There are resorts built/managed to cater to Western, Japanese and Korean tastes, and now as the Chinese middle class grows resorts will be developed to meet their needs. As China has a population of 1.3 billion, and is not too far from many fine dive areas, I expect that Yap will not be the last……..Need to get a few more places crossed off my list sooner, rather than later.
This resort is BY FAR NOT a done deal. It is not supported in Yap and the developers have been openly bribing high public officials. They are a bunch of sleezeballs. They have openly stolen images from my books for their promotional use and acknowledge no inttectual property rights. They are attempting to circumvent environmental laws and their business plan, a 4 BILLION dollar investment, makes no economic sense. This "resort" is a front for geo-politics. This is a recent letter to the people from a pastor regarding this disastrous project in Yap:
Vicariate of Yap Office
P.O. Box A, Yap, FM 96943 Telephone: 350-7273
June 24, 2012 (Feast of the Birth of St. John the Baptist) Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,
In recent months the people of Yap have become increasingly concerned about a development project submitted to our State Government by a company of the People’s Republic of China called the Exhibition and Travel Group, also known as “ETG”. This development company proposes to build eight to ten hotels by 2015, two to three world-class golf courses, casinos, and other related facilities for tourists from Asia. ETG promises to build enough hotels to give Yap a 10,000 room guest capacity by 2020. In addition, ETG is promising to make infrastructure improvements with respect to our roads, medical facilities, airport capacity, and utilities.
Much of the public concern since mid 2011 has come about because of the lack of information provided to the public or their elected representative in the State legislature. It was not until June 13, 2012 that the Governor’s office formally transmitted to the State Legislature copies of the documents relating to the development of ETG’s project. By then, the following documents had already been signed and issued: (1) a Strategic Framework of Cooperation between Yap State and ETG signed on April 21, 2011; (2) a Memorandum of Understanding between Yap State and ETG signed on October 21, 2011; (3) a Memorandum of Understanding between the Council of Pilung and ETG signed on January 12, 2012; (4) a Memorandum of Understanding between the FSM Government and ETG signed on April 26, 2012; (5) A Foreign Investment Permit issued to ETG on June 4, 2012; and (6) A Business License issued to ETG also on June 4, 2012. In addition to these agreements, the Governor’s office has been negotiating with ETG an Investment Agreement that will determine the conditions, responsibilities and liabilities of Yap State and ETG as the project progresses. The Attorney General’s Office is now reviewing the second draft, dated May 8, 2012, of this Investment Agreement.
The State Legislature formally learned of these documents just ten days ago. The lack of detailed information coming from the Governor’s office, even as government and traditional leaders were being flown to China for meetings on the project, has caused concern and anxiety among the citizens of Yap both locally and overseas. The public’s concern has resulted in two resolutions by the State Legislature calling ETG to refrain from further action in Yap State until the legislature has sufficient information to insure that their plans are in the best interest of the people of Yap. Two separate petitions from the people of Yap have also requested that more facts about the process be revealed to the public. While these resolutions and petitions have gone unheeded by Governor’s office, there was a Town Hall meeting on May 8th at which the Acting Attorney General was present to discuss the ETG project. Unfortunately, since the public did not see any details of the project agreements, participants could only ask very general questions and received very vague answers that were not supported by any specific documents.
The Catholic Church raises concern not only for the doubts and anxiety caused by the lack of specific information from the government, but also because this lack of information violates the civil and political rights of the people of Yap to participate in a decision that would change the quality of life and culture on Yap forever. The Church also raises concern over some aspects of the tourism project itself. Let it be known that the Catholic Church is not opposed to the economic development of Yap or the tourism industry. However, when the Church reflects on economic development, it does so in the context of human development. In this context, economic development must serve the development of the entire person, body, mind, spirit and culture. People are more important than material goods or money and any development project needs to be judged not only in terms of the dollar sign, but also with respect to the effect on the human person and life in our communities. While ETG’s promises that their project will bring fast money and economic prosperity to Yap, the Catholic Church is concerned that certain aspects of ETG’s project will harm the quality of life in our communities and lessen our sense of cultural and human dignity.
The Catholic Church has serious concerns about certain aspects of the ETG project:
1. The most obvious concern is the interest ETG has in bringing casinos into Yap. At present gambling is not legal in our State. Is our executive branch entertaining such a project proposal or providing guarantees to ETG that the law will be changed?
