Salalu to be sworn in as Yap’s new governor following Falan's ouster
Petitioners seek governor's reinstatement, threaten to initiate recall of senators
Lt. Gov. Jesse J. Salalu will be sworn in as governor of Yap on Dec. 29 amid a public petition for Henry S. Falan’s reinstatement.
The Yap State Legislature removed Falan from office on Dec. 16, accusing him of “malfeasance and misfeasance.”
On Thursday, the FSM Supreme Court in Pohnpei denied Falan’s motion to invalidate the legislature’s action. An appeal is being considered.
The motion was filed by Falan’s legal counsel, Marstella Jack, on Dec. 17.
After the first failed attempt to remove Falan, senators voted 8-2 in favor of the resolution that stemmed from the governor’s move on Sept. 16 to temporarily shut down the Office of the Attorney General.
It is not yet known who will fill the role of lt. governor.
The next regular election is only 11 months away in November 2022.
The Yap State Code specifies that whenever a vacancy occurs in the Office of Lieutenant Governor, it is to be filled by appointment by the governor, after consultation with the traditional Council of Pilung and the Council of Tamol upon the advice and consent of the legislature.
If the legislature does not confirm the nomination within 20 days, it is deemed to have been withdrawn. The appointment can only be made after the governor-elect is sworn into office.
The law requires that the positions of governor and lt. governor must be held by one person from the main island and one from Yap’s Outer Islands.
Salalu, who was born and raised on Fais, will be the first governor to serve from the Outer Islands.
A public outcry against the legislature’s action of removal has resulted in a petition to rescind the resolution and reinstate Falan.
“We demand the immediate reinstatement of Henry S. Falan to the office of governor of the State of Yap. If this is not done post haste, proceedings will be initiated to recall members of the Yap State Legislature from office," reads the petition initiated by the Concerned Citizens of Yap.
The petitioners said the legislature's accusations "have no merit and are not equated with the charge of malfeasance and misfeasance. At no time was the public called to testify."
In addition to being posted online for digital signatures, the petition is being circulated among Yap citizens in Hawaii, Guam and the main island of Yap.
As of this writing, close to 300 people had signed the online petition.
One in a line of attempts to impede Falan’s agenda and programs and remove him from office, the unstated basis for the legislature’s actions is seen by many as the support of Chinese developers from PRC by Speaker Vincent Figir, other senators and members of the Council of Pilung.
Figir is also chairman of the Yap-China Friendship Association. Several years ago, when Deng Hong, CEO of ETG, arrived in Yap with a proposal for a large resort and casino, Louis Lukan, a member of the COP, refused to accept a $3,000 “gift” proffered to the council by the company.
Falan, on the other hand, has publicly supported U.S. involvement in Yap and invited the military to establish a presence on the island. The military is currently preparing to renovate the island’s airport with a $37 million grant from the Federal Aviation Authority.
When invited by Chinese developers on an all-expenses-paid trip to Beijing with a travel companion soon after his inauguration, Falan flatly refused the offer.
Falan expressed his dismay at those senators who “got where they are today” by being “educated by America in America.” “They have turned their backs” on America’s generosity and support, he said. “I just don’t understand how they can do that.”
The Yap State Legislature has refused requests to speak with the media.