A “nit wit” called “King Faipopo,” unfounded allegations against Prime Minister Tuilaepa and the search for O.L.P.
Social media is a powerful platform. It is a tool that has the ability to make a person look good and to some extent a hero. We've seen many examples of this.
But it can also make one look like a fool. And if you are a fool, you will eventually be found out. That much we know.
King Faipopo, whose real name is Malele Paulo, is a classic example. Over the past couple of years, he’s made a name for himself among his followers on social media, by dishing out countless allegations against the Government and none other than Prime Minister Tuilaepa Dr. Sa’ilele Malielegaoi.
Ladies and gentlemen, the list of allegations is exhaustive. For instance, in one of his social media videos, he claimed that Prime Minister Tuilaepa was somehow responsible for the murder of his “uncle” and former Cabinet Minister, the late Luagalau Levaula Kamu, who was assassinated during the H.R.P.P’s birthday party back in 1999.
He didn’t stop there. Among other serious allegations he made, he also accused the Prime Minister of being a “ringleader in the alleged smuggling of three containers of firearms into Samoa.”
Really? These are very, very serious allegations. Not only are they extremely damaging to be made against anyone, let alone the Prime Minister of a country, they re-open old injuries and bring back past hurts for families, friends and everyone who has had to try to deal with the matters being raised.
That’s precisely what King Faipopo did. But he was foolish. You see, to make allegations on social media and to claim some sort of hero status for them is one thing. It is quite another when push comes to shove and the person making them is hauled before a Courtroom Judge where proof is required.
And that brings us back to the point about being a self-proclaimed social media hero. The thing with being a keyboard warrior is that it gives you this feeling that you are invincible and that nobody can touch you.
Which is what happened to King Faipopo because not only did he make these very serious allegations, he dared Prime Minister Tuilaepa to “pay for his airfares so that he can travel to Samoa from Australia for a face to face meeting.”
What was he thinking?
Well Tuilaepa didn’t need to do any of that.
King Faipopo should have remembered that as a Samoan, he was destined to return home one day, like many of us. He did. His mother’s funeral drew him back to Samoa and Prime Minister Tuilaepa seized the opportunity. Faipopo was arrested and charged under the Criminal Libel Act, which had recently been revived to try and catch another online character, called O.L.P.
We don’t need to tell you the story about O.L.P.
But Tuilaepa made some extremely valuable points worth revisiting in this piece.
“I am not prohibiting anyone from exercising their freedom of speech or freedom of expression but I take issue when the rights of the innocent, like myself are violated through lies and deceit,” Tuilaepa said.
“This kind of lying and attacking members of the community through social media is what the law was designed to prevent. And my respect is based on factual claims provided there is sufficient evidence to prove that the claims are truthful.”
About the political assassination, Tuilaepa reminded: “It’s a public record that the men who assassinated the late Cabinet Minister had their fair trial and were convicted but this nit wit appears to have his own story to prove otherwise. If that is the case, it’s only fair for him to present his evidence in Court in Samoa.”
That was last year. Fast-forward to today, King Faipopo has done anything but.
In Court last week, he pleaded guilty to the Criminal Libel charge against him and is scheduled to be sentenced on 8th August 2019.
The legal experts will probably have a better idea about the kind of sentence King Faipopo could face. From our standpoint though, the sentence must reflect the seriousness of the offense.
Indeed, it must send out a message to people who abuse social media and other online platforms to deliberately spread false and malicious allegations designed to hurt others.
King Faipopo should be made an example. The message must be that just because you have the freedom to post and say anything, it doesn’t mean you are free to be stupid, irresponsible and abuse other people with reckless abandonment.
Freedom comes with responsibility and it must be exercised with great care and love rather than to divide, hurt and humiliate innocent people.
Speaking of that, what has become of the search by Prime Minister Tuilaepa's Government for the identity of the online blogger O.L.P?
Have a peaceful Sunday Samoa, God bless!