25 Nov 2013

Governor of American Samoa makes changes to the Christmas programme

5:48 pm on 25 November 2013

The governor of American Samoa is changing the annual territorial Christmas Programme, which for nearly 20 years has featured workers from public departments and agencies.

There have been complaints that employees spend too long rehearsing their pieces for the programme and their service to the public suffers.

The governor, Lolo Moliga, says instead he will have the American Samoa Arts Council and the Department of Youth and Women Affairs co-ordinate a programme involving youth and church groups.

Our correspondent in American Samoa, Monica Miller, explained to Don Wiseman the role that the government workers had been filling in the lead up to Christmas.

MONICA MILLER: Well, they were the main stars of the annual Christmas programme, and it's been more than 20 years. Around Christmastime, about three nights, there'll be departments performing. And all the departments of the American Samoa government were required to perform.

DON WISEMAN: They'd be doing skits?

MM: Yes, they would sing and then they would do biblical skits. Whatever they thought was appropriate to commemorate the spirit of Christmas.

DW: Every department had to do something?

MM: That's right. Every department had to do something. And originally the idea was that it just be something very simple, but the departments went to great lengths to put on the best performance. So you would have offices closing down at two o'clock, when they should be closed down at four o'clock, to rehearse. And then they would have the workers provide uniforms. And sometimes they would even provide gifts for the leaders of the government who were present during the performances.

DW: Now the governor has put his foot down.

MM: Yes, that's right. The governor has said we'll still celebrate, but instead of the government departments performing we would have these agencies invite youth groups, church groups, and community members to come and perform.

DW: What's the public reaction to that likely to be?

MM: (Laughs) I can tell you some of the postings we've got on our website - 'A big thank you. It was a waste of time and government money. People should never have been told that they must participate and this is very good of the governor to put a stop to this'.

DW: That's what the public think. What do the workers think?

MM: Some of the workers think it was great. I talked to a few who said 'Good'. Now they don't have to spend money on doing uniforms, because this is a time when they should be spending money on their families and their children.