This is a letter to the editor in response to Prime Minister Tuilaepa Sailele Malielegaoi's attack, on the media for reporting on incest and rape.
Published in the Samoa Observer on 23 November 2017, the letter author's asks:
Why? Is Tuilaepa worried that without tourists, his new airline Samoa Airways will repeat the horror that’s still haunting him today
Putting the tourist dollar ahead of victims of rape and incest is akin to putting the cart before the horse. The P.M. has erred in referring to these media reports as negative reports. They're not negative reports. They are true reports.
Newspaper reports don't scare tourists. Instead, it makes them cautious and attentive as they prepare for their sojourn to our shores. We, Samoans, are more prone to making changes to our travel plans because of what we read or hear.
It's in our nature because we are superstitious and are more inclined to walk around a ladder than under it.
The palagi, on the other hand, are adventurous and free thinkers who want to see things for themselves before they make a calculated decision if Samoa is a paradise or a paradox.
Tourists zero in on websites like Trip Advisor to find out if their travel destination is danger free or dangerous. It guides them to the do's and don'ts, pros and cons, of any place anywhere on planet Earth. That's all that matters to them as they prep a trip.
The bulk of contributors on these sites only report on their personal experiences instead of hearsay. They don't talk about news material or radio broadcast subjects.
So all that venting and raging against the media and the Police by our P.M. is a bit premature and unnecessary.
And now our journalists are lazy for not going to the Court House for a full case summary? I thought that was smart reporting. If you want information, just drop by at the Police HQ for a briefing from the media liaison officer.
Boom! Quick. Same effect as spending a whole day at Mulinu'u.
I don't think there's a need to try and tickle our freedom of speech. We should leave that alone for obvious reasons. So long as the media report is factual, let it print. People have a right to read any mainstream news at their discretion.
Don't forget that the majority of our inbound tourists come from much bigger countries with equally much higher crime rates than ours. Their local newspapers also cover their pages with similar but sad stories on rape and incest just like we do.
But you don't hear of any Samoans living there wanting to pack up and go because of these news reports.
Oddly, the P.M. only referred to newspaper and radio. Are TVs the new protected species now? Last time I checked, TV networks in Samoa deliver just as much and almost the same topics as on newsprint and airwaves. It's juvenile to think that crime reporting in our newspaper or radio has any adverse impact on our tourist volume.
All our tourists ever want is our world-renowned genuine smiles and our ever so willingness to pamper them with our love and hospitality. We need their dollar just as much as they need our care and honest friendship.
Let's give them a reason to want to come back to Samoa. The last thing they want is for us to deceive them by controlling our media outlets for the sole purpose of befriending their wallets and purses.