They are our guests, look after them

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Mata'afa Keni Lesa

An article titled “Chinese businessman attacked” published on page 4 of the Samoa Observer on Friday raises some critical concerns we should take time to address.

The story of businessman, Kuan Hui San, who is recovering at the Tupua Tamasese Meaole Hospital after two men broke into his home and attacked him certainly sends out a worrying message about the safety of people we would refer to as guests of our country.

Speaking to the Samoa Observer, Mr. San said he is shocked by what had happened and is constantly having nightmares about it.  Who wouldn’t? Nobody deserves such treatment.

The worry for us is that these sorts of incidents are becoming very common – especially involving visitors to these shores.

In a letter to your newspaper yesterday, a writer named Dan raised similar concerns. He wrote: “In any other country, targeted crimes against a particular group of people based on religious beliefs, or skin colour would be considered a hate crime. These crimes taken very seriously and punished to the highest degree. Here in Samoa however, absolutely nothing is done about it. 

“Where is the police intervention/ investigation in to the village when serious crimes such as break and enter or assault and battery against not villagers but visitor to this nation? 

“Why are visitors safety given a back seat? Why does a crime against a temporary resident get little coverage from the police and the media? 

“Punishments must fit the hate crime that this is, of the 8 break and enters that my work colleagues have endured, not one criminal has been arrested.”

Well he has a valid point, doesn’t he? At the rate things are going, things are not looking well for Samoa.

The point is that there have been way too many incidents that have been reported, and many more unreported, attacks against foreigners who have called Samoa home for one reason or another. 

Of course there are attacks towards locals as well but this piece touches specifically on what seems to be a growing and worrying trend.

Last year, there was also an article about a foreigner who was viciously attacked in his home. In another more recent and even more tragic incident, a Fijian student who came here to study, is now fighting for his life overseas. He was so badly beaten up by some locals that he needed to be taken abroad for urgent medical treatment.

It is very sad indeed.  

Students, workers, business people – including many Asians - and consultants from overseas who live here Samoa are guests of this country. We have a responsibility to take care of and look after them.

Just like we have a responsibility to look after our own. Yes, some of them may not have the purest of intentions in coming here. 

But that doesn’t give anyone the right to assault them.

Let the rule of law deal with them and let justice take its course. 

There is also this mentality among some vendors that when they see that the person is not from here, they automatically overcharge them and make ridiculous demands that they wouldn’t dare do to a local. 

Yes this may be a universal thing but that doesn’t even remotely make it right. 

We are renowned for our hospitality. Let’s go back to that. Let’s return to our talimalo roots. We need to do that if our tourism industry, on which we love to declare that we rely on, is truly to move forward.

The hoteliers have done their part in providing facilities of note, but we all know that a total tourism experience is not complete without all other factors being considered and improved.

Just because they are a palagi or Asian looking doesn’t automatically make them a bank. Many of these these people are also trying to earn a living.

But it’s not just about the tourists.

We have expatriates and students and many other people who actually stay here longer than the tourists.  They too call Samoa home.

Let’s walk out one of the Bible’s often quoted but less used verses, Do unto others as you would have them do unto you. If everyone lived by this, we would have far less problems in this world.

Have a restful Sunday Samoa, God bless!

© Samoa Observer 2016

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