Second senator in two weeks to leave the Senate majority led by Senator Baules
By: L.N. Reklai
July 25, 2017 (Koror, Palau) Senator Phillip Reklai resigned yesterday from the chairmanship of Senate Tourism Development Committee and vice chairmanship of Youth Affairs, Social Welfare and Culture Committees in a letter to Senate President Hokkons Baules, becoming the second senator within two weeks to leave Senate majority group led by Senator Baules.
Senator Reklai expressed in his letter that his decision to resign has not been an easy one. He stated he had “thought long and hard about these actions” and based on series of events that have occurred in the Tenth OEK, I simply have no other choice.”
Reklai added that he was removing himself on his own term saving the Senate from the “bizarre limbo” created by Senate President Baules who announced his removal from chairmanship of committees without going through the proper process.
Citing ten reasons (see letter on page 5) for vacating his positions, Reklai stated that he still feels he was unfairly removed from his leadership position based on allegations that were not investigated first by Senate.
Reklai said that even though he was grateful that he was cleared by the judicial system after the Attorney General investigated the allegations, he still felt that Senate treated him unfairly by taking action to remove him without first investigating the allegations.
Furthermore, he stated the announcement of his “removal” as Chairman of Committee on Tourism and member of Committee on Foreign Affairs and State Matters was a “petty attempt to punish” him for “exercising his rights and duty as a duly elected Senator to ask questions, engage in an honest debate on issues and represent the best interest of the people.”
“To punish a Senator for asking questions and bringing important issues before the Senate is an affront to democracy and to the traditions of the Senate,” stated Reklai in his letter. “My duty is to the people of Palau; my vote on any bill or resolution is accountable to the people of Palau, not to the President of the Senate or any one person,” he added.
In the last few months, Senate President Baules has denied requests to expend funds for routine expenses of the Tourism Development Committee that Reklai chairs.
Furthermore Senator Baules had threatened to fire his staff “if she kept bringing the forms for him to sign”.
“It is one thing to seek to punish me for daring to disagree with you; it is another to terrorize my staffer for doing her job”, said Reklai in his letter to Senator Baules.
Reklai expressed concern that the Rules of the Tenth OEK have been changed without the adoption by the majority. Under the Rules, Executive Committee consisted of Senate President, Vice President, Floor Leader and Chairman of Standing Committees. According to Reklai, Chairman of Committees had been removed from Executive Committee without approval of majority.
The letter further cites that the leadership tone of the Senate is threatening and intimidating. “Staff is afraid of you and this hurts morale and hampers their work.”
“Referral of bills is erratic,” claims the letter, creating confusion and duplication of efforts.
Sessions are being called without giving the public twenty-four hours notice required under the Open Government Act. Reklai stated that this exposes each Senator who participates in such sessions to personal liability under the Open Government Act.
Senator Reklai charged Senate President Baules with lack of decorum befitting the President of the Senate, stating that he uses his position to “lecture and threaten other senators” which is “unprofessional and beneath dignity of the Senate.”
Stating that he regrets taking such actions, Reklai added he felt compelled by duty to Senate and to the people of Palau to do so. [/restrict]