Aid, contradictions and conflicts of interest

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Mata'afa Keni Lesa

Think about this for a minute. Without aid and hand outs from all corners of the world, where will Samoa be today? What are we to do when aid stops? 

In two months time, this country will be celebrating the 55th anniversary of our political independence.

It’s a mighty proud achievement. It’s a long time to be independent and politically stable. Who wouldn’t be proud?

If you look around Apia for instance, you have to say we have come a long way. Much has changed.

There is glitter and glam everywhere. You see, the government’s fascination with high-rise buildings and monstrous structures has certainly created plenty of impressive white elephants to look at.

But at what cost have those structures come to the development of people? 

It’s true that they are all intended for the public as the government would say. But are they the best use of such monies? Keep in mind we are talking about millions of tala, money that could easily be spent to pay more doctors to save lives, hire a few more teachers to improve education and help those struggling farmers get a leg up on their plans.  

Alas we have so many white elephants we cringe every time we think about millions rusting away and ruefully wasted while poverty and hardship are destroying the poorest people in this country.

Indeed, there is something terribly worrying about the development of this country today. 

Whereas democracy seems to have taken a backward step, our reliance on aid continues to grow ever so strongly. These have not been helped by the fact we have a one party state Parliament being run like a dictatorship where everyone lives in oppression and fear. It’s sad because for all the so-called laui’a who could really be making a difference, they are muzzled and gagged.

Now think about this again. After nearly 55 years of telling New Zealand we’re strong enough to stand alone as an independent country, today we’re begging for help. Do you think any Samoan will keep a Samoan passport if they were able to grab a New Zealand one and head off for greener pastures?

Now look at the government’s biggest solution to the lack of jobs in Samoa. It’s hauling off our people to do bum jobs in New Zealand and elsewhere. Ironic isn’t it?

But there’s more, we’re not only looking to them for bum jobs, Kiwi taxpayers had forked out to pay for education and much, much more.

We acknowledge with gratitude the wonderful assistance from New Zealand and all the donor countries that have become the backbone of Samoa’s development. We will forever be grateful.

The worry is that there is coming a day when aid will stop. What are we going to do? 

Ladies and gentlemen, we talk about pride in ourselves but we refuse to accept and acknowledge what it means. Keep in mind that the money these countries are using to help us did not just fall from the sky into their coffers. 

Their taxpayers had to work and earn every penny of it. What then gives us the right to enjoy it when those countries have bigger problems of their own?

Today, as proud Samoans, we need to sit down and ask ourselves some very tough questions. First we accept that it’s not just Samoa, which depends on aid. Many other countries near and far do. It’s the way the world works.

But the idea that close to 55 years after independence and our reliance on aid and handouts has reached unprecedented levels is worrying. What does that say about how far Samoa has come as an independent country? What about the Government whose job is to look after the people of Samoa?

Isn’t it demoralising that after all these years, life in Samoa today heavily depends on resources from foreign countries? Isn’t it sad that after all the garbage talk from the government, there are hardly any jobs in Samoa today? 

Now consider the plight of those taro farmers at the market – and everywhere in Samoa for that matter. If you talk to them, they will tell that you are lucky if you earn $60 from a sack of taro. 

Taro is rotting everywhere. It is so sad to watch these farmers sit there from morning to night before eventually having to reduce their prices to $10 a bundle simply to make some money. Where are the international markets that the government has been promising? 

Today, what’s happening is that the Government says one thing and it turns around and does the exact opposite. In agriculture for example, one minute our people are accused of being “lazy” for not working the land, the next minute the very people who toil the land are accused of being greedy when they complain about the fact they cannot make any money from their hard work. 

These are contradictions of our time.

What’s important to remember is that materialism blinds leaders who choose to satisfy their whims at the public’s expense, they lose touch with what really matters. So they come up with these crazy ideas that make you question what they’re really thinking. And sometimes they say things that just don’t make any sense.

Let’s be reminded here that conflict of interest is about the perception. 

Leaders who enrich themselves through conflicts of interest are not only bad people, they don’t deserve to be there. They are not honouring what they swore before God and man to do which is to serve Samoa honestly and faithfully?

What do you think?

Have a peaceful Sunday Samoa, God bless!

© Samoa Observer 2016

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