Tuilaepa expresses deep gratitude to Togiola for assistance and support
Speaking at yesterday’s closing of the 2012 Flag Day ceremony, Samoa Prime Minister Tuilaepa Sailele Malielegaoi described the celebration as a success. He said the siva and pese entertainment was beautiful, and he appreciated the many gifts and traditional sua presented to him and to other dignitaries.
Tuilaepa also noted that Gov. Togiola Tulafono’s tenure as chief executive is coming to an end soon, and he expressed his “deep gratitude” to the governor “for your valuable assistance and support” to Samoa over the years.
The Prime Minister pointed out some of the “significant milestones” during Togiola’s administration. For example, the Inter-Samoa Talks which resulted in both Samoas continuing to assist each other in areas of concern such as health, agriculture, telecommunication and border control — through customs and immigration.
He said the sharing of knowledge between the two Samoas will no doubt prove beneficial for both sides, now and into the future.
Tuilaepa also said that the governor has guided American Samoa through some tough times and rough seas such as the 2009 tsunami that killed more than 100 people and destroyed property in American Samoa and Samoa. He also mentioned the world financial crisis as well as the difficulties faced with economic development.
He acknowledged that under Togiola’s leadership, American Samoa has now joined the Pacific Islands Forum — which is made up of groups of Pacific leaders — and the Polynesian Leadership Group.
Heading into the future, Tuilaepa says the economies of the two Samoas will continue to move forward together because the two Samoas are close neighbors. He said that whatever happens in the territory will also affect Samoa, giving the taro blight as an example of one place affecting the other.
He reminded everyone that the two Samoas are the same people, despite their differences in political status and form of government.
The Prime Minister acknowledged that Samoa has long standing relationships with other foreign nations such as China, New Zealand and the U.S. — and these countries believed in Samoa’s ability as a developing nation. He cited the fact that Samoa is now a member of the World Trade Organization.
However, he said Samoa almost got a TKO due to its ban on “turkey tails” imports, which are mainly from the United States. He said the decision made later, was that Samoa will allow the entire turkey, including the tails, to be imported into Samoa and this was agreed to by the U.S.
Tuilaepa acknowledged part of Togiola’s Flag Day address that the sovereign nation of Samoa didn’t agree to be divided but it was done by the three major powers in 1899 — the U.S., Germany and Great Britain.
He said Samoa didn’t want to be partitioned but these three nations moved quickly to do so, with Upolu taken over by Germany and later by New Zealand, while Tutuila was taken by the U.S., who wanted the use of Pago Pago Harbor for its Naval fleet.
He said American Samoans ended up living in glass houses while Samoa depended on guava to survive — with New Zealand “playing games” with Samoa. He noted that later Samoa became independent — getting away from New Zealand, described by the Prime Minister in the Samoan language as “le popoi” (or disrespectful).
As an independent country for almost 50 years now, Tuilaepa said Samoa is also a member of the United Nations and courted by other member nations for their vote on a wide range of international issues.
As a result, these nations have become friends of Samoa, providing financial aid, he said. Tuilaepa said Togiola is still young and wished the governor the best in the future.
The Prime Minister’s address was followed by the reply from the territorial government through Lt. Gov. Faoa A. Sunia, co-chair of the Flag Day committee.
Awarding of prizes was next on the program and then the lowering of flags, while the U.S. Marine Corps Band provided background music. The Samoa Police Band played the closing hymn, and the closing prayer was conducted by Rev. Lalomauga Pa’au.