When a Government has so much power they even want to control the dead

It gets better everyday, doesn’t it? Has this Government become so power hungry that even in death they want to control how and where Samoans are buried?

Is it their crusade to make sure they have a say in every singe part of our lives from the car we drive, the way we worship, how we do our fa’alavelave and now to the point where they want to meddle with dead people?

The questions naturally come to mind after a number of developments, which really make us wonder about the kind of democracy we have in Samoa today.

Okay, let’s be fair: we live in a one-party state and some of the things we are seeing are symptoms of one political party having far too much power.

The fact the Government can do anything it wants on any given day is testament to that. It’s not entirely the Government’s fault though; the people of this country are as much to blame because this is what they voted for.

Here is the thing, ladies and gentlemen, it is not normal for one political party to have total dominance and rule a country for close to 40 years.

The worry is that from looking around the world, it’s not uncommon for regimes that dominate for so long to abuse their power because they feel they are invincible.

Which is what appears to be unfolding before our very eyes in Samoa today.

Don’t you think a number of laws being introduced in quick succession lately by this Government are repressive? The most terrifying of them all is the threat to jail whistle blowers for up to seven years for leaking Government information.

It is a threatening piece of legislation that speaks volumes about what Samoa has become. Indeed, this has got to be the most terrifying piece of legislation insofar as freedom of information goes in this country.

As if the Government doesn’t already control the majority of the media in this country, they have now placed unquestionable fear in public servants who want to expose what is going on. What are they afraid of? What top secret are they trying to hide from you, members of the public whom they exist to serve?

Now another interesting law surfaced last week. We are talking about the “Human Remains Repatriation Policy” announced by the Chief Executive Officer of the Ministry of Prime Minister and Cabinet, Agafili Shem Leo, last week.

Speaking during a media conference, Agafili stressed that the Government is asking Samoans residing overseas to abide by the policy to “ensure Samoa's borders are not compromised.”

“It’s a policy that’s designed by the Government in collaboration with other agencies working together to ensure that our borders are protected and our national security is up to standard and our people are safe,” he said.

“We don’t want a repeat of 1918 where the pandemic influenza wiped out nearly 25 per cent of the country. We are asking all the citizens of Samoa residing overseas to abide by the requirements of this Government policy to ensure our borders are never compromised.”

Let’s just say the intentions of the policy are good. It’s about safety and the general protection of Samoa, which is great.

But is it really necessary? And if we are talking about the 1918 influenza, it wasn’t the Samoan people who caused it. And it certainly was not a Samoan who died somewhere and brought back here that triggered the massacre of 1918. We all know the story. Even the kids. So to even suggest it as a reason for this law is insulting.

Which is why we find the reasoning behind this policy ironic. If anything, it once again appears to target Samoans residing overseas, making it extra difficult for them to honour the wishes of their loved ones to be brought back for burial.

Think about this for a second. It wasn’t that long ago that the Government announced a plan to set up a register for all Samoans living overseas. And now it appears they also want every detail about the dead ones. What’s going on here? Who is the brilliant mind behind all these laws?

The truth is that from where we stand, all these new additional requirements – including an official written request to the Government, an information biodata on the deceased, among other requirements, will only cost members of public more time and money. And since we are talking about dead people, it will make life miserable and the mourning even more acute because of all the headaches it promises to create.

Let’s not forget the fact we live in Samoa where deaths are very big events in everyday life. Families will move mountains and do whatever it takes to ensure they give their loved ones a fitting send off.

No Samoan family will ever want to dishonour a last wish by a relative, let alone elderly parents, to be brought back to Samoa for burial.

Now, did you know that this new piece of legislation gives the Government the power to decline a request for a Samoan to be brought back to his/her homeland for burial?

Have a great Tuesday Samoa. God bless!

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