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Samoa has come a long way, forming effective partnerships

It has been a hectic weekend that culminated with the 57th Independence anniversary celebrations on Saturday with Samoan children and selected villages taking center stage with their various cultural performances.

With the Head of State, His Highness Tuimaleali’ifano Vaaletoa Sualauvi II, leading the way and Government leaders including Prime Minister Tuilaepa Dr. Sa'ilele Malielegaoi on hand to witness the occasion, the day was given the respect that it truly deserves.

Samoa has a distinction in the Pacific Islands as the first Island nation to gain independence before Nauru (1968), Fiji (1970), Papua New Guinea (1975), Solomon Islands (1978) and Vanuatu (1980) with the other states in Polynesia and Micronesia following.

And for a country with a total land area of just 2,842 square kilometers and a population of just under 200,000 people — this island nation has come a long way — in terms of what it has achieved and with less. 

As a resident in Apia who is close to clocking one year in Samoa, I have been impressed with the effectiveness of the Samoa Government’s service delivery programme in health, education, infrastructure and community development — championed by the village councils, in partnership with the Ministry of Women Community and Social Development. 

Looking at the journey that Samoa has taken wearing my Papua New Guinean lenses, I cannot help but make comparisons with the performance of my own government in Port Moresby. 

One conclusion I have reached is that the Samoa Government has done more for its people with less resources and capital, when compared to their peers in Port Moresby who get millions of tala in revenue from the export of PNG’s mineral wealth including LNG.

The irony between PNG and Samoa was that while we prepared for Samoa’s independence anniversary celebrations on Saturday, the PNG Parliament had three days earlier forced the resignation of former prime minister Peter O’Neill, over a number of corruption scandals that triggered a mass resignation of MPs from his government.

There is no doubt that the leadership of Prime Minister Tuilaepa Dr. Sa'ilele Malielegaoi over the last 20 years, and his focus on the task at hand, has ensured his Government delivered to its constituency.

The United Nations Development Programme (UNDP)-authored 2018 Human Development Indices — which was released towards the end of last year and commended progress being made in Samoa and three other Pacific nations — is perhaps a telling testament to the focus and the priorities of the Samoa Government. The Human Development Indices measure how well a nation is doing in terms of basic needs such as equality, life expectancy, education etc.

But the development and prosperity of any nation will always be a work-in-progress and Samoa is no different. 

You only have to read the pages of the Samoa Observer newspaper to become aware of the many issues facing ordinary citizens, and highlighting the need for the relevant authorities within the Samoa Government to respond appropriately and effectively. 

One of the joys of working for an independent, objective and impartial newspaper is the ability of the media organisation to represent the views of the constituency, alert the authorities to the problems that need to be tackled, and suggest solutions for a way forward.

Having worked as a newspaper editor in PNG, I have appealed to leaders back home to understand that we — the Government and newspaper — serve the same constituency and want the best for our people. Therefore, any revelations of corruption, nepotism, incompetency and various other vices perpetrated by civil servants working within the three pillars of Government will only benefit the people in the long-run. 

In fact this newspaper is already supporting some of the Samoa Government’s initiatives such as tourism, where our Dear Tourist stories have become the first point of contact for travellers surfing the net to find out more information about Samoa. Our Village Voice page alerts the relevant Ministries to the lack of basic amenities such as water in rural communities.

Therefore, we are not the “enemy of the people” as the U.S. President Donald Trump likes to say and throw back to the press in America. 

We must and can work together for the betterment and progress of the people of Samoa.

Enjoy the last public holiday of the Independence long weekend and God bless.

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