Last week, our Reporter Pai Mulitalo Ale took to the streets in search for some answers. At a time when our country is struggling with social, spiritual and economical challenges manifesting in increasing hardship, poverty, rising number of street vendors among many other social problems, we wanted to hear what people think and if they were aware of the issues.
In fact for Ms. Mulitalo, she wanted to know what some of our people deem as the most pressing issue of today. What’s more, she wanted to hear their thoughts about some possible solutions – because judging from what is happening today – we sorely need some solutions. Tangible and real ones.
Now the views from a selected group interviewed by Ms. Ale were published in our Street Talk column. Coming from the grassroots level, we think the views expressed then are extremely important and relevant they are worth revisiting.
Take Teutonu Vaoau, of Siusega, for instance. She said there are many issues the government and our community need to look at with the view of addressing them. Listen to her:
“As a mother, the one that worries me the most is the violence being attributed to students and young people. In the past years, things like this hardly happened especially in public places. This time it is out of control. The police can’t handle the violence. There should be regulations to keep these students from fighting in public places and the schools need to be closed down if it happens again.”
Kelemene Saoalai, of Vaitele-tai, couldn’t agree more:
“The major issue the government needs to prioritise is violence between the schools. Samoa is known to other countries as the safest place to go for a visit. Unfortunately, we are getting to the point where Samoa will be considered the worst place for tourists. The schools are fighting in public places which endanger the lives of many people and other students. I believe the government needs to close any school that starts these fights.”
Enele Tuumatavai, of Safune, agreed that interschool violence is getting out of control: “Many have ended up in jail but what kind of help are they getting from there? How can they be well disciplined? The government needs to find ways to work around this issue. Because it’s not only painting a bad image of Samoa to people around the globe but it’s a threat to the tourists who prefer Samoa as a place for a vacation.”
Setefano Pati Romeo, of Fasito’o-Tai, pointed to a much more serious problem:
“The most pressing issue for me is morality and the erosion of family values. I’m particularly concerned about cases of incest and rape involving fathers and their daughters. We are all men, we have sisters, daughters and female relatives and they depend on us for protection. But what are we seeing?
“I get sick and tired of hearing this issue over and over every week from Police and from rumors going around. It’s time to stop. This is the kind of issue that our government needs to prioritize. These people don’t deserve to be given another chance they need to be put behind bars for the rest of their lives because what they are doing is unforgettable and unforgiving.”
Family violence was identified by Matenoa Tavita, of Faleula-uta, as the most pressing: “I think the government should look at family violence. There are many serious crimes found in our country. Things that we never thought would reach Samoa. The rising number of sexual assaults is unacceptable. The government needs to find other ways to avoid these kinds of things from happening. These people need to be locked away forever.”
Voau Taula, of Siusega, identified street vendors as a growing menace.
“I see many children running around selling goods on the road. I don’t accept the excuse it’s the only thing their family can earn a living from. If it is, let the parents come and do the job but don’t send the poor child. I also find them roaming around during school hours and that is unacceptable because our duty as parents is to pay their school fees.”
So why are these views important?
Ladies and gentlemen, these views are not our views. These are views of ordinary members of the public who are grabbling with these issues on a daily basis.
Judging from the views expressed by the mere six people Ms. Mulitalo spoke with, there is no denying the fact that our problems are well understood.
Which means it’s safe to say that as members of this community, we all know what is happening in our country. We all agree that something is not right.
But how do we fix it?
How do we stop the rot?
How do we reverse the cycle?
From interschool violence, loss of family values, rise in criminal activities, young beggars on the streets, corruption at the highest level and so much more, where do we begin? Where and when is the point when we say enough is enough?
There is no single correct answer. And all views are important.
So let’s begin a healthy debate about the state of our nation with the idea of doing whatever we can as individuals and as a community to make this country a better place for our children.
Share your views with us!