M.P. calls for "hate crime" laws following attack
The murder of a Chinese national on Saturday night has been labelled as a “hate crime” by senior Member of Parliament, Lealailepule Rimoni Aiafi, who has called for a law to address the rapid trend of anti-Chinese violence.
The Associate Minister for Communications and Information Technology said Saturday's attack - believed to be a targeted armed robbery that turned violent and left Chinese national Cao Yaqing dead - gave a false impression of Samoa as a racist country.
“The Samoa Government has invested into the stability and the safety of our [local] Chinese [population and] foreign Chinese brothers and sisters; and the actions of these thugs have threatened the [harmony] already in place," the M.P. for the Faleata Sisifo constituency said.
“There should be a maximum of 20 years’ incarceration for people that violate this law and this measure targets to protect expats, tourists and foreign nationals.
“This cycle of violence against the Chinese is a trend that should be addressed immediately. I have been in Parliament for 15 years and this is the first time this has occurred.”
Four men were arrested on Tuesday and one is facing a murder charge over the incident.
The M.P. said the the Government should act immediately to establish a law to curb racially-motivated violence.
Leala said hate crimes were motivated by hatred of certain ethnic groups, lately Chinese nationals.
It appears that Vaitele is being targeted, the M.P. said, and its residents will hold a town hall meeting this week to revive the Vaitele Village Council.
“This Council will be working together with the government and the police. In Vaitele there are three Village Mayors and we will revive the neighbourhood watch and have certain people roam the area at night for deterrence. And inform the police for any suspected acts in the area,” said Leala.
“We have worked tirelessly to attract investors to assist with the economy; to have competition so prices of goods are sold at a minimum to cater to the low income families and yet the Chinese are being targeted.”
He also noted Chinese government assistance makes a significant contribution to Samoa's development.