Departing Vice President Arnold Oilouch’s final message in his capacity as vice president, bid farewell to the people of Palau and congratulated the incoming government. He thanked the people for placing their trust in him during his term saying he took that responsibility seriously.
In the same letter though, he denounced allegations made a foreign media accusing him promising to switch to China during his campaign and using Chinese funds to bribe voters.
A Ms. Reiko Hayakawa, a writer for Japan-Forward, an opinion website owned by Sankei Simbun, a far-right Japanese newspaper published an opinion in this website titled Targeting Palau and other Island Countries, China Puts Human Rights and Pacific Security at Risk. In it she accused former Vice President Oilouch of promising to switch allegiance to China if elected and receiving money from China to pay voters.
“It was Vice President Oilouch who had openly supported establishing ties with China. Although Palau has maintained relations with Taiwan since its independence, Oilouch had pledged in his campaign speeches that switching to China could lead to economic development. If Oilouch had become the President, Palau would have likely established diplomatic relations with China.” She stated in the article.
Oilouch who conducted his campaign both on social media and in person, said that he never made any such campaign promises and that he ran using his own funds, loans and donations from fundraising.
In his letter, Oilouch said that he does not know the woman or her intentions but he said the article she wrote is reckless and tarnishes the reputation of Palau, leading people reading the article to believe that Palau is an easy target for illegal activities.
Ms. Hayakawa in her article also accused Palau’s leadership including President Remengesau, Attorney General, Senate President and House Speaker.
The article strung together rumors to support Hayakawa’s opinions with no evidence other than using the phrase “widely rumored”. In the same article she implied that a reporter who has been reporting on human trafficking “had gone missing” after having been warned about his reporting. The reporter she referred to was working for Island Times and had chosen not to extend his contract, choosing to go back to his country.
Hayakawa has been to Palau several times and her last visit is said to be in 2017.
Ms. Reiko Hayakawa’s background in the website says she has a Ph.d and is an expert in Pacific Security and ocean law.