« PreviousContinue »
the Executive Branch, were also permitted to be members and served in the Legislature. Approximately 80% of the 38 Representatives and Senators in the Legislature held jobs in various capacities with the Government of American Samoa.
It is noted herein that all of those in the House of Representatives who were then employees of GAS (Government of American Samoa), resigned from their government jobs and in many instances giving up much higher wages with GAS to become full-time legislators.
All but three (3) in the Senate resigned their government jobs and became fulltime Senators.
(7) 1970: Election by popular vote of the 1st American Samoa Delegate-atLarge to Washington, D.C. In the person of Paramount Chief A. U. Fuimaono, we now have and enjoy a closer relations with Congress. Since the establishment of the Delegate's Office in Washington, D.C., 425 13th Street, N.W., we are being considered and included in many of the Federal programs and grants that in the past we were left out.
The election by popular vote of our Delegate-at-Large was and is an outstanding example that we know and appreciate true democratic and American procedures of government.
II. OUR MATAI SYSTEM (FAA-SAMOA) WILL BE ENHANCED, PROMOTED AND RESERVEI
WITH THE ELECTIONS OF OUR GOVERNOR AND LIEUTENANT GOVERNOR
From the Instruments of Cessions, 1900 for Tutuila and 1904 for Manu'a, to the present moment, it has been the continued policy of Congress, properly and rightfully so, that the Government of the United States of America shall respect and protect the individual rights of all people dwelling in Tutuila, their lands and other properties.
Our Matai-System keeps and makes possible the continued closer ties among our family members. Each family has a Chief (Matai), he is a member of the village Council, his County and his District. American Samoa is divided into three (3) Districts namely, Eastern District, Western District and the manu'a District.
These sectors beginning with the Village Council with its 'pulenuu' (most times a lesser chief in the village), County with a Faalupega, many times a Matai of high ranking, then District with a District Governor appointed by the Governor, customarily from amongst the High or Paramount Chiefs, and headed by the Secretary of Samoan Affairs (job established during the Naval Administration, then held by a ‘papalagi') (literally means caucasian but usually refers to an American) said job is presently held by High Chief Leiato who was also appointed by the Governor constitute the Department of Samoan Affairs under the immediate jurisdiction of the Governor of American Samoa.
It is universally believed by our people that the election of our two top executive posts will not hinder one iota our faa-Samoa, but will enhance, promote and preserve the same.
Elections of public officials in American Samoa, like any other American city or State, depend upon proper timing, favorable circumstances and backing to the winning candidate. We have had and are experiencing in our legislative elections and how in one recent election true democratic elections of free choice by the people of their best candidate. Our faa-Samoa plays an important and vital part in these results because of the respect we each share for one another, be such person a Paramount Chief, a lesser matai, a woman, a man or a child.
Examination of the two measures' now publicly discussed by this Sub-Committee of the House of Representatives on Territorial and Insular Affairs, firstly HR 11523 introduced by Mr. Burton, and secondly HIR 12493 by Mr. Matsunaga, we find only one (1) basic difference in their contents, i.e., line 9 on page 2 of the bills. Mr. Burton uses the term ELECTED while Mr. Matsunaga uses the term NOMINATED. Though I have legal training myself, my limited knowledge of the law cannot be compared with the vast, extensive and intelligence of the legal minds who prepared these measures. The terms however different, if there is any such difference, the meaning and impact are similar and are well explained in the contents and intents of the measures.
May I respectfully request the Honorable Members of this Committee to refer to line 11 on page 2 of the two measures. They provide : (sentence begins from line 8)
"The Governor and the Lieutenant Governor shall be elected (nominated) by a majority of the votes cast by the people who are qualified to vote for the members of the Legislature of American Samoa.” (emphasis provided)
I do not really surmise any problem or difficulty since this difficulty is resolved in the last sentence of the bills. However, as you all know, the members to the House of Representatives of our Fono are popularly elected every two years. Article II, Sec. 4 of the Revised Constitution of American Samoa provides :
"Representatives shall be chosen by secret ballot of the qualified electors of their respective representative districts."
The term 'elector' is defined in our RCAS Article II, Sec. 7:
“Qualifications of electors: Every person of the age of 18 years or upwards who is a United States national and who has lived in American Samoa for a total of at least two years and has been a bona fide resident of the election district where he offers to vote for at least one year next preceding the election and who meets such registration requirements as may be prescribed by law shall be deemed a qualified elector at such election.
The Senators to our legislature however are elected in accordance with our Samoan custom (faa-Samoa). Article II, Sec. 4 of the RCAS provides :
"Senators shall be elected in accordance with Samoan custom by the county councils of the counties they are to represent, .."
