|7th President of Palau|
17 January 2013
|Vice President||Antonio Bells
|Preceded by||Johnson Toribiong|
1 January 2001 – 15 January 2009
|Vice President||Sandra Pierantozzi
Elias Camsek Chin
|Preceded by||Kuniwo Nakamura|
|Succeeded by||Johnson Toribiong|
|4th Vice President of Palau|
1 January 1993 – 1 January 2001
|Preceded by||Kuniwo Nakamura|
|Succeeded by||Sandra Pierantozzi|
|Born||(1956-02-29) 29 February 1956
Koror, Trust Territory of the Pacific Islands
|Parents||Thomas Remengesau, Sr.
Ferista Esang Remengesau
|Alma mater||Grand Valley State University|
Thomas Esang “Tommy” Remengesau Jr. is a Palauan politician who is the current President of Palau. Remengsau was originally president of Palau from 2001 to 2009. He was elected to another four-year term as President in November 2012 and took office on 17 January 2013.
He became Vice-President in 1992 and was elected as President in 2000; he took office on January 1, 2001. He wished to make Palau less dependent upon United States aid, and promoted the expansion and growth of the tourist industry through his policy and slogan of, Preserve the Best and Improve the Rest. The “best” here, being an allusion to Palau’s especially gifted and diverse underwater resource in the Micronesian region, and its reputation of being considered among the top in underwater attractions of the world. In Palau’s foreign affairs, Tommy Remengesau had been active in maintaining Palau’s presence in the UN. During his administration the tiny nation of Palau had elevated to becoming known as an unheralded leader amongst the international community through environmental initiatives, such as the Micronesian Challenge and its cooperation with South Pacific Nations in advocating awareness of Global Warming and its effects in the South Pacific Region.
Remengesau was born in Koror, Palau. His father is Thomas Remengesau, Sr., who was District Administrator of Palau during the Trust Territory era and briefly served as Acting President of Palau. His mother, Ferista Esang Remengesau, also served as First Lady of Palau. Tommy Remengesau was educated at Grand Valley State University in Allendale, Michigan, in the United States.
At 28 years old, Remengesau targeted the youth voting bloc of Palau and successfully lobbied for their support, in the process becoming known as one of the forefront advocates for the youth of Palau. Tommy Remengesau was then elected in 1984 to the Palau National Congress (Olbiil Era Kelulau), carried by the youth and a grassroots campaign to become the youngest senator in the nation’s history at the age of 28. In 1992, he was elected Vice-President and served two terms. In 2000, with the support of outgoing President Kuniwo Nakamura, he won the presidential election, defeating ex-senator Peter Sugiyama by a margin of 52% to 46%. He easily won re-election in 2004, defeating Polycarp Basilius by a margin of 66.5% to 33.5%, in a race dogged with rumors of improper financial influence from Taipei and Beijing.
Remengesau announced in 2008 that he would seek a senatorial seat in the Senate of Palau in the 2008 general election. He came in 11th in the election.
Remengesau was succeeded by President Johnson Toribiong on January 15, 2009.
In April 2009, Special Prosecutor Michael Copeland along with a Special Task Force launched an investigation, stating that “office received information that gave probable cause to believe evidence of criminal activity is contained on the hard drives of seized computers.” Senator Remengesau decried the whole process as an act of “selective prosecution”. After much speculation and media tabloid surrounding the investigation, Remengesau was found only to have been guilty of not filing properties of land and their values and accrued interest. Remengesau was charged with 19 counts of violating Palau’s code of ethics for failing to disclose his interests in real properties and other assets in 2002 and 2003. The charges bear on the lack of filing of the transfers and the values of said properties. Tommy Remengesau has said that, “I am being charged for basically technical information related to the filing of personal assets under the Code of Ethics law.” “It was incomplete but it’s not like that we did not file anything. When we filed in years 2000-2002, we believed that what we were filing was in compliance with the law,” Remengesau said.
When asked about the verdict, he replied: “It is interesting because in our inquiries, roughly 90 percent filed the same way I did. And it is also an eye opener. I learned a lot from this trial and I hope other officials will also learn something from this because they will now change the way they disclose their assets.”
He added, “From now on, everyone who acquired land through tradition will also disclose it in their financial disclosure.” In April 2010, Associate Justice Kathleen Salii imposed a fine of US$156,400 on Remengesau, just one-eighth of the fine recommended by prosecutor Michael Copeland; however, Copeland would go on to express his satisfaction with the sentence in media interviews.