Tonga PM To Students: Learn From Samoa’s Development

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Pohiva is attending Independence celebrations in Apia

By Taina Kami Enoka

APIA, Samoa (Samoa Observer, June 1, 2015) – Prime Minister ‘Akilisi Pohiva urged Tongan students to take their learning skills beyond the classroom to the people, government and Samoa, before returning home.

Mr Pohiva, who is in Samoa for the Independence celebrations, attended a Tongan service at the University of the South Pacific campus at Alafua, yesterday. He was accompanied by the Minister of Agriculture and Fisheries, Dr Semisi Fakahau, Chief Secretary to Cabinet, Dr Palenitina Langaoi and Deputy CEO of Agriculture and Fisheries, Nunia Mone.

After the service, Mr Pohiva spoke in Tongan to the congregation.

His last visit to Samoa was in 1963, as a second year student at the Tonga Teacher’s College.

"That was many years ago. I can’t remember what Apia was like then."

But this trip to Samoa has blown him away.

From their arrival at Faleolo International Airport to the Tanoa Tusitala Hotel in Apia, Mr Pohiva talked about how impressed he is with the cleanliness of Samoa, the beauty of the gardens, the friendliness of the people and the quality of the service offered at the hotel.

On Saturday, the Tongan delegation also watched the fautasi race.

And his experience here so far has got him thinking. Historically, this country was ruled by Tongans until they were chased out by the Malietoa.

"Back then, from what I understand, the Tongans were stronger, powerful and determined. They travelled and lived and ruled here for many years. They also occupied the Eastern part of Fiji for many years and other areas of the region were visited by our forefathers."

Samoa and where it is today, Mr Pohiva said, has a reflection on the leaders and the way the government is run as that is the foundation of the development of this country.

The Tongan students were urged to bring back the qualities on which the foundation of Tonga was built as it was woven with the willpower of the Tongan people and its leaders, just like that of their ancestors.

Mr Pohiva recalled that in the late 1970’s or early 1980s, the Samoan Tala was of little value. Today, Samoa tells a different story and has left Tonga way behind.

"I’m sorry to have to say this but based on what I have seen so far in Samoa, I am being very frank with you. I am old and for the many years I have served in Parliament, throughout the different governments in power, up until now and I come here and am heavy hearted in seeing how fast Samoa has grown and left us behind. And it's not by any small measure. There’s a huge difference! Tonga has the potential in its people, the knowledge, the education and skills. Tonga also has resources such as land.

"I am asking you, why? What has our country lost? There is something missing! And I believe it is our love for our country, our patriotism, our sacrifice for the sake of our country.

"I leave you with that for when you return to Tonga, don’t just learn in the classroom.

Look around you and observe how things are done in Government, the people ... that’s what we must learn from! I tell you, I have learnt so much and it’s really gotten to me how behind we are."

Mr Pohiva is here on a personal invitation by Prime Minister Tuilaepa Sa’ilele Malielegaoi. The Tongan delegation return to Tonga tomorrow.

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