Let’s get back to the basics of respecting ourselves and one another

Dear Editor,

Re: Nine former workers accused of theft

They stole from their workplace. They got caught. They now have to pay the price for their crime. Simple really, yes?

The reasons as to why they stole is the bigger issue here and one that has been asked of by many and for many a year. So why did they steal?

Cost of living? – food, clothing, gas, power etc. Fa’alavelave commitments? Pressure to provide contributions to the church? Addictive dependencies– alcohol, tobacco, gambling or sadly now meth/ice? Peer pressure and/or social status? Or perhaps a combination of any of these would provide enough temptation for the most devoutly honest or strongest willed person to feel taking from another is justified?

It’s obviously a problem that will not go away overnight and needs to be tackled on multiple fronts. The need to foster social responsibility towards fellow citizens and the nation of Samoa as a whole is paramount. 

Showing genuine respect to others for their lives and possessions that they have worked hard for. We need a stronger emphasis on social responsibility driven from our schools. Government and Churches employing a bipartisan approach to guiding our young and steering them in a true course of respect and accountability.

Sadly, the most influential people who have been entrusted to lead our country, who should be the role models of our country (especially the young who are our future), are the very ones who help perpetuate this lack of accountability! 

How often do we hear about a corrupt politician, church minister, C.E.O, financial controller or any one of the socially accepted pillars of our society making the transgression into theft and crime? Hardly the “lead by example” approach we need so badly yeah? It’s almost like it’s ok to “borrow” someone else’s belongings – if the people in power can what’s a few grocery items and a little cash here and there – right?

The reckless use of responsibility and accountability by some of our leaders is an insult to the people of Samoa. The people they are there to represent and help. I go crazy sometimes when I hear a politician, minister or person in a position of power and influence prattle on about a problem they cannot or wish not to deal with by that throwaway line – “It’s in the hand of God now”. What a joke!

God did not canvas and campaign to get the people to vote for him to hold that position of power and responsibility? 

God did not spend years at bible school to become a faifeau that yields so much accountable influence and guidance over our people? God did not sign an individual employment contract to run a government department or enterprise? God does not run the country – people do. 

Whether individual or as a combined team, people run the country and have been entrusted by the nation to do so. They certainly get a few more benefits and a healthier hourly rate to do this than the average citizen, so you’d expect them to actually perform what is required of them yeah? Not abdicate their responsibility in a flash by saying “it’s not actually up to me anymore”. If you accepted the role of responsibility, you either perform by leading, following or if you cannot perform it, get out of the way, right?

But I digress, sorry. The fact is we have a problem with theft here in this country whether or not it’s a bag of rice, some milk formula or the misappropriation of taxpayer’s money in the figure of thousands and thousands of tala.

Whatever the reason/s, sometimes it feels like theft in Samoa is so rife, it has seemingly become sanitized as par for the course. 

You just expect and accept it to happen. In a country that purports it is “founded on God”, there are so many occurrences we hear of that indicate a large majority of Samoan’s are actually founded on “Godlessness”. Not everyone of course but a heck of a lot!

So, going back to the original story. The management at Farmer Joe placed a degree of trust in their employees. These employees abused this trust and stole from their employer. From the facts presented in this story, it sounds like they did this either individually or in a complicit manner over a period of time (which may have required some team work and careful planning in assisting each other to get around the security systems in place?).

I do not believe raising the hourly minimum rate is the solution. It is merely a Band-Aid remedy that may stem the flow temporarily. 

However, I do believe increasing individual pay rates that reflect performance, commitment and contentiousness in one’s work role.

A more advantageous and practical approach could be to toughen up on crime in the workplace, develop better in house security systems to reduce theft, promote accountability and responsibility towards fellow employees and the employer.

Outside of the workplace we need to get back to the basic principles of respect for ourselves and for one another. Impress to our children at an early age that honest and the care of one another is key to a better life for everyone.

Include these principles within our schools from year one right through to university, encourage accountability for one’s actions and show the benefits of how this can create a better, stronger and healthier community and country for all.

Last but in no way least, hold the people in power to account. HOLD THE PEOPLE IN POWER TO ACCOUNT. This is so important as this is where the root evil can either be stopped or perpetuated. These people have a moral and social obligation to lead by example and show the citizens of Samoa the respect and honesty we all deserve.



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