Our Delegate-at-Large, by statute, is elected similar to elections of Members to the House of Representatives, i.e., by popular vote with one exception that House Members hold their offices for a two-year term, while the Delegate-atLarge holds his office for a term of four years.
With your kind permission and indulgence, may I respectfully and humbly request that these measures be slightly changed in this one sentence only, to-read :
(Beginning from end of line 8, page 2)
"The Governor and the Lieutenant Governor shall be nominated (elected) by a majority of the votes cast by the people who are qualified to vote for the Members of the House of Representatives of the Legislature of American Samoa, except that the Governor and Lieutenant Governor shall hold office for a term of four years. Dated this 23rd day of March, 1972, Washington, D.C. Respectfully submitted,
Ivi S. PELE, American Samoa.
Mr. PELE. Chairman Aspinall, and Congressman Vigorito we had the pleasure of meeting before coming in this morning, and the Honorable Member from California.
The issue before the subcommittee is whether or not the people of American Samoa may be permitted to elect their own Governor and Lieutenant Governor. That is in effect changing the present act which was passed in 1929 giving the President the right to select what he feels best for the Civil Government of American Samoa in return and in turn the President has first designated the Military and Naval Administration from 1900 to 1950.
Then later on by Executive order that change is now designated to the jurisdiction of the Interior Department.
The highlights of my comments to the members of the committee supporting and endorsing these two measures by the chairman and by our good friend from Hawaii, Hon. Sparky Matsunaga, is that we feel and I don't think I am alone in sharing that opinion, that we have and are prepared and are ready at this time and at this stage to administer the affairs of our own people.
In support of such, on page 4 of my statement I have outlined seven or eight reasons why such steps are proper at this time. For over 72 years the relationships between this Government, this great country, and our people, have been excellent. There hasn't been any one single disturbing incident in the 72 years of relationship.
In 1948, I believe, or 1947, we established and organized our Fono, our legislature, and from that time on our people, our legislators, enacted the laws that our people are now operating under.
In 1950, the changeover from the Military or Naval Administration to the Interior Department, still the relationships between this great country and our people continue to be in excellent state.
Then in 1960 the people of American Samoa met, drafted, prepared and passed a constitution. Said constitution was later on approved by the Interior Secretary.
In 1967, again our people met and passed the revised constitution of American Samoa which to this very moment is in full force and effect.
Part of the preamble of said constitution reads as follows, and if I may be permitted to-I have a copy of our constitution, and the third “whereas of the constitution provides:
Whereas, it is appropriate that in the process of developing self-government the people of American Samoa should enjoy certain rights and responsibilities inherent in the representative form of government.
And may I stress "representative form of government” means gentlemen, that we and the honorable lady from Hawaii, that we elect our own Governor.
In 1970 our Fono, as the other witnesses informed the honorable members of this committee, our Fono became an independent legislative body. Prior to 1970 Samoans who were also employees of the government of American Samoa were permitted to be members and serve in the legislature. At that time approximately 80 percent of the 38 representatives and senators in the legislature also held jobs in various capacities with the government.
It is noted, however, that of the house of representatives, all of the members resigned their government jobs, and many times the wages were much higher than the $6,000 now being compensated to the members of the legislature. All of the members who held government jobs resigned and became full legislators.
In the senate all but three resigned and became full-time Senators.
Also in 1970, election by popular vote of the first American Samoan delegate-at-large, a high chief, a Samoan, in the person of Paramount Chief Fuimaono, we now have and enjoy closer relations with Congress, and since the establishment of the-of Chief Fuimaono's office in Washington, we are being considered and included in many of the Federal programs and grants.
The election by popular vote of the delegate-at-large I think symbolizes and indicates our appreciation and the knowledge of the Samoan people and respect for a representative form of government.
May I again refer the honorable members to the Political Status Commission report in which Senator Salanoa was the chairman and this report was unanimously approved by the legislature, and I have a full copy of that report which I respectfully urge the chairman to put into the record.
But on page 31 of that report
Mr. BURTON. Without objection, this report shall be made a part of the printed record.
Mr. PELE. Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
Mr. PELE. Beginning on page 1 of that report they talk of the disadvantages of the present system of government in American Samoa. No. 1, and I quote:
It may be argued that a major disadvantage of the present system is that it is not truly democratic.
The senate is chosen from the ranks of registered Matai's and a number of other officials, from the Governor and chief justice on down appointed by persons not responsible to the Samoan electorate.
