On the Campaign Trail 2012 — Salu & Savusa
An international outreach forum was held by gubernatorial team Salu Hunkin-Finau and Iuniasolua Savusa, on Saturday, which was packed with the local international community.
The event was held at the South Pacific Academy gymnasium and included entertainment by the Fitisone sisters and Toe Afua Mai Matua (TAMMs).
The forum opened with a prayer by Pastor Suka Matanisiga from the Fijian Community, and a moment of silence was held to honor the memory of the 34 lives lost during the September 29, 2009 Tsunami and Earthquake disaster.
Salu noted that Savusa had testified on the significant roles that members of the diverse community have made to make the United States what it is today, and told the crowd that “in your own quiet way, you have also made a wonderful and positive impact on the people of American Samoa and our Community.”
She said the “freedom that we enjoy in our nation and in American Samoa is the highest gift soldiers of different ethnic backgrounds- like Savusa have… willingly given their lives for.”
Salu, who comes from a family of seven, said that her own family left the comfort of their village of Vailoatai in the 50s and ventured on a journey which provided economic, educational, social and political opportunities which they would never have received if they had stayed in the comfort of the territory.
She said, however, “…American Samoa government has yet to develop a comprehensive plan that will ensure social equality across the board for all nationals, citizens and legal residents… however, at the same time, the government of American Samoa has an obligation to ensure and protect the rights, the heritage and the precious gifts God bestowed to the indigenous people of Tutuila, Aunu’u and Manu’a.”.
She said of the 55,000 people 60% make less than $20,000 a year, the average American Samoan family consists of about five-to-seven people, and the average education level of our territory is a little over a high school education.
“All of these characteristics make the Samoan people and other Pacific island people in American Samoa vulnerable to new aggressive values and to… [the] demanding new ways of doing things.
“The Samoan and Pacific Island people are still learning how to find a balance between the precious-Fa’a Samoa Island ways and the American Way of life.”
Salu told the international community that her team is willing to work closely with them to make the community more economically sound, peaceful and socially equitable now and for generations to come.
“In essence we need your help, support and vote to develop a principle-centered government which will provide a first rate US Territory in the Pacific.”
Savusa in his remarks recognized the contributions that “so many of you have adorned American Samoa with — your unique cultures and traditions which have added to the diversity of our community.”
He drew upon his experience “as a soldier and leader in the United States Army in the past 36 years,” and said, “I had the great privilege of being an advocate around the world… from the United States to Europe, from Africa to the Middle East and eventually back to the Pacific region…
“Today, 16 million Americans claim Asia Pacific heritage, their lineage and roots can be traced to the Asian Pacific region, the most diverse in the world — with a mixture of cultures, nationalities, languages, religions, and ethnicities.
“Their uniqueness has brought an enriched essence of humanity that made America the most diverse nation in the world, including American Samoa.
“Today, as in the past, their dedication and service to advancing prosperity upholds the values that made our country strong. Asian Pacific Americans and Pacific Islanders continue to shape the United States and American Samoa's future.”
Savusa told the international community they have left the country of their origin and braved the journey seeking new opportunities, in search of a better life in American Samoa — in a quest for justice, equality, peace and freedom.
“However, at times opportunities are not as plentiful as you had hoped.
“Life in America Samoa, at times, may have proved to be a nightmare rather than the promised American Dream, but despite seemly unsurmountable obstacles, you have toiled and sacrificed in order to make this country your own and preserve the American Dream for your American Samoan children.”
Quoting President Obama, Savusa said, "The time has come to reaffirm our enduring spirit, the God-given promise that all are equal, all are free, and all deserve a chance to pursue their full measure of happiness.”
He declared emphatically — “No one deserves to be bullied,” referring to the way some have been treated by their sponsors here in the territory.
He said Now is the Time: To work closely with the Congressman in his efforts to lobby the U.S. House of Representative for the expeditious passage of the purposed legislation to open a U.S Naturalization office in American Samoa to help your children who are Nationals to apply for naturalization from AS rather than having to reside in the US.
“In doing so, for those you who become naturalized will be allowed the opportunity to participate in American Samoa's democratic process.
“Now is the Time: we seek equal and fair treatment of all (immigrants) and to improve the immigration process for all who are seeking permanent residency — so we can all appreciate our diversity as a Territory.
“Now is the Time: for our government to advocate for all its citizens including you, who are tax payers of American Samoa to be provided the same privileges as U.S. Citizens & Nationals, such as healthcare and other public services.
“Now is the Time: for our government to develop a closer working relationship with NGOs such as the farmers organization, the Fishermen’s association and others… to ensure equal support...regardless of ethnicity.
“Now is the time: for all of us to display tolerance for divergent views and strive to recognize each other’s talents and contributions; while we share in and strive to achieve the American dream together.”
Savusa added, remember that no one owes you anything in this life, you must take advantage of every opportunity, and with hard work and determination — you will succeed!
Savusa said in this election, their team is up against conventional thinking that to lead this government you must hold a certain status or be linked to a certain group of insiders —but as our president has said, "real leadership is about candor and judgment and the ability to rally Americans from all walks of life around a common purpose, a higher purpose.”
“Consequently, Dr. Salu and I are seeking the office of Governor and Lieutenant Governor to help lead a principle centered government and preserve your rights and privileges as citizens of this great land of opportunity, to keep the dream alive and preserve your cultures and traditions in this land of the free and home of the brave,” he said.