|May 4, 2002
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
|WASHINGTON, D.C.—CONGRESSIONAL SURVEY RESULTS SHOW WHAT AMERICAN SAMOA HAS TO SAY ABOUT ITS FUTURE|
| As a follow-up to
his radio talk shows and weekly tv broadcasts, Congressman Faleomavaega
announced today the results of the Congressional survey distributed to
the public shortly before the September 11, 2001 attack on America.
“A total of 8,042 surveys were distributed to the public,” Congressman Faleomavaega said. “One thousand nine hundred and thirty two (1,932) surveys were completed and returned. Two hundred and seventeen (217) surveys were completed by the general public. One thousand two hundred and forty-nine (1,249) surveys were completed by high school students. Four hundred and sixty six (466) surveys were completed by ASCC students and faculty members.”
“Although results have been compiled for some time, I felt it was only appropriate for us to reflect on last year’s events and pay our respects to the sons and daughters of American Samoa who are serving in the U.S. military at a time when the U.S. faces new threats in the war against terrorism,” Congressman Faleomavaega said. “Like the rest of the nation, I also believe it is time for us to consider critical issues now facing our Territory.”
“For the first time in the history
of American Samoa, a Congressional survey was distributed for purposes
of giving the public greater input in the affairs of our government.
Survey results shows that the people of American Samoa have very strong
feelings about important issues such as economic development, citizenship,
immigration, federal court jurisdiction, and the voting rights of our men
and women serving in the U.S. military,” Congressman Faleomavaega said.
“I believe these results suggest that our people want their children to have the rights and privileges of U.S. citizenship. But I also believe there is a real sense of concern among our people that we must protect our borders in order to protect the Samoan way,” Faleomavaega said.
“There also seems to be consensus that if foreigners are going to come to our shores and off-load tuna or anything else, then they ought to contribute something to our economy,” the Congressman continued. “Of those surveyed, 58% agreed that there should be a 20% tax on tuna brought to American Samoa on foreign vessels.”
“However, it is also clear that 63% of those surveyed believe our canneries are contributing their fair share to our economy. This leads me to believe that the issue of whether or not there should be a tax on tuna is less about tuna and more about what owners of foreign vessels are failing to contribute to our economy,” the Congressman said.
“When U.S. tuna boats pull into our docks, the captain and crews consistently purchase fuel and supplies from our local shops. In this sense, the U.S. tuna boat owners are reinvesting in American Samoa,” Congressman Faleomavaega said. “Whether or not the same is happening when foreign vessels pull into our ports is a matter that must be considered and reviewed.”
“There is also a real sense among the future leaders of our Territory that American Samoa should have its own Federal court and I believe this again speaks to the issue of foreign influence in the Territory. Rather than relying on U.S. attorneys in Hawaii or DC to prosecute violators of Federal law, 76% of those surveyed agree that American Samoa should be provided with a Federal court with limited jurisdiction. Another 82% agree that American Samoa should have a Federal prosecutor to prosecute violators of Federal laws applicable to the Territory.”
“Of those surveyed, 85% also agree that our men and women serving in the U.S. military should be allowed to register as absentee voters, according to Federal law,” Faleomavaega said. “Federal law is very clear on this matter. Every man and woman serving in the U.S. military is entitled to vote by absentee ballot. But, time and time again, our military men and women have been denied the right to vote because the local election office insists they must register to vote in person.”
“When military men and women are serving in Afghanistan or Bosnia or California, they cannot leave their assignments to fly home to vote,” Faleomavaega continued. “That’s why Federal law makes it possible for these men and women to vote by absentee ballot. Federal law recognizes that we cannot ask those serving in our military to put their lives on the line to defend our freedom and then turn around and deny them the freedom to vote. Our nation, like 85% of those surveyed, agree that our men and women serving in the military should be allowed to vote by absentee ballot.”
“Of those surveyed, 56% also agree that it is unfair to hold run-off elections two weeks after a general election because once again this does not allow enough time for our men and women serving in the military to vote by absentee ballot,” Congressman Faleomavaega said. “Clearly, these issues must be addressed and, in the aftermath of September 11, 2001, the time to address these matters is now.”
“In the coming months, I also look forward to discussing the fact that 85% of those surveyed agree that tourism should be promoted as a local industry. Many of you also suggested that aquaculture should be promoted and I am pleased to announce that we can look forward to some new developments in these areas,” Congressman Faleomavaega said.
“I want to thank the general public,
the students and faculty at ASCC, and the high school juniors and seniors
who participated in this historic survey,” the Congressman continued.
“American Samoa is about all of us and all of us should have a voice in
the affairs of our government. As always, I will continue to work
tirelessly in your behalf and I invite each of you to call, write, or drop
in to share your views with me.”
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