Glen Hunter, a vocal critic of the Torres administration, who was the keynote speaker at the Marianas High School Class of 2019 graduation, urged the CNMI community to demand answers from the administration.
“We must hold our leaders accountable. We must ask the tough questions. We must demand answers,” said Hunter in his keynote speech.
Hunter, who owns The Shack Saipan, Airstream Cafe, and GoHydro LLC, encouraged the graduating class of MHS to become active citizens in the community.
He talked about recent issues in the community such as austerity measures and public corruption, about the “hemorrhaging” healthcare system, infrastructure, and school system.
Hunter called out government leaders, stating that they have failed to “plan properly” and “prioritize spending.” He accused them of widespread corruption that benefits their political self-interests.
“They say we get the government we deserve. I believe we deserve so much more than what we have had in recent history and what we have today,” Hunter said. He blames the government for spending more money than it takes in, saying this is the cause of the CNMI’s economic quagmire.
Hunter challenged the graduates, the community, and business owners to stand up to the government, against political pressure, and to exercise their public voice.
“We need [to be] willing to tell the government that we will not be intimidated. We will not be silent. …It is all very possible. You have so much power,” Hunter added.
He also encouraged people to do their own research, read, ask questions, and demand answers—to exercise their “power as active citizens to better these islands.”
Hunter expressed himelf stunned by the lack of graduates willing to come back to the CNMI in 10 years. He believes that his generation and the generations before him were tasked to create a “better place” the future generation could call home and return to it. “Yet 80 percent of you on stage don’t envision yourself living here 10 years from now…We talk about the fact that so many of our youth leave and never return after graduating. Yet we have done so little to make these islands more inviting.”
Hunter explained that he was not speaking out of hatred or anger but because of his love for the islands and his hope for the next generation.
“I realize now that I can’t ask you to be active citizens, you already are. I ask you instead to build on that and to continue to be active citizens,” he added.
Administration supporters have taken to social media to criticize Hunter’s comments, mostly saying the speech was inappropriate for a graduation ceremony.