Appointed by Toribiong administration, retained by Remengesau

By: L.N. Reklai

July 13, 2016 (Koror) A heated discussion in the Senate over the appointment of Mr. Taha Azmi Mikata, the Permanent Delegate of Palau to UNESCO, was raised when Senator Surangel Whipps Jr. provided information from the UNESCO site showing Mr. Mikata presenting letters of accreditation to UNESCO Director-General as Ambassador.  Some Senators questioned how this person became an ambassador without the Senate’s consent.

“We want to clarify that Mr. Taha Azmi Mikata is a Permanent Delegate or an Honorary Ambassador.  He was appointed by former President Johnson Toribiong during his administration as Permanent Delegate to UNESCO representing Palau.  This administration retained Mr. Mikata as Palau’s Permanent Representative to UNESCO because he was and is a very effective representative.  During Toribiong’s administration, he was actively working for Palau lobbying for adoption of the Southern Lagoon into the UNESCO World Heritage Site. He also has been working to bring grants and other capacity building support to Palau as a Permanent Representative,” stated Deputy Chief of Staff Rebluud Kesolei during a phone interview yesterday.

“We also don’t pay his services for representing us.  He pays his own expenses but he works for Palau’s interest in the UNESCO,” added Mr. Kesolei.

An excerpt from UNESCO website dated March 7, 2013, shows Mr. Mikata presenting letters accrediting him as Permanent Delegate of the Republic of Palau to the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO).

The caption which also states “His Excellency Mr. Taha Azmi Mikata, Ambassador” had been posted on the Palauan facebook groups and was brought to the Senate floor for discussion by Senator Surangel Whipps Jr. under the miscellaneous agenda of the Senate.

Mr. Taha Azmi Mikata, is a co-founder of Investcom and Founder and Chairman of M1 Group.  The Investcom telecommunication company he founded with his brother was sold in 2006 for 5.5 billion dollars. Mr. Mikati is considered to have net worth of 2.7 billion dollars as of April 2016 by Forbes.  He is also considered as 384th billionaire in the world according to Forbes.