The very first Palauan to earn a degree in entomology, Rechiuang Demei Otobed, passed away early this month at the age of 80. Rechiuang Demei Otobed served his country for well over half his life.
Rechiuang Demei Otobed, a well-known and well-respected early Palauan environmental conservationist, most aptly described Palauan’s intrinsic idea of conservation “ke de mengereomel le kedousbech”, meaning “we conserve or preserve things because we have use of them”.
Rechiuang Demei Otobed served his country from 1956 until the day he passed away, with 34 years of service in full time employment in various positions. Despite his formal retirement in 2002, he continued to serve in voluntary positions until his passing.
Until his untimely passing he served as Chairman of Ngatpang State Public Land Authority, Chairman of Belau National Museum Board of Trustees, Chairman of Palau Society of Historians, Member of Judicial Nominating Committee and Conservation Areas Coordinating Committee.
In addition to his many responsibilities and tasks, he had traditional chiefly roles bearing title of Uong of Ngermid, Koror and Rechiuang of Ngatpang State.
Among some of his august roles in Palauan public sector was serving as Vice Speaker of the House of Delegates of the First Olbiil Era Kelulau and in that capacity, served as Chairman of Foreign Affairs and member of the Joint Committee on United Nations and United States Relations.
But Rechiuang Demei Otobed was always first and foremost a conservationist, working tirelessly to “alert the people of Palau about the environmental dangers” including that of the previous proposal for oil super port in Palau.
Some of the key environmental positions Rechiuang Demei Otobed was in include becoming a Chief Entomologist from 1971 to 1980. He also became a Chief Conservationists under Ministry of Natural Resources from 1993 to 1995 and Director of Bureau of Natural Resources and Development under the same Ministry from 1995 to 1999.
He is survived by his wife Takako Tarkong Otobed of Choll, Ngaraard, his kids Delegate Lee T. Otobed, Carlo T. Otobed, Pkngey T. Otobed and Edumyle T. Otobed and grandchildren Te-e-kii Lana Otobed and Kebic O. Ridpath. He is also survived by his siblings Dr. Ulai Otobed, Hiroko Otobed, Lydia Otobed, Sikbik Masters and Ian Otobed. (L.N. Reklai)