“NO GUTS. NO GLORY”
Several weeks have passed since I wrote to the editor about my confusion of how to describe my feelings and thoughts on the Fono’s abusive expenditures and the way they do it.
Since then, I have been approached by many Samoans and non-Samoans alike at the market, post office, airport, restaurants, offices, etc., Chiefs, Faipule, former legislators, executives and people in general have made comments that I should not be confused about the reported actions because those have nothing to do with the Samoan culture and they all agree that “it is pure corruption”.
They emphatically tell me that, "it is pure and simple corruption no more, no less". I always ask immediately, "Why don’t you do or say something about it?" The answer has been, "We will."
Time has passed, and the silence of these people continues— this fact takes me back to other questions — is it because of fear, other agendas, family relations, personal agendas, a game or the faaSamoa?
A very close friend gave me the most honest advice of all: "Carlos, be very careful, these people are very vindictive, greedy and money hungry.” It is very hard for me to believe this because when I watch TV, I see these leaders during church services with their eyes closed, meditating and full of Christianity. Are they bipolar? The answer given to me jokingly is, "No, maybe they're just napping in church."
In the last editorial about the Fono, my very good friend Rhonda suggested to Governor Lolo to do something about it. Some of the comments posted about that editorial have also mentioned that the Governor should do something about it. In my opinion, this would be a political suicide that will affect all of us.
Do we already forget what happened in the last administration when then Governor Togiola fell from grace with the Fono? It didn’t matter what Togiola’s administration introduced in the Fono, it was automatically denied — No approval for new directors, no approval for new measures, new legislation, new board members, disagreements on budget, etc. Of course, these are different circumstances, but I am guessing that the results will be similar for Governor Lolo.
Governor Lolo in reality is only accountable for the people that he hired, his close collaborators and members of his administration that appear in the list of checks, invoices, receipts that are questionable in the Fono reports. He gave them jobs, and he is responsible for them. Let him deal with that problem. He promised transparency and accountability. Give him time, and we will see what he does about it.
As for the Fono— we, the people, put them there. Why would we ask the Governor to clean up our mess? It is because we the people don’t want to confront our mistakes or don’t want to defend our rights or our assets? These leaders are our problem, as we placed them there.
The Fono members have shown their power during the last administration and now due to our non-action during campaigning, they are abusing this power again. Why? Because they discovered that we are weak and indecisive. Our weakness feeds the temptation to abuse their power. No guts on our part?
There is no question that if you follow the peoples comments, the Fono is now at their lowest point of credibility, integrity and trust. Many have lost hope of change from Fono leaders. Never before have I heard the adjectives used towards these so-called leaders of our territory, and from what I see, the dissatisfaction will continue growing and the era of the ‘untouchables’ will disappear. They’re hanging themselves with every abuse that they commit. It is just a matter of time. How much time? That is to be decided by us — WE, the people.
Since not all of the Fono members are participating in the feast of money and abuses, we will always have information even if a total silence of accounts has been ordered. Between the skies and the earth, nothing is secret forever. The truth always comes out. Please, honest faipule/ legislators, the ones that are left, please continue to denounce the abuses of power for the sake of our current and future generations. We should not tolerate corruption and such abuses in our Fono. We need the credibility and integrity back in that institution — the sooner the better.
Lastly, the people that make comments anonymously please sign your name. When you don’t back up your opinion with a real name, your comments have no power and have no meaning. Do you believe that these leaders apart from being power abusers are also vindictive like my friend tells me?
During every speech they make, every time they want to impress us, they mention God. If they use the name of God, we must have faith that they are with good spirits and they will honor the word of God. Don’t be afraid as the people have the power. We elected our leaders, and we can replace them the same way. In this great nation that we are a part of, the power belongs to the people, let us not ever forget that.
Carlos Sanchez, resident of American Samoa