Register for Samoans living abroad: Acknowledgement or paranoia?

Prime Minister Tuilaepa Dr. Sa’ilele Malielegaoi and his Government’s plan to create a register for all Samoans living abroad is an interesting idea.

Regardless of what the intention is, it sure sounds odd and unusual. Odd in the sense that since Samoans living outside Samoa cannot vote in the General Election from where they are living, why should the Government bother with such a register then? What’s the point?

And it’s certainly unusual since this is the first time in the history of this nation we’ve had the idea flagged. The question is why? And why now?

In making the announcement two weeks ago, Prime Minister Tuilaepa said the register would record the “country’s diaspora with particular focus on their achievements and contribution to Samoa’s development.”

Said Prime Minister Tuilaepa: “It will be utilised as the informational database for Government to refer to in its deliberations on future national issues that will benefit Samoa.

“It will also acknowledge Samoans based overseas for their accomplishments and contributions to the welfare of the country.”

Let’s pause here for a moment.

What “national issues” are we talking about here? And why would the Government suddenly need an “informational database” on all Samoans living overseas?

The Prime Minister also did not say how the Government plans to acknowledge the contribution of overseas-based Samoans.

What we do know is that the idea was inspired by the work of many Samoans who have excelled on the world stage in areas such as sport, politics, music, acting and the arts.

“Our people residing overseas are world renowned for their natural talents and flair in their respective careers and fields of expertise,” said Prime Minister Tuilaepa.

“We have comedians who have highlighted our Samoan way of life, our struggle as a people and our journey of survival to capture our genuine Samoan way of life for the world to appreciate and respect.

“Samoa’s footprints in Hollywood is the latest historical chapter,” Tuilaepa said, referring to Seiuli Dwayne Johnson. He praised his contribution and work to promote Samoa to the world.

Now we understand the Government’s pride in all these sons and daughters of Samoans. What Samoan would not be proud when we see all these Samoans doing extremely well all over the globe?

But still the question remains, how does the idea of a global register for all Samoans based overseas come into the picture here? What use is there for the Government or for anyone for that matter?

We accept that perhaps Prime Minister Tuilaepa wants to draw on the pulling power of successful Samoans to help with the development of our nation. We get that.

But overseas based Samoans go far beyond the big names we see in Hollywood, the sports field and on the big screen.

When we are talking about overseas-based Samoans, we are talking about everyone who is Samoan. This includes the high flyers, troublemakers and the criminals, many of them end up being sent back to Samoa.

Now speaking of registers, why don’t we have a register for those criminals who are sent back to Samoa first? As far as we can see, many of them are just thrown back into the community without anything to warn people here about what their backgrounds are?

The second register the Government should think about is a register for all these dodgy businessmen and women who come to Samoa promising the world and then disappearing.

We’ve seen a fair few of them and they continue to pop up now and then. If anything, the Government needs to do its donkeywork on checking out these people and putting them on a register so we can send them away and not have anything to do with them at all.

As for the idea of a register for all Samoans living abroad, it’s certainly an interesting idea, if the Government wants to involve them more and more in the affairs of this country. But is it really necessary? And is it the best way to spend money? Besides, is the idea about acknowledging their contribution or is it out of paranoia given everything we’ve seen unfold during the past few years?

What do you think?

Have a great Tuesday Samoa, God bless!

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