2. The report says: At this time all civil, judicial and military power in American Samoa is vested in the Secretary of the Interior. It is he, not the President or Congress who approved the present constitution of American Samoa and presumably he could alter the present form of government by decree.
And it goes on, it names six different reasons. One of them, the present system, is essentially colonial, one of the reasons the Secretary of the Interior may hire and fire without consulting the very people whose daily lives are affected by his decision.
No. 6, the present practice of appointing top officials gives rise to many potential abuses of the principle that power should be separated, checked, and balanced.
In reference to the measures, the actual measures now before the honorable members, one submitted by the chairman and by our good friend from Hawaii, Hon. Sparky Matsunaga, there is only one basic difference. The word appearing in line 9-Mr. Matsunaga's bill used the term "nominated” where Mr. Burton's bill used the term "elected" which in my humble opinion does not bear any distinctive difference.
But the point, and I wish to specifically stress to the members of the committee, the point is on line 11 of page 2 of the measures beginning, the sentence beginning on line 8:
The Governor and the Lieutenant Governor shall be elected by a majority of the votes cast by the people who are qualified to vote for the members of the Legislature of American Samoa.
The question, the obvious question arises, since the House is popularly elected and the Senate is chosen by our chiefs among the councils and among the counties, there might be some confusion because of the different form of elections in the two houses, and with your kind permission I have suggested a brief amendment to that particular sentence and hopefully to read:
The Governor and the Lieutenant Governor shall be nominated by a majority of votes cast by the people who are qualified to vote for the members of the House of Representatives of the Legislature of American Samoa, except that the Governor and the Lieutenant Governor shall hold office for a term of 4 years.
The reasoning behind that is the difference in form of elections.
I want to thank the chairman and members of the committee for the privilege and the opportunity to appear before you and express my views in reference to the measures now being considered.
Mr. BURTON. Thank you very much for your very thoughtful, tightly reasoned statement.
With the indulgence of the subcommittee, we have three more witnesses. The House will be going into session in 14 minutes. I would request that the witnesses be as concise as possible.
Mr. BURTON. We will now hear from Mr. Tiapula.
STATEMENT OF FIA T. S. TIAPULA Mrs. MINK (now presiding). Will you proceed?
Mr. TIAPULA. Mr. Chairman, menibers of the House Subcommittee on Territories, my name is Fia T. S. Tiapula. I am an educator by profession. Presently I am employed in the Holt public schools and Lansing School District as a teacher and coordinator respectively. I was born and raised in American Samoa during the first 20 years of my life until I came to the United States for educational purposes in 1960. Since then I had been to American Samoa for a period of 2 years during which time I actively participated in carrying out the objectives of the educational television programs of the department of education. In line with my profession, I am undertaking graduate work at Michigan State University toward the degrees of education specialist and doctorate in the areas of continuing and higher education. I am a resident of Lansing, Mich., and have made my home in this area since 1968; however, I am planning to return to American Samoa in the spring of 1975.
Before I go any further, I must point out that I “do not” represent any organized group or political faction of the people of American Samoa. The ideas, suggestions, and conclusions I have formed and are being presented within this statement are the results of the informal, spur-of-the-moment conversations with my wife (a native of Dodge City, Kans.), who is also an educator by profession; friends and acquaintances who have heard or read about the Samoan Islands, and those who had, for various reasons, come in contact with the people of American Samoa ; and finally, those friends and acquaintances who have never heard of and about American Samoa except the awareness that a portion of their taxes are being used to help support some underdeveloped countries or peoples of the world. By and large I have looked at American Samoa both subjectively as a Samoan and objectively as an outsider.
Concerning the pending bill H.R. 12493, I believe that Mr. Matsunaga has taken upon himself to do something about the unfavorable conditions existing in American Samoa. Generally, some of these conditions include the insuflicient water supply (in spite of the 200 inches of rainfall per year average), inadequate electrical power supply, poor means of communication and transportation, and an obsolete educational system which serves only a very small minority of the people of American Samoa. Furthermore the Washington-appointed officials (administrators) have continually used the native Samoans, especially the traditional chiefs, as puppets and figureheads in order to camouflage the true nature of their actions. One of the most critical situations in American Samoa is the fact that the United States has been playing the mother-role so completely that overdependency is a reality, one which is now thwarting any effort by the people of American Samoa to exist as a distinct and different society of human beings. For those who are overly suspicious of Matsunaga's motive or motives in introducing the bill II.R. 12193, my response is that: Even the official daily news bulletin of the Government of American Samoa is filled with negative attributes and pessimism in relation to the fulfillment of the purposes, goals, and objectives of the sponsors in Washington, D.C., as well as the merits of the present administration's achievements in American Samoa.