Do Samoans really need new cars?

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Orlando Huaman

I refer to your story titled “Minister stands by law change” published two weeks ago. Of course the Minister has to because the “boss’ says so.

Mr. Niko Lee Hang states that in allowing newer cars -2009 made-or newer, into the country “will be for the benefit of our people.” 

How so?  To start with buying a (newer) car is not a good investment: a house is. What will be of benefit for the people would be to cut the junk food sold in all kind of stores, that goes in detriment of good nutrition for kids- to include street vendors. 

 Let us scrutinize this sentence. By restricting the number of cars, we are indirectly cutting the number of employees that serviced the “old” cars. And by restricting the number of cars serviced, the car shop owner might start thinking in reducing the number of workers. 

Remember, newer cars need much, much less repair. Lay-offs in the horizon. There are numerous car shops – even family business. The demand for their services will be less and far in between. 

In view of the above dissertation, where is the benefit for the people? By the same token, Papali’i does not give a dam if Mr. Ashraf loses his business. 

That is also creating unemployed people. So, where is the “benefit for our people”? He also says “cheap cars don’t’ last’ oh yeah! 

Go to Havana, Cuba (and other poor countries like Samoa) to see 30/40 years old cars still running. I worked one year in Cuba and Africa. I am a witness of that. Maintenance my friend, is the name of the game. Not here. 

My “cheap” car lasted me 16 years, it could have been longer. And I admit my poor maintenance killed it. Since you are the Public Works man, why don’t you fix the horrible roads to avoid damaging the “new” cars? 

Buying newer cars and not fixing the roads is a very bad mix. Use the people’s money to fix the roads and not buying new cars for the E.P.C. Improve the maintenance there. 

Then he says that “people need better cars…” No sir! People need better job opportunities, better health, better education, better supply of water, etc., not better cars. 

“And better cars bring money.” What? From whom? Car dealers? 

For a poor country like Samoa; people (the great majority) need to budget their meager resources very carefully. Not the government. They are wasting the people’s money right and left in “dreams” example: Vaitele market, wharfs, white elephants, “adorning” the old Faleolo airport $140 million that could have been better invested elsewhere “ for the benefit of our people” right Mr. Minister? 

Of course the PM thinks he owns the money and can “invest” in impossible dreams. His Cabinet have no saying on that, why? Nobody is thinking there. It is easier to say “YES SIR”. 

Simply put, the P.M. is ruining the country, with his ineffectiveness and terrible mismanagement. He can’t even fix the street vendors kids (fighting and assaulting homeless countrymen). Least the even higher unemployment. Poverty? 

P.M. says there is no poverty. So why fix it? 

Blaming is easy. Solving problems is the true measure of a leader and his (her) followers. Our society is going to the dogs with bad parenting to start with. 

Why? No job opportunities create a lot of collateral damage. Just imagine the P.M. wants to make Samoa the only Christian country on this planet. 

How about saying in their Constitution that Indonesia is a Muslim country? How absurd the thinking? 

Back to the Minister, he goes on to say: “There is difficulty getting spare parts for the “rubbish’ car.’ Not so. There are plenty of spare parts for the “rubbish” car. He has no experience in that territory since he drives a people’s car, brand new. 

I had, rather my mechanic, had no difficult whatsoever getting spare parts for my “rubbish” car. If not locally, a phone call will do it.

Papali’i also says: “That by raising the price of the cars from 12 to 23 thousand “does not diminish the need for newer vehicles’ oh yeah! Who need “quality “ cars here, especially if the working population can’t afford it, besides making it harder for the Samoans working overseas to save much more than usual to satisfy the non-plantation working families. Buses are affordable, walking is healthy. Too much TV impulse (the poor) people to think car is a necessity. No sir!

By the same token why the big honchos in the government need new and very expensive cars. Cars that stay parked all day, since the ministers and C.E.Os don’t move from shuffling paper all day, in between shopping trips to town, needless meeting, and needless overseas trips. Money wasted indeed. 

Check this out. Is the M.A.F minister and its C.E.O, going back and forth to see what the poor farmers need to make them more productive and not “harvest” 6 tala a day, 5 tala going to the church leaving 1 tala for sugar for their twice a day lemon leave tea? 

Papali’i is right in saying “ farmers need pick ups.’ Sure they do. And I go along with that provided they are maintained right. The government can acquire good second hand Japanese cars and maintaining them right too. Nobody is thinking that way least acting in that logic direction. Poor Samoa. It will decay from within. Corruption is a cancer fed by bad government.

He reacted defensible denying that the government is not business friendly. 

If it is, why don’t they propitiate the creation of small family manufacturing business all over the country? You know why? Because nobody in the government is thinking. Only milking the cow year after year. 

The government is supposed to be business friendly. It is not. It is waste/corruption friendly. Yes sir! By the way S.A.M.E. and some of its members, after going through some “ training” have obtained a document called “HACCP Warranty.” 

This paper does not mean anything, least to export to the W.T.O countries. You know why? Because, none of the manufacturing business here are competent in the seven principles of H.A.C.C.P. 

