Stories that appeared in the Samoa News online_
Manu'a residents asked to be patient with lack of sea and air transport
By Fili Sagapolutele firstname.lastname@example.org
Gov. Togiola Tulafono is calling on Manu'a residents to be patient, as the government works to resolve air and ocean transportation for the island group.
Speaking on his weekend radio program, Togiola acknowledged that his office has received many complaints and concerns over the issue of transportation service to Manu'a, especially for Ofu and Olosega, where there is currently no air service.
Samoa News along with KHJ have both received numerous telephone calls about this situation and many callers accuse the government of ignoring the Manu'a people-especially Ofu and Olosega residents who have to travel by small fishing boats to Ta'u island to catch a flight to Tutuila.
Ofu residents note the cost to travel on the smaller boats is expensive.
Its been about a month since Inter Island Airways flew to Ofu. Its Islander 9-seat aircraft is down for maintenance, and they are currently operating in and out of Fitiuta airport using the 19-seat plane.
Togiola also said the government's 9-seater aircraft, "Segaula," is undergoing end of the year required maintenance to ensure safety issues are addressed.
The Segaula's last flight to Ofu was the end of November. The plane is currently awaiting parts ordered off-island.
As for the new boat, the Fo'isia, the Governor said ASG tried to get a voyage recently but was unable to do so because of bad weather. He said he was hoping that the Fo'isia could assist travel to Manu'a, as well as help residents traveling between Ofu and Ta'u islands.
Togiola said one of the issues that surfaced recently, and has been brought to his attention, not only by the public but by government officials, is that the wharves at Faleasao and Ofu are much bigger [higher] than the Fo'isia. This makes it difficult for people to embark or disembark, not only the Fo'isia, but smaller boats too.
He said the plan now is to send to Manu'a an assessment team to look at the two wharves for the possibility of adding another section to anchor smaller boats. He said the current wharf landings are much higher-fit for bigger vessels.
Not long after the Governor made the announcement about the Manu'a service, a caller to the program said that despite the government's new boat, Fo'isia, and the airplane, Segaula, which are supposed to be for Manu'a, nothing is being done to help the dilemma faced by Manu�a residents, who continue to be ignored by the government.
The male caller said Manu'a residents continue to suffer from the lack of proper and uninterrupted ocean and air transportation. He asked Togiola when will it ever end.
The Governor acknowledged the caller's concern. However he noted the Segaula was not brought in for Manu'a alone, but to assist with Manu'a's needs when commercial air service is not available.
He said the Segaula, bought years ago because the now defunct Samoa Air had problems with its federal certification, is also used for emergency situations. Togiola pointed to the aircraft's more than 60 emergency trips to Manu'a.
He explained Segaula does not compete with commercial air service because the government is not in competition with the private sector.
As for the Fo'isia, he said it is to be used for transport within the Manu'a islands; but it came at a time when the MV Sili is on dry dock. At this time, the boat is stationed on Tutuila, with the goal to try and help residents get to and from Manu'a.
Togiola said it's unfortunate that Manu'a is facing these air and surface transportation problems at one time, but the government is working for solutions.
Senate approves sweeping changes to matai title law
It is doubtful that House will consider the legislation this session
by Fili Sagapolutele
Samoa News Correspondent
The Senate approved yesterday a bill that makes sweeping changes to the matai title law, one of which is removing a requirement that an individual "must be of at least one-half Samoan blood" in order to be eligible for a matai title.
The new language replacing the one-half Samoan blood requirement provides that an individual "must possess a heredity right to the title" if he/she wants to succeed to a matai title. This is in addition to other qualifications already in the law.
Sens. Mailo Atonio and Salanoa Aumoeualogo, two of three senators that voted against the measure, argued against the removal of the one-half Samoan blood requirement.
Prior to the vote, they told their colleagues that removing this requirement would open the door to anyone - especially individuals born here to parents who are foreign nationals - to qualify for a chiefly title.
Mailo said he does not want anyone with only 1% or 10% Samoan blood to claim the Mailo title in his family.
