4 seek Palau presidency

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KOROR (Marianas Business Journal/Pacnews) — 2020 is an election year for Palau and with eight months to go before the primaries, four candidates have already declared their intention to seek the presidency.

Surangel Whipps Jr.
Johnson Toribiong
Alan Seid

Former Sen. Surangel Whipps Jr., a businessman, is again running for the presidency and is believed to be the strongest candidate.

Whipps, 51, is President Tommy Remengesau’s brother-in-law who ran and narrowly lost against the current president four years ago.

Whipps is the CEO of Surangel and Sons Co., one of the most successful Palauan-owned companies in the island nation.

Whipps’s career in politics began in 2008 when he made history by becoming the first senator to win by write-in. He also garnered the highest percentage of votes in the Senate races in 2008 and 2010.

According to his Facebook page, his candidacy is “fueled by our citizens’ need for real change that can uplift their quality of life in our homeland. This past year, we are encouraged by people’s initiatives that affirm the movement for that change.”

Also seeking the presidency is Vice President Raynold Oilouch Jr., 54. He is a lawyer who served two terms as a senator before winning the vice presidency in the 2016 elections.

If he wins, Oilouch said one of his biggest priorities is to support housing projects, and to continue the programs that President Remengesau put in place.

“There are some good policies and good projects that are currently ongoing that we need to continue and to also improve upon,” he added.

As vice president, Oilouch is also the minister of justice.

Former President Johnson Toribiong, 74, is attempting to make a comeback in this year’s elections.

Toribiong, who served as president from Jan. 2009 to Jan. 2013, lost to Remengesau in the 2012 election.

A lawyer, Toribiong said he will make sure that more Palauans take part in the development of the private sector which he noted employs mostly foreign workers.

He said he also plans to liberalize the investment law to allow corporations to sell their shares. “I am a free enterprise man,” he added.

He said he wants Palau to be an investment-friendly country where it will be easier for investors to come in.

Businessman Alan Seid, 62, is the fourth candidate for president.

He served in the Palau Senate from 2005 to 2009 and in the Palau House of Delegates from 1989 to 2001.

If elected president, he said he would create more revenue for the country by reforming the National Development Bank of Palau to allow more Palauans to have access to capital and start their own business.

He also believes that blockchain technology, gaming, and cannabis are potential industries for Palau.

“I consider myself pro-business, pro-commerce and trade, pro-foreign investments and pro-entrepreneurs,” Seid said.

President Remengesau, 63, was first elected in 2000 and re-elected in 2004. He was elected president again in 2012 and won another term in 2016.

Under Palau’s constitution, a person may not serve as president for more than two consecutive terms.

November 2020 pssnewsletter

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