By the U.S.D.A standards of H.A.C.C.P training not one, repeat not one S.A.M.E plant will qualify for it. Case in point. Years ago S.A.M.E brought an “expert’ in H.A.C.C.P. To cut a long story short, the second time that he showed up only two out of 20 allowed for “training” showed up. 

While an employee for the U.S.D.A, I underwent H.A.C.C.P training for six solid months; not six days like some fly by night “expert” trying to make believe. 

A company does not show knowledge of H.A.C.C.P by showing a piece of paper around, but by manufacturing an exportable product with strict adherence to the seven principles of H.A.C.C.P.

He also says: “the roads are so congested with the “old” cars…” 

What appears old to you is not for somebody else. Was not the government that propitiated that influx of cars in the first place, by changing the way we drive? 

He also says: People “can afford cheap cars” oh yeah! But not school fees, good nutrition, good habitat. 

Samoans working overseas are the ones “obligated” to send cars to their relatives here. By not wanting to work in their plantations they want to sit in taxis sent to them. By doing that they have to save, sacrifice their obligations.  

If they can hardly afford to buy the “rubbish cars” it would even mean a much harder sacrifice to buy newer cars, just because the P.M. here wants to. As usual. Period.  Consequently, if they save more (for the new cars) their remittance, logically, will be diminished. 

By the way, US$500 billion was remitted by workers overseas from 50 countries, mostly from Asia. Who benefit from that? The banks, and financial institutions that handle those remittances. 20% fees. Governments in poor countries have to find ways that the recipients receive more than 80% of the sent money.  

Also he manifested that: “ we have to try and ensure that this not a dumping ground for old car…” 

Oh yeah. What is new here? This country and most poor countries like Samoa are dumping ground not only for cars but for all kinds of stuff.

 Food for example. (I have read a food ingredient- ginger- the owner told me) completely in a foreign language. In despite of the fact that the law _if any here- would say- only English and Samoan labelling. 

Who is checking? Nobody. M.O.H and M.C.I.L are not doing their job. They are in meetings 24/7. And the secretaries are trained to say so. 

That is corruption. The same goes for medicines, even for so-called “experts”. So, don’t tell me we are not a dumping ground. Like cheap and unreliable stuff from China, yes, we are.

He also says: ”So we are getting newer cars that are four years better.”

Better? Read the news man! VW is being fined 6 billion USD for cheating in their emission testing. 

“People complain because it does not satisfy them.” 

Why not? It goes without saying, in a democratic country - not here, this is a dictatorship, and an ineffective one at that, one bad party in charge- the duty of the responsible people is to watch the mismanagement of the leaders. 

 

Here Samoans are too soft to let the dominant party do what they want, usually unproductive for the majority. In other more dynamic countries a revolution is the answer.

You Mr. Niko Lee Hang as M.W.T.I Minister should put the good people’s money to fix the roads. By doing so old, ”rubbish” cars will glide smoothly around beautiful Samoa. And the taxi drivers don’t have to drive around the holes like drunk drivers. No self respecting taxi men will allow his passengers hitting the roof of their taxi by their passengers’ head when his taxi miss a sizable pot hole. Especially at night coming from the unseen airport, one that when it’s finished will hardly attract more big jumbo airplanes-  full of Chinese - perhaps some U.F.Os.

  By doing so get rid of the band aid pot holes patchers that spend half a morning filling up four holes in front of my house. I timed them. To conclude: good roads, excellent maintenance of all vehicles around will beat new (er) cars any time. 

And use that unnecessary expense- remember buying a newer car is bad investment- it devaluate the next day you acquire it. Better use that money to put your kids in school, get fruit and vegetables not junk food, cut the church “obligations” to the core. 

Pastors should get a part-time job to satisfy their craving for new golf irons and food (usually free) that the poor parishioner- God fearing families, will never see.

Churches with all the money they collect, should pay the school fees of all the street vendors. Come on! Churches, do something good for the poor street vendors besides “spreading the word.”

 And I read lately to preach about the evil of obesity, but first show them what a non-obese pastor looks like. Let me expand on this little note. The Mormon church, worldwide, in 2014 collected in tithes and donations 8.4 billion USD- read this twice: 8.4 billion - it is not a typo. Of all this money thus collected only less than 1% was given to their members. 

Did you know that the Mormon church is owned by just one person? 

By contrast the Methodist church gave back over 20%. The church business profit should be directed to favour the more needed. Street vendors in this case. The church buildings, used once week, should be use for a training space to upgrade the skill of future family manufacturing business. Otherwise those multimillion tala structures are just white elephants.

Note to the dear reader. Mr. Lee Hang also said: “It’s also with climate change in mind. We have to make sure that we don’t get a lot of cars polluting the air thru carbon emissions. We get that from old vehicles because they blow out black fumes.” 

Black fumes eh? I will demonstrate to you how wrong you are on this topic that you also touched. This in my next comment. Don’t miss it!

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