The delegation also met with US Interior Department officials regarding a number of potential grants and development projects and they met with their money advisors from UBS and their trustees from M & T Bank regarding the status of their two trust funds. They also held a series of meetings with their attorney, Jonathan Weisgall, regarding numerous outstanding issues the Bikinians have with the US government.
On January 23rd, 2012: The Kili/Bikini/Ejit Local Government Mayor and Council were officially sworn in to begin public service to the people of Bikini Atoll in the Marshall Islands. The elections were held in November of 2011. The ceremony was well attended, including the newly elected President of the Marshall Islands, Christopher Loeak, many government ministers, senators and ambassadors and other dignitaries. The ceremony was held at the International Convention Center (ICC) in Majuro, Marshall Islands and began at 3 PM and lasted well into the night with a celebration honoring the newly elected leaders. Chief Justice Carl B. Ingram administered the oaths of office to the Mayor and the Council.
The following are the Bikinians who will now hold the positions of Mayor and Council:
Alap (traditional leaders)
Global Vision Awards 2011
Wan Aelon Majol is a Global Vision Award Winner
Preservation Artisan Revival: Waan Aelõñ in Majel (WAM), the Marshall Islands The traditional Marshallese outrigger canoe was once considered among the finest sailing vessels in the world, until modern boats arrived and canoe construction became a dying art form. But thanks to the foresight of an American boat enthusiast and a few remaining experts, WAM emerged with hopes to revive the craft—and inspire a new generation. The program provides life-skills training and instruction in canoe-building to local youth, offering them marketable expertise in a place where more than 70 percent of young people are without jobs. Take the Trip: The WAM Visitors Center, on Majuro Island, lets travelers tour the workshops and sail in a canoe. Bikinian Mayor Alson Kelen has been the Executive Director of this program for many years.
From the Marshall Islands Journal: The local governments of the four nuclear affected atolls and Kwajalein were recognized in the latest RMI Auditor General’s report to Nitijela.
Auditor Junior Patrick said it has been difficult to audit the majority of local governments because most do not keep financial records. Patrick said the only local governments that have been audited in recent years are:
• Rongelap Atoll Local Government, FY2009 final audit issued
• Utrik Atoll Local Government, FY2009 draft audit issued
• Kwajalein Atoll Local Government, FY2007/2008/2009 draft audits issued
• Kili/Bikini/Ejit Local Governments (Claims Trust and Resettlement Trust
Fund only), FY2010 final audit issued
• Enewetak Atoll Local Government (food program only), FY2009 final audit
Aside from these five, no other audits of local governments were reported. The combination of the “inability of local governments to maintain appropriate accounting records and supporting documentation” and the lack of auditors prevented most from being audited. “Most local governments have ignored the established system of accounting that was previously developed,” he added.
An audit of Jaluit Atoll Local Government “was terminated due to inadequate documentation/records,” Patrick said. A planned audit of Likiep Atoll Local Government was not carried out “due to lack of staff and lack of reliable transportation.”
Looking ahead, Patrick said he wants to work closely with the Ministries of Internal Affairs and Finance to get local governments to comply with audit requirements. He also recommended looking at ways to centralize accounting for outer island local governments that cut costs and improve record keeping.
The people of Bikini met in a public forum held at the Marshall Islands Resort on Wednesday, October 12, at 2 PM to discuss the referendum of their new Constitution that will be part of the November 2011 RMI election. About 50 people were in attendance including Mayor Alson Kelen, Senator Tomaki Juda, former Mayor Eldon Note, Mayoral candidates Hinton Johnson and Luman Benjamin, Bikini Consultant Johnny Johnson and many other Bikinians.
Mayor Kelen read through the entire proposed Constitution and then held a question and answer forum afterwards that went on for over an hour. Most of the questions surrounded one of the new amendments that provides for the Council choosing a new Mayor in the event that the seat is vacated during his or her term of office. The reason for this is that the national government no longer has the funds to provide for special elections should a Mayor vacate his or her office. In the proposed Constitution all of the people of Bikini will continue to vote for Mayor in the general elections just as it has been done in the past.
The ratification of the proposed Constitution is also important because the previous KBE Constitution referred to the head of the local government as “Governor” and there were also several conflicting provisions in the previous Constitution that led to confusion in the RMI Court system. If the Constitution gets ratified by a simple majority of the people of Bikini it will be come law once the election is certified.
Below are Specimen ballots for the upcoming November 2011 election. You will notice at the bottom of the ballots there is the following language regarding our Constitutional referendum:
Ilo S. Ct. Appeal No. 2010-001, Supreme Court eo an Marshall Islands ear ebebe im drepdrep wot im jab kommane jemlok eo an ilo an kotlok bwe armij in Bikini (“K/B/E”) ren kelet Jemen E eo aer ekaal ilo juon referendum eo enaj komman ilo November 2011. Jemen E eo im armij in Bikini rar mour iumin ejanin kar weppen jen kajojo armij in Bikini im ear bareinwot wor jet idaaptok ko ilowan.
