No one doubts Prime Minister Tuilaepa Sa’ilele Malielegaoi’s incredible sense of ingenuity.
Indeed, it seems as if his mind is everywhere at the same time so that you just cannot catch it, no matter how hard you’d try.
But then looking at it closely though, who in his right mind would dare question him? After all, he is Samoa’s Prime Minister, which follows that like the other tyke, the President of the United States of America, Donald Trump, he is always right.
Two weeks ago, Tuilaepa spooked everyone when he announced he was officially opening a $1 million home for stray dogs, and that the facility would be named the Dog Management Unit of the Police.
And so, are we hearing right that this one million Tala home, is where the Police would be shown how to manage this country’s stray dogs?
Indeed, are we to assume that they are now quite capable of managing themselves?
Now isn’t that wonderful!
According to Tuilaepa though, the project is part of the government’s efforts to address the issue, of stray dogs.
It is located just down the road from Tafaigata Prison, and it is the result of a partnership between the Ministry of Police, Samoa Tourism Authority and yes, the Animal Protection Society.
And where did the $1 million come from?
The New Zealand government naturally, it’s the perennially relentless giver of aid that this country may as well admit, it cannot possibly do without.
Indeed, Tuilaepa explained that “we are indebted to the government of New Zealand for providing $1 million for the construction of the dog shelter, which we are witnessing this morning.”
Reminded he: “Stray and roaming dogs have long been seen as a very negative influence on visitors experience in Samoa.”
He’s right of course, and no one can dispute that.
He then went on to explain, that “local residents have stories to tell of unpleasant encounters with stray, unrestrained dogs.”
He’s right again.
That way there is no doubt, that the dog control programme his government has begun with the assistance of the New Zealand government that is, is indeed a move in the right direction.
Located just down the road from Tafaigata Prison, it is apparently the result of a partnership between the Ministry of Police, Samoa Tourism Authority and, surprisingly enough, the Animal Protection Society.
Animal Protection Society!
Well, we know quite a bit about that society. In fact, we founded it. The founders were lawyer and businessman, Trevor Stevenson, expatriate Joan Welch, and there was me; our office was at Mrs Welch’s home on the beach at Taumesina, where at any time during the day you were always finding yourself facing the blue, blue sea.
This much is undeniable. There is danger from within the halls of power in Samoa today. It has something to do with unresolved cases of corruption, collusion, abuse and misuse of power hurting the most vulnerable people of this country.
Such have enslaved some of our own people in their own country. Yes their very own country.
Look at the state of farmers, mothers and their poor children and what they have to go through every day just to make a tala.
Look at the growing number of desperate people on the streets begging everyday. We talk about Samoa not having an issue with poverty. Okay then.
Last week, I saw something I’ve never seen in this country before. In a village on the outskirts of Apia, there was a woman walking around naked. She looked like she was mentally ill. Many people would have seen her.
Yesterday, there was a heavy downpour in the middle of the afternoon and then right after, the scorching sun returned with a vengeance. It was heart-breaking to watch beggars, street vendors and the mothers selling goods on the streets scramble to find shelter.
But these are signs of the times.
We ask you to again look at the growing number of Samoans – of all ages - who are being enslaved to run all over town to sell pins, cans of soda, twisties and air fresheners.
Elsewhere, think about the cost of electricity, water and basic services. Think about how expensive they are compared to the minimum wage of $2.30 per hour.
Think about how taxes are hurting everybody, especially when they are being taxed to the bone every day. And what about the idea that these taxes are being reviewed with the real possibility of raising them?
Isn’t it downright cruel then that when we are taxed everywhere we turn in this country today, and yet we find that the cost of living, the cost of basic services and the cost of basic utilities continuing to show no mercy to the downright depleted soul?