« ΠροηγούμενηΣυνέχεια »
Mr. BURTON. Thank you very much, Mr. Clausen.
Mr. President, let me ask you this. Do you think it would be helpful to the people of American Samoa if we were able to somehow find the time to come down and have a hearing right in American Samoa ?
Mr. REED. Mr. Chairman and honorable committee, we are very sorry that your committee wrote is a letter that you were not coming down. The people of Samoa are very pleased to see more Members of the Congress come down to Samoa because as we up here with the Governor about our project-it is the same—we would rather you come down there and see the people, what our island needs, and we greatly would appreciate it if your committee can come down to Samoa. We are waiting and expecting you anytime in the Island.
Mr. BURTON. Thank you very much.
Mr. REED. Honorable Chairman, I have a copy of Mrs. Reed's statement-Mrs. Reed is seated over here, and I would like to have her statement put in the record.
Mr. BURTON. Without objection, it will be so ordered.
STATEMENT OF MRS. LIUGALUA LE'AENO W. REED
Mr. Chairman, let me first express sincere thanks and appreciation for the opportunity to be heard before the Honorable Committee concerning an issue of great significance to the people of American Samoa. Consideration of this issue is by no means the exclusive domain for men. The women of American Samoa are equally interested, if not more so, in the future of the Territory not only in our role as citizens, but as mothers of young Samoans of today and the future.
Like mothers throughout the Nation, we want a better future for our children. This means better and equal opportunities, respect for human dignity and freedom of choice under American democracy.
Concerning House bills H.R. 11523 and H.R. 12493, I fully support the purpose and intent of said bills, and therefore urge favorable consideration by the Committee and by the Congress of the United States. I respectfully urge your passage of these measures permitting us to elect our own Governor in American Samoa like you do in the United States, Guam, Virgin Islands and Puerto Rico.
I have been active in women's affairs in Samoa and a member of the Samoa Beautification Committee. We Samoans have been electing our own chiefs since prehistoric times—longer than you people in the United States. In Western Samoa, our people there have elected their own leaders. Head of State, Prime Minister and various governmental officials (all Samoans) since they became an “Independent Country” in 1962. We in American Samoa are as able to elect our own leaders of Government. Though we have had the pleasure of having some good Governors from this Great Country, it is time now that we elect our own Governor who speaks our language, understands our people and way of life, and more importantly, understands and respects our customs and traditions.
High Talking Chief Le'aeno Reed, my husband, although a citizen of this Great Country (his father being a U.S. citizen), he was born and raised all his life in Samoa. He served in the U.S. Army and fought in World War II. Hundreds and hundreds of other sons and daughters of Samoa have fought and died for this Great Country that we believe in.
Mr. Chairman, I take this opportunity to thank the sponsors of these measures, yourself, your Colleagues, Congressman Matsunaga from Hawaii, and especially to the Lady-Representative Patsy T. Mink not only for her proven leadership in the affairs of the Territories, but for the Nation's affairs as well. I thank the Honorable Committee.
Mr. BURTON. Mr. Fuimaono, the Washington delegate for American Samoa.
STATEMENT OF HON. A. U. FUIMAONO, THE WASHINGTON
DELEGATE FOR AMERICAN SAMOA
Mr. BURTON. Please proceed.
Mr. FUIMAONO. Mr. Chairman and the honorable members of the committee, first of all I would like to express my sincere thanks to all the members of the committee and to you, Mr. Chairman, for your invitation to offer my views concerning the bills now before the committee. The question before the committee, as I understand it, is to decide whether or not the voters of the territory of American Samoa be given the privilege to select the nominees whom the President would appoint as the Governor and the Lieutenant Governor.
The issue was first raised in a bill introduced by the honorable chairman last fall. Shortly thereafter, I was informed of a trip to American Samoa by the committee last November. In a letter to the honorable chairman, I expressed my full support and cooperation for the visit and gladly accepted an invitation to accompany the committee to the territory. I was of the opinion then, as I am now, that a visit by the committee to the territory would not only provide the appropriate background and environment for Members of Congress to meet the people but would also enable the people to express their views on this issue, for this question is of fundamental importance to the people of American Samoa, whose views I was elected to represent. Unfortunately, for far more important reasons well known to you, the trip never took place.
