Ms. Pearl “Sayuri” Marumoto is one of the few women who has decided to run for Koror State Legislature this upcoming 12th General Election in November. Ms. Marumoto had worked in the public health area for over 25 years and said her areas of passion are health and environment.
Q. Have you run for public office before?
A. No, this is my first time to run for public office?
Q. What is your burning reason for running for office, to the Koror State Legislature?
A. I have been a public health worker for 25 years and I have been seeing the growing health issues in our communities here in Koror. Over time, I have seen a growing number of older people, young people, and children struggling to survive with little support and I have been working with other people and NGOs to try to help but I think I can do more for the people of Koror if I get into Koror State Legislature.
Q. You hear some people say that the people who are struggling are lazy and should go find work instead of asking for government support. Having worked in this area, what do you think of this comment?
- That is NOT true. I’ve been going around homes for 7 years and these people are working and constantly looking for work. Sometimes two people working but they are not earning enough to support families and are barely making it. I believe if we put as much support to our people as we do to our fishes, we can improve the health of our communities.
Q. Can you give me some examples of what can be done at the Legislature level to help?
- Sure. Improving people’s health can be done by promoting URBAN HEALTH. This means changing the physical environment to help the people such as requiring basic housing standards. You know, different houses have different size doors? If there is a health emergency, sometimes wheelchairs cannot even fit through the door. We used to think barracks housing is for foreign workers but more and more Palauans, because of the high cost of living, low skills, and low wages cannot afford housing so they are renting barracks now. Some of these housings do not even provide necessities such as sanitary benjos or even kitchen facilities. Koror State have a Building and Zoning Commission. We can review those regulations and see what laws we can introduce to help improve the basic living environment for people living in Koror. A good environment promotes good health for the people. This also includes safe spaces such as better street lightings, family-focused parks, etc.
Another is URBAN LIVING, social environment. We can require that everyone have an urban garden, a tabletop garden, for example, to help provide a source of food. We need to help vulnerable populations, such as the homebound. Right now, there is no coordination, and resources are wasted. With growing youth issues, Koror State can go beyond regular programs to provide entrepreneurship programs by coordinating with partners and help those without skills to learn skills and be placed in jobs after training. This can happen if we put specific language to the law, with a budget and clearly stated outcomes.
These are just some of the examples but there’s so much more we can do at the state level to improve the lives of the people of Koror, especially the growing urban poor population.
Q. Some could say that these are challenges that the national government should address, not the state. What do you think?
- Yes, some of these, the national government should address but the state should also address. We can do more at the state level I think. We can make state laws and enforce them such as requiring that homes be constructed in a certain way so that there is access in case of emergency such as when an ambulance needs to access certain areas to provide help. These can be done through state laws and regulations.
Q. One of the biggest challenges facing Koror State is the budget in the coming years due to the pandemic impact. What can you do to help with this challenge?
- This is not my area of expertise but I believe that we can put all our heads together and work to find the best solution. I also believe that by implementing urban health and urban living policies, they will also help provide better sources of income for the state.
As a single mom, and rented places for over 30 years, I can see how difficult it is for many Palauans, especially young Palauans returning home from overseas to try and survive here. It is very hard and I believe that I can help by being in the Koror State Legislature, by improving our environments through legislations.