Two of a kind

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Dear Editor

Re: Of mice and dictators

President Donald Trump’s attitude towards the media is so similar to Prime Minister Tuilaepa Sa’ilele Malielegaoi’s that they must have studied the same text book on how to become a dictator.

Although the PM is probably jealous that he didn’t think of the term ‘fake news’ he can take heart that as long as he remains the master of insulting words, Donald Trump will still only be his apprentice! 

But while these guys enjoy the ‘bromance’ of sharing a kindred spirit, to other people their actions set off alarm bells.

Take for example the words of Senator John McCain, a Republican on the same team as President Trump:

“We need a free press. We must have it. It’s vital. If you want to preserve democracy as we know it, you have to have a free and many times adversarial press, and without it, I am afraid that we would lose so much of our individual liberties over time. That’s how dictators get started.” (CNN interview 20 Feb 2017)

However while the President and PM may have similar aims – complete authority without challenge – the two democracies, Samoa and USA, are worlds apart in terms of their operations. 

Of course America isn’t perfect but they do abide by what is known as therule of law, which says that every citizen is subject to the law, including lawmakers

 themselves. And they do maintain a distinct separation of power between the 

Legislature (the government), the Executive (the Public Service) and the Judiciary.

Contrast this with Samoa’s democracy. The P.M. disregards the rule of law (the law says that audited accounts should be presented to parliament annually but this never happens); he wields an iron-fist over the Legislature so that his every idea becomes fait accompli before it even hits his lips and he’s managed to control the Executive by drafting the Special Posts Act 1989.

His final plan to suck out the last breath of Samoa’s democracy is to fragment the 

Judiciary to dilute the power of the Chief Justice and bring the various courts under his control. 

You can be sure that the Lands and Titles Court will be just the first to be administered by a commission headed by his chosen ones.

That just leaves the so called Fourth Arm of democracy, the media, as the lone voice in the forest to call out corruption and hypocrisy when it sees it. And I mean lone voice too. 

For all their posturing around the kava bowl, complaining about this and that, the i’a lapoa are very silent when it comes to standing up and being counted. And that’s the genius of Tuilaepa, he knows his people. He’s orchestrated this bloodless coup by manipulating the greed and apathy of his people. Handing out crumbs to the pulenuu and faipule to distribute to the village and making them believe it’s the whole cake.

So I salute the media for fighting to protect democracy, a gift from God which 

literally millions of people have died defending.  But unless God Himself takes up 

arms I fear it’s a gift that the people of Samoa will have stolen from them before 

they get to enjoy its blessings.

 

PikaT

© Samoa Observer 2016

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