject to determinative presumptuous prediction.

    Hope that helps.
  • To Wei...

    You're the one who needed to snap out of it.. Let's take your first sentence, "The FSM Constitution establishes a federal system of government which distributes power between the national government and the states." This is clearly based on a presumption in the CLEAR FACT THAT THE FOREFATHERS HAD NO ABSOLUTE CLUE OR HINTS AS TO HOW A FEDERAL GOVERNMENT SHOULD BE MOLDED FOR the legislative counselor then suggested something similar to the Massachusetts State system where each county had its own ordinances...

    One of the counselor was my mentor and he taught me a lot. Let's also look at one presistent issue on hand with respect to the fees collected from the 200EEZ. This is one sore political thumb for the politicians both at the national and the state where the state (Pohnpei) argued that the fees collected should be equally distributed between the national and the state, as the seas (same as land) belongs to the states. The Supreme Court ruled in favor of the national because the constitution says that " fees" collected (as in Section I or Article III.) should refer to the national government.

    This is clearly one such flaw in the constitution that remains an iron wedge between the national and the state... and as if to make matters worse.. this is the fee which the leaders use for "pork-barreling projects. The states clearly wanted this constition provision to be amended (hopefully in the next ConCon) since it didnt pass the first amendment.
  • Does this divorce include the SA that preceeds HE? If so I persume it creates another secretary to head it and how is SA funded to serve it's purpose?
  • I believe the social affairs group made up of the historical preservation, archives, sports, youths and women, and as practised in the past, they're usually swept under one or the other either together or separately. Sports, youths and women activities account for most of the social activities in the nation, but sadly with the least budgets, maybe. I heard however that the women unit is handling the Gender Issue sector under the Compact II.

    Previous economic summits called for the nation to prioritize and build its human resources,ADB concurred - and according to a report during the FSM Finance and Budget Officer Conference last Summer, HESA operates and oversee a total surpasses 80M annually, taking into account the Compact II, national revenue sources, other foreign aids, international donations, and not counting the states' local revenues and other resources. During FSM Games, the Sport solicited large amount of cash from sponsors and businesses.

    In previous divorces, youth affairs was swept under the Education, while the women and sport under health. But, by final analysis, the HESA could easily split into three separate departments, forcing the Congress to ease up on their port-barreling and finance the SA division becoming a department.
  • Interesting piece of info there Lemwpei. Could you further elaborate on the funding aspect mentioned about "the Sport solicited large amount of cash from sponsors and businesses". Say for the 2001 FSM Games in Yap that had a reported budget of 4 million for all the works, how much was provided by the various entities mentioned. And given the state of the disillusioned 4th FSM Games, where abouts could core funding be comming from amongst the mentioned funding sources. You just may have the answer to the riddle.
  • Snapshot,

    I am surprised that your mentor failed to inform you that Massachusetts is the second tier of government in the US federal system. The first tier is the federal government. I think your mentor did not do justice to you. But I think you are catching up though. For instance, if you are going to use the FSM EEZ as an example you should cite Article IX, section 1(m) as the authority. If you look at this article you will find out why the national government collect and keep the fisheries permit fee. Now is this presumptive and predictive as you alleges? No, it is clear and that is the reason the FSM Supreme Court rule in favor the national government.
  • Wei...

    The mentor was the first L.C. for the first Congress of Micronesia in early 60s, and co-author and sponsor of documents which created the Trusteeship Agreement. Ist or 2nd tier...that didn't change the fact that Micronesian civilian government was molded after Massachusetts system. Articles or no article, the states' expressed their discontents of the power and authority do delineated in the constitution that clearly suggests...a constitution that needed amendment, hence endorsing the fact that it was presumptive to begin with. No constitution is absolute in its terms to serve its people adequtely, that's why clauses for amendment are there. FSM constitution is no exception. Look around you...the fundamental of our constitution have been questioned, if not compromised...when the states started to challenge it, the national demands greater powers..and everything else suggested change for the weaker federation to assume greater stake and accountabilities in areas neglected at the national level.
  • Snapshot,

    I will say the same thing again. Come on! Snap out of it. The federal system incorporated in the FSM Constitution was modeled after the US federal system. The US federal system was modeled after the confederation of some North American Indian tribes. I suggest you check the Massachusetts government again. Its system of government is not a federal system. It is a unitary system of government. Do you know that the government established under the Trusteeship was a unitary system of government, not a federal system? In fact, it functioned with only two branches (executive and judiciary) until the Congress of Micronesia was created in 1965 by DOI secretarial order. I think your mentor who was the "first LC for the first Congress of Micronesia in early 60s" again did injustice to you. He should have informed you that the Congress of Micronesia was established in mid 60s, not early 60s as you alleges. I don't know exactly who is your mentor, but I do know that Ambassador Warren R. Austin who authored and pushed the Micronesian trusteeship through the Security Council of the United Nations was never served as LC for the Congress of Micronesia. He was probably death when Congress of Micronesia was created in early 60s, oh! mid 60s.
  • My 2 cents worth regarding the constitution:

