The dissolution of parliament last week could well have been heralded under the banner “Parting is such sweet sorrow’ from Shakespeare’s play, Romeo and Juliet.
With all those present dressed in their finery, it was a time to forget those unseemly squabbles, the childish name calling, the low standard of debate and the pomposity of those in charge of the House.
Certainly it was a kinder, gentler Prime Minister Tuilaepa Sailele Malielegaoi who took the floor for the last time prior to the 2016 General Elections in March.
As well as conciliatory words directed at the opposition, Tautua Samoa party there were the expected words of gratitiude to the Speaker of the House, his constituency of Lepa, government officials and his H.R.P.P. colleagues.
His good humour and largesse even extended to suggesting that the Opposition had been useful and had assisted the government in its work.
“That is the whole purpose of an Opposition,” he said, “to advise and maintain its ground.”
And while there were no concrete examples given of the Tautua Party’s advice the government had taken on board, the comments set the tone for an equally cordial response from Tautua’s leader, Palusalue Fa’apo II.
After acknowledging that the past five years hadn’t been easy for the government Palusalue stated that government had “managed to sail through some rough seas”.
He then reminded his party members that their work has been acknowledged by the Prime Minister and said it hadn’t been always easy for the government.
He concluded by thanking the media for their contribution in providing a forum for concerns and government officials for the services they provide.
Prior to this very friendly leave taking, the Prime Minister couldn’t resist giving his take on the relationship between ‘decisions and outcomes’ which he carefully explained for the unenlightened.
Cynics may also have suggested it was an attempt to gloss over government decisions which had gone horribly wrong and consequently had ongoing and disastrous outcomes which we are not only feeling today but which our children will be inheriting in years to come.
Think the millions spent on the empty Vaitele and Salelologa Markets; the defunct wharf at Aleipata; ignoring warnings from world financial organisations about debt. Think the outrageous and unauthorised spending; refusing to address cases of mismanagement and profiteering, constitutional changes as it suited; the list goes on.
These were all government decisions, often taken with little or no consultation with the people and backed by a “we know what’s best for you” mantra. There was little thought beyond a drive to create a first world skyline for a people struggling with N.C.D.s, obesity and unemployment.
However the Prime Minister firmly placed the blame for outcome failures in the hands of the people.
His ‘decisions to outcomes’ example of schools being built in villages and yet people opting to move to town, is correct. Yes many of our donor neighbours in the region have rebuilt and refurbished rural schools. And again, as in many countries around the world there is an inevitable urban drift, as he said.
His comment about not enough jobs (in town) and a lack of qualifications by these people who have moved from the villages to get work, is also correct.But it is the refusal by government to seriously address the lack of employment in the whole country and opportunities for retraining and adult education, where the problem lies.
Surely when a decision, (by government) has led to a poor outcome (by the people) it is far too easy to place the blame on those who had no say in decision-making?
Would that not be the time to look at the decision and find out why the outcome was unsuccessful? How much realistic thought had gone into it? Was it really achievable or doomed to failure? Had there been a feasibility study to ensure success?
We believe outcome failure is not the people’s failure. Rather, it raises serious questions about the validity of many of the decisions made by government who are out of touch with what is happening in our country and lack understanding of the needs and aspirations of our people.