Hold your peace readers, this article is not as controversial as you initially think but kindly keep reading. Quickly, before I get accused of promoting civil disobedience or be indicted for sedition and treason, let me address the title posed as a question.
Readers, we are not in a desperate time of political and social condition that requires bold, drastic, and desperate actions. Engaging in such measure only leads to unnecessary chaos and will impede our economic and social growth.
However, I feel obligated to express truthfully how I see the present political situation that directly affects our social condition with the hope to influence the political elites of our beloved country.
To this end, I expect that some individuals or parties maybe be offended along the way. But please, when you experience an increase in high blood pressure, I invite you to call your doctor first, then, I urge you to rise up above the hurt and reason out with me.
As for those who find it to be inaccurate, I welcome the correction because I am not under the assumption that my thoughts are better than yours. So I kindly ask to take the face value of my thoughts as it is, an opinion.
Respect to PM, his party, and to all
As of late, there seems to have an increase in public frustrations against the P.M. and the H.R.P.P. with all the recent law changes.
Some said that our democracy is losing its original essence before our presence. A number of opinionated citizens are accusing the P.M. of political corruption that spans across different ministries within the government.
While others have a more sinister allegation, they go as far as accusing the P.M. and the H.R.P.P.’s leadership approach as dictatorial.
All these accusations, allegations, and all other ions merit some grounds - you don’t have to be an A student to feel one way or the other. And besides, people are freely expressing their opinions based on their personal experiences living in Samoa.
All we can do is respect every opinion because democracy allows the freedom of expression irrespective of its author. And as subjects, we are expected to act decently by adhering to the universal code of respect for all.
Roots of most recent political tensions
Only a few years ago, I read an article about how an innocent man was nabbed by the police because he acts and talks suspiciously. As a result, some valiant members of the public reported him that led to his arrest.
A few hours later, he was released on no bail because of lack of substantial reason to keep him incarcerated. His only mistake was; he talked and acted like a gangster.
And so are the P.M. and the H.R.P.P.; they sometimes act more like dictators than leaders of a democratic country. As the saying goes, if something ‘walks as a duck, quacks as a duck, then it must be a duck.’
By the same token, if the P.M. and his H.R.P.P. act and talk like dictators, then public criticism will continue to pour day in and day out.
Members of the public react according to what they see, hear and read in the news. Of course, some of these reactions are reasonable but others are not. Either way, the public react because they are affected by the politics of this country.
Put it this way, people are worried about how Samoa has become under the PM’s long tenure. And every person in this country has the right to be worried, or if you’re a supporter, to be happy, with how our country has become. This is a divine right entangled with democracy.
Appearances of corruptions
To some degree, I concur with the public sentiments and am a bit worried for almost the same reasons as they are such as the following issues:
• Samoa has unique political and sports set-up wherein the head of the government is also the head of the national sports, the Samoa Rugby Union. to my knowledge, there is no democratic country in the world with the same set-up. Why? For an obvious reason, politics and sports are like gasoline and fire; mix them up then you’ll get burnt.
• In Samoa, the same business enterprise that almost bankrupted the country is again being used in an effort to bring pride to our people and dollars to our economy. Only this time, the name is changed from Polynesian Airlines to Samoa Airways—different but same.
• Perhaps, Samoa is one of the fewest democratic countries in the world where the ancient tradition of government called matais is thoughtfully interwoven with modern government. Mostly, this is a nice set-up but creates a unique dilemma in the governance of our people. I will discuss the common dilemma in a bit.
• Another piece of worrying news a few years ago was when everyone living within the P.M.’s constituency is barred from challenging the P.M. This means the P.M. will always be the representative for his constituents. If his constituent members are all okay with this arrangement then, I am all good. Still, this arrangement defeats the very essence of democracy.
Should I add the effort of the government to revive the Criminal Libel law to find the ‘ghost writer’ who acts like Snowden, exposing the hidden workings of the government?
Or the proposal to change the name of the Head of State to Governor-General, maybe, to undermine its traditional importance?
These are just a few worrying actions by the government that have led some to accuse the P.M., and his party, of being dictatorial.
Added to this predicament, the H.R.P.P. has empowered the P.M. to the point of having the political will to subdue all other political voices other than his own hence creating an image of a dictatorial leader from the outside looking in.
