Caution about customary land deals

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Dear Editor,

Re: Customary land debate 

Lets run a few scenarios here...The sa’o and the family decided to lease the land to an investor for 30 years. Inside that 30 years the Sa’o goes to the lessee and borrowed money for everyday faalavelave, or to buy for himself a 4WD or school fees or whatever. 

The lessee in time decided to make his own deal with the Sa’o for at least partial rights to the land like another family member. We all know how matape’ape’a these matais are. Can the law protect the rights of other family members? How about development on the land ie buildings access roads and equipment. 

Any permanent fixtures on the property stays with the property. It’s the prices of business. Has the law accommodate for those individuality? Lets say after ten years lease the family decided not to renew the lease and the lessee starts to wind the operations down, what’s stopping him, the lessee, from making his own counter claim on produce given to the landowner or lessor as maybe gifts or of a gracious act?

The lessee knows he’s not renewing the lease so he starts to falter on the lease payment and invent his own counter claim? Has the law makes provisions for those eventualities. It will be very short sighted of the law not to foresee these issues and assumed that it’ll not happen.

What’s to stop our Sa’o or matais from matape’ape’a, and operates for his own selfish gains instead of the collateral interest of the family as a whole. Has article 1 and 2 account for these, could be short comings? 

What is the latitude of the lessee in the exploitation of the property? Any degree been measured? I mean bulldozing, striping of the topsoil or extractions of the land to sell ie as we’ve seen in just a recent article of squatters taking over and violating the trust of the landowner. The law has no vision in foreseeing where the future lies and is putting the inheritance of a culture on a business transaction.

Let’s say the Sa’o dies and most of the family has moved overseas accept a few family members in the island and they start making their own arrangement covertly. Can article 1 and 2 of the law extend protection to the family as a whole?

What about the ware and tare of the land, has article 1 and 2 provided compensation for the next so many year of recovery for the land? The lease is an agreement for the rent of the land, not a depreciation for ware and tare. Has the law establishes measures to assess the degree of ware of the land in it’s minerals contents, chemical contamination, etc.. 

What of long-term investment ie hotel or accommodations? After the term agreed the owners of the land takes over with no further legalities. Has that been factored in? 

Let’s say a foreigner lease the land and over the years becomes a matai of the family through business. This foreigner starts his own arrangements tangent to the original agreement and most likely he’ll have the upper hand because he is now the so call ‘provider’. Does article 1 and 2 provides protection of our people in this very likely eventuality? 

Is there some form of a tribunal set up and what measures are establish to ensure full ownership to the original owners?

I can keep on going and make up scenarios after scenarios with no ending. Why? Because the law is blind to the future, is blind to foresee every little turn in life and no lawyer is intelligent enough to see through every possible outcome of the future. That’s why God gave us the law of right and wrong because it cannot change its mind with time.

The laws of humans are just band-aids over a diabetic soul. It fixes nothing.

Our matais are not matured enough in righteous to be given the custodian of culture for mere profits for they will abuse it as pearls given to swine. What a pity, article 1 and 2 doesn’t say anything about the destruction of an inheritance, diluting of a culture, contaminating the souls of a people so that we may prostitute a gift of God for a few dollars.

I am a grandson of an immigrant. A china man of my mother’s side and a German Austrian on my father’s side yet the blood in my veins were fed from harvest of this land and the skin browned by the tropical Samoan sun. I speak the language of my birth, cried and swear every time Manu Samoa loses a game. I stand up for the rights of those of my countryman who can’t stand up for themselves. 

How sad that other Samoans more indigenous then I are selling our identity the way the Creeks long for knowledge with ignorance to the truth.

The soul of a man has to prosper first before his pocket prospers. Any cheap change in lease agreement is just dimes to the pocket of a prodigal son. What a pity, Article 1 and 2 doesn’t say anything about that very truth.

 

Steve 

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