In my previous letter I summarised all letters so far – it wasn’t pretty I know but it was the truth. I now come to one of the hardest letters to write (you will come to understand why very shortly) because in it I must warn foreigners and, sadly for me, strongly recommend that they DO NOT invest in Samoa.
A large part of my learning when I came to Samoa involved issues in and around you. You helped me to grapple with the ways of politics in general, the ways of government, the intricacies of the Samoan culture and of course with you personally. I knew little at the outset but learned well, despite your obvious ignorance of this and condescending contempt towards the end of my stay in your country.
It is now coming up to eight years since I first engaged with Samoa, and as a businessman and entrepreneur, it is foreign investment that I always saw as an important factor in Samoa’s future. You know this of me for we have discussed it many times. The vast bulk of my interests, discussion and ideas has been to ‘lift’ Samoa. Because I care, it hurts me to speak ill of the country. Indeed the reason that I have held off publishing “A little Slice of Paradise” and “Cover-Up” and even “Corruption in Samoa” is that I hoped upon hope that the many ugly matters could be resolved and that I could write in a way that said what had to be said, but then end with, “But it all ends well and there is justice and hope [in Samoa]”.
Sadly though there hasn’t been, and certainly for the moment, isn’t. You have a corrupt country. Its people and culture are entirely based on deception, greed and self-interest. It is a violent country with that brutality extending from the family environment to the business community and into religion and politics at both the local and central government levels. You sit atop a cesspit of greed, immorality, lies, gossip and fighting.
The foreign investor then must understand the following. You are skilled at presenting Samoa as “stable politically”. You are skilled at presenting Samoa as a “Christian country”. The description of “Paradise” with white sandy beaches, blue se and coconut tress [throw in the lure of free and easy sexual cooperation from the maidens too if you want to be honest] is one that has been milked for a century. Throw in the Samoan smile and a cultural norm to honour a guest (for a little while anyway) and you have the apparent makings of a Paradise, for sure, but it also has the makings of disaster for the foreigner.
You of all people know the constant stream (and yes it is a constant stream) of wide-eyed, deluded Palagi fools who get caught in this Samoan trap. You are forever bailing them out and picking up the pieces, I know! The problem you have with me Tui, and I want the world to know this now, is that while you can all laugh and watch these investors pack up their gears and go, most of them having lost the shirt off their backs in the process, I didn’t go. I NEVER give up and this caused you a problem.
So you had two options available to you – fix the problems, like a man, like the bible says, or flick him. The world now knows that not only is Samoa a trap for foreigners, the leader of Samoan politics knows this and endorses it – even to the point that when forced into a corner he will resort to illegal and immoral methods to protect ill-gotten gains.
It is in this context Tui, where you have shown your true colours to the world, that I MUST, despite my eight years of wishing to the contrary advise foreigners (Palagi) that foreign investment is to be avoided if profit is expected. In other places and other times, I will share in greater detail the actual risks and how they manifest for the
sucker foreign investor in Samoa.
So now you know . . . you’re a big man. You called the shots. I’m simply telling you that post-eviction the facts of what I have seen – both your country and your leadership cause me to [sadly] advise that nobody should be investing in Samoa. There are some very minor exceptions to my advice (such as religious infrastructure; family donations/remittances/assistance and some very limited forms of philanthropy) but for the most part, when people ask me if I recommend investing into Samoa, the answer is now emphatically, “No!”
In my next letter (and understand that these letters are Internet based, so that they are written TO you but are FOR everyone, especially those connected online outside of Samoa), I discuss donating to Samoa, through the likes of Red Cross, other NGOs and charities particularly in times of disaster and/or grief. This relates to you particularly in New Zealand of course in that John Campbell ran a story-line of missing Tsunami monies.
Standby . . .