Traditional chiefs, members of the Council of Pilung from the four contiguous main islands of Yap, have written to the Yap Legislature as part of an effort to persuade the Federated States of Micronesia Congress to declare Pacific Island Times correspondent Joyce McClure persona non grata and that she be removed from Yap.
McClure is a U.S. citizen resident in Yap who is a correspondent for Pacific Island Times, though the chiefs render the name of the publication as “Pacific Time magazine news website.”
10th Yap Legislature in session
The 10 traditional chiefs, charged under the Yap State constitution with overseeing matters of tradition and culture, maintain in a lengthy letter to Speaker Vincent Figir of the Yap State Legislature that McClure’s journalistic activities “[have] been or may be disruptive to the state environment and/or to the safety and security of the state” and demand that the FSM Congress declare “this particular american citizen” persona non grata.
“As the paramount authority of the land, we the Council of Chiefs find this lady’s activities are rather creating unnecessary turmoil in our small society that is entirely not called for. Therefore, we are collectively seeking assistance in the removal of Ms. Joyce McClure from the State of Yap and banning her publication of unverified information pertaining to the State of Yap and its People."
Nine of the 10 chiefs signed off on the view that McClure “has treated the local people of Yap State as uneducated fools and deemed irresponsible of how they should run their local government [sic].”
The letter goes on to accuse McClure, a veteran journalist and marketing expert who most recently was contracted to advise on the successful MicroGames in Yap, of journalistic malpractice: “[S]he obliviously began composing falsified news article on Yap Government through Pacific Time Magazine news website without verifications to the leadership and/or private sectors alleged in her articles.”
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The embattled McClure has previously offered to meet with the Yap State Legislature and the Council of Pilung to provide proof of her work and respond to the allegations directly.
As for Pacific Island Times, according to the chiefs, "[it] has proven to be the first ever fake-news agency in the Pacific Ocean/Island Nations given all of her published articles of Yap State without verifications containing biased strong opinions against Asian ethnicity, government and/or business in general creating confusions amongst local people and fuming [sic] the fire under the minority who are also anti-Asians.”
The letter also suggests that the traditional chiefs have taken it upon themselves to create a list of prohibited journalistic “sanctions” for Yap, somewhat at odds with the U.S. 1st Amendment and Article IV, Section 1 of the FSM Constitution, including satire that uses “humor, irony, exaggeration, ridicule, and false information to comment on current events.”
But the good news, according to the chiefs, is that the people of Yap have an official, government sanctioned alternative:
“Yap State Government has an official News Website www.yapstategov.org that provides only accurate and factual news feeds on Yap State Government affairs based on due-diligence efforts, something [McClure] lacks vehemently in her reports to the public.”
As invariably happens in 2019, the controversy is just starting to play out on Facebook. On the site Yap’s Development, one Leo Taman wondered whether the traditional leaders had really given enough thought to their effort:
“Have they thought about what the U.S. might do if Yap/FSM tries to evict one of its citizens while they are hosting tens of thousands of Yapese/FSMers in their country? Has the Council of Pilung thought about the authority that gives Americans the freedom to live and work in Yap/Micronesia? Does Yap/Micronesia have the authority to just tell an American to leave Yap Island? Has the Council of Pilung run out of good sensible things to do as mandated by the constitution and Yap State Code instead of meddling in the affairs of the state government? What do you think? Lets hear from others...”