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DEMOCRATIC PARTY OF AMERICAN SAMOA RESOLUTION
SUPPORTING AND ENDORSING THE BILL BY CONGRESSMAN PHILLIP BURTON, CHAIRMAN
OF THE SUBCOMMITTEE ON TERRITORIAL AND INSULAR AFFAIRS, U.S. CONGRESS, TO PERMIT THE PEOPLE OF AMERICAN SAMOA TO ELECT THEIR OWN GOVERNOR AND LIEUTENANT GOVERNOR IN 1972
WHEREAS, American Samoa was ceded to the United States of America in 1900, and Congress of the United States in the Act of February 20, 1929 provided that until Congress shall provide for the Government of the islands of American Samoa, all civil, judicial, and military powers shall be vested in such person or persons and exercised in such manner as the President of the United States shall direct; and
WHEREAS, by Executive Order, the President of the United States directed that the Secretary of the Interior should take such action as may be necessary and appropriate and in harmony with applicable law, for the administration of civil government in American Samoa ; and
WHEREAS, the People of American Samoa, first in 1960 and then in 1966 adopted the Constitution of American Samoa, and same was duly approved by the Secretary of the Interior, said Constitution in part provides that the People of this Territory has the right to assemble; and
WHEREAS, early in 1968, the Democratic Party of American Samoa was founded and established and its Constitution duty written and executed and became effective July 2, 1968 wherein it incorporates the basic principles of American philosophy of government; and
WHEREAS, said principles provides for the promulgation of popular control of government in that her citizens participate more meaningfully in the social, economic and political welfare of her own government, and the realization of that basic American and democratic principle of "self-determination"; and
WHEREAS, the People of American Samoa, for the past seventy-one (71) years, have served the Government of the United States faithfully; that the relations, be it governmental, social or economic between the two countries have heen excellent, and that the People of American Samoa hold in highest esteem the People of the United States; and
WHEREAS, many Samoans, young and old, have graduated from many colleges and universities in the United States, and return to Samoa serving in various capacities in the government and in private enterprises ; that they are well qualified, capable, willing and able to assume full responsibilities in administering the affairs of their own government; and
WHEREAS, the Future Political Status Commission, created by our Legislature (Fono) consisting of Samoans only, in its Report to the Eleventh Legislature, recommends that the People of American Samoa elect their own Governor and Lieut. Governor, said recommendation was unanimously approved and passed by the Fono; and
WHEREAS, in recognition of such, the Honorable Congressman Phillip Burton of California, the Honorable Congresswomen Patsy T. Mink of Hawaii, and the Honorable Congressman N. J. Begich of Alaska, introduced and sponsored a legislation, H.R. No. 11523, before Congress to allow the People of American Samoa to elect their own Governor and Lieut. Governor; and
WHEREAS, in full support of such, the Democratic Party of American Samoa in its General Meeting held December 7th, 1971, by acclamation, unanimously endorsed said legislation ; Now, therefore
BE IT RESOLVED by the Democratic Party of American Samoa that the Bill hereinabove referred to, H.R. 11523, popularly known as the BURTON BILL, that the same be and is hereby fully supported and endorsed by the local Democrats; that the Honorable Congressmen Burton and Begich, the Honorable Congresswoman Mink and Colleagues are hereby especially commended for in sponsoring this important legislation for the People of American Samoa ; the local Democrats herein pledged their full and complete support and shall do whatever is possible, necessary and required to make possible passage of this legislation in Congress at the earliest time next year.
BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that copies of this Resolution be forthwith suh. mitted to Congressmen Burton and Begich, Congresswoman Mink, to all friends of the Samoan people in Congress including the Honorable Wayne N. Aspinall, Chairman of the Committee on Interior Insular Affairs, House of Representatives,
and the Honorable Senator Henry (Scoop) Jackson, Chairman of the Committee on Interior Insular Affairs, United States Senate; to the Honorable Senators Inouye and Fong, to the Honorable Congressman Spark Matsunaga, all of the Brother-State of Hawaii, by airmail special delivery, and/or hand-carried by a selected Delegation of the local Democratic Party when such Bill is ready to be introduced on the Floors of the House and Senate, Congress of the United States, Washington, D.C.
Dated this 14th day of December, 1971.
