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Author Topic: Gov. Togiola celebration of 109th American Samoa Flag Day April 17  (Read 10014 times)

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Tavita Tusitala

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Gov. Togiola leads two-day celebration of 109th American Samoa Flag Day

Governor Togiola Tulafono today celebrated 109th anniversary of the raising of the US flag on American Samoa soil by “reflecting, assessing, and reviewing if the Territory is heading in the right direction” as part of his Flag Day address.

Flag Day Address
Governor Togiola Tulafono
April 17, 2009
Veterans Memorial Stadium - Tafuna, American Samoa

Greetings and Talofa.

Flag Day celebrations are not new. Each Flag Day is an opportunity to reflect on another year of government. We count and assess the many ways in which we were blessed. And I ask you, fellow American Samoans, not to forget any of God’s wonderful blessings.

I want to pay a special tribute to our special guests: the Honorable Tuilaepa Sailele Malielegaoi, Prime Minister of the Independent State of Samoa; Her Royal Highness Salote Mafile’o Pilolevu Tuita of the Kingdom of Tonga; the Honorable Foua Toloa and Mrs. Fesola’i Logo Faletoese Toloa; the Honorable Jim Marurai, Prime Minister of the Cook Islands; the Honorable Pokotoa Sipela, Minister of Agriculture, Forestry & Fisheries, Post & Telecommunications, and Administrative Services of the Government of Niue; the Honorable Caroline Bilkey, High Commissioner of New Zealand to Samoa; Lady Ala’ile’ula Tuku’aho of Tonga, Rear Admiral Eric Broderick of the United States Public Health Service, and Acting Administrator of Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration – U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Colonel Joseph Lance, Commanding Officer of the 12th Marine Corps District, Western Recruiting Region, Marine Corps Recruit Depot, San Diego CA; and the US Marine Corps Band from Camp Smith, Hawaii; Colonel Clifton Takenaka, 9th Mission Support Command, Fort Shafter, Hawaii; and Lieutenant Commander Jason Neubauer, US Coast Guard, Hawaii. Welcome to American Samoa, and thank you for honoring us with your presence in these festivities.

Flag Day each year is also an opportunity to review our form and manner of governance.  We measure how far we have traveled in the past year, and check to see if we are heading in the right direction. It is a traditional exercise that started since our government was founded in 1900.

On Flag Day we thank all those who serve in the ranks of public service – traditional leaders, legislators, judges, cabinet members, and every public servant. Thank you for your services.

Another Flag Day tradition is a word of appreciation to the government of the United States of America, the President, the Congress, the Department of the Interior, and all the federal agencies, for the generous support and contributions to the development of our Territory. Thank you very much.

I said, it is the day when we assess our progress, review our goals as a government and our hopes as a people. You and I continue to witness improvements in our government efforts to upgrade our schools and health care services, improve roads, electric and water services, expand our public safety, and upgrade the skills training of our public servants.

We stand at the threshold of a new wave of economic development with the arrival of fiber optic services, and we are hard at work preparing to cope with additional needs in power and water supply, roads, schools, hospital, public safety and all other government services.

Progress and development has many costs – the most serious being in social changes. And the American Samoa Government (ASG) is rising to meet the challenge of new attitudes about family – the rising youth problems, and disturbances in the homes.

I spoke on these matters in my inauguration remarks in January, and I remind you, again, that they are real. President Obama recognized the same in his inaugural speech.

The hustle and bustle of development activities, however, should not lead us to forget that which remains unsettled — the search for a permanent political status — one where we may continue to exercise freedom to the fullest, enjoy all human rights, and which will allow the preservation of our culture and traditions, and the continued pursuit of happiness on our own terms.

Two years ago, the Future Political Status Study Commission submitted its report to the Fono, as the law required. I am assuming the Legislature is planning to employ the upcoming constitutional convention as a forum for discussing the report and its implications. That is fine with me.

As we await that event, let me briefly point out the major questions that need to be thoroughly considered by us all:
1 Shall we continue as a Territory of the United States? Or should we seek, or fashion, a new status, as other territories once administered by the US have done?

Time and again, the US Congress has indicated it is willing and prepared to consider with us a permanent status – whenever we are ready. I think that time is here, or it is fast approaching. Indecisiveness can only lead to confusion and insecurity. This is no time to procrastinate.

