Following the 2009 Tsunami, New Zealand reporter John Campbell took you on over what he calls missing Tsunami relief monies. I blogged at the time about this and was critical of your handling of the matter. As you know we were close at the time and we discussed it all more than once. Don’t worry, I will honour confidences that you extended to me from those times.
The point of the story for me then was not who was right and who was wrong. Of course many people (especially in New Zealand) trusted John’s story over yours; you come across to Palagi as pompous and untrustworthy; the numbers on the surface appeared to not stack up; and Kiwis generally know the Samoan (indeed ‘Island’) ways pretty well.
The point of THIS story though, and my letter here is to give you feedback on my advice to others for helping you and your people decide when and how to donate when called upon to give. This SHOULD be seen as a positive letter with constructive advice even as it is a backhanded swipe at you and the way you run your country. I first put the whole issue into proper context, which is essentially negative and critical of you, but then I move into the advice, which I trust you will agree is good advice and constructive.
The context Tui is that despite your corruption and decades of milking our generosity and goodwill, Kiwis (and I am sure other Samoan-associated nations) are generally benevolent towards Samoa and Samoans. We are also fairly generous and have the capacity to give when needed. The downside to this is that we hate (and with a passion) the idea that high chiefs, pastors, priests and politicians snaffle the goods before the little people. This is the real reason that we get so p*ssed of with you and your cronies helping yourselves like the fat-cats you clearly are. To see multi-million dollar churches alongside faleo’os and obese Ministers of the cloth and Crown driving the latest and travelling first class sickens us to the core, so that when we come to give, we are totally torn. Our cry is how to help the little people.
Tui, there are three libraries in Samoa – the main city of Apia; the main town of Savai’i and where is the other one? Is it in that tiny little village on the south coast? Is it in a school up on the hills behind Lepa, you know, the tiny little insignificant village that you were born in? And was it built shortly after the Tsunami? THIS Tui is Samoan conduct and you have covered your bases with BS sufficient that you can stand up on TV and tell the world that John Campbell has got it wrong and is a fool and doesn’t understand how money things work under your watch and how his informants had political agendas etc etc etc.
But we’re not stupid, sir! Of course we know that if XXX million came in and only X million went out that somebody has been doing something “funny”. Of course we know that a pledge is different from cash received but we also know that when the little people still don’t have water and power . . .
My advice to people wanting to give to Samoa is pretty crude and simple Tui. It is this:
If it has anything to do with an organisation and especially if that organisation has ANYTHING to do with the government then DON’T!
“Ah but the Red Cross is different!” you might say. “Oh but the government is in the best position to [whatever]!” you might say. “Ah but in Samoa it is the churches that [whatever].”
No! Tui you and I both know the way things work in Samoa. The Red Cross drives around in what kind of vehicles Tui? New or old? Please tell the donors that before they donate. Did your body guard and driver drive on up the hills to confirm ‘intelligence gathered’ that Red Cross equipment was being used by some High Chief miles away from the Tsunami region or not? You hush this all up year after year and cover for it all because that is your job!
Mine is to speak it like it is.
So, to the solution which I promised before:
- Never give ANYTHING to any organisation and especially if it has anything to do with the Samoan government, especially not you, personally;
- Never send goods. There are plenty of building materials, food and ‘stuff’ up there. Sure, packaging up food and candles or whatever gives a great feel-good but the reality is that efficient commercial operations already exist there – support them for goodness sake!;
- Deal with the people one-on-one. If you don’t know them personally then get to know them. 99.9% of the time it is not the money or the goods that matter to Samoans – it is the relationship. If you want to help, go and visit them or find a Samoan who wants to go back and help them.
- Only give conditionally. Never, never, never give to Samoa or to a Samoan without a proper exchange. All this does is feed evil because guess what? Tomorrow they will be back for more! This is not Samoan bashing, it is just human nature.
My goodness Tui, wouldn’t the world be a better place if people listened to me and took this advice?
In my next letter I share with you how your begging to the international community, and here I include your “special friends” my country of birth New Zealand and Australia, makes me puke. Your attitude, which I know so very well, disgusts me, and when the people outside of your circle deception realise what I know, they too will wake up and smell the roses.
You conduct yourself as Palemia, just like a low-life, opportunist beggar and the time is rapidly coming for your ‘outing’.