Johnson Toribiong, former President and former chief Ngiraked of Airai, called upon the traditional chiefs of Palau to strengthen their positions and titles as traditional leaders, otherwise, Palau’s culture could die out.
“Alsekum eng mad a diemiu eng mad a klechibelau er kid” (if your titles die out, our culture will die out as well), cautioned Toribiong.
Invited to open the first meeting of Palau’s traditional chiefs, Mr. Toribiong who has held distinguished positions over the years including being the drafter of the 1st and 2nd Palau Constitutions, President of the Republic of Palau, and high chief Ngiraked of Airai State including a traditional title of Pohnpei, explained the position traditional chiefs occupy under the current constitutional government.
More so, he expounded on the origins and roles the traditional chiefly titles have had in the known history of Palau.
Palau, he said, is a very old country with long-established governments run by the chiefs. Citing recent archeological findings that revealed people buried on the highest crowns of Palau’s earthen terraces dating back before Christ.
Palau’s legends even go as far back as the flood, like the flood in the Bible, he said.
“Chiefs before you kept and maintained these titles to pass on to you. “Ng di mlak de mucheracheb el mo dibus” – They did not die out or disappear because of threats), challenging the chiefs.
Urging the chiefs to actively exercise their traditional roles, Toribiong said, “Palauan customs have now become the reason we have conflicts between brothers and sisters, families and clans.”
“Kemiu a mla er ngii okedong el me er kemiu el mla er a rebladek. A Belau, a lak obomkeldibel e ke doriid a kmal betok el llechud … ma teleteled a rechad er Belau.” – “The call for you to meet, was a call from the ancestors. If you don’t meet, Belau will lose a lot of our customary laws and traditions.”