Scientology Tour Crumbles
What was intended as a goodwill tour by a visiting group for the Church of Scientology has run into a bit of controversy.
The Scientology visit tent in front of the Government building, endorsed by the Government, has remained largely empty since opening last Wednesday. However, a training course was held for a group of police officers and other support servicemen.
The visit hit a bad patch when claims were made that the tour received the blessings of the National Council of Churches (NCC). Reverend Oka Fauolo, NCC Chairman, publicly denied the claims ,even turning down a request by Mathew Adams (head of the Scientology group) to give the opening prayer at the exhibitions launch as this might give the impression that he endorsed the organisation.
Furthermore, a protest march at last Wednesday's opening was held by pro-Christian supporters. They alleged the Church was attempting to make inroads into Samoa. Mr Adams said much of the criticism laid against the Church was gleaned from faulty information and general misunderstanding.
Reverend Oka Fauolo cautioned against forming quick opinions about the Church of Scientology but thought the organisation should, more appropriately, be associating with professional groups like doctors and lawyers and not the Council of Churches as the group had told him that they were in fact not a Church.
Minister of Police, Toleafoa Fa'afisi, gave the opening prayer and addressed the crowd of protesters. He assured the protestors that the Government empathised with them and that their presence demonstrated the strength of Christianity in Samoa.
A spokesman for the protestors called the Minister's words "sweet talk" and an angry exchange ensued. It ended abruptly when the Government representative threatened to call in the police.
This is the first of such protests, based on religious beliefs, to take place in Samoa.
Court Justice Reserve Ruling on Regulator vs. Digicel
Chief Justice Patu Falefatu Sapolu has reserved his decision on the appeal by Digicel against the Office of the Regulator as the first respondent and its rival SamoaTEL as second respondent.
Digicel alleges in its appeal that the Office of the Regulator breached the law of natural justice when it failed to provide confidential information about the rates its rival was charging for cell phone usage.
Both sides brought in high power QC lawyers from Australia to argue the case in court. SamoaTEL was represented by former Attorney General Ms. Brenda Heather-Latu. Hearing on the case started in August and later adjourned to last week.
Ruling on the appeal could either see new rates introduced for the two cell phone companies to operate on or retention of the current charges approved by the Office of the Regulator.
Sport: Expenses Greater then Revenue during SPG
During the games, the Capital Expenditure on Venues including the schools was 100 million (SAT). The Government of the People's Republic of China contributing 50 million (SAT) to that amount.
However, revenue for the games was only around $7 million (SAT) according to the Sports and Pacific Region Conference. From the 7 million, sponsorship contributed the lion's share at $6.5 million (SAT) with Merchandising Royalty contributing $795,000 (SAT) in revenue.
Andrew Minogue of the South Pacific Games Organising Committee thought that Samoa wasn't "doing too badly" despite the low return figures. The future challenges he thought other countries faced in increasing revenue were in enhancing marketability and expanding television coverage.
The Pacific Games council has put forth the initiative of limiting to 28 the numbers of Sports held at the competition in order to curb expenses. 33 Sports were on offer in this year's competition.
Minogue noted the use of Samoa's Weightlifting facilities by the Oceania Weightlifting Federation as a good example for other countries as a way to enhance economic value.
Minogue also encouraged New Caledonia (2011 Games) to engage sporting bodies earlier. He pinpointed transportation and catering as two areas where no cuts could be made as they were crucial to a successful games. He thought Samoa's handling of transportation and catering and pre-emptive testing of Sporting venues was exceptional.
Saving the art of letter writing
Samoa Post is making an effort to celebrate World Post Day this Tuesday as a means to bring attention to the dying art of letter writing. Staff members of Samoa Post have been visiting schools to promote the art of 'penned' letters.
Caroline Pereira blamed the demise of letter writing on newer technologies such as emails and text messages. World Post Day has not been celebrated in Samoa since 1994.
Australian youth ambassadors welcomed
A group of ten youth ambassadors from Australia were welcomed at a luncheon at the residence of Australian High Commissioner Matt Anderson.
Since 1998 the program has placed more than one hundred volunteers in various agreed upon areas in the Samoan government such as sport and disability positions and rural placements.
The latest group has been in the country for a week and will be in Samoa for the next 12 months. The ambassadors are fully funded by AusAID.
Sports: Sports tourism needs bigger say
Again from the Sport and Pacific Region Cross-Cultural Current conference at the National University of Samoa: According to Geoff Dickson of Auckland University of Technology, more attention needs to by placed on Sports Tourism in Regional policies.
Dickson believes that Sports tourism such as the recent visit by Auckland Boys Grammar School First 15 team was a good way to create jobs. He implored the Samoan government to maximise the potential of the recently built Sports complexes at Faleata.
All Blacks fallout reaches Samoa
The Apia Township had all the appearances of a sombre Sunday afternoon, except it was actually Saturday and the All Blacks had been upset by the French yet again.
Many locals were despondent when discussing the game. Describing the feeling one man joked "If Manu Samoa's loss was the knock out punch, the All Blacks loss was like getting hit on the ground...with a shovel". Go the Pumas?
Apia Beat - After the All Blacks game
In Apia on Saturday afternoon, a man who had just bought a snazzy new Plasma Screen TV to watch the Rugby World Cup games on walked back into the shop he purchased it from only 3 weeks before.
Shopkeeper: Hello. How's everything? (..noticing the man's dejected demeanor..) Is the TV working all right for you?
Man: Yes yes, no problem. But I think I need a new remote control...
Man: No... (shrugging his shoulders)...broken.