21 Sep 2010

Opening Samoa citizenship seen as politically contentious

2:20 pm on 21 September 2010

An academic in Samoa says opening up citizenship for ethnic Samoans abroad remains a contentious political issue.

In a weekend newspaper column, the acting Prime Minister, Misa Telefoni, said he wanted anyone who could trace their roots to Samoa to be granted citizenship.

Misa said Samoa should follow India in regards to its open citizenship which has helped boost India's economy.

The director of the National University's Centre of Samoan Studies, Fonoti Dr Lafitai Iupati Fuatai, says it's not the first time the idea's been raised.

He says from an economic perspective, it seems like a good idea but there are still those who are concerned about the implications on voting and political rights.

"There's money coming in, in terms of people contributing through their relatives and families, now that's on the economic development side. The not so good thing about it is that if you have 50-percent voting from overseas, they can influence how elections can go here in Samoa."

Fonoti Dr Lafitai Iupati Fuatai.