Ladies and Gentlemen, the matter before you is a very important one and a definite step forward in the political advancement of the territory. However, I am without legal authority to express the views of the people on this question. This is so provided in the Government of American Samoa Public Law 12–9, section 2.1304Functions of the Delegate At-Large:
* shall represent to the best of his ability, the views of the people of American Samoa before all branches and agencies of the Federal Government, including the Department of the Interior and the Congress and any other orga nization public or private. He shall not bind or commit the Government of American Samoa in any manner without specific authority * *
(The above-named document follows:)
[Senate Bill No. 37, Public Law 12–9]
FIRST REGULAR SESSION OF THE TWELFTH LEGISLATURE OF AMERICAN SAMOA
(Begun and held at Fagatogo, Tutuila, American Samoa on Monday, the eighth
day of February one thousand nine hundred and seventy-one) AN ACT Relating to the Delegate-at-Large ; and amending Sec. 2.1304, Chapter 2.13,
Title II of the Revised Code of American Samoa
SEC. 2.1304-FUNCTIONS OF DELEGATE-AT-LARGE: The Delegate-atLarge shall maintain an office in Washington, D.C. and shall represent, to the best of his ability, the views of the people of American Samoa before all branches and agencies of the federal government, including the Department of Interior
and the Congress and any other organization, public or private. He shall not bind or commit the Government of American Samoa in any manner without specific authority. The Delegate-at-Large shall submit a monthly report of his activities to the President of the Senate and Speaker of the House of the Legislature of American Samoa, and to the Governor, and he shall, upon the request of the President of the Senate and the Speaker of the House, report in person to the Legislature during each regular session of the Legislature or at such other time as the Legislature may deem necessary.
President Pro Tempore.
MUAGUTUTI'A F. TUIA,
Vice-Speaker of the House of Representatives. Hereby Approved this 5th day of April, 1971 :
JOHN M. HAYDON, Governor of American Samoa.
Mr. FUIMAONO. With great respect for the honorable committee, it is with regret that I inform you that the views of the people of American Samoa have not been communicated to me. Furthermore, "specific authority," as required by law has not yet been delegated to me.
Mr. Chairman, this is a very brief statement to the committee and I am very happy to present my brief views to your committee this morning
If there are any questions, that I can help answer for the information of the committee, I will be very happy to. Mr. BURTON. Thank
for the statement. On behalf of all members of the subcommittee, I would like to commend you for your effective work and efforts, working with us, trying to give us the benefit of the views of the people of American Samoa on some of the questions that have been before us in the Congress.
Are there any questions by other members of the committee?
Senator Salanoa S. P. Aumoeualogo. We welcome you to the subcommittee, Senator.
STATEMENT OF SALANOA S. P. AUMOEUALOGO, SENATOR,
LEGISLATURE OF AMERICAN SAMOA
Mr. CLAUSEN. Senator, May I just also welcome you to the committee. I, too, enjoyed my visit with you in the office the other day. Regrettably I have another meeting in 3 minutes down in my office and I hope you will accept my apologies for not being able to remain but I think I understand your thoughts in the matter based upon the conversations we had the other day. But I have a problem in my own congressional district that has come up that I have got to resolve and I have a meeting in my office in just about 2 minutes.
Mr. AUMOECALOGO. All right, sir.
Mr. BURTON. May I, Senator, before you proceed, ask President Reed if I am correct that your senate and house have voted to support the legislation before us. Mr. REED. Yes. Mr. BURTON. Thank you; please proceed, Senator.
Mr. AUMOEUALOGO. Mr. Chairman and members of the committee, my name is Salanoa S. P. Aumoeualogo. I am a member and former president of the Senate of American Samoa. I am here today to testify in favor of the proposed bills to give the people of American Samoa the opportunity to elect their own Governor and Lieutenant Governor.
For 72 years, American Samoa has lived under the influence of American democracy, which Abraham Lincoln described as government by the people. When we view the history of the Virgin Islands and Guam, which now elect their own Governors, we are prone to be touched with a keen sense of disappointment that this aspect of popular democracy is denied to us.
We experienced a real sense of pride and accomplishment when our first delegate-at-large, the Honorable A. U. Fuimaono, was elected to represent us in Washington, D.C. We looked upon this as the first step in establishing stronger ties with our Nation's Capital—and we consider it an important milestone in our progress toward fully responsible and democratic self-government. We believe that the popular election of our Governor and Lieutenant Governor is the next logical step.