Salanoa added that the removal would mean that in 20 years from now, Samoan traditional titles will be taken over by foreigners.
Sen. Tulifua Tini Lam Yuen acknowledged his colleagues' concerns, but said there has already been a change in a Samoan's way of life compared to years ago, such as interracial marriages.
Sen. Tuiagamoa Tavai added that every Samoan child - no matter the percentage of Samoan blood in them - should have the right to a chiefly title. He agreed with Tulifua that many Samoans have married outside of our race, decreasing the Samoan bloodline. But he said that should not prevent anyone's child from seeking out a family matai title.
Sen. Alo Dr. Paul Stevenson agreed and added that no one should be prevented or discouraged to marry outside of our race just to make sure that he/she keeps their 50% Samoan blood in order to qualify for a title.
He said that if many years down the line, he has a great-great-grandson wanting the Alo title, he would like to see that happen.
Alo added that this bill was based on the Senate's overall belief that matai titles should be decided by families and not the High Court, which he says supports the measure.
He said that there are already guidelines and protection available under the law to prevent any non-Samoans from succeeding to the title.
Sen. Tuitele T. Tuitele said the Samoan culture is "dynamic" and has survived for many years because of its flexibility to the changing times.
He said we are in the 21st century and our children, grandchildren, and great-grandchildren who marry outside our race deserve the right to succeed to matai titles.
"Don't be afraid of changes. Our culture has survived through many changes," he said. "May this proposed change be beneficial to our future generation."
In addition to removing the one-half Samoan blood requirement, the bill also:
- Adds a new requirement to the list of support documents that a person must submit to the Territorial Registrar's Office when he registers for a matai title.
The new requirement provides that the person must submit "a sworn affidavit executed by the claimant attesting that the claimant possess all qualifications for succession to the title" and that he "is eligible to claim the title and meets all requirements for succession....as provided by law."
- Removes the "hereditary right" criterion as a point of consideration for the High Court when determining which candidate is awarded a matai title.
There are currently four criteria the Lands and Titles Division look at when reviewing a contested title. The bill removes the first criterion, leaving three - two of which are subjective.
The three are: the wish of the majority or plurality of those clans of the family as customary in that family; the forcefulness, character and personality of the persons under consideration for the title, and their knowledge of Samoan customs; and the value of the holder of the title to the family, village, and country.
The measure now goes to the House for their review, however, Fono sources say it is highly unlikely the House will take up the bill soon.
With 19 session days left, the House's priority will be the review of the FY 2009 budget.
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Tufele reports FPSSC findings to U.N.: He suggests A.S. be called something besides "colony"
by Fili Sagapolutele
Samoa News Correspondent
Tufele Liamatua, chairman of the Future Political Status Study Commission (FPSSC), told the UN Decolonization Committee that American Samoa prefers to maintain its current political status with the United States and suggested that the committee come up with another term to be used for American Samoa instead of continuing to be list it as a "colony."
Tufele's address was before the Pacific Region Seminar of the Decolonization Committee held two months ago in Bandung, Indonesia and has been released by the committee's office of public affairs.
Speaking at the seminar, Tufele said, "every time the question of sufficiency of our political status came up for review, in unison, the people overwhelmingly opted for status quo." He said the response brought no surprise, given the fact that the territory continues to receive financial assistance from the U.S. to fund about 70% of government activities.
He told the gathering that American Samoans, who are U.S. nationals can freely travel and live in the U.S. as well as receive equal treatment under U.S. law; therefore it's natural for American Samoans to wish to maintain the current political status, although the territory cannot vote in U.S. Presidential elections.
However, Tufele said there is real fear that if the territory were to change its political status to better define its relationship with the U.S. by having Congress approve an organic act, the current protection for land ownership inherent in the Deed of Cession may be determined to be unconstitutional because it (may be seen) as violating the basic democratic principle of equal rights.
"As long as there is this uncertainty, American Samoans will continue to choose status quo. It is unlikely that the Territory of American Samoa will aggressively pursue an alternative political status," he said. "While American Samoans have acclaimed their status as Americans, they equally celebrate their uniqueness defined by culture."
