'Time to get our lives back on track'

Whipps sworn in as Palau's new president

Surangel Whipps Jr. was sworn into office as Palau’s new president Thursday, taking over the mantle of responsibility to lift the Pacific nation from economic doldrums that resulted from Covid-related isolation.

Palau is one of the few countries in the world that remain Covid-free. “Now,” Whipps said in his inaugural address, “it’s time to become one of the first countries to recover.”

As Palauans stand in line to be vaccinated, Whipps said the country is ready to reopen its border. As of this week, Palau has used 2,400 vaccines out of the 3,000 delivered by the United States.

“It’s time to get our lives back on track,” he said.

Palau’s accomplishment on the world stage, Whipps said, should be felt at home. “We should see them on our dinner tables; we should feel them in our pockets. That is the next step: it is one that we must make together.”

Whipps succeeded Tommy Remengesau, who handed over the leadership to his brother-in-law during a well-attended inaugural ceremony in the nation’s capital.

“We can do all that we need to do. The way is mapped out for us,” the former senator and businessman said. “The task ahead -- for business, education, public health and economic recovery-- is not to change course but to take the next step.”