In his last address in parliament before it was dissolved on Friday, Prime Minister Tuilaepa Sailele Malielegaoi spoke about the connection between decisions and outcomes.
While the government can make decisions for the betterment of Samoans and Samoa, he said, the outcomes, good or bad, are dependent upon the people.
He pointed to the education system where district schools have been established in rural villages to ensure that students stay with their parents in the villages and attend school.
Tuilaepa said even though these developments are put in place for this purpose, it does not stop people from moving into town freely.
“But there are not enough jobs (in town) and some don’t have the qualifications to get work,” he said.
“Children are then used by their parents to sell goods on the road; a way that parents see will attract more customers to buy, yet we know there is plenty of undeveloped land.
“This is their (parents) decision (for their children) and no one else can stop them.”
Tuilaepa continued to say that even some people who have been given chiefly titles have joined in the vendors’ business getting in the way of tourists and the general public.
“This is what I mean; that we cannot separate an outcome from the decisions made. Even the wealthy nations have homeless people sleeping on the roads, under bridges and in public places.
“But there is a big difference in Samoa.”
According to vTuilaepa, unlike Samoa, those homeless people overseas have no families.
Whereas in Samoa everyone knows each other and families know their relatives who are on the streets.
“They have turned a blind eye to their duties as families to love them (people on streets).”
He also stressed that the sight of people on the streets and vendors has been used by others to justify the economy of Samoa and its development.
Remembering the past, Tuilaepa said people used to eat only banana and taro with coconut cream and also drank lemongrass tea.
“There were only herrings in shops. Nowadays chop suey is one of the cheapest foods you can find in restaurants and the cost of a box of chicken is just $30 tala.
“Compared to those years, people could only dream of eating chicken when relatives from American Samoa talked about fried chicken and drinking soft drinks.”
Other examples he used to back up his assertion that Samoa is developing, is seeing more students being sent overseas for education and finding better lives and an influx of people coming to work in Samoa.
“We also see a lot of business people like Chinese, Indians and people from other countries coming to Samoa for a better living. We are no different from other wealthy countries and we cannot see such achievements because we are only looking outside and not within. Some businesses are becoming too lazy to collect sene and coins but only want to sell one thing and expect to get a millions in return.”
The difference between Samoa and other countries is that overseas people sweat from the heat and have running noses during winter, he claimed
As for relatives living overseas, Tuilaepa said they are working hard with some having two jobs while locals continue to depend on them for money to contribute to fa’alavelave.
“They too, are trying to develop their families and are contributing to churches overseas,” said Tuilaepa.
“I am not saying they should not send money because it contributes to remittances and it assists families but we have to change our ways and thinking to stop depending on our relatives overseas, for money does not grow on trees.”
He pointed out that no matter how much the government tries to develop education, but if parents do not do their duty and push their children to go to school, they will not be successful.
“Knowledge cannot be earned freely without commitment and effort. Even if the government also promotes good health in the country, if parents continue to feed their children with sweet and unhealthy food, the next generation will end up being obese.
“The government starts incentives and it is up to villages, churches, parents and children to implement them.”
Tuilaepa stressed that the enemy of all development is being dependent on others.
“It prevents talent from being explored and used to serve families, villages, churches and country.
Tuilaepa also addressed suggestions that government should increase benefits for pensioners.
Making reference to Singapore, he said the country does not have a benefit system because people will become dependent if they do.
“It is the duty of children to look after their parents (when they get old) just as they were well looked after by their parents,” he explained.
“This kind of thinking will mean that parents look after their children, the government supports them as well and the children of their children.
“A loving leader will speak directly and will not use such suggestions to influence the public.”
In closing, Tuilaepa acknowledged the Speaker of the House for his work in the past years controlling and calming the assembly with his wisdom and with patience.
He also thanked his constituency of Lepa, government officials, his H.R.P.P. colleagues and the Opposition party.
Tuilaepa said although the parties do not share the same opinion on issues, their main goal is what’s good for the country.
He added that the Opposition and their views have been useful and had assisted the government in its work.
“That is the whole purpose of an Opposition; to advise and maintain its ground.”In return, Opposition Leader, Palusalue Fa’apo II was equally thankful to Tuilaepa and his government.
Palusalue said the past five years hasn’t been easy for the government but they have managed to sail through some rough seas. Turning to his political party, Palusalue reminded them their work has been acknowledged by the Prime Minister and it hasn’t been always easy for them.
He also thanked the media for their contribution in providing a forum to voice their concerns and government officials for the services they provide.