To support the claim, the P.M. and his party, were able to introduce bills and turn these bills into laws faster than processing N.P.F. loans.
Often, these changes are made at short notice or without proper public consultation altogether, consistently bypassing the very people who elected them to power.
Every now and then, I feel that some of these decisions are unconstitutional because the decisions are finalized in the parliament before the public are informed about the specifics.
This is not right because most of the political elites belong to one party, hence, there is almost no one can really examine objectively the proposed decision.
What is ironic about this practice is; the people that are directly affected by the decisions are not even part of the decision process.
How is this fair?
As a result, the public is stressed and worried about how a one-party government appears to be manipulating the democratic process with almost no accountability to the people who elected them to power.
If political manipulation is not happening surely the appearance is, and when there is smoke…someone must be cooking…or at the very least, playing with fire. What happens when you play with fire? You get burnt! In this case, we, the people, are burnt by our government.
To sketchily describe the general feeling amongst our people, I’ll use the values continuum.
Using the values continuum, wherein on the far left the P.M. and/or his party are acting like dictators. And on the far right, the P.M. and/or his party are acting like real democratic leaders.
My sincere assessment is; the P.M. and his party are more often leaning to the left than to the right, much like the tower of Pisa, leaning a bit to the left, not far to the left.
Again, this is a self-inflicted dilemma for the P.M. and his party, in part, because of their unpopular and almost unlawful decisions as of late. The media’s portrayal of them surely did not help either.
So today, a dictator-esque image of the P.M. is ingrained in our brains however inaccurate this might be in reality.
When an ancient system of government is mixed with the modern, sometimes conflict arises
As for the dilemma of an ancient and modern system of government, let me explain.
All of us are aware of the fact that the P.M. and his party collectively represent the majority of the people of Samoa since the parliament members are representatives of almost all constituencies.
For the most part, this is true but from the perspective of an outsider, the P.M. is serving his party only per se and not the people they are elected to represent.
That is because, in Samoa, the government is run almost like our very own aiga by virtue of our matai traditions.
Similarly, every matai in the family has the right to voice out different ideas, opinions, perspectives, and etc. And the final decision is made by the chief matai himself or herself after proper considerations and compromises are made. These are good stuff if, and only if, decisions are made based on righteous needs and none else.
However, this is not always the case because there are chief matais with self-serving agenda. Our revered matais are subject to this dilemma once in a while so this creates impartiality that can result in conflicts within the family.
A chief matai who is self-serving and judges wickedly invite trouble into the whole aiga. Conflicts that are obvious are usually resolved fairly easily. But conflicts that are in the oven for years normally create family crises within the family.
Conflicts born from feeling unheard, ignored, and especially when the snubbed party feels that the chief matai has a sinister agenda against them all along.
Furthermore, the non-matais in the family, mostly more in numbers, who disagree with their own immediate family matai, are often unheeded, stamped, and ignored by their own immediate matai hence fuel their frustration for being treated less than they actually are.
I simply speak from my unfortunate experiences in the past.
Similarly, the P.M. acts the chief matai, only this time, he heads the government, whereas his party members are the matais in each family. While we, the people of Samoa, are the carriers of burdens but are unheeded, stamped, and ignored by the very people we elected to power to represent us.
Overwhelm with the burdens, we march on like good soldiers we are as the government whip us with increase taxes; a variety of taxes, laws; and more laws!
Can you please pause for a second and ask us personally what we really want for us and for our country?
You have to consider that we, the often unheard and the unheeded people of Samoa, are the makers of Samoa, not the PM and his party.
Am I against you or your party? Nope, you can bet on that.
I am only against with how the PM would sometime make a decision without properly informing the public, his people. But I am not against him and wish him the best because like the Savior, I love the sinner but hate the sin.
To briefly explain my previous comments, let me describe how I follow the Saviour’s code.
When the government decided to switch where we drive on the road, I was proud of the government.
But when the government decided to make a law taxing the church ministers, I was taken back.
When the government changed our dateline, I thought it was a smart move. But when the government proposed of reviving the Criminal Libel law, I feel gutted.
When the government put a ceiling on the term the Head of State can serve, I felt bad. But when the government amended the maternity leave and improved our internet connectivity I was elated.
With the back and forth feeling I have with the government, you can fairly guess that I feel like, and probably looks like, a living see-saw than a rational being.
