SAMOA CELEBRATES TIME ZONE SHIFT

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PM touts benefits of ‘momentous occasion’

By Jasmine Netzler-Iose

APIA, Samoa (Samoa Observer, Dec. 30, 2011) – Government ushered in Samoa’s new time zone with prayer, song and fireworks at its Mt Vaea Prayer house just before midnight, last night.

The "momentous and well noted occasion" was attended by Head of State, His Highness Tui Atua Tupua Tamasese Efi, Prime Minister Tuilaepa Sa’ilele Malielegaoi, Cabinet Ministers, Members of Parliament and many guests.

Prime Minister Tuilaepa said the change means Friday – which is supposed to be today – has disappeared from this year’s calendar. Samoa is now aligned with New Zealand and Australia in terms of having the same days. It means Samoa now has five days to do business with these countries, the Prime Minister said.

[PIR editor’s note: Several sources have noted that the New Zealand self-administering territory of Tokelau followed Samoa’s lead by switching its time zone as well.]

"Tonight is a momentous and noteworthy occasion that will be documented and recorded in the history of Samoa," he said.

"It alters the typical number of days and weeks observed worldwide and in Samoa."

Tuilaepa insisted that the change would benefit the people of Samoa. It means there would no longer be travel issues related to different time zones. Tuilaepa said the switch also reverses a decision made 120 years to move to the east of the international dateline because most of Samoa’s trading partners at the time.

He pointed to the young people of Samoa to take up the opportunity as a chance for new developments so that they can prosper and grow.

"May God be gracious on Samoa!"

The prayer service was conducted by Rev Afamasaga Mautofu Fuimaono.

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