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Thomas Esang "Tommy" Remengesau Jr. (born 28 February 1956)[1] is a Palauan politician who has been the ninth President of Palau since 2013. He originally served as the seventh president from 2001 to 2009. He also served as a Senator in the Palau National Congress between his two administrations.[2] He was elected as Vice-President of Palau in 1992 and 1996, then as President in 2000, 2004, 2012, and 2016.

Tommy Remengesau
Tommy Remengesau 2016.jpg
7th and 9th President of Palau
Assumed office
17 January 2013
Vice PresidentAntonio Bells
Raynold Oilouch
Preceded byJohnson Toribiong
In office
1 January 2001 – 15 January 2009
Vice PresidentSandra Pierantozzi
Elias Camsek Chin
Preceded byKuniwo Nakamura
Succeeded byJohnson Toribiong
4th Vice President of Palau
In office
1 January 1993 – 1 January 2001
PresidentKuniwo Nakamura
Preceded byKuniwo Nakamura
Succeeded bySandra Pierantozzi
Personal details
Born (1956-02-28) 28 February 1956 (age 63)
Koror, Trust Territory of the Pacific Islands
(now Palau)
Political partyIndependent
Spouse(s)Debbie Remengesau
ParentsThomas Remengesau, Sr.
Ferista Esang Remengesau
Alma materGrand Valley State University

Wishing to make Palau less dependent upon United States aid, he promoted the expansion and growth of the tourist industry through his policy and slogan of Preserve the Best and Improve the Rest. The "best" refers 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, Remengesau had been active in maintaining Palau's presence in the United Nations. During his administration Palau elevated to become 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.


Early lifeEdit

Remengesau was born in Koror, Palau. His father was Thomas Remengesau, Sr., who was District Administrator of Palau during the Trust Territory era, as well as Minister of Justice, Vice President, and briefly President of Palau. His mother, Ferista Esang Remengesau, also served as First Lady of Palau.[2] Remengesau was educated at Grand Valley State University in Allendale, Michigan, in the United States, graduating from there in 1979.[3]

Political careerEdit

First service as senator, vice presidency, and first presidencyEdit

Remengesau in 2008.

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. 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%.[4] 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.[citation needed]

As Senator againEdit

Remengesau announced in 2008 that he would seek a senatorial seat in the Senate of Palau in the 2008 general election.[5] He came in 11th in the election.

Remengesau was succeeded by President Johnson Toribiong on January 15, 2009.[6]

In April 2009, Special Prosecutor Michael Copeland, who served as Attorney General of Palau,[7] launched an investigation along with a Special Task Force, 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".[citation needed] 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.[citation needed] 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.”[citation needed] 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. Although prosecutor Michael Copeland recommended a fine of US$1,357,500, Copeland would go on to express his satisfaction with the sentence in media interviews.[8]

Second presidencyEdit

He took office as President again in 2013, after defeating his successor Johnson Toribiong in the November 2012 Palauan election. Due to his work regarding Palau's environment, Remengesau received the Pacific Champion Award in 2013, as well as the United Nations' Champion of the Earth title, the Inspiring Conservation Award, and the IGFA Conservation Award, all in 2014. In 2016, he received the Peter Benchley Ocean Award for Excellence in National Stewardship.[2] He appeared in the 2016 documentary film Before the Flood to discuss the vulnerability of Palau to sea level rise.[9]

He was challenged in his bid for a fourth term in the November 2016 election by his brother-in-law, Senator Surangel Whipps, Jr.[10] He received 5109 votes compared to Whipps' 4854.[11]


  1. ^ Profile of Tommy Remengesau Jr.
  2. ^ a b c Biography Palau National Government, retrieved 2018-01-06
  3. ^ Alumnus president of Palau will visit campus, Grand Valley State University, 2017-10-20, retrieved 2018-05-25
  4. ^ "Remengesau clear winner in Palau presidential race", Kyodo News, 2000-11-09, retrieved 2010-11-22
  5. ^ "Palauans Prepare For Tuesday Primary Election". Pacific Magazine. 2008-09-20. Retrieved 2008-09-20.[dead link]
  6. ^ "Secretary Salazar Meets with Palau President Toribiong March 12, 2009". United States Department of the Interior. 2009-03-20. Archived from the original on April 10, 2009. Retrieved 2009-04-21. Cite uses deprecated parameter |deadurl= (help)
  7. ^ Shuler, Jack (2015-03-12). "Can Executions Be More Humane?". The Atlantic. The Atlantic Monthly Group. Retrieved 2018-03-16.
  8. ^ "Palau court orders Remengesau to pay $156K fine", Marianas Variety, Younis Art Studio Inc., 2008-12-28, retrieved 2018-03-17
  9. ^ "Before the Flood - Thomas Esang "Tommy" Remengesau, Jr". Before the Flood.
  10. ^ "Palau island election: Brothers-in-law vying for presidency". The Independent. 2016-10-31. Retrieved 2016-11-05.
  11. ^ Carreon, Bernadette H. (2016-11-06). "Palau election too close to call, Results to be decided by overseas ballots". Guam Daily Post. Retrieved 2016-11-06.

External linksEdit

Political offices
Preceded by
Kuniwo Nakamura
Vice President of Palau
Succeeded by
Sandra Pierantozzi
President of Palau
Succeeded by
Johnson Toribiong
Preceded by
Johnson Toribiong
President of Palau