He also said that issues such as establishing a federal court in the territory, automatic U.S. citizenship for persons born in American Samoa, electing senators by popular vote, to name a few, are continually being debated.
"Yet, at the end of the deliberations, the majority elects not to change," he said. "The underlying fear is again predicated on the possible adverse impact of these actions on our land tenure system... Unless the land ownership issue is settled, American Samoa will not entertain a change in its political status."
Tufele noted that American Samoa is concerned with its very limited economic options exacerbated by federally induced minimum wage hikes which are threatening the continued presence of the canneries or transformation of their operations, forcing the direct termination of over 80% of the canneries' workforce and residual workforce reductions in the government and private sector.
He said the demise of the local canneries is being perpetrated by federal policies and it makes little sense that "our parent country is responsible for the economic hardship that will be faced" by the territory.
"Instead of improving our economic viability and long term economic growth, the U.S. government has been primarily responsible for the economic instability experienced by the territory since the delegation of administrative authority to the Department of Interior," he said and noted that bilateral agreements between the U.S. and other foreign countries have jeopardized the territory's economic interest.
"The package of federal incentives which improved American Samoa's competitive advantage are slowly being eliminated thus killing any advantage to entice entry of foreign investments integral to our economic development efforts," he said.
Tufele informed the UN committee that the FPSSC's main recommendation is to maintain the territory's current political status. Additionally, it's the "overwhelming desire" of the people of American Samoa to continue its association with the United states "in some fashion or form", he said.
Tufele did point out that there are some prevailing elements of American Samoa's relationship with the U.S. which are deemed to take on the colonial mode. For example, he said the American Samoa constitution has to be approved by the U.S. Congress before it is deemed valid and Congress has the ultimate power to legislate any law to regulate activities in the territory with or without the consent of American Samoa.
Similarly, he added, the Interior Department has the absolute power over American Samoa.
"Legally, it can annul local elections or evict a governor from position," he said. "While the authority is given to the people to elect leaders, the federal laws have not been amended to limit the powers of the Department of Interior over the affairs of the local government."
Tufele also acknowledged that the current political status of American Samoa "legitimizes our being listed as a continued colony of the United States", but at the same time, it is by choice that American Samoa opted to maintain its current classification.
He told the committee that American Samoa has been very blessed with the 108 years relationship with the U.S., adding that "we have not experienced....any abuse of our human rights and civil liberties" in spite of claims during the last three years where the FBI handcuffed local residents and took them off island for arraignment in defiance of local laws and jurisdictional issues.
In closing Tufele suggested that the committee recommend to the U.N. General Assembly to provide a new definition to recognize special cases like American Samoa where the people are fully contented and accepting of the prevailing political status even though it does not neatly fit the mold of decolonization.
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Source: Samoa News
April 2, 2008
Mosooi Soonata'u Mapu asks Court to reconsider "Satele" title decision
by La Poasa
Samoa News Staff
Mosooi Soonata'u Mapu, one of the five men who vied for the paramount chief title "Satele" of Vailoatai, has petitioned the Lands and Titles Division of the High Court to reconsider its decision handed down earlier this month awarding the Satele title to Galu T. Satele.
Mosooi made request in a motion he filed last week. His attorney, Tauivi Tuinei, is off island and unable to travel due to health reasons, according to his motion.
Mosooi contends that the Court should have used the "Sotoa rule" in determining which candidate prevailed as having the best hereditary right, the first priority criterion of the four criteria established by law to guide the Court in the determining who is awarded a matai title.
According to Mosooi, applying the "traditional rule" as the Court did in this case was unconstitutional.
(Under traditional rule, hereditary right is determined by a candidate's relation (blood tie) to their nearest ancestor that held the title in question. Under the Sotoa rule, hereditary right is determined by tracing a candidate's lineage to the original titleholder.)
In applying the traditional rule, the Court found that Galu has a 50 percent blood hereditary right to the Satele title, and prevailed on this criterion. Mosooi, along with counterclaimant Solia La'auli F. Tosi, each held 6.25 percent blood hereditary right. Counterclaimant Fuga Tolani Teleso has 25 percent blood hereditary right; and Aofetalaiga Francis F. Leoso has 12.5 percent blood hereditary right.
