The Senate requested Palau Public Utilities Corporation (PPUC) Board Chairman Sam Masang to resign from his position for allegedly using the government office for his personal gains.

In a letter dated January 31, 2018 which was addressed to PPUC chairman Masang and furnished to Island Times, the Senate said that they have lost their confidence on his leadership as the chairman of the PPUC board and hence, asked him to resign so that he can be spared from “termination proceedings which will entail much public debates and legal proceedings” that would definitely stain his reputation and affect his businesses.

The call for Masang’s resignation came after the Senate found out that the PPUC’s Audited Financial reports for 2016, particularly the reports until September 30 of the same year, revealed that the PPUC had transacted with the Palau telecoms, a company owned by Masang, for communications services amounting $54,500 and $21,250 for the years 2015 and 2016.

The letter further stated that the Senate believed that Masang had transacted with the PPUC with larger amounts.

“The documents show that your company has a contract to use PPUC assets and that you receive payments from PPUC for services,” the letter read.

The Senate cited that Masang, as PPUC chairman, was receiving unreasonable financial benefits from PPUC.

“Surely, there is an appearance of conflict of interest, serious violation of the code of ethics and [he has] compromised [his] fiduciary responsibility as a member of the PPUC Board of Directors,” it added.

Another reason cited by the Senate for their call on Masang’s resignation included his alleged failure to answer the inquiries of the Senate regarding the complaints of the PPUC customers on various issues concerning the office’s delivery of services where he allegedly failed to provide “fair and equitable solution.”

It added that under Masang’s leadership, the PPUC Board of Directors and Management have not been responsive to customers’ issues and have not been transparent with its billings with customers.

Meanwhile, Masang defended that the letter he sent to Senate President John Skebong which requested the latter to reset the schedule of the supposed meeting with him on January 29, 2018 was not an act of refusal to meet with the senate president and challenge his authority. Rather, Masang said that he sent the letter merely to request to move the schedule of the meeting because the letter informing him about it came on short notice and that he had already scheduled prior commitments.

Masang said that he received the letter in the afternoon of January 25 and the meeting was set on January 29, adding that the letter did not include any agenda.

“It is extremely sad and regretful that you interpreted my letter as a refusal to meet with you and or challenging your authority or authority of any chairman of any committees to convene public hearing and to ask people to attend and the use of subpoena power to compel witnesses and for production of documents,” Masang’s letter to Senate President Skebong read.

Masang said that he is aware of the authority of the chairman of committees and the subpoena power, saying that “it is used to compel an attendance of a person in a hearing” and not “to harass, threaten or intimidate people…”

Masang then asked the Senate chair to reread the letter he previously sent him so that he will see that he had kindly requested for the reset of the meeting’s schedule.

In the letter addressed to the Senate President, Masang cited that they did not give him the agenda of the meeting for him to know and be able to prepare for it ahead of time.

“The fact that you invited the public to attend [the meeting] as you indicated in your letter makes it more fitting and proper for us to know the agenda of the meeting so that we can provide a full and complete information to the public,” Masang explained in the letter.

The PPUC board chairman also said that he did not ask the Senate president for something that was impossible and would cause him and the members of his committee some harms and prejudices.  (Rhealyn C. Pojas/Reporter)