Young Sun wants Sea Cucumber TRO set aside since Mwoalen Wahu no longer exists

By Bill Jaynes The Kaselehlie Press December 23, 2016 Pohnpei, FSM—

On December 6, Young Sun International Trading Company attorney, Joseph Phillip filed a reply to opposition to dissolve the TRO against a sea cucumber harvest in Pohnpei. In it, he claimed that the Mwoalen Wahu Ileiele en Pohnpei, a sort of council of Pohnpei’s traditional paramount leaders no longer exists as a group and should not have legal standing to file a legal action against the harvest plan. In September of this year, the FSM Supreme Court ruled that the Mwoalen Wahu (the group of Pohnpei’s highest traditional leaders) has legal standing to file a civil action against Pohnpei’s planned sea cucumber harvest. A temporary restraining order has been in place since the Conservation Society of Pohnpei (CSP) and the Mwoalen Wahu Ileiele en Pohnpei filed suit at the FSM Supreme Court.

In its September ruling the court decided that CSP did not have legal standing to file a civil action against the harvest but that the Mwoalen Wahu did. But Phillip says that the Mwoalen Wahu is a fictitious group that, if it ever did exist was disbanded by its chairman, the paramount chief of the Kingdom of Sokehs, Herculano Kohler before the law suit requesting a TRO against the planned sea cucumber harvest was filed. He further argues that even if the Mwoalen Wahu existed, Nett’s Iso Nahnken Salvador Iriarte would not have the traditional standing to represent the entire group of Pohnpei’s paramount chiefs with the exception of perhaps the paramount chief of Nett. He argues that though the court ruled that the Mwoalen Wahu had legal standing to bring suit against the sea cucumber harvest, it did so with the absence of evidentiary matters that tended to dispute the Mwoalen Wahu’s legitimacy as a plaintiff. While admitting that the Pohnpei Constitution does uphold, respect, and protect the customs of the traditional kingdoms of Pohnpei, but that there is nothing the Constitution concerning the customs and traditions of the Mwoalen Wahu that would require respect and protection. “...since plaintiff does not exist, and enjoys not protection under the Constitution,” the TRO should be dissolved, Young Sun’s argument says. Young Sun’s attorney claims that a letter dated April 8 written by Sokehs Paramount Chief Herculano Kohler to Pohnpei Governor Marcelo Peterson informed the Governor that the Mwoalen Wahu had been dissolved. Phillip claimed that “The communique dissolving the de facto organization represented five out of the 7 traditional kingdoms in Pohnpei.” “On or about October 2016, the paramount traditional chief of the Kingdom of Sokehs confirmed by affidavit the dissolution of the de facto organization. Both the letter and affidavit have been submitted by Young Sun as exhibits and are made part of the record of the matter,” the filing said. We were not privy to that letter.