King Faipopo’s jailing, freedom, responsibility and the mystery of O.L.P.
So there we have it. The “king of coconut collectors” is going to jail.
After several months of enjoying the spotlight, which included pulling off eye-catching poses and waves at media cameras, Malele Paulo, infamously known as King Faipopo* is today the new king of Tanumalala Prison.
It’s a place he might have to get used to… for a while anyway.
While he’s been given a seven-week sentence for violating the Government’s recently revived Criminal Libel law, King Faipopo has pleaded not guilty to a plot to assassinate Prime Minister Tuilaepa Dr. Sa’ilele Malielegaoi in a separate Court matter.
The hearing is pending.
In the meantime, regardless of what happens in that case, King Faipopo has already carved a path to infamy no one in their right mind should ever dream of taking. On Friday, he became the first Samoan to be jailed for a Facebook post.
A story titled “Facebook post defaming P.M. puts King Faipopo behind bars”, published on the front page of the Weekend Observer, had all the details. We encourage you to read it.
Why? Judge Alalatoa Rosella Papalii makes some excellent observations we believe everyone should take the time to think about, given the growing popularity of social media use – and in some cases, including King Faipopo’s – abuse.
From our standpoint – and we made this position very clear from the start – is that we do not condone the use of social media and other online platforms to deliberately spread false and malicious allegations designed to hurt others.
Indeed, people must be reminded 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.
For the uninitiated, Paulo had initially faced 14 charges in relation to allegations he made in a social media post while he was in Australia. He called Prime Minister Tuilaepa a “conman, liar and a murderer.” 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.”
Ladies and gentlemen, these are very, very serious allegations. Not only are they extremely damaging to be made against anyone, they were being made against a man who has spent the last 20 years being the Prime Minister of the independent state of Samoa.
Now people who know Prime Minister Tuilaepa would vouch that he’s a man with thicker skin than most politicians in this country, or anywhere else for that matter.
He gives as much as he takes. Over the years, he’s developed quite a fierce reputation for calling people names ranging from “idiots, fools, stinking pigs, kids, dogs” and more.
But King Faipopo’s allegations were another level inappropriate.
Indeed, Prime Minister Tuilaepa might come across as arrogant sometimes but he is none of what King Faipopo called him. Which makes King Faipopo’s allegations nothing but lies.
This is why the Court needed to send out a deterrence message to the wider community, using King Faipopo’s stupidity as an example.
Listen to Judge Alalatoa.
“This was not some impromptu, accidental post or honest mistake or even an inadvertent error. You had thought it through, rehearsed your lines like a White Sunday tauloto (memory verse) and even dressed the part to go with the image of the celebrity superstar you think you are,” she said.
“The contents of the post were false, malicious, inflammatory, inciteful, insulting, abusive and calculated to injure and vilify the victim exposing him to contempt and hatred.
“There is no truth at all to the statement you made, rather it was a mixture of fake news riddled with deliberate lies intended to expose the victim to unnecessary shame, hatred, contempt and ridicule. We most certainly saw this in the thread of comments incited by your post. It is character assassination at its worst.”
The Prime Minister has been made the victim in this particular case.
But it could have been anybody. We are all vulnerable. This is why a strong message, such as the jailing of someone for deliberately spreading false allegations, needed to be made.
Judge Alalatoa said a lot more in her decision but we will stop here. Her point has been made, and its one we want to again highlight and remind our readers and the wider members of the public who are on social media spaces, about the need to be responsible for what they post out there. There are boundaries that must be respected.
Lastly, a reference we found interesting was made by Judge Alalatoa in relation to Samoa’s most wanted blogger (or bloggers) behind the O.L.P. page.
“It is known for its character assassination blogs and crusade against the victim, prominent government and public officials and private individuals,” Judge Alalatoa said. “It is psychologically and emotionally traumatising causing harms to innocent lives even self-inflicted loss of life. It must be stopped.”
We agree that it must be stopped.
But is “King Faipopo” O.L.P?
In the meantime, have a peaceful Sunday Samoa, God bless!
* Faipopo is a Samoan word that refers to a person who collects coconuts.