The criminal activity that accompanies the casino industry is well documented from the experience of other nations in the Pacific rim that have permitted gambling. This criminal activity includes illegal drug trade, money laundering, prostitution and human trafficking. The proposed casinos will be operated by foreign businesses that ETG calls “Third Party” participants. These businesses are unknown at this time and so it is not possible to perform any background checks on them. And yet ETG insists in the Investment Agreement that these unknown businesses enjoy the same rights as are given to ETG in the Investment Agreement currently under review.
At present the FSM is on the US State Department’s watch list for its inability to legislate or enforce laws that prohibit human trafficking. The Yap public safety department also lacks the manpower or resources to effectively detect or protect against money laundering, illegal drug trade and prostitution. How will our communities and families be protected against these crimes that have repeatedly accompanied the gambling industry even in the most developed nations?
2. A second concern is this project’s impact on the environment. ETG is not being held accountable to an environmental impact assessment by the Governor at this time. The reason for this is that such an assessment requires a detailed Master and Business plan. ETG has admitted that such a plan cannot be drawn up until it knows how much land it can acquire and where this land will be. Under these circumstances, how can the Governor’s office pretend to answer the public’s questions about environmental impacts if it is not possible to do an impact assessment at this time? And yet the Governor’s office proceeds with agreements that gradually increase Yap State’s commitment to ETG’s project.
As the largest construction project in the history of Yap and the FSM, the ETG project is certain to have large-scale effects on all sectors of the environment. For example, the golf courses alone, three of which are initially planned by ETG, will have detrimental effects on the lagoon. Golf courses located in tropical ecosystems require massive amounts of fertilizers, which, when washed off into the lagoon, produce nutrient loads that destroy the fragile coral reef ecosystem and related fisheries. What laws and agreements will there be that will hold ETG responsible for not endangering the reef system on Yap?
3. The project will also require ETG to lease large parcels of land on Yap, a significant portion of which is collectively owned. This will constitute the largest transfer of land use in the history of Yap over a period of just a couple years. For generations land has formed the basis of our social systems for the estates, clans and villages. What will be the social and cultural effects of converting our land into a monetary commodity that is no longer tied to our estates or villages? How will our people deal with the very sudden and rapid loss of this cultural heritage? What will this do to the unity among our families? Will some people in positions of traditional authority profit more than others? Will the pilmingaay and other members of the lower castes benefit from this project equally in an economically just way? In other words, will the rich get richer and the poor get poorer?
4. Finally, it should be noted that the current drafts of the Investment Agreement with ETG provide few details that bind ETG to the infrastructure improvements they first promised. The current agreements hold ETG to very few specific requirements and leave the Church wondering whether the negotiations with ETG are receiving careful thought and deliberate review.
My brothers and sisters, I ask the members of the Catholic Church and of the other Churches on Yap to encourage our elected representatives and public servants to slow down their attempts to approve the ETG project. Hold your public servants accountable to a review of the ETG proposal that is thorough and transparent. We are being asked to risk our cultural heritage and ancestral lands on this project. In light of the considerable and unprecedented scale of this project, the Church maintains that the people of Yap have a right to full and transparent information in all subsequent negotiations with ETG. The people of Yap should not be asked for their approval prior to a complete study on the full social, economic, and environmental impacts of this project. Once appropriate information is provided, I ask each of you to exercise your civil rights to participate fully in this decision that will determined the lives of future generations on Yap – even if this participation requires a plebiscite. Your participation must be based on full, detailed and transparent information, not on vague undocumented assurances or dreams of prosperity decorated with colorful pictures.
In closing, I call on our Governor, our other public servants, and the Councils of Pilung and Tomol to remember the words of our Lord when he said, “Whoever wishes to be the greatest of all must be the servant of all,” because Jesus himself came, “Not to be served, but to serve.” You are chosen to fulfill your duties in the service of our people. The people of Yap have placed their hopes and trust in you.
We call upon you today to have the courage to uphold and protect our civil rights to participate fully in this decision, so that as one people we may determine the future of our children and of our State.
Sincerely in Our Lord, John S. Hagileiram, S.J., Acting Vicar of Yap
Alert your congressman, your senators and every one else. When the US compact becomes negotiable in 2023, it could well be that China is economically and strategically placed within the central Pacific to cause a lot of instability. This isn't a resort, it is a long-term power play. Again, this isn't a done deal.
Wish the people of Yap luck.
Tim Rock, Guam