The Chuuk Political Status Commission (CPSC) has done a grave disservice to the people of Chuuk by failing to provide the full picture of the pros and cons of an independent Chuuk. They have focused mainly on the pros of managing our own fishing license fees, managing our own affairs, keeping our own taxes…all very important matters, but they failed miserably to address some of the immediate and long-term impact on Chuuk if we secede from the FSM.
I am not an economist, politician, or an expert on international treaties, but it doesn’t take any of these expertise to know the direct and indirect benefits of the Compact of Free Association between the US and FSM government. These are basic information that the CPSC is not talking about at their public hearings. I will attempt to point them out here so that the CPSC members can hopefully provide their plans to address these issues.
US Federal Government Services
A Chuuk secession from the FSM will mean an end to the following US federal programs included in the terms of the Compact of Free Association between the US and FSM:
- Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) – FAA provides oversight and safety regulations for airports for US airlines to land. Without the FAA, United Airlines will no longer land in Chuuk which means that Chuukese politicians will no longer use our public funds to wrack up their One Pass miles. No one will be leaving or arriving in Chuuk.
- Pell Grant – Chuukese college students will no longer qualify for the federally funded Pell Grant. Most Chuukese college students will not be able to afford college including those at COM-FSM and Chuuk Campus who depend heavily on the Pell Grant.
- Immigration Rights – Chuukese citizens living in the US under the immigration provision of the Compact with FSM will no longer be protected; Chuukese citizens will no longer qualify for the FSM Passport since they are no longer FSM citizens; all will become illegal aliens and susceptible to deportation. Chuukese parents living in the US who are no longer citizens of the FSM will be deported while their US-born children will be allowed to stay in their country.
- Student Visa – Since Chuukese citizens will no longer be part of the FSM Compact, all Chuukese students who wish to get an education in the US (Guam, Hawaii, mainland, etc) will be back to the old days of the I-20 form. This means that only students who are accepted to a college, enrolled full-time can be issued an I-20 student visa to enter the US borders. Everyone else…stay in Chuuk.
- Public Projects – Since Chuuk will no longer have representation in the FSM Congress, the greedy Chuuk delegation will all be unemployed, broke, wandering Boat Pool looking to reclaim all the fiberglass boats they used as bribery in the name of “public projects.” I guess an unemployed Chuukese congressman is a good thing for Chuuk.
- Education Sector Grant – $11 million is the annual budget for Chuuk Department of Education and all public schools all of it from Compact funding. Where will Chuuk find $11 million dollars every year to support public education when it can only generate $7 million in local revenue and none of it currently goes to public education?
- Infrastructure – $140 million of Compact infrastructure funds for Chuuk is still unspent because Chuuk cannot work out the details on spending it to upgrade schools and other infrastructures. Bye bye money.
- Operational Budget – $20 million of Compact funds plus $7 million local revenue make up the Chuuk State operational budget. Without the Compact funding, most of the government services will cease. Bye bye fat pockets of greedy politicians.
- Other Government Services – The following federally-funded special governmental services will cease because Chuuk cannot afford to fund them: Special Education (Special Ed), Public Health, Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), Weather Station (where will the governor go back to work after he’s out of office?), Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), Peace Corps, Center for Disease Control (CDC)… to name a few.
- Banking – Banks which are insured by the US federally-funded Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC) will no longer operate in Chuuk without this important insurance. Bank of Guam may close shop.
- US Dollar – Since Republic of Chuuk cannot print the US dollar, what money will be used in Chuuk especially in the transition years to set up the Republic and negotiate Chuuk’s own Compact?
- Trust Fund – The Trust Fund is administered by a US controlled committee. Since Chuuk is voluntarily leaving the federation, it is quite conceivable that we will have forfeited our share of the FSM Trust Fund.
- US Military – Chuukese citizens will no longer be able to serve in the US military because they will no longer be part of the FSM Compact which allows FSM citizens to serve in the US military. Will the Chuukese citizens currently serving in the military be discharged honorably…dishonorably? What will happen to their benefits including the GI Bill which pays for them to attend college paid for by the US military?
