With Palau President Tommy Remengesau ending his term and retiring from politics, the field of presidential election in September has drawn at least four hopefuls: Alan Seid (former senator businessman), Surangel S. Whipps Jr. (former Palauan senator and businessman) Raynold B. Oilouch (incumbent vice president and Minister of Justice) Johnson Toribiong (former president and businessman)
Alan Rechuldak Seid was elected as delegate of Koror State in 1988 and served three terms. This is the first in a series of Q&A with Palau’s presidential candidates.
Pacific Island Times: When did you decide to join the presidential race? What inspired you to run for president? How did you first announce your candidacy?
Alan Seid: I made the decision sometimes in June last year. The inspiration has been a lifelong plan and the continued love for Palau. I announced my candidacy on the television and radio simultaneously on the eve of Palau 25th Independence Day last year.
What is your campaign platform?
I have over 40 policies for the platform that will be released soon. I can mention a few that relate to the economy. Among these is the promotion of the cannabis industry for medical purpose, oil and gas exploration, corporate registry utilizing blockchain technology. Food security and local production is also part of the platform. Empowerment of young entrepreneurs is very important to me, and I will provide low-cost capital to support this program. There are plans for improvement of health care and education.
What are your past experiences as a politician?
My first job in politics was working as a special assistant to High Chief Ibedul and Koror Municipal Government. During that time, I served as staff the Council of Chiefs in the early 80s. Early experience also includes working for President Lazarus Salii on various political matters including relationship with the Council of Chiefs and the negotiations of the Compact of Free Association. My first elected position was to the membership of the Koror State Constitutional Convention.
When you were a senator, what was the most important piece of legislation that you helped push through?
Throughout my role in the Congress as delegate and senator, a few pieces of legislation stand out. Among them the creation of Palau Community College, the Palau International Coral Reef Center, the budgets for Youth facilities such as gymnasiums, sports facilities and baseball fields improvements. I would say the highlight was the legislation approving the Compact of Free Association and attaining full sovereignty. This is truly the highlight.
What do you consider is your most significant achievement in Palau’s political arena?
I can mention one particular subject because it is a collective effort of working together with others. It is also a collective growth of the nation with many hands lifting the workload together. I was very happy about a few subjects that I was and am still passionate about like increasing the scholarship budget for Palauan students and balancing the national budgets while serving as chairman of the Ways and Means Committee.
What are the particular policies/programs/projects in the current administration do you wish to improve?
There are several environmental policies I wish to continue such as those relating to climate change and conservation. I plan to improve the efficiencies of projects permitting process. I plan to improve the efficiency of land and surveys. I will also continue the policy of promoting diversified tourism sources rather than rely on one primary market. I support the marine sanctuary program but plan to make a few changes to allow local fisheries to thrive.
What area in government do you think needs immediate attention?
The immediate plan is to take action to boost the economy through various means such as housing programs, an increase of revenues, an increase in salaries across the board, and empower young entrepreneurs to thrive. I will take steps to protect locally owned businesses as well.
What will be the focus of the Seid administration? Which direction are you going to lead Palau as president?
The primary focus of the Seid administration is to build Palauan national pride to economic growth and opportunity. I plan to provide the opportunity for the Palauan people living abroad to be able to return home. I plan to create an environment where Palauans feel they have control of their nation and that it is their true home sweet home, a Palau belong to Palauans.
What do you think is your edge against your opponents?
I think all of the other candidates have good intentions as I do. Therefore, I do not have an edge against them. It will come down to an effective campaign to spread the intent of the platform. All of the candidates come from good backgrounds and will fare well. Where I stand out is my willingness to try new things, think outside the box and not part of the so-called political establishment. I think of myself as the candidate of the ordinary people of Palau who long for change. I know, I need to campaign to the best of my ability and let the rest be in the hands of the people and the will of the Almighty.