Of course he’s not a “dictator,” he is only the leader of a “one-party state”

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Mata'afa Keni Lesa

We’ve got to feel for Prime Minister Tuilaepa Sa’ilele Malielegaoi. 

He appears to be suffering from that condition nobody wants called paranoia. 

You can’t really blame him though. With unquestionable power and authority after decades at the helm of the ruling Human Rights Protection Party (H.R.P.P.), it’s only natural that you become very suspicious of the activities of people around you. 

You just know not all of them are your friends. They might say nice things to your face but they will not hesitate to stab you on the back the moment you turn. Yes, each and everyone of us would know the kind of people we are talking about here.

Which appears to be what’s happening within the H.R.P.P. since rumours surfaced about “underground jostling” among certain members to replace the Prime Minister – if and when his time finishes. When that is, no one seems to know. It’s inevitable though that it is coming.

Two weeks ago, Tuilaepa made one of his most telling declarations to date when he rejected comparisons of his administration to that of a dictatorship. The comparison surfaced following the government’s decision to revive the Criminal Libel Law.

Speaking to the Samoa Observer, Tuilaepa said he accepts he has critics who have called him a “dictator.” 

Who those critics are he did not say. It would certainly be nice to know.

“There have been writings that accuse me of being a dictator (in relation to the Criminal Libel),” he said. “But it is not my law. They (writers) are in favor of those doing the damage. What about those who are victims of defamation?”

Perhaps the writers are those “ghost writers” Tuilaepa seems hell bent on catching by bringing back the ancient Criminal Libel.

Whatever it is, the Prime Minister obviously believes this is yet another divine intervention. 

 “This is a Christian move to protect the victims who are being defamed. This law is designed as a refuge to people whose names and reputations have been ruined,” he said.

Fine. 

But how? How can you prosecute a faceless writer? If you don’t know who is behind these blogs, how can you protect members of the public from threatening them with an old piece of legislation?

Still, we’d like to believe there is a ‘method in thy madness.’

Looking back, Tuilaepa said the law was put in place by previous Members of Parliament for a reason.

 “When it was my time; maybe I was a bit too kind,” he said.

 “With confidence that those who defamed others were no longer in existence, it is why I abolished that law. But now I know, the previous Members of Parliament knew what they were doing.”

Well you be the judge. 

In Samoa today, it’s undeniable that Prime Minister Tuilaepa is a very powerful man. In fact, he is undoubtedly the most powerful man in this country with the ability to make any changes he wants wherever, however and whenever he wants to.

Does that make him a dictator though?

 “I’ve often heard statements such as the P.M. holds the key to opening and closing the door. I’ve heard people say that whatever the P.M. says that’s what goes,” Tuilaepa said.

 “Such an opinion is harboured by people whom if they are given the chance to administer the government, they will run it like an army. They will rule it like a military; they will not listen to any advice from Members of Parliament or Cabinet.”

Tuilaepa said he is quite the opposite.

 “I listen to what the party says, which is the democratic system. It dictates that for every leader, they must listen to the party,” he said.

 “This is why this party remains united as it has been from the start. As a leader, I always seek the opinion of my party before any decision is made.”

That party by the way dominates Parliament today. Of 50 Members of Parliament, 46 of them are under Tuilaepa’s absolute control. 

So he might not necessarily be a “dictator” as some people say but he is certainly the leader of a one-party state. That’s a cold fact. 

What do you think? 

Have a fabulous Tuesday Samoa, God bless!

© Samoa Observer 2016

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