On Monday this week, President Obama spoke with feeling about the nation’s economy, and reminded us of the story Jesus once told about a man who built his house on a rock. Storms came and failed to destroy it. The house built on sand was blown away. Let us find that rock now. Waves and storms have no mercy. They wait for no one.

Take note also of the cries of the modern generations. Continue to disregard them, and cries will become roars.

2 Let us also face the question of American Samoa citizenship. I believe we have a right to determine who shall be American Samoan citizens, and to establish conditions for extending that status to others. And then we need to fashion and structure its relation to the citizenship of the US. After all, many of our people, both here and abroad, have become US citizens.

3 Every time these issues are raised, concerns about sources of funding are always the first reaction. Does this mean we are going to give up US financial assistance? Can we manage without it? Do we have the knowledge and toughness to be on our own?

Those questions go to the heart of the issue. We will never have the answers if we do not begin the process.

4 The there is the immovable rock – our culture: Our Land. How will it be affected by this political status search? Our culture has been the target of many criticisms recently, most by our own people whose knowledge and appreciation are incomplete. Let me say to you now. Our Fa’asamoa is not an antique, nor it is just a ‘stage culture’ displayed and performed only for tourists. Our culture is a living culture. It is our way of life. To seek to change it is to attempt a change in our systems of mataiship, land tenure, and social interaction. There is not a person alive today who is smart enough to do that.

5 The duality of democracy and our traditions – as basis for our governance has so far worked. Voices are heard calling for full democracy in our Legislature by electing the Senate, and giving the power to veto override. Well, the question of veto override was decided in the recent election. Supporters of the override continue to argue there was not sufficient public education.

6 It has been 32 years since we elected our governor. How do we feel about the granting of authority to our local leaders? I, for one, am not concerned about ability to govern. There is a growing pool of young educated Samoans. They will rise to the occasion. But, this is still a part of the overall permanent political status that we must consider.

These and other questions, I believe, will come before the constitutional reviewers late this year. There is a need for a realistic program of public education, for it is one thing to hear about them all he time, it is something else when you ponder them deeply and move to decide. It may be that the convention will want to set up a permanent office or agency for an extended consideration of a status. That is fine. Bear in mind, a journey of a thousand miles must begin with the first step. Let’s take that step now.

The Fono has the power to establish a permanent office for status work, research, contacts with federal agencies, and develop a framework for public education.

Our Constitution surely needs a review. The present document was approved in 1967 with a provision for a 5-year review. It has now been 42 years. There have been two conventions, but their work failed approval for one reason or another. Let’s try to make sure this new review will fare better.

Look at the facts:

-In 1967, population of American Samoa was less than 40,000. Today, it is about 69,000.

-ASG had an annual budget of less than $100 million. This year, the budget is over $300 million.

-In 1967, we had only two high schools and no community college.

-There were no long lines of new cars on the roads, and only a few families had palagi houses.

-At the passage of this constitution, only a handful of families had TV sets in their homes. Computer, internet and email were not in our language.

My final thoughts on the issue of status, concerns our fellow Samoans from Upolu and Savai’i. Statistics show that almost half of the American Samoa population today was born in Samoa. Many have been here all their lives – married to us, serving our aiga, churches and government. The numbers keep growing as we continue on the path of modern economic development.

I raise this question with the utmost care, for I am aware of local feelings on this issue. In addition, we have residents from other nations who have become permanent residents through marriage. But, the case of Samoa is different -- For we are one in heart, one in spirit, one in blood.

That’s my Flag Day address for this year. I ask every American Samoan to ponder the questions I have raised today. Ask for Divine Guidance as we maneuver our way through these difficult times.

Continue your prayers for our sons and daughters in the military services of our country, especially those deployed to Iraq and Afghanistan.

At the close of these celebrations, Lieutenant Governor Faoa Sunia will speak to convey our thanks to all those who contributed to the preparation of Flag Day this year.

Let me just say a word of congratulations to our Flag Day 2009 Committee – to Chairman - Secretary of Samoan Affairs High Chief Tufele Li’a, all the departments of our government, our Army Reserve, our churches, our schools, our community organizations, and our private sector – Thank you very much for all the great work that you continue to do for American Samoa and our annual Flag Day celebration.

Fa’afetai. Soifua.

Chenrose18

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Re: Gov. Togiola celebration of 109th American Samoa Flag Day April 17
« Reply #1 on: June 28, 2009, 11:36:24 PM »
It will raise for the "reflecting, assessing, and reviewing if the Territory is heading in the right direction”.I really like it!








 


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