MISS SAMOA TURNS IN CROWN

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Pomele complains of poor treatment

By Jasmine Netzler-Iose APIA, Samoa (Samoa Observer, Feb. 10, 2010) - Miss Samoa Tusisaleia Hope Pomele has resigned.

She is the second title holder to resign.

Miss Pomele expressed multiple reasons behind her decision but they included; her Samoan identity has raised queries from Samoa Tourism Authority (STA) individuals.

"It seems my suitability is being questioned in an offensive and disrespectful manner, which I am unable to work with," she said.

"On numerous occasions since my verbal consent to take on the role of Miss Samoa; I have requested a thorough overview of my contract as Miss Samoa, to have only delayed appointments."

Miss Pomele said she has sought nothing of the role than to serve and represent Samoa.

"I have never asked to be compensated or rewarded for my participation in the Miss South Pacific Pageant; but have to the best of my ability exerted all that I could physically, socially, mentally offer as a descendant of Samoa," she said.

She also alleged, "I feel that that my ability to serve my country as a proud Samoan is not supported by the administrators of the Miss Samoa title".

"Having discussed these issues with my family in the USA, American Samoa, and Samoa; they wholeheartedly agree with my decision to withdraw from any commitment towards acting as Miss Samoa 2009-2010."

She said this does not mean that she has given up but that she has moved on.

"This is not a fall (for STA) but perhaps a way that will improve on the issues that I have expressed," Miss Pomele said.

She defended her actions. "I wish to point out that as a patriotic Samoan, I was assisting with tsunami relief through my participation in relief drives in Hawaii, and through my return to Samoa to work in the outpatient clinic in the Moto’otua Hospital.

"On the resignation of Jacinta Bourne, I did not hesitate to offer my services to fill in the gap for the Miss South Pacific Pageant at extremely short notice without prior conditions."

She expressed disappointment also in regards to how hard it was for her to return to Samoa.

"Upon my allowance to return home for the holidays to my mother in Hawaii, I have struggled to contract the STA for guidance in my attempt to return to our country of Samoa on January 15, 2010.

"The lack of support and communication on behalf of the STA, along with sudden questioning by the STA to verify my family roots in Falefa, Samoa has led to a month long delay in my return and the mistrust of my family towards the STA.

Miss Pomele said when she finally returned she was left alone at the Fagalii flats, with unsanitary water conditions, no phone, no food, no curtains, no transport, no drinking water.

"This is after asking representatives from the Samoa Tourism Authority about my preparation in transitioning from Hawaii to Samoa," she said.

"I was notified and misled to believe all living accommodation was funded and cared for by the Samoa Tourism Authority," she said.

Miss Pomele said after she examined her contract given to her Monday by the STA, it appeared that the delay had created a discrepancy in their contract for the title of Miss Samoa.

She said her wardrobe would be returned to the STA and all expenses of her return shall be at the cost of her family alone.

"I ask that the money that was rightfully rewarded from the Miss South Pacific Pageant be invested in the Motootua Hospital: a total of US$450.

"I refuse any back pay, any money, any rewards but to leave you Samoa with my reasoning for leaving this title," Miss Pomele said.

"I wish the Samoa Tourism Authority all the best in their future endeavors, and would like to thank them and you the people of Samoa for my experiences as Miss Samoa 2009-2010."

General Manager of Samoa Tourism Authority, Matatamalii Sonya Hunter said they are regretful that Miss Pomele has resigned from her role.

"But we wish her all the luck."

Matatamalii however said the matter is one of miscommunication and that different authorities have different processes.

But said STA did not raise any questions to Miss Pomele’s Samoan roots or identity but the fact that in regards with immigration processes to gain an exemption STA is required to pass in evidence of Samoan connections.

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