( ) Aet, elane kwoj erra ilo Jemen E in.
( ) Jab, elane kwojjab erra ilo Jemen E in.
In S. Ct. Appeal No. 2010-001, the Marshall Islands Supreme Court held the appeal in abeyance to allow the people of Bikini (“K/B/E”) to approve of a new Constitution at a referendum to be held in November 2011. The Constitution under which the people of Bikini were operating had never been approved by the people of Bikini and had several conflicting provisions.
( ) Yes, indicates a voter’s approval of the proposed Constitution.
( ) No, indicates a voter’s disapproval of the proposed Constitution.
Copies of the KBE Constitutions in both English and Marshallese and the Ejit and Kili election ballots can be picked up at the Bikini Atoll Town Hall, or they can be downloaded at this link or downloaded in PDF from the links below:
If there are any questions please email Jack Niedenthal at firstname.lastname@example.org
From the October 7, 2011 Marshall Islands Journal: Lañinbwil’s Gift producers sat dumbfounded in the Micronesian Mall theaters as Guam International Film Festival organizers on Sunday called out their film as the winner of the “Best in the Fest” — the top award of the program. Based on comments earlier in the day, they figured a Taiwan film was headed for glory as best film. Co-producers Jack Niedenthal and Suzanne Chutaro throught after the first few awards were announced and Laninbwil’s Gift wasn’t among them that “that was it” and they would have to be satisfied with being a “finalist,” said Chutaro. Then the announcer said it was time to award the best film of the festival. “…And the winner is…Lañinbwil’s Gift.” “The air rushed out of my lungs and I just sat there,” said Niedenthal. “My wife elbowed me in the ribs and said, ‘go up to the stage.’”
Chutaro said she was stunned by the announcement. Both made speeches after receiving the award. Of the 130 films from 24 countries at the Guam International Film Festival, Lañinbwil’s Gift won the best film award. “Over the three days of the festival, everyone kept talking about ‘Night Market Hero,’ a film from Taiwan,” said Niedenthal. “It was really well done.” He figured this was the film that would get the top award. But on Sunday afternoon, before the awards ceremony, every seat in the 250-seat cinema was filled for the showing of Lañinbwil’s Gift — a mix of Marshallese and other Guam residents. “People kept commenting on how natural the acting in the film (Lañinbwil’s Gift) was,” Niedenthal said. Chutaro, Niedenthal, and actor and local attorney Philip Okney, who joined with the co-producers at the film festival, were welcomed home Monday night at Amata Kabua International Airport by banner-carrying Majuro Co-op School students who were involved in the film and relatives who congratulated them on the big win, the latest award that the “made in Majuro” film has garnered. The film stars over a dozen Bikinian people and Niedenthal works as the Trust Liaison for the people of Bikini Atoll.
The Guam Legislature in a resolution last week recognized Jack Niedenthal for his contribution to the Marshall Islands. “Jack Niedenthal wears several hats and has proven to be a true asset to the Marshall Islands and Micronesia,” said the Guam Legislature’s resolution signed by Acting Speaker Benjamin JF Cruz, Committee on Rules Chairperson Rory J. Respicio, Senator and sponsor Sam A. Mabini and Legislative Secretary Tina Rosemuna Barnes. The resolution was presented to him during the Guam International Film Festival last weekend by Senator Mabini. “Among several roles, today he is Chairman of the Board for the Marshall Islands Social Security Administration, Presidnet of the Majuro Cooperative School, Board of Director Bank of Marshall Islands, Regent on the Board of Directors for the College of the Marshall Islands, Founder of Microwave Films, Filmmaker, Author, Community Advocate, Loving Husband and Devoted Father,” the resolution said. “For this, we recognize and commend Jack Niedenthal and for all his work and his participation in the Guam International Film Festival 2011.” The resolution from the Committee on Rules of the Guam Legislature offered its official expression of recognition “on behalf of the Guam Legislature and the people of Guam.”
Lañinbwil’s Gift chalked up more international recognition by winning the “best film” award at the Guam International Film Festival last weekend.
It has already won:
• Best foreign language film in the Hawaii Ocean Film Festival.
• The International Award for Feature Films at the Columbia Gorge International Film Festival in Washington state. And the film was a “finalist” at the Moondance International Film Festival in Boulder, Colorado. It is also in competition for the Asia/Pacific Screen Awards, which will be issued later this month. It has been sent to big film festivals in Seattle, Cleveland, Atlanta and Alaska.
The people of Bikini have received 1,000 beautiful colored paper cranes from the Japanese peace group, the 2011 Committee of The Great Peace March of Ehime Council against Atomic and Hydrogen Bombs. It is said that the one thousand paper cranes represent long life. The group has sent over 3 million cranes to 61 groups in 29 countries. Their desire is for these groups to use the paper cranes for anti-nuclear purposes. Mayor Kelen pledged to use these cranes during the Bikini Day celebrations in March of 2012 on Kili Island.