TIMA Ma'o, Chairman.
National Committeewoman. LUTU, TENARI S. FUIMAONO,
STATEMENT OF FAINUULELEI S. UTU OF AMERICAN SAMOA I am deeply grateful to the members of the subcommittee and its honorable chairman, Congressman Burton, for being afforded this opportunity to express my views on HR 11523 introduced by Chairman Burton and HR 12493 introduced by the Honorable Spark Matsunaga of Hawaii. Although I am Speaker of the House of Representatives, I deem it more fitting to address you as a private citizen and to let SCR No. 39, adopted at the January 1972 session of the Samoan Legislature, speak for itself. That resolution has been forwarded to this committee and presumably is already a part of the record. It expresses the enthusiastic support of the Legislature of American Samoa to Congressman Matsunaga's bill.
The Political Status Study Commission appointed by the Governor in its report issued in February of 1970 recommended that the people of American Samoa elect their own governor. I had the honor of being a member of that commission. In considering this issue there are some who have questioned taking this step by references to “sufficient maturity" and "qualified candidates.” To me, this is contrary not only to the ofttimes expressed policy of the United States in the field of foreign relations but aiso to statements repeatedly made by prior chief executives and the present administration of the Government of American Samoa. This policy emphasizes the right of self-determination as its cornerstone. Obviously, political maturity is a helpful attribute in a government of any form be it municipal, state or national and the more qualified candidates who are available the better are the prospects for a successful administration. But these have never been made the prime requisite. This has always remained the right of selfdetermination as desired by the people themselves.
However, for those who would seek to avoid the issue of self-determination by questioning the political maturity of the electorate in American Samoa or the qualifications of available candidates, let me point out that our people have a tradition of popular election, established through the election of members of the House of Representatives and, most recently, by the territory-wide election of our delegate to Washington. Furthermore, I submit that among those who have served in the Legislature, as well as among those Samoans who have held high posts in the Executive Branch, are many men with backgrounds and experience well-suited to prepare them for the post of Governor.
In expressing these views, I am confident that while I do not presume to speak for our Governor or for the Department of Interior that nevertheless, they support the right of self-determination, as frequently enunciated by President Viron's administration, with the same amount of enthusiasm as do I. As a private citizen and a Samoan national by birth, it gives me a feeling of deep satisfaction to know that we are thus all working together for the ultimate good of our people not as an ethnic group located on some distant island but as true Americans fully committed to American standards and policies.
Our ship of state in American Samoa, after many trials and storms has at last embarked upon a course of smooth sailing. It is the desire of no one that this course be interrupted or troubled. To this end policies and goals already in effect should continue to be implemented and the momentum which we have achieved should be continued. I do not believe that a change in personnel would in any way interrupt our progress or defeat the many gains which we have already made. Too many Samoans are caught up in the spirit of achievement for any such retrogression to occur.
It would also be wise to consider the effect that electing our own governor would have on the other nations of the world and our neighbors in the South Pacific area. We are the only United States possession south of the Equator and the Congress, by passing Mr. Burton's or Mr. Matsunaga's bill, would once again demonstrate for all the world to see that the commitment of the American people to the concept of self-determination, freedom of choice and democratic ideas is still very much alive.
It would be singularly unfortunate if my remarks or the remarks of any others appearing before you or the resolution adopted by our Legislature were to be taken as dissatisfaction or criticism of our present administration. During the 6 years of his administration, Governor Lee started the ball rolling. Governors Aspi. nall and Coleman contributed their share. And during the past 3 years of Governor John M. Haydon's administration we have made more progress than ever before. In fact, is because of the magnificent record of Governor Haydon that I am confident we can proceed to the election of our own governor. The momentum that he has achieved would certainly not be interrupted by any change in our leadership. Policies and goals have been fixed and we stand behind our governor in our dedication to the ultimate achievement of all these goals.
Again, please accept my thanks for permitting me to express my views and I respectfully request that this statement be made a part of the record.
STATEMENT OF TAGALOA M. TUIOLOSEGA, DISTRICT No. 2, LEGISLATURE OF
AMERICAN SAMOA, PAGO PAGO, AMERICAN SAMOA
1. Because this is the wish of the people, through the Legislature of American Samoa, (FONO), on SCR-39 passed by both houses last month in support of Matsunaga legislation H.R. 12493, introduced in Congress on January 19, 1972.
