M.P. identifies “number one killer in the country”

Gagaifomauga No. 3 Member of Parliament, La’auli Leuatea Polata’ivao, yesterday identified alcohol consumption as the “number one killer” in Samoa today.

“If you look at the statistics, of about two thousand cases handled by the Police, about 90 per cent would be alcohol-related, resulting in death, death, death,” La’auli said. “The question is why have people become such bad drunks? People are going wild when they’re drunk.”

La’auli, a former Speaker of Parliament and Cabinet Minister, made the point in Parliament during the second reading of the Alcohol Control Bill 2018.

Introduced by the Minister of Revenue, Tialavea Tionisio Hunt, the bill is designed to regulate the sale and supply of alcohol among other functions. It also targets the reduction of alcohol-related problems.

La’auli said the growing incidents of alcohol-related violence and deaths are no longer a secret.

“This is the number one killer in the country right now. Of all the incidents in this country every week, every month, this is the number one killer in Samoa right now.”

But the impact is much more severe, he said.

“The impact on innocent members of the public caused by drunks who roam around carelessly on the streets and create problems is enormous.”

He reminded Parliament that once upon a time, Samoans were not allowed to touch alcohol. 

“When we look back, the Germans and Kiwis brought these things in for themselves,” he said. “When I grew up and saw my family’s businesses, Samoans were banned from touching any alcohol. What’s happening today is what they were careful about then. At that time nothing was manufactured here, it was all brought in by Germany and New Zealand.”

Problems started when Samoa allowed the local manufacturing of alcohol.

“As I’ve said in the past, there is a company bringing in some stuff, this stuff shouldn’t be passed off as alcohol. It’s straight out spirit.

“Your Honour, if you look at the products being produced here, I can tell you they are not good. Please consider what’s being produced, the percentage is way too high that people have become drunks to the point where they don’t have brains.

“So much to the point when they want to commit murder, they just kill people, not one but two or three at the same time. What’s happened is that (alcohol consumption) is out of control.” 

In tabling the bill, Minister Tialavea said the Government’s goal is to address a number of issues – including what La’auli had highlighted. 

He said the discussion of the legislation dates back to 2015 when it was first looked into by the Samoa Law Reform Commission.

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Seeking to repeal the Liquor Act 2011, the bill is also looking to:

• reduce demand for and consumption of alcohol, and to minimise the harmful effects from the abuse of alcohol;

• regulate advertising and promotion of alcohol products, and sponsorships associated with the sale and consumption of alcohol products, and to ensure that all such activities are undertaken responsibly and in the public interest;

• provide for powers of enforcement relating to the manufacture, sale, consumption and importation of alcohol;

• reduce alcohol-related problems of any nature; and

• provide for the roles and responsibilities of parents and guardians, village fono and churches in applying the regulatory controls

Salega East Member of Parliament, Olo Fiti Vaai, welcomed the bill, saying it is a useful law.

He, however, used the opportunity to call upon the Liqour Board Committee to ensure their decision-making is consistent.

“It’s common knowledge that we’ve had a lot of problems within our nightclubs, in some instances, some people have been killed but it seems that you haven’t done anything about it… like you did to my business,” Olo said.

The Member of Parliament used to run a nightclub at Tuanaimato which has since been closed.

Speaking of alcohol-related incidents, Faleata West Member of Parliament, Lealailepule Rimoni Aiafi, who is also the Associate Minister of Communications and Information Technology, pointed to the work of security officers in nightclubs.

“Security officers working in nightclubs should be legislated. There should be short-term training for these people provided by the Police,” Leala said.

“At the moment, anyone who looks big and strong can become a security. Let’s not forget that in nightclubs, they’re dealing with drunks.”

Prime Minister Tuilaepa Dr. Sa’ilele Malielegaoi welcomed the suggestions and supported the opinions of different Members of Parliament who spoke about the bill.

But he also pointed to the deadly combination of alcohol and drugs. 

“Ice (meth) is a major issue, even kids have been affected,” Tuilaepa said. “When beer and ice mix, death is the result. That is what is suspected in many cases where lives have been affected.” 

Lastly, he reminded Security officers in nightclubs that they do not have a license to beat patrons.

“They have no legal powers (to hurt people.) What should happen is that they should notify the Police. I’ve heard some securities are hurting people when they have no right to do that. That is an offense. Nightclub owners should just call the Police.” Parliament continued last night. 

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