    From reading the exchanges between Snapshot and Wei, one can conclude that they find that the Constitution is vague and not very definitive and thus I conclude that it works as it was originally meant to. The Constitution was meant to be vague (not precisely limited, determined or distinguished) and general (not specialized or limited to one class of things) so that it will provide the future lawmakers room and capability to legislate laws that would define or fine tune the general and vague provisions in the Constitution. Here is where problems tend to arise. It is not a guarantee that the laws passed in the immediate post-constitution days to define further the provisions under which these laws applied to, were the most effective that would endure the inevitable changes in years to come. They were laws that were applicable to that certain time, place and situation and inevitably would be outdated and needing changes given the fast changes that occured in our government and the political scene. Now to go changing the Constitution to make it suit our needs or situations in this given time would not be the wisest move to do. Times and situations will change and we may find that what we think might need changing now may not be applicable to tomorrow's situations which will inevitably change. In the end, we will end up with a Constitution that looks like my old truck - -lots of patching and repairs because those fender flares that looked good in the 80's are not so good for gas mileage or the V8 that I installed in the 70's would make life impossible for me now.

    So, what I tried to say above is this: The Constitution was meant to be vague and general but it is the lesser laws within that are supposed to be crystal clear and thus susceptible to change to meet the ever changing tides of time and situations that affect our lives. Why do you think it is nearly impossible to effect a Constitutional amendment? It was meant to be nearly impossible and the least changeable aspect of a government.
  • Wei,

    Hang on. if the fSM Const. is modeled upon the US then why do we have one general legislative assembly to start with? What is the model you are referring to?
  • Trust me Wei, I heard it from the lawyer himself (bless his soul) who was key part on the molding of our intial civilian government. I also had the unique privileges of dining with his other colleagues at an HU alumnae dinner where they praised such leaders as the late first president, late governor of Yap and few more.

    Kap is right and I think we should heed the foresights of the framers and make the necessary changes as circumstances dictate, if the nation is to show its priority on education.

    I thank you Wei for keeping the discussion and/or debate active in this forum.
  • Snapshot,

    I thought that our government system was modelled to be decentralized governments. How come the national government wants all the power and a lofty piece of taxes collected? How they expected the States to operate? It's not Westminster type of government where hierarchical order is centralized to enhence authority in its directives. Or worst the communist government where only one ruling body, the Politburo and the rest are farmers.
  • Rebel,

    I am referring to the federal system of government, the separation of powers and the checks and balances that are incorporated into the FSM governmental system. One of the differences between our national government and US federal government is that the FSM Congress is a unicameral legislative body and the US Congress is a bicameral one. Another difference is selection of the president. The FSM President is elected by the FSM Congress and the US President is elected by popular vote, as long as the result of the popular vote agrees with the electoral college. If the popular vote is different, then the electoral college controls. With the exception of the way the FSM president is elected (which is similar to parliamentary form of government), the FSM government is essentially a presidential form. Why is a presidential form? Because the FSM president is designated by the FSM Constitution as both the Head of Government and the Head of State like the US president. In a parliamentary form like the United Kingdom, the prime minister is the head of govenment and the monarchy (king or queen) is the head of state.
  • Wei,

    With Parliamentary system of government, the prime minister is elected by the members of its own political party and remains so if the party wins the government. But any changes after that is by the party's elected officials only in parliament. Huge difference I believe. The Monarchy is only a figure head as the parliament can side step it if it wants to.

    There are at least 15 diferences between the Constitutions of the FSM and the USA last time I counted. Framework maybe the same, but the process, content and outcomes are hugely different.

  • Turmai...

    You are right... the constitution says one thing and practices dictate differently on account of the fact... that the framers overlooked the simple fact that one cannot build a nation on the concept of weaker federation and therefore needed changes. The Compact II, althought not written in iron-clad agreement, implied a stronger and bigger roles at the national government to assure accountability. Just take a number of issues unresolved to this date which include the authority over foreign investment, eminent domain, land, taxes, right to negotiate with foreign countries or companies, etc...etc.. the states now demanded their rights under the constitution, while the national is always leary about those areas. When Pohnpei set up an office on Taiwan, the national government got scolded.. When some state legislators went to China, the national got reprimanded for lack of control in foreign diplomacies. When foreign companies came into Pohnpei to retrieve homes used for collaterals in some oversea stocks, the national came to its rescue. The roles and authority between the national and state is one shady area that continued to create problems between the entities, hence increase infringement instead of settlements.

    Isnt it time we revisited the constitution and look at these flaws?
  • Yes, I believe so. Yap got scolded many time of the traditional protocol with Palau. We should have autonomous constitution where FSM government is an inter-independent agency of all state governments.
  • Rebel,

    Please tell us the functional differences between federalism, checks and balances, and separation of power in the US and FSM governments. Please discuss the 15 hugely different (your words) process, content and outcome for our benefit.
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