Palau receives high marks in National Geographic survey of islands
WASHINGTON D.C. and MANGILAO Guam – National Geographic’s Center for Sustainable Destinations surveyed conditions on 111 selected islands and archipelagos in its fourth annual Destination Scorecard survey. The survey reflects evaluations made by a panel of 522 well-traveled experts including University of Guam professor Thomas Iverson representing a variety of fields. In the survey reported in the November/December 2007 National Geographic Traveler magazine Denmark’s Faroe Islands and Portugal’s Azores received the highest scores. Two American islands Mackinac Island Mich. and Molokai Hawaii were rated among the top 10.

While Guam wasn’t included in the survey list several other local islands including Palawan an island in the Philippines and Palau received positive ratings: both islands received higher scores than four of Hawaii’s islands. Palau received high marks for its coral reefs and scuba diving attractions with the Rock Islands deemed "iconic." However Koror was considered "cluttered" and "ramshackle " and reviewers suggested that Japanese and Taiwanese development spells trouble for the island.

Iverson of the School of Business and Public Administration; said in a Nov. 1 release "It was interesting that in our region Palawan scored higher than Palau Hawaii and Kauai. I was surprised to see Lombok Indonesia ahead of both Maui and Bali. Oahu and Phuket scored towards the bottom of the list. It is clear that the mass tourism destinations are in trouble."

The complete results of the survey may be viewed at www.nationalgeographic.com/traveler.

Guam bonds priced in positive market
NEW YORK – The Government of Guam General Obligation Bonds 2007 Series A Bonds were priced in New York on Oct. 24 and ended with net proceeds of $69.3 million $4.3 million more than the anticipated $65 million in proceeds according to a press release with the same date. The $69.3 million in proceeds was deposited into the Government of Guam bank account on Nov. 2.

The bonds were issued to refund outstanding 1993 General Obligation Bonds and to provide funds to pay for capital expenses and capital improvement projects for the Guam Public School System the Guam Memorial Hospital University of Guam past due income tax refunds and other items authorized by the fiscal 2008 budget law.

NMI awaits absentee ballots in midterm election Saipan Casino Act rejected
SUSUPE Saipan – Two lawyers and a public school teacher made it to the House of Representatives while an environmentalist’s chances appear to be hanging in the balance depending on results from absentee ballots in the Nov. 3 midterm elections.
Seasoned politicians also made a comeback to the NMI Legislature based on partial unofficial results of the Commonwealth Election Commission.

Joseph James Norita Camacho a lawyer; received the most votes in his election district at 818. Rosemond B. Santos another lawyer; also got the most votes in her election district at 545. Frederick Peters DeLeon Guerrero a teacher at Kagman High School; got the second highest number of votes in the same election district at 456.

Christina Marie Elise Sablan an environmentalist and community advocate; garnered 911 votes in her election district; closely trailing behind is former lawmaker Janet U. Maratita who has 898 votes from the same election district which has 333 absentee ballots.

According to CEC there are1 515 absentee ballots which are projected to be tabulated in the coming days to come up with final results on Nov. 17.

Seasoned politicians who made it back to the legislature are Diego T. Benavente who had been speaker of the House for six years in three consecutive terms. He ran unsuccessfully for lieutenant governor in the 2004 gubernatorial race along with incumbent Gov. Juan N. Babauta; David M. Apatang a Vietnam war veteran who had consistently been highest vote-getter in his election district before losing in the 2004 election because of issues about political party affiliation; and Heinz S. Hofschneider also a former House speaker who ran unsuccessfully for governor in 2004. Incumbent Gov. Benigno R. Fitial won in that election.

Meantime attempts by an advocacy group to ratify a measure that would allow casino operations on Saipan failed to muster the needed number of votes with the leader of the group a former NMI House speaker coming back at those who campaigned against it saying they should now lobby against poker establishments.

On Rota a similar casino measure got 788 votes or 84.5 percent of the total votes cast with only 144 voters rejecting it.

" I challenge all who voted against it to also petition for the eradication of poker machines. They used the poker to campaign against the casino initiative. It’s time that they go out to the voters and have them sign a petition for the eradication of poker machines and all forms of gambling " Pedro R. DeLeon Guerrero head of the CNMI Indigenous Entrepreneurs Inc.; which spearheaded the Saipan Casino Act; told the Journal.

Various community-based groups campaigned against the Saipan Casino Act. During the election campaign period Bishop Tomas A. Camacho of the diocese of Chalan Kanoa issued a pastoral letter urging the people to vote against the measure.

Meantime Guerrero also said that the Saipan Casino Act did not get enough votes because his group did not have enough time and resources to "educate" voters about the issues involved.

" We respect the position of the voters. We regret that we did not have enough resources and time to educate the people. Time was against us " he said.

According to the CEC 3 492 people voted in favor of the Saipan Casino Act; 4 721 voted against. The Saipan Casino Act an initiative needed two-thirds affirmative votes of the total number of votes cast by registered Saipan voters. Saipan has 866 absentee voters.

The electorate also ratified two other initiatives: House Legislative Initiative 15-1 which would transfer accreditation of secondary education from the Northern Marianas College to a Higher Education Commission; and House Legislative Initiative 15-16 which would require a run-off election in case none of the gubernatorial candidates received a majority vote.

Tan Holdings to kick off festivities for 35th anniversary
TUMON Guam – Tan Holdings Corp. will celebrate 35 years doing business in Micronesia with a banquet on Nov. 15 at the Fiesta Resort Guam.

Established on Guam in 1972 by Tan Siu Lin Tan Holdings has grown into a diversified group of businesses. The core foci in the region today involve tourism insurance logistics fishing and real estate.

Tan Siu Lin was originally involved in shipping trading and movie distribution in Hong Kong however he saw opportunities in the islands and moved to Guam with his wife Lam Pek Kim and five children – Henry Willie Jerry Raymond and Lily. Their daughter Sunny was born on Guam.

The company’s headquarters moved to Saipan along with several businesses including real estate investment amusement and apparel manufacturing in 1983. However with the closure of its factory in 2006 it is no longer in the manufacturing business in this region.

The second generation has been and continues to be involved in the regional enterprises. Most of the third generation are still in school though some have started to become active in the global business though not this region.

Tan and his wife and six children are due to attend the event.

The company is known for maintaining a strong sense of social responsibility and giving back to the communities where it does business. Tan Siu Lin is particularly involved in education as his primary philanthropical interest. MBJ