Those unbelievable election antics

By Mata'afa Keni Lesa 03 March 2016, 12:00AM

Let’s be brutally honest here. Some people are a funny lot - well almost. 

You’d think that a day away from the General Elections – after all the media campaigns including countless TV, radio, online and newspaper programmes highlighting what’s legal and what’s not – that they would by now learn a thing or two.

But that seems to be far, far away from the minds of some people.

Take for example the issue of candidates taking voters to the voting booths. 

For the past few weeks, the team at the Office of the Electoral Commission have been doing all they can to say in the nicest possible terms that it is illegal for candidates to take people to vote. That includes a mass media campaign in Samoan and English, which has been running for a long time.

But some people – I’m not sure if they are deaf or dumb – obviously don’t care.

Personally, I’ve had a couple of committees asking me if I needed a ride to the booth. If that’s not insulting enough, they’ve even suggested that while they are not making it public, they will have some food and water available on the day.

I’m not the only one who is experiencing this. I know of many people, many families and voters who are facing the same issue. Which I find absolutely mind-boggling. The idea that these people are so brave to openly defy the boundaries of what’s legal and what’s not is just beyond me.

Ladies and gentlemen, don’t get me wrong. I know elections are dirty business.

As much as we desire a free and fair election for all, there will always be someone – or some people – who will look to push the boundaries and break the law to gain the upper hand. That is par for the course.

To be fair to the election committees and candidates, they are probably also catering for a demand placed upon them by certain voters. 

Keep in mind that the concept of democratic elections is a two-way street. It involves candidates and voters. The behaviour of candidates is often dictated by the demands from voters.

For many years, we’ve known that it is always the candidates who cop the flak and full brunt of the law for being corrupt. And yet the voters have often gotten away scot-free.

There is no doubt that a number of changes to the Electoral Laws will be remembered as one of the features of this election. 

But in the build up, the authorities have also been placing a lot of emphasis on individuals and their responsibility to the country through their vote.

Indeed, it takes two to tangle, as an old saying goes. 

Some election candidates and their committees might be corrupt and whatnot but most of them merely mirror the attitude from the voters. 

Needless to say, our democracy is still young, only 54 years old. 

We’ve got a very long way to go in terms of educating ourselves about what’s right and what’s wrong. Which is only half the process because as we’ve seen on many occasions, knowing something is not necessarily good enough. 

We might know all the right things but we often end going the opposite direction. It is human nature – for some people that is.

In our pursuit to find reason, perhaps that explains why certain people behave the way they do, bringing us back to the point we made earlier about the blatant abuse of the law and rules despite a strong campaign to ensure every one does the right thing.

What’s important to remember at this point is that the behaviour and attitudes of today did not come about overnight. It is part of a pattern that has been developed and nurtured over the years so that what we are seeing today is merely the continuation of a system. 

We are talking about a system that breeds corruption, thrives on ignoring values, morals and rules. 

It is personified subtly through various means – including the offer for a ride to the election when knowing darn well that is illegal.

Have a productive Thursday Samoa, God bless!

By Mata'afa Keni Lesa 03 March 2016, 12:00AM

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