Prime Minister Tuilaepa Lupesoli’ai Sailele Malielegaoi meeting the leader of a Chinese business delegation that visited Samoa late last year.
BY Lance Polu
APIA: MONDAY 19 JANUARY 2015: Opposition claims last week that giving Samoan citizenship to overseas investors will sell the country to China and possible terrorists, have prompted Government to issue a press statement in the weekend.
The anti-China statements also propagated by the newspapers have the Government claim the statements are intended to incite racial derision amongst the people of Samoa.
“Despite the Government’s recent attempts to clarify and correct the misinformation being freely and willfully propagated by local media
organisations, it is disappointing to note that some Parliamentarians are encouraging bigotry with statements that are intended to incite racial derision amongst the people of Samoa,” said the statement.
Samoa have citizens of Chinese origin from the Chinese workers who were brought in by the German administration in the 1900s and married locally and are highly visible in the country’s business sector. At the center of the debate is the proposed Citizenship Investment Bill that proposes to award Samoan citizenship to overseas investors if they had invested certain amount of money in the country.
“Should this type of ignorance dictate the Government’s agenda, the results would undo the progress and development the country has
enjoyed thus far. The results of that kind of restrictive and intolerant policy would mean No Development, No New Job Opportunities, No
Modernization, No Advancement and No Bright Futures for generations to come,” the press statement continues.
“All countries in the world, rich and poor, prioritise foreign investments to encourage economic growth and create employment opportunities for their people. Samoa is successful in attracting foreign investments through grants, concessional loans and specific project investments from development partners. Those are the results of an effective and progressive Government, working to attract investors like Yazaki to provide employment and up-skilling opportunities for our people.
“The absurd claim that the Government is selling the country to a development partner is false, irresponsible and damaging.
“Any serious queries regarding the Citizenship Investment Bill can be answered by reading it. Within its 16 pages, the rigorous application and screening process, as well as due diligence requirements and provisions for investment are clearly outlined. Copies of this Bill can be found on the Parliament website, as well as through the Office of the Press Secretariat.
Brain drain overseas
“Thousands of Samoans emigrate yearly with heavy hearts for the more developed shores of New Zealand and Australia where they have
better opportunities and brighter prospects for their children. Should Government provide these opportunities locally, we can retain more of our talented people to develop our country. Leaders of Niue, Cook Islands, Tokelau and other countries in the Pacific similarly lament the departure of their people to seek job opportunities overseas, when they could be contributing to a brighter future for their own homeland.
If Samoa does not continue to develop, then the question must be asked – Why did we ever opt for Independence?
“Samoa is a steady beacon in the Pacific’s story of development. We are a nation that, as a test case for the United Nations before they would permit all other Trust Territories to follow suit, led the movement for self-determination and Independence. Our early leaders proved that
Samoans were capable of running their own affairs in a complex new world of economic growth and opportunity. They had the fearless resolve to set Samoa on a path of development and modernization, from which every Samoan is entitled to benefit.
The Government does not intend to sit idly, while other Pacific countries move forward and leave Samoa behind.
“The discriminatory fear-mongering perpetuated by local newspapers and political exploitation of a tragic massacre in Europe by misguided Parliamentarians, only shows the abuse of our God-given rights to freedom of expression and a desperation for the media spotlight.
“Despite the media misinformation and political campaign of intolerance – the Government will continue to work tirelessly towards a brighter future for all Samoans through smarter investment opportunities, dynamic initiatives and progressive policies for development.”