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China loan, why not?

Pago Pago, American Samoa

Editor,

Talofa Senolita Swan. You have raised a few good points in the Matangi Tonga. Since you are not getting any direct response from the key people in Tonga, I decided to run my thoughts here with you.

The public asked why, Robert F. Kennedy asked why not? You argue that “Tonga cannot afford this Loan from China”. My concern is “can Tonga afford not to make this loan from China?”

The necessity for an infusing of a lot of cash in to Tonga’s economy was apparent after the 60%, 70%, 80% most ridiculous pay raise in human history. The straw that broke Tonga’s economic back was this unthoughtful burning of businesses in Nuku’alofa. This was also the determining factor that Tonga must get cash infusion, a lot of it and right away.

Yes, we could have gotten together as you suggested and raise funds. But it would be too few and too long. I rest with the feeling that after much deliberation and consideration the fastest way to get a lot of money right away is by a loan agreement. China happened to be the most willing and the government took it.

You tend to be very disappointed thinking that our children “will inherit the sins of their fathers”. I have split feelings about this. First, I look at Tonga’s situation as desperate and it calls for desperate measures. I do not for one minute think of the loan as a sin. The real sin was those who put Tonga in a situation that forced itself to take the loan. Second, I think you are too easy on our kids. My kids are enjoying the fruit of the labors of people before them. My kids are not old enough yet to pay back a penny for these privileges. I will never forget that I am where I am because of the sweat of others. I grew up with liberty to my land and my religion given to me free by way of King Taufa’ahau Tupou I and many of our ancestors who assisted in uniting the Friendly Island under one rule; I grew up living off my land from crops like breadfruits and coconuts that I had no contribution to its being planted and maintained; I attended one of the best high schools in the Pacific at a very small cost; I can go on but the point I am making is that much of what makes me and my future was the brain child of yesterleaders. So, it goes without saying that if my father and grandfather were party to a project to help the survival of Tonga, I am more than happy to pay for it now. I owe the past so much. I hope I can pay back at least a fraction of their sacrifices.

It is very unfair to use the Jews experience as an example in the case of Tonga. The Jews has been preparing for a return to Israel for many many years. Their experiences in WWII accelerated this exodus. Tonga had no preparation to prepare for what happened in the last year. By 1948 almost all the major banks in the United States and many develop countries in the world were owned by Jews. There are some rich Tongans out there, but rich enough to own banks? To the best of my recollection by 1948, there were probably just as many professional Jews; Doctors, lawyers, bankers as there were people in Tonga. At this time Tonga was still at its infancy when it comes to education. The main target of the fund raising you are talking about will undoubtedly be the Tongan overseas … even in the best of time and in the best of moods I seriously doubt we can raise $2 million in a month in the US, regardless who is in front of the project. There are however certain people including certain PR’s you suggested that will not get any money out of me for any reason.

Ms. Swan, your preaching to the choir is taken with respect, but it is easier said that done. Sounds great in theory and may have worked in another country at a another time but it did not and has not worked for Tonga. I salute you and your motto, “Tonga Mo’unga ki he Loto”. But you must not fail to see that is the same motto that is causing some of the problems now. You can talk all you want against waste and abuse in cultural and social gathering but the heart of a Tonga is in it and for it and there is nothing you can do about it.

I am taking my school motto, Ki he Lelei Taha, “To the Best” as a guidance to this problem at hand. Many options were considered and at the end, “the best” move was to take on the loan from China. Now I am asking, take that you take our “Best” and couple that with your “Tonga Mo’unga he Loto” to your children and your communities and prep them to pay the loan when it is our time to come. All your bankers (the bean counters) sees is the $$$ sign in and out. I see a lot of cultural activities with very little to no $$$ sign assigned to it, but it is invaluable in keeping harmony in any community.

Mafi ‘o Amerika Samoa

slkava [at] samoatelco [dot] com