2. The Democratic Party of American Samoa already passed a Resolution in support of the Matsunaga Bill.
3. The Republican Party of American Samoa also passed a Resolution supporting the Matsunaga Bill.
4. The majority of the traditional leaders support this legislation.
5. This measure was recommended by the Future Political Status Study Commission on its report to the Fono on February 9, 1970. The members of this commission included Paramount Chiefs Le’iato Tuli and Rapi Sotoa and other High Chiefs and High Talking Chiefs.
6. The Government is in favor of this move. On the opening of the Fono in February, 1970, the Governor indicated in his address that he hoped that he would be the last appointed or palagi Governor. This is a strong indication that the Samoan people are capable of electing its own officials.
American Samoa would never be able to carry the full responsibility of government until the United States is willing to give American Samoa this full responsibility. For the past 72 years American Samoa enjoyed the benefits derived from the guidance of the United States through the Department of the Navy and the Department of the Interior, not only the financial aid but the guidance toward self-governing and self-determination. For the past 72 years the United States, through the two above Departments, cared for American Samoa and its people, taught us how to run good government. The Legislature of American Samoa (Fono), was then established during the Navy Administration in 1947 and was first called the House of Alii. This name was later changed to call the Legislature of American Samoa and received full recognition when the first “Constitution of American Samoa” was approved in 1960. This Legislative body continued to function effectively as the representative of the people up to this day. Thanks largely to the guidance of the Department of the Interior. Therefore, after 72 years of tutoring and caring American Samoa should have already reached maturity and should have the right to decide for herself what type of government and future political status she wants. The "Future Political Status Studs Commission” created by the Eleventh Legislature of American Samoa submitted their report to the Fono dated February 9, 1970, one of its recommendations is :
“The people of American Samoa must elect their own Governor". The question is not whether the people are “ready" to elect their own governor, but rather whether they desire to elect their own Governor. If the people desire to elect a man Governor, that is sufficient justification for his holding the post. In most instances, the right man will be elected. To continue to impose a governor on the people of American Samoa is to perpetuate an unnecessary and outdated policy, known in other areas of the world as 'Colonialism'.
An elected governor will be a man who is a resident of the territory, rather than an outsider. A resident of the territory is familiar with its problems, and need not waste time or money trying to understand them. Time and time again, Samoans have witnessed their governors tackle the same problems without ever achieving a solution. Other times, a man is not even in the job long enough to become aware of Samoa's problems, before he is replaced-usually for political considerations.
The stop and start nature of city traffic is a close approximation of American Samoa's development. One Governor is a mover, another may be famous for slowing down. There is no sustained forward progress-again because the new man lacks knowledge of what took place before he assumed office. A locally-elected Governor would have the great advantage of familiarity with Samoa and Samoan culture as a basis upon which to make decisions.
Who decides whether or not the Governor of American Samoa is performing well? Under the present system, he is responsible to one man only, and that man is 8,000 miles away. The Governor need only to concern with that one man's desires. What about 30,000 or more people that he is supposed to govern? They should be the judges of his performance because they are in the best position to judge him.
In the transition of American Samoa to a truly democratic society, a local person as Governor will be able to ease the inevitable jolts and shocks. He is in a position to understand local customs and traditions and can provide his own people with the type of guidance that carries with it sympathy and understanding.
It has been argued that no Samoans are ready to be Governor-even if this were true (and we do not believe it is) the most important consideration is the desire of the people to elect their own Governor, not the number of college degrees their Governor might hold. It might be pointed out that not all Governors of American Samoa have been college educated, and that there is a large and growing pool of American Samoans who hold college degrees. It should also be remembered that a Samoan, Peter Tali Coleman, has already been Governor.
One of the arguments against local election of a Governor is that he will play favorites and place all his relatives in jobs. This is a natural tendency which will never be eliminated altogether. But there is a better chance of controlling nepotism if the Governor were elected locally, for the local people can perceive and respond to such actions at the next election. Under the present system there is no Constitutional or legal restriction on the Governor's power to appoint his own men to key positions.