FSM National Government Services
By voting yes to secession from the FSM, Chuuk will be forfeiting the services provided by the FSM National Government.
- Post Office Rates – Current rates have been part of the Compact agreements with the US postal service; Chuuk will become an international entity. Mailing items to and from Chuuk will triple.
- College of Micronesia – Chuuk Campus will no longer receive its subsidy from the FSM Government and may close down unless the Chuuk independent government finds the money. Where will that money come from to hire all new faculty, staff, etc?
- FSM Social Security benefits – Since Chuuk will no longer be part of the FSM, what will happen to all those who have been receiving social security benefits from the FSM? Will we no longer see the long lines at the bank on the last Friday of the month?
- FSM Supreme Court – The buildings, staff, judges, documents, office supplies which belong to the FSM will be returned to the FSM. Where will Chuuk find money to open its own Supreme Court? What will happen to all the court cases that need to be addressed by a Supreme Court?
- FSM Banks – The FSM Bank and the FSM Development Bank will no longer have a vested interest in staying in Chuuk. Will Chuuk open a Bank of Chuuk where Chuukese politicians can hide their cash from the Chinese fishing license fees?
- Petro Corporation – PetroCor which is an FSM corporation responsible for all fossil fuel (gasoline, diesel, kerosene, etc) will have no vested interest in staying in Chuuk. If they close down operations then what will happen to all the boats in the Chuuk lagoon that operate on gasoline?
- FSM National Police – Where will Chuuk find the money to start its own national police to patrol its own 200 mile exclusive economic zone (EEZ)? It barely has the capacity to patrol the lagoon for poachers, dynamite fishermen, etc.
- FSM MiCare Health Insurance – What will be Chuuk’s health insurance plan (iNoCare?) when the FSM’s plan no longer applies to Chuukese citizens? What about the FSM medical referral agreements with Philippines, Hawaii, Guam which will no longer cover Chuukese patients?
- FSM Trust Fund – If Chuuk is voluntarily leaving the FSM, what legal rights does Chuuk have to claim its share of the Trust Fund? Will the US which has majority voting rights enable it?
- FSM Telecom – What will be Chuuk’s telecommunication company to provide the internet, cable, phone service in Chuuk if FSM Telecom decides to leave Chuuk?
- FSM National Scholarships – Chuuk is barely able to manage its own Chuuk State Scholarship which is hampered by the Ke Pach Ke Tento mode of operation. Chuukese students will no longer qualify for the FSM national scholarships.
- Voyager Ship – What ship will service the outer islands in the Republic when FSM stops the Caroline Voyager from coming to Chuuk?
- Immigration – What kind of immigration relationships will relations between FSM and Chuuk (going to visit relatives in Pohnpei, Yap, Kosrae)?
- Xavier High School – How will Xavier High School sustain itself if Palauans, FSMers, Marshallese cannot come to Chuuk because the airlines won’t land in the Chuuk airport?
- Fishing the 200 miles EEZ – How will Chuuk maximize its EEZ without a commercial fishing fleet, cannery, or any other fishing infrastructure? What happened to all the Chuukese fishing vessels? Remember Ting Hong?
- FSM Diplomatic Corp – How much money will Chuuk raise to operate its own Chuuk Embassies or Consulate Offices in other countries and the United Nations? What will happen to all the Chuukese citizens who are currently serving as diplomats for the FSM?
Again, this list is not meant to be exhaustive. These are questions that the CPSC should discuss in their public hearing instead of the one-sided sales pitch we’ve gotten so far from their members. And they struggle to even articulate their own viewpoints.
The CPSC’s formula for a better Chuuk seems to be: C+S=CS (Chuuk + Secession = Chuuk Suicide). Let’s stop them before they lead all of us right off Suicide Cliff.
Translate this document and help educate your families back home on the pros and cons of the Chuuk independence so they can be informed voters in March. I’m convinced that they will make the right decision for our future if they get all the right information.
I invite any member of the commission to submit their rebuttal to email@example.com and we will publish them verbatim on this website.