An ominous sign perhaps

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Mata'afa Keni Lesa

New year, old problem. And so we find with the story titled “Street Vendors or future convicts” published on the front page of your newspaper yesterday that some things never change. 

It sure is not a nice way to begin a brand new 2017 which is sad to say the least.

But then whom are we kidding here? It’s not as if this problem has just surfaced overnight. It has been with us for years. 

Indeed we’ve now seen the fruits of what we have feared all along. That is these young people will only grow up to be hardened criminals because society had turned a blind eye to their plight.

We’re talking about the growing number of young vendors on the streets at all hours of the day and night. 

We’ve warned that this problem will only get worse.

Well feast your eyes on the video featured in the story and tell us what you think about such behaviour. 

Suffice to say, the beating of a homeless man raises many questions. One of the most obvious ones is that what are these three young boys doing on the dark streets of Apia at 3am? Shouldn’t they be soundly sleeping in the safety of their homes?

Speaking of homes, where are their parents? What are they thinking? 

Which brings us to another question posed by Mr. Rudy Bartley who posted the video. He asked the question of who is responsible for these children when their parents have failed?

It’s a valid point. The parents have failed because these kids should never have been on the streets in the first place, especially at such an ungodly hour. 

But what becomes of these children if their parents don’t care anymore? 

Do we as a community have a responsibility to help them? 

And who is responsible for protecting members of the public from them? Looking at the behaviour of these young people, members of the public obviously need protection from them. 

These young people are dangerous and ruthless. If you watch the beating of such a helpless person without a care in the world, you would have to conclude that something is terribly amiss somewhere.

What that means is that there is no limit to the damage they can do if they are not contained soon enough.

Which brings us to the question of what is the government’s role in all this?

The simple answer is this. It’s sad that as more and more of these kids resort to a life of begging and selling petty goods on the streets to help their families get by; the government has continued to ignore the waste of millions in projects that don’t work.

These millions could easily make a massive difference in the lives of the poorest people in this country today. And it is why we believe someone must hold the government to account for these decisions. 

We’re not talking about a few hundred talas. We are talking about millions. Millions that could have been spent to improve health, education, income generating opportunities and stop these children from being used in such a manner. 

Which reminds us about the former leader of the Tautua Samoa Party, Palusalue Fa’apo II. Last year, he said the government’s “reckless spending” and its ignorance of instances of abuse and corruption  has led to Samoa’s demise.

He was particularly concerned about projects deemed a waste of time.

“For example, the government had dumped $20 million tala into a failed wharf project,” Palusalue said about the Satitoa Wharf.

 “The former Minister of Finance spent nearly a million tala in an office that’s just sitting there.

“Remember that more than five million tala was spent on that building at Faleata that is now being occupied by ghosts. And that’s just one building. There are other buildings where millions have been spent.”

The question is, looking back now, was the use of those millions justified? 

And how – if any – of the money has been recovered? If the answer is no, shouldn’t the officials responsible be held to account for such a waste?

Which is heart breaking especially when you take a good look around Samoa today and you’ll find that as people are suffering from poverty, lack of income and the immense demand of everyday Samoan life, these officials show off their lifestyle of entitlement thinking that access - and subsequently the abuse - of expensive public properties costing you and me our hard-earned taxes is their right.

Lastly, Palusalue said if the government was prudent with these millions, the country wouldn’t be in the precarious situation it has found itself in terms of its foreign debt as well as lot of these social problems.

“If you look at such reckless spending, that’s a lot of money,” Palusalue said. “The money that can be saved from these bad investments and misuse of financial resources could build villages access roads, make electricity and water accessible to all families, create more employment, raise salaries for underpaid professionals and raise the pension for the elders.”

When Palusalue made these comments, we said at the time that we couldn’t have agreed more with him. Nothing has changed. Which is sad because we are in a new year and yet an old problem has come back to haunt us as if the image on those children beating a helpless homeless man is meant to be a sign for 2017? What do you think? Write and share your thoughts with us!

Have a safe Thursday Samoa, God bless!

© Samoa Observer 2016

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