By Leilani Curry
The new year has well and truly begun, and we certainly have a big year ahead of us Samoans with our general election in March.
It’s really encouraging to see how many candidates have put their hands up to represent their constituencies, especially the number of women. Personally, I’m hoping we don’t have to use the law to ensure 10% of our parliamentarians are women.
I’m hoping that we vote in women to not only meet the 10% but more. It’s been said it many times before, women in parliament benefits everyone, not just other women. Hats off to the Ministry of Women, Community and Social Development (MWCSD) and to UN Women for the great programs they have conducted to educate and promote more women to stand as candidates in their communities. We would not have the number or quality of women standing if not for these programs that help women navigate our political system.
My other wish is for change. No disrespect to the Human Rights Protection Party, but they have been in power too long.
They have done many good things for the country, as all governments should, but they have become complacent, drunk with power, and don’t even respect us, the Samoan people any more. Their leader calls us ‘idiots’ and ‘stupid’, and despite reports unequivocally proving corruption in their ranks, they have done nothing because they don’t care.
They disregard the fact that millions have been fraudulently stolen from the Samoan people, tax from our blood, sweat and tears, funneled to the favoured few, and brushed aside like it’s nothing. They have also brushed aside the reality many Samoans face and that is poverty.
There are a few members of the HRPP who don’t agree with how things have been handled, and have tried so hard to have the issues addressed, but they have only become targets of their leader’s wrath.
Their cries of foul play shut down by pointed verbal attacks and below the belt insults. So no matter how good these people are, they belong to a party that will never allow justice to prevail, their goodness and honesty drowned in the murky waters of HRPP, a party that is far from transparent and accountable.
How can we then trust these people to rule us again! If this is what they did in their last term, what are they going to try and get away with in the next term? How many terms of corruption are we, the people of Samoa going to put up with before we say, enough is enough?
I’m hoping we are at that point now, at this election. I’m hoping that we have the courage to vote for members of parliament who aren’t in the HRPP so we can have a change of government, give some other party a chance to work for our country and our people and to see what they bring to the table. We have nothing to lose!
If the next government doesn’t do so well, we can always go back to the HRPP at the next election, and hopefully, they will have humbled themselves enough to have some respect for the people of Samoa by not stealing our tax money for their associates and middle men, and addressing the real issues people face here daily.
Now, however, is our chance to make a change, to make a difference in our destiny within our communities, and for our nation. We have the opportunity to use our vote to bring fresh blood and fresh ideas and fresh air into our constituencies, our government and our country.
With so many candidates, we also have some great choices too. We can bring more women, who without a doubt, will address issues like, secondary school education, family violence and youth unemployment, which this current government has failed miserably in addressing.
Time to wake up and make a positive change for the better. Without acknowledging what is negative, what’s really happening in our world, we cannot create the change necessary to make a real difference. If there is suffering, destruction or corruption and you’re silently doing nothing about it because it’s more comfortable to look the other way, the suffering, destruction and corruption will only continue.
Seeing our world for what it really is, with all its good and bad, helps us make progress towards changing our reality for the better. Using your vote wisely is progress, and is a powerful way of making a positive difference in our world here in Samoa. You only have so much time and you are here for a reason.
Use your life to bring more love and happiness where it is needed most. We are all here to make a difference. Use your vote to make that difference.