With all the changes lately, the P.M. and his party are obviously making sure that Samoa can better adjust to regional and global changes that are taking place. In short, they are trying very hard to be the face of change; the party of change.
Ironically, as long as the changes they made do not involve them being changed from the party of almost absolute power to the party of lesser power then change is all good.
Sarcasm is healthy among friends because it can be refreshing!
You may ask, is there another side of the coin?
Of course, there is always another side of the coin but I have blurry ideas of what is going on the other side so I simply refuse to explain their side of the coin.
Is People’s Power the answer?
Are we at the crossroad of political and social crises? Maybe!
Presumably, Samoa is closer to political and social crises today than it was five years ago because of the many upsetting changes we had to go through within a short time frame.
Have we seen the improvements over these years?
Yes, otherwise we are already at the forefront of political and social crises.
Is it time to call for people’s power revolution, coup d’état, or a police takeover? Is it time to settle for desperate civilian take over in this desperate time?
The answer is a positive No!
As bad as Samoa has become; real or imagined depends on which side of the aisles you lean on, Samoa is not entrapped in desperate times that require desperate measures such as a People’s Power revolution, coup d’état, or police takeover.
As bad as others portray the P.M. and his party, they are far from being labelled as dictators of a democratic country.
Neither do they use chemical weapons against people nor do they violate our way of life. So please stop labelling the P.M. and/or his party as dictators of Samoa.
The Democratic process is still the answer to this erratic political situation of our country. And public dialogue with our government leaders is also another avenue to address the ongoing political changes around us.
Are the P.M. and his party corrupt?
From the outside looking in, I’m afraid so!
Understandably, the P.M. and his party refute any and all claims of corruption against them citing that no evidence to support the allegations against them.
Since most of these allegations are not proven in the court of law it is proper and lawful, therefore, to give the P.M., and his associates, the benefit of the doubt.
With this being said, the P.M. and his associates must avoid, at all cost, even the slightest appearance of corruption-- resigning from S.R.U. is a good ethical start—because the absence of evidence of corruption is not the evidence of absence of corruption.
Change is the answer in order to change the public perception of corruptions against the P.M. and his associates.
Bible bashing is not the answer!
As far as I know, the usage of the Bible is at best and most effective when we teach from the heart and not to express our contempt against allegations. Save yourself from further scrutiny our dear P.M. because when your heart is not right, the Bible-bashing will do more harm than good.
My Christmas wish-list
I seek not the removal of the P.M., or his party, from their respective positions; except maybe for the P.M.’s S.R.U. chairmanship because of the huge conflict of interest.
If the P.M. is worried that S.R.U. will lose the financial sponsors in his absence because as P.M. and S.R.U. chairman he is in the best position to secure financial support for the national team. Maybe true, but again, don’t worry too much P.M. because, in the absence of Moses, Aaron was there to carry on with the journey to the Promised Land with millions of Israelites. Rest assured, in every retiring Elijah, an Elias will appear from among us to fill in the void.
Your insistence on being the S.R.U. chairman is hurting everyone including your reputation.
I don’t want to see the Ghadaffi-like or the Mugabe-like treatment against our leaders be incited.
I seek, I invite, and I hope to influence the hearts of the P.M. and all our political elites.
I believe the P.M.’s claim that his election to the highest office of the land is divinely ordained.
I invite the P.M. and his party to reconcile with us, his people, because Samoans always forgive, if not forget altogether.
Kindly read the good book to make necessary changes this Christmas. And perhaps, an inspired counsel by Elder Boyd K. Packer, a Mormon apostle can help. Said he, “True doctrine, understood, changes attitudes and behaviour. The study of the doctrines of the gospel will improve behaviour quicker than a study of behaviour will improve behaviour. That is why we stress so forcefully the study of the doctrines of the gospel.”
Moreover, I believe that the P.M. and his party are better at changing the landscape of their hearts than changing the laws of this country, laws that of lesser values from an eternal standpoint.
When the P.M. and his associates make the necessary changes, change for the best will come naturally in our country from Apia to Saleleloga.
Finally, no matter what changes the P.M. and his party may have to go through in the coming days, weeks, and years, their toughest adversary may be themselves, their inner foes, a test not of reasons or wits, at which they are great at, but of resolve to make the needed changes for our beloved country and peace-loving people of Samoa.
Have a good day Samoa!
Ryan Christian Flor Nemes