SAMOA CHURCHES UNITED AGAINST CASINO PROPOSAL

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Pastors meet with Prime Minister to voice concerns

By Marieta Heidi Ilalio APIA, Samoa (Samoa Observer, May 2, 2010) – In Samoa, the National Council of Churches (NCC) has met face to face with Prime Minister Tuilaepa Sa’ilele Malielegaoi to voice its concerns regarding the casino bill.

[PIR editor’s note: The people of Samoa are deeply religious and have incorporated their Christian beliefs with their traditional way of life or the fa’a Samoa and the government. Both their religion and ancient beliefs are highly respected by the people and government.]

NCC chairman Rev. Elder Oka Fauolo said they decided to meet face to face and stop writing letters.

"This is a better idea just to give a better understanding to the Prime Minister on why the NCC is against the bill and the reasons for that," Rev. Oka said.

He said the explanation given by Tuilaepa is that he will discuss the NCC’s concerns with the Cabinet before a final decision is made.

"I know the government makes the decision on this, but at least we, the NCC, have voiced our concerns and explained why the church is against it," Rev. Oka said.

Rev Oka said the PM will inform the NCC on the decision on the bill before it goes through Parliament.

Another NCC board member, Deacon Kasiano Leaupepe, said all members and representatives of different churches in Samoa will meet again with the Prime Minister on Wednesday to express their views.

"It’s a good opportunity for different denominations to voice their concerns on why they are against this bill," Deacon Leaupepe said.

"The government already gave an explanation on why this bill was introduced into Parliament and the need to push Samoa’s economy through gambling."

Deacon Leaupepe said the explanation in the PM’s letter is clear that the bill is aimed purely at visitors and not our local people.

"There is also a policy to make sure none of the local people are involved in this way of gambling," Leaupepe said.

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