New party great for democracy in Samoa but they have much work to do

Four is a crowd. Which is what Samoa’s political landscape looks like at the moment after the launch of the revived Samoa National Democratic Party (S.N.D.P) on Wednesday.

We now have the Tautua Party, Samoa First Political Party, Human Rights Protection Party and of course the newest kid on the block being S.N.D.P. And who knows, by the time the next General Election comes around, we could have more.

Which is fantastic for democracy, isn’t it? The more the merrier. The irony is that the S.N.D.P, which would undoubtedly aim to bring an end to the lengthy dominance of the H.R.P.P, was launched by Prime Minister, Tuilaepa Dr. Sa’ilele Malielegaoi himself. Only in Samoa right?

But that’s okay, let’s just say politics is politics.

For the uninitiated, the S.N.D.P. is a recreation of the old opposition party, the Samoa National Development Party. It is under the leadership of former Member of Parliament, Aulavemai Tafito Valasi with Vui Seigafolava Masinamua as Interim President. The party's Patron is Papali'i Titiuatoa Malietoa.

On the front page of yesterday’s Samoa Observer, we were given a glimpse of what the party intends to do. For instance, Vui said they intend to become a force on issues such as customary land, unemployment, enfranchising overseas Samoans with voting rights and much, much more.

"We are not here to act or run a film, we mean business," he declared.

On top of their agenda, according to Vui, is what he described as the diminishing role of the Constitution and laws being introduced that have eroded the sacredness of Samoa’s traditions and customs. Employment for "Samoa's many graduates" is high on the agenda.

"To create employment, we can do it; if other countries can do it then we can also do it. We need to look at this generation because they are the ones the government eventually relies on," said Vui.

And then there is the issue of allowing Samoans living overseas to vote from where they are.

"There shouldn't be a cost to vote for elections," said Vui. "[We should] open the chance to vote from overseas but with conditions of course depending on the generations overseas and their service to Samoa."

Now this is one issue that is sure to galvanize the wider Samoan community around the world. It has been debated time and time again and it would be interesting to see how far this new party will take it.

Only time will tell.

In the meantime, as we would expect, Vui said Samoans should consider giving their party an opportunity when the election comes around.

"I thank the Prime Minister and the government for what he has done for our country so far,” he said.

“But I think that if the members of the public consider us, S.N.D.P. or the other opposition party, I believe we will bring something different, we have something better to offer to the nation, to serve our country.”

Lastly, he had a message for potential party candidates. Said Vui: "My message today to anyone who wishes to run from this opposition party, the first thing is that they should not just want to become a Member of Parliament, or for the advancement of his family; the one aim is for the betterment of Samoa as a nation and its people. We don’t need those kinds of people, we only have one goal, is to serve [Samoa]."

Well that’s nice and noble, isn’t it? But it’s early days. Besides, what did we expect them to say?

Back to the launch on Wednesday, Tuilaepa, who was invited to deliver the keynote address turned up and cracked a few jokes. Aside from reminding Vui and his group that running a political party “is not easy,” he suggested that half if not more of the crowd there, and people who were supposed to be members of S.N.D.P, were people who are likely to be present at the next H.R.P.P. gathering.

That, Tuilaepa said, is the nature of Samoans who have become very good at the art of fooling politicians and giving them false hope.

Now what was he talking about? Perhaps Tuilaepa knows something he didn’t want to give details.

Whatever it was, Tuillaepa and the H.R.P.P. have been in power for the past 37 years. In Samoa today, it’s undeniable that the H.R.P.P. has become far too powerful that they have the ability to make any changes they want wherever, however and whenever. This is unhealthy.

It is why the launch of S.N.D.P. is a good development for democracy in Samoa.

But they have got a lot of work to do if they want to make a dent on the machinery that is the current ruling Government. Keep in mind that Rome wasn’t built in a day. Big things start with small steps. So we welcome them aboard and wish them all the best.

Have a fabulous Friday Samoa, God bless!  

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