The 11th Olbilil Era Kelulau ( OEK) will have six new senators in 2021.
Four out of the six new faces in January are first time lawmakers. For these four they were successful in their first attempt to run for the Senate.
While the new members might lack experience as lawmakers, their entry in the OEK will be crucial in helping the incoming administration push an aggressive legislative agenda amid the COVID -related economic crisis.
Meet the new freshmen in the Senate.
Senator-elect Andrew Tabelual
Sen. Elect Tabelual is an educator turned lawmaker, having worked as an educator since 1997.
He said he will be working towards pro-education initiatives .
“ I emphasized the need to make further improvements in education – the mantra – working collaboratively towards that end, “ he stated in an email.
He also said that response to the COVID-19 impact will be a top priority.
“That said, i do acknowledge the current predicament due to COVID 19 –
I am hopeful that coming together in partnership as one people focused
on the issue of the day – we could certainly navigate our way – take
positive steps forward,” he added.
Ahead of the new OEK, Tabelual said he would need the help of his seasoned colleagues .
Tabelual also was the third top vote getter in the recent election.
Senator-elect K Topps Sungino
Sen. -elect Sungino is well known in the world of sports in Palau having worked with the Palau National Olympic Committee for two decades.
But Sungino is one of the newest faces in the Senate and as a Sport Development Officer he said he plans to support funding for development of the youth, state community organizations and NGOs.
Sungino said he is also ready to work with his colleagues in the Senate “to set up both a short and a long term strategic plan that will address the challenges we are all facing to the best of our abilities and capabilities.”
Senator-elect Tj Remengesau
Mr, Remengesau , the son of outgoing President Tommy Remenegsau Jr. is an entrepreneur before he stepped into politics. He also spent three years in Washington DC working with the International Monetary Fund (IMF) as advisor to the Executive Director of Asia/Pacific Constituencies.
He has also a Bachelor’s Degree in Economics and during his campaign trail one of his priorities coming to the Senate is to stimulate the economy and provide opportunities for the young and old.
Remengesau will be the youngest member of the Senate in the upcoming OEK.
Senator- elect Umiich Sengebau
Mr. Sengebau is not new in public service, having served for eight years as Minister of Natural Resources, Environment and Tourism.
He also holds two important portfolios that are considered the bread and butter of Palau’s economy- tourism and environment.
Considering himself as a “lifelong environmental advocate” Sengebau said the COVID-19 pandemic has presented Palauans the opportunity to be self-reliant.
Sengebau also said he will continue to make environmental initiatives a priority, from enhancing the PAN Act to helping local farmers and fishermen through sustainable financial schemes.
He will also support the regional and global fight against the impacts of climate change.
Senator -elect Jonathan Isechal
Mr. Isechal is a veteran lawmaker, having served many years as Peliliu Delegate and chairman of the House of Delegates (HOD) Committee of Ways and Means.
This will be his first time in the Senate but brings with him formidable experience not only as lawmaker but as Chairman of Ways & Means of the House. He is a known as fearless and outspoken lawmaker.
Senator Elect Seciliil Elbedechel
Mr. Eldebechel is the Chief of Staff of outgoing President Remengesau and not his first time as a lawmaker. He formerly served as member of the House of Delegates in the 8th Olbiil Era Kelulau (Palau National Congress) from 2009 to 2013 representing the State of Ngchesar.
In a biography he provided, he said during his tenure with the House of Delegates he served as a Chairman of Ways and Means Committee. He also represented the OEK on both the Boards of Governors and Directors of the Pacific Islands Development Bank.
As an incoming member of Congress, he said he will work in revamping the economy through new and innovative approaches to develop legal frameworks to create opportunities for new business and expanding our economic base to include digital economy, local production of new products and services, and banking services. “
He noted that response to the impacts of the pandemic is also his priority.
“The country needs to move forward and so every opportunity to start somewhere needs to be explored thoroughly.,” he said.