Why we should be concerned about taking of customary lands

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Dear Editor,

For many years I and Maua Faleauto (especially Maua Faleauto) and other intelligent members and lawyers, etc (my apologies if your name is not mentioned in case of govt repercussions but you know who you are) have debated this Lands Act 2008 with a lot of corrupt pro-government supporters on social media, newspapers and everywhere else. 

Actually, there wasn’t much of a debate, as the pro–govt supporters were too busy being defensive, telling lies and hurling verbal abuse to us, especially Pekelo Peter Suaniu, Kofaeogo Joe Hollywood and his lawyers (who were writing up his comments/responses and sending it to him via inbox). They went as far as create IDs and attack Maua and myself via inbox but it didn’t stop us – ae maua uma e le Savaii Secret Service (SSS).

PM Tuilaepa’s hidden intention behind this Land Act 2008 is to remove the rights of the extended family (Aiga potopoto) to their Customary Lands his business associates (especially foreign investors/Chinese they’re associated with) take over our Customary Lands/make a profit and to pay off the $1.5 billion debt.

E leai ma se feau a PM Tuilaepa ma HRPP e faamalosia ai le lesikalaiga o fagua o Aiga Potopoto i lalo o le igoa o se tagata se toatasi po o le Sa’o o le Aiga.

This Land Act 2008 is unconstitutional.

How can he tell the farmers and force them to develop their lands when his H.R.P.P government spends peanuts on Agriculture? What will they do if the people refuse to lease their lands and/or cannot develop them?

The people here in Samoa cannot develop Commercial Farming without the assistance and subsidies from the govt. Without Government support, they can only develop their lands for their food and to sell locally in order to survive.

If the whole of Samoa were to develop their lands, where are the (export) markets overseas for the farmers’ crops and produce? 

There is none and I guarantee you it will end up like the Nonu and Tahitian Lime – where PM Tuilaepa, H.R.P.P and their business associates promised the people that there were export markets for them. The people worked hard and grew them but when they harvested there was no market and all their hard work ended up rotten by the side of the road.

If this government were to force the people under one Sa’o o Aiga and all the 

Sa’o o Aiga of Samoa is made up of 1% (or less) of the population (and we all know most Sa’o o Aiga are supporters of PM Tuilaepa and H.R.P.P), that means that 1% of our population will own all the lands and there’s a chance that most of this 1% will lease the lands to foreigners - not for 10 years (as he said) but up to 160 years (as per Chinese demands).

Who will pay for the stamp duties and land taxes that are worth $100s of Millions if the lands were to be registered? No one in Samoa has the money to pay for it – they will have to give away for free, big parts of their lands to the govt to compensate for these taxes and duties. And why would you?

I’ve said many times that PM Tuilaepa is not a man of his word. The people of this nation need to unite and stand up against this to protect their Family Customary Lands from being registered under an individual etc and make sure it does not happen. 

If PM Tuilaepa and his generation and H.R.P.P Government cannot develop the country economically without giving away land, then leave the Customary Lands alone for my generation and future generations. We and when our future generations grow up, will develop this country economically without resorting with desperation to selling our Customary Lands.

Remember that under this Land Acts 2008, the person who leases your lands (lessee) can use your lands as collateral to guarantee their loans. The question is, if a foreign investor takes off to their country without paying their loan off, that is guaranteed on your Customary Lands, who will pay for their loan? 

If you can’t pay for it, the bank, P.M. Tuilaepa and the H.R.P.P govt will confiscate your lands and sell them to another foreign investor to make a profit for themselves. 

Now where will that leave you and your family and your future generations? Tuilaepa, leave our customary lands alone. You don’t want this to turn to a bloodbath.

 

Mebahel Raguel

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