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January 18, 2008
Members of the Nitijela (Parliament),
Iroij im Leroij Ro (Traditional Leaders),
People of the Republic of the Marshall Islands,
My foremost gratitude to our Heavenly Father for good health and for His unceasing protection over us and the Republic of the Marshall Islands.
I am thankful to our traditional leaders, spiritual leaders, members of the private sector, public and private organizations, and each Marshallese citizen for your contribution to uplift and move forward the Marshall Islands.
As well, my gratitude to former President Kessai Note and his administration for their fortitude and leadership towards the current level of national development.
With a humble heart, spirit of thankfulness, and respect for one another, I am pleased to announce to the Nitijela (parliament), our traditional leaders, and the people of the Marshall Islands, our new government.
Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to announce the following members of the Nitijela who will serve the Marshallese people as members of the Cabinet:
-Honorable Christopher Loeak------Minister-in-Assistance-to-the-President
-Honorable Tony deBrum------------Minister of Foreign Affairs
-Honorable Jack Ading---------------Minister of Finance
-Honorable Nidel Lorak--------------Minister of Education
-Honorable Amenta Matthew-------Minister of Health
-Honorable David Kramer----------Minister of Justice
-Honorable Dennis Momotaro------Minister of Transportation and Communications
-Honorable Fredrick Muller---------Minister of Resources and Development
-Honorable Kejjo Bien---------------Minister of Public Works AND
-Honorable Norman Matthew-------Minister of Internal Affairs
I thank them individually and collectively for having agreed to share this tremendous responsibility to serve the people of the Marshall Islands.
Now, having established our government, let us move forward together, as one people and one nation, to seek a brighter future for us and our future generation.
Today, I ask that we, the Marshallese people, join together, not to celebrate the triumph of one political party over another, rather let us come together and be thankful that our young democracy is alive and well and is furthered strengthened. In truth, victory belongs to our people and the Republic.
Indeed, I see this day as a day of reflection and thankfulness for the Marshallese people for peace still reigns among us.
The recent election and the way it was conducted brought tremendous confusion and distress to many of our citizens. Nevertheless, we have reason to be grateful because were it not for our Mantin Majol (traditional custom), which binds and keeps us together, then, without a doubt in my mind, great upheaval and grief would have happened in our nation, as it does in other countries that go through similar election debacles.
The question is this: If we do not maintain our integrity and be honest in serving our nation, whom do we, then, put our faith and trust upon? Do we, again, bring in foreign workers to conduct our elections?
I believe Nitijela (parliament) should prioritize the improvement of our election laws. The objective is to improve and allow for a more convenient election process for our people in accordance with the law.
Mr. Speaker, this government is determined to advance the enhancement and protection of one of the great pillars of our Constitution: the right for our citizens to choose their representatives.
Our nation, at this time, is faced with many hardships and challenges.
Among the many challenges we confront, Nitijela (parliament) must move forward to lessen, as much as it can, the hardships that our people are faced with. As a matter of fact, our people live in abject conditions:
-inflation is high
-many of our workers within both public and private sectors are hard pressed to support their families
-our payroll has skyrocketed
-we must cut back on government spending
-we will begin with ourselves in the Nitijela (parliament) by reviewing our salaries and allowances
-we must cut back on traveling costs
-we must improve and upgrade our education system
-today, we have many graduates ready to work, however, we do not have
any jobs for them
-we need to improve our health system
-our planes no longer fly and this has greatly affected life and livelihoods
-our people continue to escape the outer islands to seek better opportunities on Majuro, Ebeye, America, and elsewhere
-We have 8 more years left on the permit to use Kwajalein, yet there is no new LUA
-the communities in Kwajalein are faced with many hardships
-it has been 2 years since the Tribunal made any annual claims payments
-discriminative practices in our public services have to be eradicated
-the private sector must be strengthened in order to have a robust economy
Mr. Speaker, these are but a few urgent challenges we are confronted with today. Our government needs help from our churches, businesses, private and public agencies and organizations, and most especially help from the Marshallese people in order to achieve some of these goals and objectives.
We draw our strength from our Manit (traditional custom). This manit (traditional custom) has bind us together and strengthened us throughout history. This same Manit will keep us together as we continue our journey forth.
Marshallese traditional custom ruled our lives many centuries past and it will protect us in the forthcoming generations.
Our Manit must be made apparent in our lives and our daily interactions with each other. It will be a tragedy for us if it is missing in our lives, but practiced only in our words. After all actions speak louder than words.
Indeed, from time to time, our Iroij (traditional chiefs), Alap (clan heads), or Dri-jerbal (senior workers) may slip up as they carry out their roles. This as we are all humans and we make mistakes, however, I do not believe that we have to ignore nor discard our manit due to these shortcomings.
Mr. Speaker, we must remain ever vigilant lest we too shall follow the path of those who lost their traditional customs and values and today live in trying conditions, with hardly any say, in the affairs of their own homeland.
Our traditional custom is God-given. It is our birthright from our ancestors. It is our canoe in the sea of the world. It is our anchor, it binds us to our skies, to our ocean, and to our lands. It is the root from which stems forth our jowi (clan), bwij (lineage), and nukun (kinship network).
ARMIJ (The People)
Mr. Speaker, this government is by and for the people. This government will work for the people fairly and without any discrimination. All laws, policy, and objectives will serve one purpose: to improve the lives and promote the wellbeing of our people.
This is only right for the people are our most precious resources. On that note, I pledge to you and this nation today that this government will do everything in its power to serve the people. It is my belief that people come first in a manner that is proper and just.
Mr. Speaker, we will continue building and renovating our school buildings, hospitals and dispensaries, and countless government buildings. We will continue to upgrade our roads and various other works on the physical infrastructure. However, it will be sad and unfortunate if we good infrastructure, excellent roads, communication systems that are state of the art, but the majority of our people continue to live in grim hardship and misery.
I wish to acknowledge and thank our friends and allies worldwide. Our deep appreciation to our strong and strategic ally, United States of America, and declare our commitment to work together to strengthen and improve our special friendship.
As well, our gratitude to the government of Taiwan, government of Japan, government of South Korea, and those of Australia and New Zealand, including the European Union, and our sister countries of the Pacific region, for their generous support. We look forward to working with these nations and organizations to further strengthen our friendship with each.
Mr. Speaker, I ask Nitijela (parliament), our traditional leaders, our businesses, churches, all organizations, and the Marshallese people to join forces and move forward to:
-review the government payroll
-decrease government expenditure
-increase job opportunities
-reactivate Air Marshall Islands. Our special thanks to the government of the Republic of China (Taiwan) for its timely commitment and promise to assist us in restarting our Air Marshall Islands services.
-increase opportunities for the outer islands
-work with the people of Kwajalein and the United States for a new LUA
-provide increased assistance to the community on Ebeye
-work towards the resumption of annual pro rata claims payments by Tribunal
-work towards the eradication of all forms of discrimination in our government
I wish to also give special thanks to the Iroij (traditional leaders), Alap (clan heads), and the people of Kwajalein for the kind invitation to join them on their beautiful atoll. I take this opportunity to also convey my heartfelt appreciation to the Kwajalein leadership and the community on Ebeye for the warm and gracious welcome and hospitality.
As we move forward, I ask each and every Marshallese to join together and ask our Heavenly Father to pour his grace and kindness unto us and our Republic.
Indeed, there is no place like the Marshall Islands, no people like the Marshallese people, no language like our language, and no Manit (traditional custom) like ours.
Once again, may God bless our nation.
Thank you very much.
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