|Pacific Islands Development Program, East-West Center
With Support From Center for Pacific Islands Studies, University of Hawai‘i
Samoa Village Mayor Not Told About Casino Plans
Tafa says proposed site belongs to Catholic Church
By Lanuola Tupufia
APIA, Samoa (Samoa Observer, Feb. 24, 2013) – The pulenu’u (mayor) of Mulivai, Safata, Tafa Aukusitino has not been consulted about the Samoan Government’s plan to allow a Chinese company to build a casino on 500 acres in their village.
Asked by the Samoa Observer on Saturday if he was excited about the prospect of jobs and having such a large tourism property in their midst, Tafa said yes.
“Some people don’t really support it but I feel that there will be benefits for us in terms of jobs,” he said. “I guess the hotel and casino will prevent our people from going overseas to find employment.”
But the village mayor was somewhat baffled as to how such a plan could gain so much momentum with consultation with himself or the Village Council.
He said he has only heard about the Casino on TV.
“We haven’t met (with the Chinese company),” he said. “There’s been talk about a casino being built in our village. Our villagers only saw it on television but we haven’t been officially informed.
“We haven’t had any negotiation with the company.”
The pulenu’u said the company might have met with “Leota Su’atele” but “they haven’t met with us and we haven’t had a village meeting about it.”
It was not possible to obtain a comment from Leota Su’atele yesterday.
According to the village mayor, however, the 500 acres of land which the Casino will be built on belongs to the Roman Catholic Church.
“The land was leased by Hide Away but it belongs to the Catholic Church,” he said. “It’s been years since the land has been used. It runs all the way to the neighboring Coconut Beach Resort.
“All that’s left on the land are empty houses but no one else lives further down that way.”
While there are different views among villagers about the casino, the village mayor supports it because of “employment benefits to our children.
Concerns about the criminal aspects of Casinos do not worry Tafa.
“Mulivai is governed and protected by the Ali’i ma Faipule and any villager who will commit a crime will be punished by the village council,” he said.
“We have one church in our village and everyone is to comply with church rules every Sunday.”
During a recent interview, Prime Minister Tuilaepa Sa’ilele Malielegaoi said the company has met the village and they have agreed.
“Mulivai, Safata is the place,” he said. “The five hundred acres has already been discussed and agreed to.”
Samoa Observer: www.samoaobserver.ws/