A “believer” hoping for a miracle

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Mata'afa Keni Lesa

It’s a good thing that Prime Minister Tuilaepa is a “believer.” 

While some of us don’t necessarily prescribe to what he believes, at least with a believer there are times when all you can do is hope for a miracle. 

Maybe that’s why Prime Minister Tuilaepa has come across as such a “believer” in the case of the girl who claims to be carrying the marks of Jesus Christ’s suffering. It could perhaps be that he really is hoping for a miracle and maybe – just maybe – the girl to him is a sign. 

We can understand his predicament though looking at what’s happening in Samoa today. It’s fair to say this country needs a miracle. While Tuilaepa’s “children” continue to fight among themselves so that they all look ridiculously silly from where we stand, the sports bodies he’s been lording over have given him nothing but grief in the not too distant past. 

The Toa Samoa’s result last weekend and the continuing controversy over the sacking of former Manu Samoa Sevens coach Damian McGrath would definitely not have helped. 

It gets considerably worse. You see, all that would probably fade into comparison when we consider the magnitude of the news that the country’s biggest private employer is shutting shop. 

That’s correct, on Tuesday night the announcement we’ve been anticipating for a while but did not want to hear was finally made. With a decision to close Yazaki Eds Samoa (Y.E.S), some 740 people will soon find themselves without a job.

The decision will without a doubt have an enormous impact on this country’s economy that is already struggling.  

Y.E.S. Branding Division Manager, Yoko Yamada, said the closure was inevitable due to the car manufacturing industry in Australia winding down. The “knock on effect” means it is not viable to keep the plant in Samoa running.

 “The demands of the market for shorter lead times and more flexibility coupled with the logistics connections to Samoa make it commercially un-viable to supply any other market for example U.S.A. or Japan from here,” he said. “As a result we have been trying to identify other alternatives for this operation. Unfortunately we have not been able to identify anything viable and must therefore announce that we will phase out production operations in Samoa.”

Mr. Yamada said the company fully understands this is a difficult situation for their employees and their families. 

But they are committed to provide support where they can to make the transition smooth. Y.E.S. President, Craig O’Donohue said the situation is difficult but the company tried its best to keep it open.

 “We had about eight key programmes, anything from tourism to shipping, agriculture, textiles,” he said. “We put together a crazy summary of business opportunities. 

“We looked strongly at breadfruit opportunities to make flour. There have been a lot of research done in that area and also agriculture, but that project is quite foreign to Yazaki operation. 

“Yazaki has some experience with agriculture and was interested in that but with those we just couldn’t find a viable business.”

In the end for Yazaki, closing was the inevitable. The President said one of the worst things for them is to start something and make a mess of it. 

“And that is why decided we could not continue on,” he said.  

Well this is one of the saddest days for Samoa for sure. 

After 25 years of operation, a work place seen as beacon of hope for many people who otherwise would not have jobs has finally caved in. 

Keep in mind that the closure of the company doesn’t just affect 740 employees. Think of the families who rely on these employees. Think about the school fees, water bills, electricity bills, loan repayments and the multiple expenses they will no longer be able to meet. This indeed is a very sad moment.

The question is; what does the government have in store for all these people who will soon be jobless? We ask this because this why a number of these government officials are paid such ridiculous amounts to come up with policies to create these employment opportunities. 

The fact is the decision to close Yazaki was not made overnight. We’ve seen the signs and the writing has been on the wall for some time now. 

Which means surely the government should by now have a plan B. 

Keep in mind that the closing of Yazaki is not the only worry. Across the sea in American Samoa, hundreds of Samoans employed at the canneries there, namely Star Kist, might soon find themselves jobless too. They will have to come back to Samoa and these people have got to find jobs somewhere. 

They have got to feed their families and they will be desperate. 

Does the government have a solution? What will it do now? 

It will certainly be interesting to hear from those “professors” and “ big lauia” about what they plan to do.

But if our opinion is sought, there is one solution that could help this country. 

It is not the only solution but we believe it’s time for this government to truly back the locally-owned companies that are providing employment opportunities for our people. We’re talking about the many companies operated and run by the Ah Likis, the Otts, Aggie Grey’s, Wetzels, Keils, Silivas, Frankies, Chan Mows and all other hard working local business owners whom we know are here to stay. These people have a heart for Samoa, this is their country and they will not just get up and leave tomorrow.

What do you think? Write and share your thoughts with us.

Have a fabulous Thursday Samoa, God bless!

© Samoa Observer 2016

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