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On the Campaign Trail 2012

Congressional Forum & Swains Election

CONGRESSIONAL CANDIDATES AGREE — SAMOAN LANGUAGE MUST BE PRESERVED

by Joyetter Feagaimaali’i-Luamanu

All five candidates running in the Congressional election attended the forum hosted by the American Samoa Community College Student Government Association Tuesday afternoon at the ASCC gymnasium, which was well attended by students.

The Congressional candidates included our sitting Congressman, Faleomavaega Eni Hunkin, Rosie Fualaau Tago Lancaster, Aumua Amata, Kereti Mata'uti'a Jr, and Fatumalala Leuluaiali'i Atualevao Al-Shehri.

Amata attended the forum half way through, after returning from recording her televised speech on KVZK TV, which all the congressional candidates are doing.  

The close to two-hour forum consisted of issues surrounding tourism, education,  delegate’s relationships with local government leaders, their top priorities and main concerns, and the Samoan language.

Each candidate was given a chance to answer each question.

The moderator was the 2011-12 Miss ASCC, Pearl Faimafili Paopao Sheck.

OF INTEREST

Among the questions asked was: “Where do you stand on the integration of the Samoan language in our curriculum,and  is it necessary to continue to teach the Samoan language at the college level?”

Kereti replied our Samoan language is very genuine, the language you speak will reflect you. He pointed out that he supports the integration of Samoan language 100% to remain in the curriculum. He added that with the Samoan language where ever you travel around the world, you will be noticed by your language. Kereti pointed out how fortunate he is to speak both English and Samoan, and it is very important to know and hold on to your Samoan language.

 Fatumalala said there is a different sound to the uniqueness of the individual in their language. “It is our identity and our dignity and the unique of any society is their language” she said. Fatumalala asked the ASCC students “without your Samoan , what are you?”

Faleomavaega responded that his dream is someday American Samoa will establish a program to teach the teachers how to teach Samoan language from kindergarten up to sixth grade. “It is also my dream to establish a Samoan language commission just like the New Zealand government [has],” he said. The Congressman noted that we can do the same. “Can you imagine having an ava ceremony in the English language… In two or three generations from now our people will lose the culture [and] we need to do something and it is to start from the roots,” he said.

Rosie believes that the Samoan language is part of who we are and it identifies who we are as a people. “I will do everything in my power to see that the Samoan language is part of our education… we need to keep the Samoan language going, from elementary to high school all the way to the college” she noted.

Aumua responded that she absolutely agrees that the Samoan language and culture holds us together as the people and it’s part of the pride that we have. She noted that when she was teaching in the Soviet Union she was asked about the Samoan language. “They wondered how is it that we are so American, and also maintain our culture… it is our language. I myself come and go, but my Samoa language remains with me,” she stated.  

SWAINS ISLANDERS WILL SELECT THEIR FONO REPRESENTATIVE THIS WEEKEND

by Fili Sagapolutele

Residents of Swains Island will be selecting their delegate to the local House of Representatives during an open meeting this weekend at the Election Office in Tafuna.

Swains Island is currently represented by Rep. Alexander Eli Jennings, who was first selected for the  office in 2004. He is currently serving as chairman of the House Transportation Committee and has been pushing for, among other things, an improvement in ocean transportation to the privately owned atoll.

Chief Election Officer Soliai T. Fuimaono yesterday issued an official notice saying that a “special meeting for the people of Swains Island” is set for 3 p.m. on Oct. 20 at the Election Office “to select a delegate” to the local House for Swains islands. Soliai encouraged Swains islanders to attend the open meeting.

Jennings confirmed to Samoa News yesterday that he is seeking re-election, saying that he believes that he has not completed all of the legislative tasks he set to carry out. An uppermost task, he said, is to get a much clearer picture from the U.S Interior Department of the relationship between the federal government and Swains Island, especially when it comes to federal funding.

Local law requires the Chief Election Office to give notice about the meeting to all adult permanent residents of Swains Island who are U.S. citizens and nationals.

An official with the Election Office will be present during the meeting, and will serve only as an observer while Swains Islanders carry out the entire process themselves. The final results of the meeting will be presented by the election official to the Chief Election Officer, who then makes the official announcement of the winning candidate.

During the meeting, names of individuals wanting to run for office are nominated by verbally submitting the person’s name for consideration. A Swains Islander plays the role of moderator for the process, which is considered a “selection” not an election. Those supporting a candidate raise their hands — or stand up as in past cases — for the vote count. There are no official ballots printed by the Election Office.

In past elections, there was much controversy surrounding the selection process, and at one time there was a call for Tokelauans who live in New Zealand to be candidates and cast ballots, but that was later rejected after an observer from the election office made it clear that local laws require candidates and electors to be U.S. citizens or nationals.

Prior to the past six elections, voting for the Swains’ delegate was carried out on Swains Island. But due to the infrequent transportation to and from the atoll, the elections are now held on Tutuila.

Under local law, the Swains Island delegate can sit and vote in committee, but cannot vote on the floor (a similar situation to that of American Samoa’s Delegate to the U.S. House of Representatives).

Meanwhile, the local House race is heating up with less than three weeks left before the Nov. 6 general election and incumbents — along with challengers — are making the rounds to their districts seeking votes from eligible voters.

The only confirmed returning House incumbent is Faimealelei Anthony Allen, who is running unopposed.



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