Make your vote count

By Mata'afa Keni Lesa 25 February 2016, 12:00AM

Now that both the ruling Human Rights Protection Party (H.R.P.P) and the Tautua Samoa Party (T.S.P) have shown their cards – or lollies if you like – the ball is firmly on our court in deciding which one we should vote for.

Whereas the H.R.P.P administration is confident that the work they have done over the past 34 years when they have been in the driver’s seat is enough to earn them another tilt at power for the next five years, the T.S.P is arguing that it is time for a change.

Purely judging by the Manifestos, which have been major talking points for the past couple of days, it is easy enough to see which party has the advantage. 

What with all the money, personnel and resources at their disposal, the H.R.P.P’s 19-page bi-lingual Manifesto (published in yesterday’s Samoa Observer) is obviously more detailed as opposed to the Opposition Party’s one-page Samoan only manifesto. 

Apart from that obvious difference, both documents are worth a look. We encourage you to do that before making that decision on who to vote for – if you haven’t decided already of course. 

In an ideal world, such documents should determine the outcome of the elections. In other words, they are the issues where voters should base their decisions upon. It’s about what each party brings to the table to benefit voters. It’s as simple as that.

But then you and I know that doesn’t necessarily happen in Samoa which makes this manifesto business an exercise in futile if you ask me. What with the bribes and treating – intentional and unintentional – getting those votes has become a real  dogfight for sure.

Still let’s quickly take a look at both manifestos. 

Last week when the Tautua Samoa Party launched theirs, it promised among other things that Samoan citizens living overseas would be able to vote from wherever they are if the Tautua wins.

Guided by the theme “Justice and Prosperity for All,” the Opposition also promised salary increases for teachers; doctors, nurses and all health workers as part of a plan to improve Education and Health.

Under the Rule of Law and the Pursuit for justice section of the manifesto, the Opposition is insisting on establishing an Anti Corruption Tribunal to clean up acts of corrupt practises in the public service.

The Party is also proposing to limit any Prime Minister’s tenure to two terms.

When it comes to “Equal distribution of Wealth”, the Tautua is proposing to increase the minimum wage from $2.30 to $3.00.  This is part of its plan to cushion the impact of the cost of living on members of the public, with the overall goal of reducing the cost of living.

The last area of the Party’s manifesto tackles the environmental challenges faced by Samoa. And one of the first things they are promising under “Environment Sustainability” is to strengthen the conservation of water catchment areas as well as promote the use of sustainable energy.

They are also proposing to review the existing laws in relation to customary and freehold lands.

In his keynote address, Palusalue said it was time for a change of government. He lamented the country’s ballooning foreign debt of $1.4billion, warning that the future generations of Samoa will be faced with the burden of paying for the current government’s recklessness. 

Palusalue said the H.R.P.P’s love for people has gone cold because they have become too powerful and arrogant. In comparison, Palusalue said the Tautua Samoa Party’s Manifesto is motivated by love and the need to make changes for the better.

 “Samoa, isn’t this the right time change our government,” he asked. “If you feel that we need to change the government then give us your trust.”

Flip the coin and you’ll find that the H.R.P.P is obviously very comfortable, already planning for their next term in power. They have good reason to be comfortable since they have already secured 18 seats in Parliament before the voting has even started.

And their manifesto reads like they know they will come back.

 “The overriding goal of this manifesto is to advance further the social and economic wellbeing of the Samoan people under continuing stability sustained during the leadership of the H.R.P.P,” the manifesto reads. 

“One of the key pillars of that goal is to create employment opportunities for our young people coming out of school as well as those who are not productively employed in the villages. 

“The goal is therefore people centred and premised on the commitment that there will be stable and sustainable macroeconomic growth going forward to provide the necessary foundation for the H.R.P.P to plan, finance and implement its development agenda.

“Successful implementation of the development agenda outlined in this manifesto will lead directly to achieving a higher and sustainable quality of life for our people.”

These are absolutely wonderful words. Noble goals. There is no doubt about that. But that’s what we have come to expect in times like this. 

Now the list of the H.R.P.P’s priority areas is too long it won’t fit in this space.

 But Prime Minister Tuilaepa concludes: “This manifesto is a planning document only. No one can tell for sure what will happen five years from now or even tomorrow. Only the Almighty God can do that. All we can do is put in place a responsible plan to respond to the priority needs of the People of Samoa and pray to God to guide and help us implement it. That is what the H.R.P.P has done.

“The H.R.P.P is not promising to unrealistically raise incomes or the pension pay outs because of Electioneering - DO EVERYTHING WITH NO NEED FOR NEW MONEYS IN THE BOX Strategy; primarily because it will bankrupt the economy. That will be irresponsible. We simply cannot afford to be irresponsible.

“Encapsulated in this manifesto, is the spirit to earn our living. We cannot just rely on the generosity of our relatives living overseas and on our development partners who have been supporting our development efforts over the past years.

“We all need to take serious responsibility for our development. The government needs to work, the churches need to work, the village communities and individuals all need to work hard to provide for our families. If we all work together, Samoa will be a thriving economy where everyone is happy. And I will ask you again to vote for the H.R.P.P.”

Well there you have it. The Tautua or the H.R.P.P?

It’s your choice. 

Exercise your human right and make your vote count. God bless!

By Mata'afa Keni Lesa 25 February 2016, 12:00AM

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