A ceremony to honor Dr. Minoru Ueki, the longest serving chairman and oldest founding member of the Palau Conservation Society (PCS), a non-government organization, was held on Tuesday, December 10, 2019.

Palau Conservation Society established in 1994 with a mandate to work to protect Palau’s environment, took the opportunity during its 25th Anniversary to recognize and honor its oldest founding member and longest serving chairman, the 89 year old Dr. Minoru Ueki, for his tremendous contributions to the success of the PCS and the environmental protection of Palau.

The event honoring Dr. Ueki, was held at Marina Vita Restaurant at Malakal where former colleagues and members of the Palau Conservation Society and its current staff recounted his work and the inspirations he prompted, inspiring them toward protecting Palau’s fragile environment.

First Executive Director and founding Board member of the PCS Board, Noah Idechong recounted many instances Dr. Ueki was an inspiration that led many to take actions that changed Palau’s environmental direction.  He recounted that in 1985, he read Dr. Ueki’s report when Dr. Ueki was the Minister of Resource, which reported the problems Palau faced environmentally then,  the use of explosives in fishery, the unregulated fishing and lack of law enforcement of few laws that protect and manage the environment and these prompted actions of many like-minded individuals to created the Palau Conservation Society.

“Today, dynamite fishing is unheard of here in Palau.  Laws regulating catch, protecting certain fishing grounds, active law enforcement, these came about as result of like-minded people like Dr. Ueki that recognized the problems and set out to do something about it,” stated Mr. Idechong.

Mr. Idechong explained the unique approach that PCS chose to take to address environmental  issues, and that was to actively work with government to find solution to the problem as oppose to confrontational approach.

One other major accomplish Mr. Idechong attributed to Dr. Ueki’s leadership was the establishment of Palau’s International Coral Reef Center.  He said that initial concept for PICRC was not received positively by Palau government but through leadership and connections of Dr. Ueki, they were able to get PICRC started.

Ms. Lolita Gibbons, a staff who has been with PCS for many years says she could not recount all the inspirations and lessons imparted by Dr. Ueki.   “I wish I can write a book about him and the invaluable lessons and inspirations that he had imparted to me over the years.”

Ms. Gibbons said she could only condensed the lessons to three things, “Passion, Conviction and Insist, Insist and Insist!”

Dr. Ueki in receiving the award said, “I am receiving this award, not for me but for all of those ten people, the founding members that together, we worked to accomplish these things.”

The beautiful award presented was made out of recycled glass from the Koror State Waste Management Department.

“This is the best award I have received, made out of the recycled materials, from the waste management site which came about also in part due to PCS efforts and contributions toward a more environmentally friendly system like the Fukuoka method that is used at our national solid waste management site,” expressed Dr. Ueki.

The event was witnessed and graced by the members of the Palau Council of Chiefs, Senate President Hokkons Baules, House Vice Speaker Lucio Ngiraiwet, former PCS Board members and many other community organizations representatives. (L.N. Reklai)