Border security failure led to pandemic influenza

By Ivamere Nataro ,

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The gravesite in Vaimoso.

The gravesite in Vaimoso. (Photo: Misiona Simo/Samoa Observer)

The failure of Samoa’s border security in the past is why Samoa is commemorating 100 years of the pandemic influenza that decimated about 25 percent of the population in 1918.

Prime Minister Tuilaepa Dr. Sa’ilele Malielegaoi made this statement as he launched Samoa’s first National Security Policy at the Samoa Tourism Authority Fale yesterday, where he emphasised that national security is a shared and collective responsibility. 

“In 2015, quick and responsible decisions of our officials contained what could have been deadly for Samoa when an Ebola virus carrier arrived at Faleolo International Airport,” Tuilaepa said.  

“We want to make sure that our borders are protected from contagious diseases carried by travelers.  We must protect our borders at all times."

“This policy calls for stronger and greater collaboration between Government border and law enforcement agencies to step up their vigilance, do their job without fear and leave no room for complacency or compromise.” 

Tuilaepa said the aim of the national security is for everyone to be responsive in countering security threats. It sets out the direction Government will take in order to safeguard its people and its natural resources. 

“It is important to note that this policy does not duplicate or overlap with existing sectoral plans and strategies on national security, but rather strengthens effective coordination in their implementation."

“This national security has adopted the expanded concept of security, which now includes both traditional and new forms of security threats. These encompass border security, climate change and natural disasters, cyber security, and human security, focusing on gender based violence and the fight against non-communicable diseases.”

Prime Minister Tuilaepa Dr. Sa’ilele Malielegaoi. Photo/Misiona Simo
Prime Minister Tuilaepa Dr. Sa’ilele Malielegaoi. Photo/Misiona Simo
The gravesite in Vaimoso. Photo: Misiona Simo/Samoa Observer
The gravesite in Vaimoso. Photo: Misiona Simo/Samoa Observer
The gravesite in Vaimoso. Photo: Misiona Simo/Samoa Observer
The gravesite in Vaimoso. Photo: Misiona Simo/Samoa Observer

“The policies should be as good as its implementation.  The implementation strategy sets out what to do, who should be leading, who to contact, and where to go, when an event threatens our national security. We must strive to protect our sovereignty at all fronts, our country and our heritage.”

Tuilaepa also spoke on guarding Samoa’s cyberspace against faceless perpetrators. 

“Our cybersecurity becomes more pressing now with vast improvement in our information technology infrastructure."

“This week, the Government will sign an agreement for the Manatua cable – another marine cable, our second outward cable connection that will connect Samoa to French Polynesia and to the Northern Pacific. This will further strengthen our connection to the Pacific and beyond, making it more viable for more business investment in Samoa.

“At the same time, Government, through the national security policy will continue working closely with regional and international partners to ensure security of its cyber space as stipulated in Samoa’s cyber security strategy.” 

The national security is the culmination of wide consultations conducted across the country, with regional organisations, including Forum Fisheries and Pacific Islands Forum to name a few. 

“The outcomes of these consultations laid a solid foundation to the formulation of this document as they gave a solid reality check on the forms of security risks affecting Samoa, both traditional and the newly-emerging.”

Tuilaepa acknowledged the assistance of the Australian Government through the Samoa Technical Corporation Programme, working very closely with the Ministry of the Prime Minister and Cabinet in developing these policies.

© Samoa Observer 2016

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