The Vanuatu Government says it should recognise and compensate individuals who have contributed to the development of the country’s national identity.
Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Internal Affairs, Alatoi Ishmael Kalsakau, made the comments following calls for compensation from some of the Ni-Vanuatu who contributed to Vanuatu’s national symbols.
Iawawoi Rezel Samana, who came up with the ‘Long God Yumi Stanap’ national motto, called this week for the Government to recognise and compensate the people behind the national symbols.
He says since Independence in 1980, no government has recognised their contributions.
“National symbols will always be there; they can never be changed. We will die one day and our contributions to this country will stay on forever,” he said.
Mr Samana noted that the Government compensates Members of Parliament who are only elected for four years and can then be replaced.
He said those who contributed to the national symbols are never replaced but have not been compensated.
Mr Samana says many of the people who contributed to Vanuatu’s national symbols have now passed away.
He says Chief Tom Tipoloamata who created the name ‘Vanuatu’ passed away earlier this year without ever having been compensated for what he did for the nation.
He says those who contributed to Vanuatu’s national identity are not sufficiently recognised by the Vanuatu public and have only received badges of distinction.
He says he has addressed several governments in the past but nothing has been done.
Mr Samana says he has addressed the Sato Kilman Government, the Charlot Salwai Government and is now addressing the current Government again.
“Now the media come to us to explain how we came up with these symbols,” Mr Samana said.
“If it wasn’t for the media, the people would not hear about our contributions. The people would never know who came up with the name ‘Vanuatu’, the motto, the coat of arms and more of Vanuatu’s symbols.”
Francois Aissav who wrote the national anthem of Vanuatu says he received a certificate in 1979 when he won the competition to write the national anthem.
“At that time, they gave me the certificate with a VT5000 gift. I took the VT5000 and went to some functions at the Solwota Club, finished all the money and went back home,” Mr Aissav said laughing.
Deputy Prime Minister Kalsakau says the Government needs to address the issue and that those who feel overlooked should talk to the Government about compensation.
Mr Kalsakau says while these people have received medals, they need a form of recognition that will “benefit and fulfil their lives.”
“The Government must find an answer because I for one strongly believe that we must treat people fairly and respect their talents,” he said.
“If their skill or talent has helped to establish and develop the Republic of Vanuatu that we enjoy today, we must not overlook their contribution.”
Vanuatu’s national identity symbols include: the name ‘Vanuatu’, the national motto, ‘Long God Yumi Stanap’; the national flag; the national anthem, ‘Yumi Yumi’, the preamble to the Constitution; and the coat of arms.
The coat of arms features a Melanesian warrior holding a spear standing before a mountain superimposed on a boar’s tusk which encircles two crossed namele fern fronds. It has a golden scroll on the bottom with the national motto on it.