Mosooi argues that the traditional rule is used as an avenue to destroy the heart of the Samoan Culture within a family unit.
"In using the Traditional Rule, the percentage system diminishes the bloodline of a family's link where the last titleholder within that family is distance from the current titleholders," Mosooi contends. "This Rule wipes out the birthright of the original tittleholders versus the most current holders of a matai title."
He questions, "[w]here in Mosooi's DNA can we find the 6.25% of Satele blood?"
"Mosooi beget from the original Satele titleholder. Which would mean Mosooi has 100% Satele blood in his DNA," he argues. "All subsequent Satele titleholders since the original Satele have thus benefited from Mosooi's ancestor. Whereby, stating that Mosooi only holds 6.25% Satele blood is an immense injustice to our lineage."
He says matai titles are communal property of the Samoan families and unlike individually-owned properties, ownership of matai titles are owned by all blood members of the communal family.
Mosooi further argues that the rights of family members are traced to the original titleholder of the matai title; the children or grandchildren of the first holder are the basis of family clans.
"The weight of a person's right to the title is measured on your connection to the original titleholder," he says. "Samoan customs demands that the degree of one's right to the title depends in his generational relationship to the original titleholder.
Mosooi says the words "percentage" or "fractions" are not part of the Samoan language.
He argues that in the fa'a-Samoa there is a saying, "Mua mai takes precedent over Muli mai". He said this is the jewel of the Samoan culture.
"Our elders (the original titleholders) paved the way for all succeeding holders who are now reaping the "sweat and blood" of those first "toa" of our family," he says.
Mosooi further contends that the family clans supporting Galu T. Satele only created confusion with their math.
"Within the Courts are records of Galu Teutasi Satele's brother Viliamu's horrific acts which caused the deaths of family members," he argues. "This horrific act [has] tainted the Satele name and [has] tainted the Satele bloodline in the eyes of God. Teutusi Poumele Satele, Galu's father's bloodline is questionable. In applying the Traditional Rule, the Court [has] officially recorded that our clan's bloodline is distanced to the Satele title."
Mosooi claims that Galu T. Satele is not a matai in Vailoa nor does he provide tautua to the village. He said this is an injustice to all those residing in and out of Vailoa who are Vailoa matais and provide tautua to the village.
Finally, Mosooi questions one of the sitting judges for this case, who he said was appointed by the late Gov. Tauese Sunia, the husband of Faga Satele Sunia, who is also a niece of the claimant Galu T. Satele.
Associate Justice Lyle L. Richmond presided at trial and other in-court proceedings, but it was Chief Associate Judge Logoai Siaki, and associate judges Mamea Sala Jr., Saole Mila and Suapaia E.C. Pereira that made the decision on selecting the title successor.
Mosooi's motion will be heard at a hearing scheduled for April 7.
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According to the bill's language, a uniformed services voter is exempt from having to register in person at the Election Office to vote in the gubernatorial and local House races. But the military personnel desiring to register as a qualified elector for local elective offices must provide that their home of record and legal domicile is American Samoa.
The bill also provides for the Chief Election Officer to establish absentee registration and voting procedures to afford maximum access to the polls by qualified absent uniformed services voters and adopt such forms as necessary to implement provisions of this act.
Such forms, shall at a minimum require the applicant to furnish the information called for on the Federal Post Card Application (FPCA), supplemented with the applicant's home of record/legal domicile, date of departure from American Samoa, and verification of applicant's active military status.
In addition, the bill says a spouse or dependent of a uniformed services member shall provide verification of their dependent status. The Chief Election Officer shall also establish procedures applicable to elections subsequent to the applicant's initial registration.
The bill now goes to the House for their review and approval. The House plans to review today its version of the measure.
The administration and some lawmakers hope the bill is passed by the Fono before the current session ends on Friday (Apr. 4). Once approved by the Fono and signed by the governor, the bill goes into effect immediately, which means this provision will be in place for the November 2008 general election.
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