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Lt. Gov. focuses on Admin 2023 priorities beginning with climate change

Gov. Lemanu P. S Mauga (at podium)

Pago Pago, AMERICAN SAMOA — American Samoa is sinking due to the effects of climate change, said Lt Governor Talauega E. . Ale when he spoke before Cabinet yesterday. 

“Climate change is a big priority of the governor and that's why we're talking about building up more windmills for solar farms, a lot of this alternative energy, a lot of activities to protect our island from the impact of climate change,” said Talauega. 

He cited a book from an earlier presentation (an article will be published re the book in a later issue of Samoa News) saying ‘the iceberg is melting’. 

Talauega said it's an allegorical book that talks about a group of people who are on an iceberg that has melted and they are trying to figure out how to survive. 

He said that the governor’s resilience committee is writing a book too, called American Samoa is sinking and it's not allegorical. 

“It’s a reality that's what's happening right now in America Samoa. Our island is sinking as the sea is rising. 

“So that's why the governor has a priority in the area of climate change and that's why he declared and put together a Commission with the focus on efforts to help American Samoa to help fight and to be able to extend our island and keep our island from continuing to sink; to keep our shorelines from being eaten by the waves that are hitting it every day. 

“And that's where infrastructure ties in; that's where the enforcement of our climate and environmental laws are key. 

“We all have a part to play and it's important that we pitch in to make that happen,” said Talauega. 

He also pointed to the drug problem in the territory, which prompted the establishment of a drug Commission.

“[It]… focuses on catching the drug dealers; fixing the drug users and educating our kids never to get involved in drugs.

“This is also a big priority on the governor this year, so let's all work together and let's all make that as a make that a success as we move over to this year into the last year of our administration,” said Talauega.

Talauega earlier on cited that 2022 was a year of many accomplishments by the Lemanu and Talauega Administration.

“This started from yet a successful, yet eventful and full Covid-19 response. I feel grateful and thankful to Attorney General Fainu'ulelei Falefatu Ala'ilima-Utu and Paramount Chief and Secretary of Samoan Affairs, Mauga Tasi Asuega and directors who were there on the frontline to take on the hit and complaints by our people.

“Thank you for shielding me and Governor from all the heat of those complaints — we couldn’t have done it without your support,” he said.

Regarding the Constitutional Convention, Talauega said despite having COVID-19 the government was able to “muscle” through and they were able to do the convention and actually submitted through the midterm election and won five constitutional amendments.

“This is a monumental accomplishment in my book, because it has been many years and we finally saw results.”

He acknowledged the head of the ASG Office of Political Status, Constitutional Review and Federal Relations, Tapaau Dr. Dan Aga and his staff and government officials and directors that were part of this achievement.

“We also experienced many losses this year and of course the loss of a dear friend and colleague Chris King and we also had experienced personal losses dear to us, in the year 2022 and those pain and sufferings stay with us and we hope that with time and support of our fellow directors, we can slowly ensure the move on to bigger and better things,” he said.

The Lt governor also acknowledged the contribution of the Chief of Staff Loa Tauapai Laupola and his team for all the great work they did in the past year to guide the governor for executing many of the mandates they require. 

Gov Lemanu P. S Mauga, whose 62nd birthday was celebrated during the Cabinet meeting, encouraged his Cabinet members to finish the fight strong.

“Today Jan 3, 2022 marks the third year since our administration were sworn into office.” He said from the beginning of their tenure they encountered the difficulty of the COVID-19 pandemic and their leadership decisions were being questioned by the public, “but on behalf of the Lt Governor and I; thank you for your service to the people of American Samoa and the whole world.”

He said when they swore their oath of office on January 3, 2021 they made a commitment to repatriate American Samoans stuck overseas and it was not an easy decision but it was a something that had to be done.

“This decision led to a mountain of complaints by the public but we had faith in our decision which was based on compassion to bring back our people to their families.

“Even our own families criticized this decision, but these were decisions left up to the leaders to make,” he said.

He also commended his subordinates for the undying support in the first two years of the administration; however noted they have two more years to go. According to the governor, the beginning of the race is somewhat the easy part but the last phase is quite difficult.

More from the Cabinet meeting in later editions.