New Year Address by the Hon Prime Minister Tuilaepa Dr Sailele Malielegaoi – 2020
As we watch 2019 unfold into the new year, we need to look back, reflect and acknowledge with thankful hearts God’s mercy and love for Samoa and our people. In all our circumstances in the past twelve months, through both achievements and tribulations, we have seen His grace at work, turning despair to hope, doubt to faith, pride to humility and sadness to comfort and solace.
I wish to acknowledge what have been some of the major developments this year. In March, the new Maota Fono opened its doors; this was a co-funded initiative between the Governments of Australia and Samoa. Despite our resource constraints, we were able to successfully host eight international meetings in Samoa as well as stage the 16th Pacific Games in July despite the limited time to meet the obligations involved.
Even with the poor record of prison security, we were able to complete a new facility and facilitated the shift of the prison to its new location at Tanumalala in order to provide space for the new police-training academy and other development initiatives.
We received in October from the Government of Australia, an upgraded and technologically advanced Nafanua II patrol boat under the Pacific Maritime Surveillance program, which offered more work opportunities for its 20 member crew including women.
In our quest to benefit from the advances of technology, the Manatua Cable was launched in early November providing more opportunities to bridge the digital divide and our isolation from the rest of the world and markets for our products.
The advances of technology coupled with access to information and knowledge is a firm foundation for sustainable development.
The Knowledge Society initiative with the support of the UN and the Government of India provides new horizons for the youth of Samoa through a digital library hosted by the National University of Samoa, open research and a centre for learning. We have since launched broadcasting services using digital television.
The first phase of the West Coast airport road, building resilience into such infrastructural facilities is almost completed. Transport connectivity continues to progress with the use of Bailey bridges such as that for Lotosamasoni and other targeted road junctures. For the examples cited and for many more, the Government of Samoa appreciates and thanks all its development partners for helping us address our priority development needs.
In the past two months, we have seen the measles epidemic sweep throughout Samoa, affecting just over five and a half thousand citizens, mainly children and with a death toll at just over 80. Thankfully, the numbers as of current indicate a reprieve as we head towards recovery. The Government has made some hard decisions for the protection in particular of our children and to ensure that we will always be in a state of readiness to aptly respond to any such crisis in the future. I join all of Samoa in conveying our deep-felt sympathies and condolences to all families that have lost loved ones. May God’s healing and comfort fill your homes.
With regard to the measles response, I wish to thank the following governments and organisations for having responded in a timely manner to our request for help. Forty nine medical teams from the following countries and organisations:
• France/French Polynesia
• Fiji through UNFPA
• United States/Hawaii
• Papua New Guinea
• New Zealand, and Associated service providers (Pasifika Media Association)
• United Nations Agencies
• United Kingdom and UK Save the Children
• Solomon Islands and Kiribati through the Pacific Community, American Samoa
• Médecins Sans Frontiéres
• Blacktown Doctors Medical Centre
• Samoan Doctors Worldwide.
Ten countries and organisations have deployed more than one rotation. Some of the teams came with supplies, provided urgently needed medical equipment and even makeshift wards in anticipation of the fast rising number of cases. Your invaluable help strengthened our resolve to face the challenges and constraints. The work of the psychosocial teams have helped ease the burden for the parents who have lost loved ones as well as the national staff who cannot be immune to the daily loss of life.
I acknowledge also the help that has come from the Diasporas around the globe through financial, in kind and moral support. I take this opportunity to thank all the local staff of all the hospitals and the health sector for having weathered the crisis and giving the best you could under the difficult circumstances.
The underpinning support of the Disaster Advisory Council and the National Emergency Operations Centre and leadership gave reality to the decision making by Government. Faamalo le tautua.
In a few minutes, the fireworks will be launched from the elevated eastern point of Mount Vaea for the first time, to welcome the commencement of 2020. This is the new location of the lighthouse to replace the current one that is stationed at a lower point of Vaea. The lighthouse will resemble the Cross of Jesus Christ that will be visible from Apia City and its peripheries. The Cross will guide all journeys at sea including fishermen when they enter the shores of our country. Named as the Apia City Look Out – Way of the Cross, the place will be used for peaceful meditation in the Word of God, and for families and visitors travelling to Samoa to view the landscape of Apia City during the day and at night. Above all the Cross symbolizes our commitment and faith in God, whom Samoa is founded upon.
Finally, thank you all sincerely for generating and championing the power of prayer, in our search for divine guidance in what each day brings for each one of us.
The question we face is ‘when our perils are past – shall our gratitude go to sleep? Not at all. I am happy to announce that our week of prayer and fasting will begin on January 5th, 2020 for us to be humble before the Lord, and to seek His will for Samoa over this New Year.
I wish you all a very peaceful, blessed and safe New Year.
Soifua ma ia manuia