Hon. Prime Minister Tuilaepa Sailele Malielegaoi
New Years Message 2021
In life every end is a new beginning. For that, let us first sing for joy and thanksgiving to the Lord, the Rock upon which the Government of the Independent State of Samoa is founded and the foundation of our faith and guiding light to all the people of Samoa, in all circumstances, as we stand poised to herald in the new year.
The year in review shows we have been confronted with unprecedented challenges, hardship and crisis; it has been a testing time to our faith and resilience.
Consistent with the protocols of our traditions, let me acknowledge the protocols of governance of our democratic country, the traditional honorifics of the country as well as a tribute to the spiritual leaders of all denominations and religious faith in Samoa. Likewise we would also pay our respects to the Government and people of American Samoa.
On reflection of the year that is coming to pass, we began our journey with the cruel realities of the measles epidemic towards the end of 2019. No sooner had that passed when we had to confront the difficulties of keeping the COVID pandemic out of our borders up to the present time.
We have all come to accept our realities as vulnerable small islands states in the frontlines of the battle against climate change. Last week while we watched the wrath of Cyclones Yasa and Zasu wreak havoc on our neighbours, we suffered unprecedented flooding due to unusual rainfall highs that left hundreds of homes water logged and the central business district under water. As your Government we had urged for your patience and cooperation while we worked to the extent possible with the help of our development partners on the response plans to the health crises. The government continues to implement key development projects that can provide adaptation safeguards and mitigation measures against climate change.
The State of Emergency Orders executed in 2019 and throughout 2020 with the global pandemic and the recent flooding, have been necessitated to ensure that services delivery reach those most in need of priority attention. It is reality to expect resistance from those who feel that their individual rights have been overlooked and/or breached. We sincerely regret any misinterpretation of intent as well as any suffering as a result of the many restrictions in place. It is our hope that there will be light and understanding where there is still a shroud of doubt as to the well-meaning measures put n place for the protection of our people.
We wish to acknowledge with appreciation all those who have toiled and worked long hours under diminished resources in the business community, private sector as well as all the farmers and fisherfolk to harness the fertility of our lands and the bounty of our seas and oceans. The legacy bestowed to us since creation immemorial is to strive for the best and what our capabilities can muster. Nothing can be gainfully achieved without a struggle. While we are witnessing the dire struggles of the countries of the world with the impacts of COVID 19; the impacts on Samoa pale in comparison to other countries of similar economic status. Our economy is suffering but there is no hunger and we have food security. And we still remain COVID free. This is testament to the fact that Samoa remains blessed through God’s largesse and this tenet resonates with the Head of State’s Christmas message.
In this regard I wish to pay tribute to the generosity of our development partners; Australia, Asian Development Bank, Canada, China, European Union, Japan, New Zealand, United Nations, United Kingdom, United States of America and World Bank. We acknowledge also the help of our regional organisations and other intergovernmental Organisations. The willingness to help us is premised on the principle of mutually beneficial cooperation and that we are not totally aid dependent but striving more towards self-reliance. Our resident development partners are fully cognisant of what genuine and durable partnerships are and the commitments essential to sustainability.
Samoa has benefited significantly from partnerships with non-governmental organisations and civil society that ensure a greater outreach of development programs to our communities. I would also pay tribute to the public service who have performed outstandingly in expediting relief services during the measles crisis, frontline services for the pandemic and restorative services post flooding. A continuing life of service for our people will yield blessings in abundance.
We had in the past experienced grave economic downturns that must never be repeated. This is the essence of our long term vision for the sustainable development of Samoa. This has and remains the lynchpin of our development journey since we graduated out of ‘least developed country status’ in 2014 to become a ‘middle income country.
We acknowledge with appreciation the contribution of the growing diasporas across the globe who had left to seek better opportunities for their children abroad. Thank you for continuing to ‘open the window to Jerusalem’ to contribute to the wellbeing of your families who have stayed to safeguard your traditional heritages.
Parliament has passed the 3 Lands and Titles Court Bills which will give recognition within the Constitution of the supreme authority vested in the Land and Titles court to handle and resolve all matters to do with land and titles disputes.
Proceedings of the Constitutional Convention for Samoa in 1960 makes reference to the fact that parliaments of the future would be better positioned to consider any subject matter that could not be put in the Constitution at the time for fear of jeopardising the United Nations decision on Samoa’s request for Independence. This is the purpose of the newly passed Bills.
As leaders, we can only ask that you place your trust in us and that our long and seasoned experiences in problem solving can provide a solution conciliatory to the differences of opinions. All the matais in Parliament will not introduce legislation that will impact negatively on or be counter-productive to the families that they represent.
To the Diasporas, try not to be influenced by the variances of information flows from home. May you continue to be at peace and keep the vigil of paying homage to the leadership of the country at all levels.
We remain optimistic that a solution to COVID 19 through vaccines will be available soon to Samoa. We are grateful to the international community for cooperating with us in ensuring early access to quality vaccines. We hope for an early lifting of border closures.
In the space of a few months Samoa will have its general elections. It is important to be aware of your objectives in choosing who to vote for and the benefits for those whose interests you represent through voting especially our children.
We ask that our faith based leaders along with all of us, continue to pray for the spiritual guidance of our country including the selection of a government come April to lead us in the next five years.
In closing, the National Council of Churches has scheduled the Week of fasting and Prayer for the week beginning 3 January 2021. We welcome you all to join us to thank God for the challenges we had come through in the past as well as the opportunities that have emerged with the crises. May God remain at the helm of Samoa’s journey through 2021. I wish you all a happy New Year.