There is also a school of thought that American Samoa must learn to crawl before she can walk. These people suggest that Samoa must follow the pattern established by other territories whereby a Governor is appointed from the local population rather than from the U.S. mainland, before the governor is elected locally. Why waste time crawling if you can walk already? If a local person is going to be Governor, it is far better to have him elected than to have him appointed.
Even if the idea of an elected governor is accepted immediately, the earliest it can possibly be put into effect is 1974 or 1976. If the territory continues to change at the present rate, it will be a different place by them. Samoans will be increasingly well educated and politically sophisticated.
Finally, the objection that a territorial governor must be responsible to Congress, since Congress controls the purse-strings, is not valid. Would an elected governor do anything so irresponsible as to insure the end of federal support for his people? If Congress does not approve of an elected Governor's actions, it need only withdraw the support without which American Samoa would not be able to effectively function.
The Political Status Study Commission report was unanimously passed by the Fono during the 11th Legislature.
The above report was also unanimously approved by the Special Committee of the Legislature for Future Political Status which toured the South Pacific region, including Australia, New Zealand, Noumea, New Guinea, Fiji, Tonga and Western Samoa, in October, 1971.
The election of the Governor and Lieutenant Governor for American Samoa is in tune with the time. It is the policy of the United States to assist the developing nations reach their ultimate goal of self-governing and self-determination. It is the American ideal to have the indigenous people decide their own destiny and govern their own government, with the guidance and assistance of the United States. American Samoa would never achieve full democratic government without election of its own Governor. The Samoan eople through the democratic system have been electing their legislative representatives in the House of Representatives for years and this democratic system has been and still working very well. In 1970, American Samoa elected its first Delegate-atLarge to Washington through popular election and this democratic system worked very well. It works in the United States and all over and it should work very well in American Samoa.
I would certainly urge Congress as a legislative representative of the people of District No. 2, to pass this life saving legislation for American Samoa. This will be a milestone for our people.
PAGO PAGO, TUTUILA, AMERICAN SAMOA,
March 17, 1972. Hon. PHILLIP BURTON, Chairman, Subcommittee on Interior & Insular Affairs, House of Represent
atives, U.S. Congress, Washington, D.C. MY DEAR MR. CHAIRMAN:1, High Chief Orator, Mulitauaopele (Pele) Tamotu, hereby testified that my grand-father, Pele was among the leading traditional leaders who ceded American Samoa to the United States. Pele duly signed the "Instrument of Cession" on April 17, 1900, in the presence of, and at the request of, Chiefs and Representatives of the Counties of Sua and Vaifanua in Tutuila in conformity with Samoan Customs.
I, therefore, the present holder of the title, PELE, for and on behalf of the people of Sua County, that we fully support the Matsunaga Bill to provide for the people of American Samoa to elect their own Governor and Lt. Governor. The l'nited States advocates the policy of democratic representative governments and American Samoa should have received this type government already.
I have been representing my County, Sua as a Senator in the Legislature of American Samoa (FONO), for over twenty five (25) years. I therefore am in the position to know our government, and certainly urge passage of this measure. I request your committee to consider this measure favorably. Very truly yours,
MULITAUAOPELE (PELE) TAMOTU, High Chief Orator & Traditional Leader, County of SUA.
Pago PAGO, AMERICAN SAMOA,
March 10, 1972. To: Congressman Phillip Burton (D. Cal.), Chairman of the Subcommittee on Territories.
From: Leatulua K. Tuufuli, Mayor of Fagatogo Town, American Samoa.
Subject: Electing of a Governor and a Lieutenant Governor for American Samoa.
DEAR MR. PHILLIP BURTON: I am speaking for my town. We have high chiefs and high talking chiefs, and chiefs and taxpayer. Women and boys and girls over 18 years of age. We have over two thousand people 2,000 in this town, and they wants me to let you know what they want.
They don't want to let our Samoan people elected our Governor and a Lieutenant Governor because it is not right. If the United States wants a Samoan Governor, they can pick up one Samoan for a Governor. But the Samoan people can't pick up their own Governor. Right now we have Governor Haydon and everything runs good because anytime we want money, the Governor comes to the White House and request to the Congressmen and the Congressmen give the money. But if we pick our own Governor and he comes to the White House to request the money to run this country, no one cares because he is a Samoan Governor picked by Samoan people.
That is the reason we know our Governor should be picked by the United States of America.