Saipan Sucks

Pacific political junkies will enjoy the website Saipan Sucks. The site's anonymous author details the corruption and nepotism for which the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands is well known. I recall receiving an irate letter from the Public Information and Protocol Officer attached to the Governor of the Northern Mariana Islands over two decades ago protesting “inaccuracies” in an early edition of Moon Handbooks Micronesia. A few months later I bumped into the gentleman at government headquarters on Saipan while researching a subsequent edition of my guide. Naturally, I didn't identify myself to him. All I wanted was some general population statistics for my book, but that aroused his curiousity. Perhaps they were padding their population figures to get additional subsidies from the U.S. government or something. In the end, I got the information I needed and departed quietly.

On the same trip I ran into exactly the same problem in Chuuk State in the Federated States of Micronesia. In that case I think the issue was that the local population figures were used to assign the number of seats in the FSM congress and officials in Chuuk were overestating their figures to get an extra seat or two. The guy at the state information office there became very suspicious, and he even sent me in for a chat with the lieutenant governor or somebody. I managed to convince them that I worked for a travel agency and only needed the figures for a tourist information sheet I was preparing, which was true in a way. Such are the joys of guidebook writing!

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