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Old Court House demolition plan condemned

Plans by the Government to demolish the old Apia Court House on Beach Road has been condemned by opposition parties, Samoa National Democratic Party (S.N.D.P.) and the Tautua Samoa Party.

Representatives of the two parties told the Samoa Observer that the decision – which was revealed recently when Samoa International Finance Authority (S.I.F.A.) advertised a request for quotations to demolish the historical building – showed that the ruling Human Rights Protection Party (H.R.R.P.)-led Government did not care about Samoa’s history.

S.N.D.P. Interim President and spokesperson, Vui Seigafolava Masinamua, said they do not accept the Government’s decision to demolish the 118-year-old structure that once housed Samoa’s government and courts.

"The hardest thing about this is that it seems what the H.R.P.P. wants is to erase everything that reflects the history of Samoa," he said. "Because the truth is, this would have been the best museum if they have properly managed it."

The S.N.D.P. spokesperson said he believes the Government is trying to make a name for themselves by demolishing evidence of Samoan history, and their action confirms the party does not appreciate Samoan history.

The final deadline for interested demolition companies to submit bids for the contract is January 27, which is less than five days away. 

Vui acknowledged that while the building also represents a dark part of Samoa’s history, the historical value that the building represents outweighs everything else. 

"They tell us that the building structure is no longer durable, but what have they been doing this whole time while they were in leadership?” he said. 

“What they should have done was to have a budget allocated to maintain the historical buildings of Samoa.

"Now when people ask for the history of Samoa, we will only be handing them photos [...] it's going to be like a country that was built yesterday with all the new buildings and no sign of historical landmarks."

The Tautua Samoa Party President, Afualo Luagalau Salele, expressed similar sentiments and added the current Government does not have a good track record when it comes to saving remnants of history.

"There was a promise by the Government to restore the building, but where is it? That is a lie," said Afualo.

"It was also a historical landmark because that's where they first held meetings and now it's going to happen again with the old Court House.

"We all feel nostalgic about the past because we must be respectful of what took place in the past that formed where we are and what we are."

Afualo said the leadership of the current Government had no respect for history and now do anything they want. 

"We now know they can just demolish, whenever they feel like it, whatever suits their view of the time, and announce whatever vision they have,” he said. 

He also claimed that the Government had no political position on the maintenance of the building.

The Tautua Samoa Party is pinning its hopes on the Samoa Tofia Mai le Atua (S.T.M.A. Inc.), which is a long running campaign that is of the view that the old Courthouse can be returned to its former glory. 

But Afualo knows that the Government has already made up its mind and any opposing views will be like ‘water off a duck's back’.

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