Apr 13, 2021 Last Updated 11:41 PM, Apr 12, 2021

After 51 years of independence, the government of Samoa has just made its mother tongue the official language of the country. Many did not know that since 1962 that the English language had always been Samoa

It was told with pride by many Samoans who attended these schools how they would be disciplined if they spoke Samoan in the classrooms. Upon entering the school compounds, everyone was expected to speak English. This took place only in the town area, however, the Samoan language still dominated communication then. Sunday schools and pastor schools made sure children were pushed to learn as much as they could on the language by conducting reading and writing classes within their schools. It has changed however, with so many young people opting to converse in English especially those living in the urban area.

The influence of television and the internet has also contributed much to the change seen in the language. Parliament recently passed a law establishing a Language Commission to review the Samoan language, the addition of many borrowed words which are now becoming part of the daily spoken Samoan. All aspects of the language are being dealt with in this commission. The National University of Samoa (NUS) is now making the Samoan language a compulsory part of studies and nobody enters NUS without taking a Samoan paper. Many in the country do not agree with this new policy saying that many of the degrees taken at NUS do not need the Samoan language and it’s unnecessary to have students take on Samoan studies when they’re studying for bachelor degrees in science, commerce and math for example. The Prime Minister says it was important that the commission was set up to ensure the language was preserved and protected.

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I t could be a classic case of jumping from a frying pan into the fire for Nauru as the government fired its two top judicial executives in favour of another Australian with claims of “deceptive conduct”. After months of wrangling as the business executive arm of the government tried to seize control over the island’s impartial judiciary, Nauru President Baron Waqa caved in to demands by the cabinet to sack three Australians working in the capital, Yaren. Waqa rebutted reports in the foreign media that his government was illegally trying to shut off the largely-foreign-run judiciary and control it to suit its policies. But sackings aside, Nauru’s new star recruit, Andrew Jacobson—a Melbourne lawyer—has been found to have a questionable business record with claims of engaging in “misleading and deceptive conduct”. Jacobson’s company 1800 000 000 was dragged into the Australian Federal Courts and was under investigation by the Australian Securities and Investments Commission—being sued by clients claiming misleading and deceptive conduct and that the company had not performed as well as advertised. Jacobson failed to return media requests for details on his past business dealings in Australia as he flew to Nauru to become the country’s new resident magistrate.

“Compromised their roles”:  Following a string of misdemeanors including improper conduct with staff, the first to go was the island’s lone magistrate, Peter Law. Next was Chief Justice Geoffrey Eames, who was denied a return visa to Nauru. There was more controversy—Solicitor-General Stephen Bilim quit his office in dissent. “For too long, some people appointed to key positions in Nauru—including people from overseas—have engaged in unacceptable conduct that compromised their roles,” Waqa declared as Australian media reported that the Nauruan government was overstepping its powers in keeping the judiciary independent of the executive side of the bureaucracy. “We will determine who comes to our nation.”

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Cyclone Ian could be a blessing in disguise for Ha’apai Island, which has been neglected over the years in terms of development. Matangi Tonga Editor Pesi Fonua made the comments when asked about his observations of the relief and rehabilitation work in Tonga. “Most of the infrastructure and government buildings there are badly in need of rennovation or maintenance or for some structures—a complete demolition and reconstruction,” Fonua told Islands Business. Fonua also raised concern at the absence of an estimated valuation of damage by government. “There are no figures from government up until today (estimated cost of damages),” he said. “There are, of course, estimated percentages of the number of homes which were either completely uprooted or partially damaged. The only figures available so far are on damage to power lines. He said government did not have a rehabilitation plan in place yet; but they needed to know what to build first and then prioritise from there. “But there are some definite areas that they need to start addressing as we know such as telephone and power lines which were badly damaged, and also the hospital on Lifuka which was also damaged. “At the same time, that same hospital had been earmarked for relocation as it was already being affected by erosion from rising sea levels well before the cyclone. But yes an assessment on the damage to the hospital would be good.

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The Melanesian Spearhead Group heads into further talks this month to seek more answers from the MSG mission that failed to meet indigenous West Papuan leaders in West Papua last month. Whilst new MSG chairman Victor Tutugoro who is also spokesperson for the Front de Libération Kanak et Socialiste (FLNKS) in New Caledonia has not revealed the agenda he has called for the meeting days after the delegation returned from the mission. Tutugoro says the meeting will take place in Port Vila in the middle of this month (February). The MSG delegation to Indonesia was represented by Fiji’s Foreign Affairs Minister, Ratu Inoke Kubuabola; Papua New Guinea’s Foreign Affairs Minister, Rimbink Pato; Solomon Islands Foreign Affairs Minister, Soalaoi Clay Forau; and FLNKS representative, Yvonne Faua. Vanuatu’s foreign minister, Edward Natapei, withdrew from the mission because the itinerary excluded meetings with groups concerned about alleged human rights abuses in West Papua.

West Papua snub: West Papuan leaders have expressed disappointment towards the apparent snub from the MSG mission. What had begun as a desire to join the Melanesian Spearhead Group (MSG), as per their request at the MSG summit in Noumea last year, was snuffed out by Indonesia’s refusal to let the MSG leaders meet indigenous West Papuan leaders last month.

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As it edges closer to an election later this year, the Hapi Isles appears to be in an economic turmoil All indicators are that things could only get worse. Critics say the nation’s economic woes are self-inflicted. It originated from a decision taken by Prime Minister Gordon Darcy Lilo’s government a little over two years ago. In the main, the decision taken by cabinet gave politicians the ultimate say on how funding in the nation’s largely donor-funded Development Budget is to be used.

An immediate impact of the decision was that technocrats whose work is largely funded in the Development Budget had nothing to do as politicians took control of the funding allocations for projects. “We simply come to the office to collect our pay cheque. There are no funds to go out in the field,” one frustrated official said. One official has since resigned after pressure from politicians to release cocoa and copra rehabilitation funding last year.

The official stood his grounds because politicians failed to honour a signed agreement to furnish his department reports on how they used tens of millions of dollars in cocoa and copra rehabilitation funds in the previous year. Two years after the decision which allowed politicians to be economic managers of public funds, the impact has spread far and wide, impacting on service delivery around the country. Sectors after sectors are now beginning to feel the pinch.

The first known casualty is civil aviation. Two of the nation’s dozen or so airstrips have been forced to close down in as many months. No one knows how long the closure will be. A third is in the queue. Many more could follow. Last December, the nation’s capital was without drinking water for hours as landowners turned off the water mains that supplies Honiara’s 80,000 residents. Not that this is an unfamiliar happening. It isn’t except that last December’s incident had also affected hotels.

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