I regret that distance and travel costs make it impossible for more members of the legislature and interested citizens to appear before you in order to echo the sentiments which I express. However, it is my sincere belief that very little, if any, opposition exists in American Samoa to the concept of popular election of the chief executive of our government. In fact, our own administration, headed by our very capable Governor, John M. Havdon, has many times voiced the belief that nothing should stand in the way of complete democratic government for the people of our territory including the election of our own Governor.
As the committee is already aware, both houses of the Legislature of American Samoa have passed a resolution supporting the proposed legislation for the election of a Governor and Lieutenant Governor. In this connection, I want to point out to the committee that the voice of the Samoan Legislature represents both the voice of the general population of our islands and the voice of the chiefs who constitute the traditional leaders of American Samoa.
As currently constituted, our legislature is comprised of a lower house, the house of representatives, whose members are popularly elected by all qualified voters 18 years of age or older, and an upper house, the senate, whose members are traditional chiefs chosen according to traditional Samoan custom by the chiefly councils of the various counties. I want to emphasize that both these houses representing both the popular will and the traditional leadership of American Samoa, have endorsed the principle of an elected Governor and Lieutenant Governor
It is also significant that the principle of an elected Governor was among
the major recommendations of the Future Political Status Study Commission for American Samoa, of which I was privileged to serve as chairman. I refer the committee to the report of the commission published in 1970 for a more detailed statement of the reasons why a popularly elected Governor would serve the interests of the Samoan people.
I am aware of the view expressed by some that eligibility for election to the post of Governor should be restricted to those with the status of high chief. Let me say that among the high chiefs of American Samoa are some experienced and capable men who are eminently
qualified for the post of Governor. Let me also point out that the man elected to be our first Delegate to Washington, the Honorable A. U. Fuia mono was, and is, one of the most distinguished of the high chiefs of Samoa. It may well be that the electorate would also choose a high chief to be Governor, but I believe that the decision whether an elected Governor should be from among the high chiefs should be left to the people. In short, I believe the electorate should be free to select a Governor on the basis of his personal qualifications not on the basis of his status in the traditional chiefly hierarchy. I say this as a high chief who is deeply committed to the preservation and perpetuation of traditional Samoan custom.
Finally, I would like to address myself to the contention that popular election of our Governor should await congressional passage of an organic act permanently establishing Samoa's political relationship with the United States. I see no need to withhold this measure of selfgovernment pending resolution of the many issues involved in formulating an organic act. While there may be many difficult legal, social, and economic questions involved in the passage of an organic act, the principle of an elected Governor is clear. It is basic to our legitimate desire to control our own affairs.
In this connection, it should be noted that our Future Political Status Study Commission specifically recommended that the status of American Samoa as an unincorporated and unorganized territory be retained for the time being and also specifically recommended popular election of the Governor. There is no contradiction between these two recommendations. Under our present status, with amended constitutions periodically drafted by Samoan leaders and promulgated by the Secretary of the Interior, we have made steady evolutionary progress toward self-rule.
We wish to continue this evolutionary process. We do not wish, at this time, to change our flexible relationship with the Federal Government by an organic act. In the past 2 years, we have seen our first elected Delegate in Washington and we have seen our legislature change from a part-time to a full-time body. The next logical step in this evolutionary process is the election of our own Governor.
In conclusion, I want to say that it is a great privilege and responsibility to be among this generation of Samoan leaders. For centuries before our time, generations of Samoan leaders were born and died having experienced only responsibility for the conduct of the internal affairs of our islands under well established and ancient customs. In recent years, our leaders have had to deal with outside political ties with modern nations as well as with internal matters.
In a sense, the Samoan leaders of my generation occupy a historical position analogous to that of the Founding Fathers of the American Republic. The decisions and commitments we make in our political relations with the United States will be of lasting importance for future generations of Samoans. We Samoan leaders are cautious and thoughtful men. Like the Founding Fathers, we do not urge fundamental changes lightly. But like the Founding Fathers, we are determined to control our own affairs within our own lifetime.
Mr. BURTON. Senator, I want to commend you for a most thoughtful and moving speech and statement. Further, I would like to assure you