• By Alex J. Rhowuniong

Wait a minute Mr. Postman, there is nothing in the mail


Recently, I read a press release from the Federated States of Micronesia that gave me hope for my Chuukese families. Noting that it takes its citizens’ concerns seriously, the FSM national government said it would look into alleged fraud and mail-mishandling at the Chuuk Post Office.

“It is indeed the duty of every employee of the FSM Postal Service to protect every piece of mail—whether it’s flat rate, registered, certified, express, insure or not insured, with tracking or without tracking, and so forth,” stated the release.

FSM President David Panuelo requested FSM post-master general Ginger Porter Mida “to review contemporary reporting procedures and, where necessary and able, to develop a superior means of doing so.”

For years, Chuukese living abroad have been crying foul about postal pilfering. Their cries seem to have finally been heard at the national government level. Hopefully, something good happens. And Chuukese residents will eventually learn about the real story behind their missing mail and parcel.

Many have posted on Facebook about money and goods stolen from parcels sent to Chuuk. Recipients go to the post office to claim their packages, only to find them already open and their contents missing.

Postal employees have pointed fingers at a different direction, claiming Chuuk Custom’s personnel at the airport may be the culprit.

Sadly, supervisors and higher-ups do not seem to either know or care about what’s going on in their workplace and with their employees.

Is there a shortage of potential postal workers in Chuuk that prevents the post office administration from firing rogue postal employees? Or are they just pawns in a bigger scheme?

Under the U.S. Postal system, tampering with mail is a federal crime, punishable with imprisonment or fines — or both.

The history of the mailman is nearly as impressive as the story of the U.S. civil war as well as the men and women in uniform fighting for freedom. While the mailman may not fight for freedom, he sure fights the elements, including sleet and snow — and anything else nature and man would throw at him—to make mail delivery impossible.

Visit the Smithsonian National Postal Museum’s website (postalmuseum.si.edu). There, you will find Nancy Pope’s Pony Express mail story, which talks about the history of the U.S. Postal System. You will appreciate the pride and dedication of U.S. mail handlers, who carry out their all-too-important job. Chuukese mail-handlers would benefit from this story had the post office system made it required reading.

Here is the reasoning, I think, behind a serious postal system anywhere: communication is critical, the lifeline of any organization. Without a sound communication system, the individual and collective building blocks will collapse.

Before the 1986 ratification of the Compact of Free Association for FSM, Chuuk and the rest of FSM’s three other states— Yap, Pohnpei and Kosrae—were all part of the Trust Territory of the Pacific Islands under U.S. care. As such, Chuuk’s post office was part of the USPS.

I do not remember any stories about missing mail then. But I remember a relative who was receiving monthly mail-order catalogs from Sears and Cabela’s in the 80s. I also remember him happily receiving his mail-ordered clothes and other items from the post office without any complaint.

Admittedly, I have not been sending anything to family members in Chuuk. Simply because of the horrible stories I have been hearing. It’s been sad.

But as the holidays quickly engulfed us this year, Chuukese folks may be a bit hopeful now. Some may even exhale as they realize someone may be getting to the bottom of this nightmare soon.

My hats off to FSM President David Panuelo and his administration for their diligence and especially, for caring about the little people.

Not too long ago, I read an online article about President Panuelo prompting an investigation into an allegation of unlawful employment practices against FSM citizens in the states.

While I do not know President Panuelo personally, I am aware of a few things he’s done for ordinary citizens, especially, the youth in the state of Pohnpei. Now, as the president, it seems his sights have adjusted accordingly, panning onto the national scene. And apparently, he is taking care of business around his nation.

Finally, it is really nice to hear of a political leader genuinely caring for his people for a change.

Alex J. Rhowuniong is a freelance writer. Send feedback to justwrite.ar@gmail.com. Or visit his website: www.rhowuniong.com.

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