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Skyline refutes reports, stands by Olioli wine

Skyline, the company producing Olioli wine, has objected to media reports, including two articles printed by the Samoa Observer, attributing the rise in the number of alcohol-fuelled incidents to their product.

The company’s objection was raised in a letter to the Editor of the Samoa Observer, Mata’afa Keni Lesa, from PL Strategy Consulting Limited, a legal firm the company hired to write to the newspaper.  The Directors of the legal firm are former Chief Justice, Patu Falefatu Sapolu and Luamanuvao Katalina Maka Sapolu.

The letter, signed by Luamanuvao, is the most comprehensive response from Skyline after unsuccessful attempts from the Samoa Observer during the recent past, including visits to their office, to get comments on the claims about their product in question.

According to the letter, Skyline says a story titled “Cheap, strong Olioli high risk: Salvation Army” and a Street Talk under the headline, “What do you think about Olioli wine?” were unfairly damaging of its product.

“Skyline respects and supports the freedom of expression of the press. Freedom of expression is one of the fundamental rights provided in our Constitution,” the letter dated 12 June 2020 reads.

“However, we are concerned that sometimes members of the public provide to the press information which could be misleading and unfairly damaging to others.”

The company also disputed claims by the Salvation Army’s Team Leader, Sailivao Aukusotino Senio, who claimed the wine was responsible for some of the “blackouts” reported to them.  

“The Salvation Army which was only established in Samoa in May 2018, seemed to be putting the blame on the Olioli wine and Skyline for this rise in number of alcohol-fuelled incidents whatever these incidents were,” the letter reads.

“The same article also states that the Olioli wine “is very dangerous to consume…” and there is also the “risk of an alcohol-included coma which could result in death”. Parts of the second article expressly state or clearly imply that the Olioli wine “causes health problems…and should it be banned”. Those statements are disparaging and clearly damaging of the Olioli wine and Skyline’s business.”

According to the company, alcohol related problems are not new to Samoa.

 “It became a serious problem which ultimately led to the establishment in February 2016 of the Alcohol and Drugs Court with which the work of the Salvation Army is associated. Olioli was only produced and sold by Skyline in September 2018.”

Skyline also pointed to a Ministry of Justice research in 2012, which found that 44% of crimes which were dealt with by the Supreme Court were linked to the use of alcohol and drugs.

“In 2013, the figure rose to 51% and in 2014 it “spiked” to 72%,” the letter from Skyline continues.

“Olioli is not the only alcoholic beverage available in the market – there are other locally manufactured beers and hard liquors and imported wines and hard liquors.

“These beverages and liquors have different percentages of alcohol ranging from 5.5% to 40% as in the rice wine vodka commonly known as Fagu Maso. The alcohol content of the Olioli beverages is 8% and 13%.”

The Skyline lawyers also point to the fact that Skyline’s products were formally tested by the Scientific Research Organisation of Samoa (S.R.O.S.) which uses an internationally accepted test standard.

“They also met the test standards set by the Ministry of Health and it was on the basis of those tests’ results, that the Samoa Liquor Board approved the production of the Olioli beverages.

“Skyline respectfully says that the effect of alcohol generally, on crime, is not caused by the percentage of alcohol in the drink or its price, but through excessive or irresponsible drinking which can lead to the loss of consciousness and/or self-control. As shown by the crime figures above, cost could not have been a factor in the rise in alcohol and drug related crime.

“A reasonable market competition, a varied selection and affordable prices are all good for Samoa’s developing economy and Skyline hopes it can bring wider choice for people to enjoy. People however, are encouraged to take responsibility for their choice.”

The letter concluded that Skyline would continue to serve its customers with respect to the culture, laws and people of Samoa.

“It hopes that the media reports and programmes an Olioli are not motivated by unfair competition from any business rivals.”


The following is the letter in full:

PL STRATEGY CONSULTING LIMITED 

Directors: Patu Falefatu Maka Sapolu, BA, MA (Hons), LLB

                  Luamanuvao Katalina Maka Sapolu BA, LLM

12 June 2020
 

Mr Mataafa Keni Lesa

Editor

Samoa Observer

APIA

 

Dear Sir

RE: OLIOLI WINE

  1. We have been consulted and advised by the Skyline Company Ltd (Skyline) that in the issue of your newspaper of 6 June 2020, two articles were published which were unfairly damaging of its product the “Olioli Wine”. The said articles were under the headings “Cheap, strong Olioli high risk: Salvation Army” and “What do you think about Olioli wine?

 

  1. Skyline respects and supports the freedom of expression of the press. Freedom of expression is one of the fundamental rights provided in our Constitution. However, we are concerned that sometimes members of the public provide to the press information which could be misleading and unfairly damaging to others. We are concerned that this is likely to have occurred in this case. Hence, our writing to you, Mr Editor.

 

  1. The first of the above newspaper articles states that the Olioli wine is “behind a rising number of alcohol-fuelled incidents”. The Salvation Army which was only established in Samoa in May 2018, seemed to be putting the blame on the Olioli wine and Skyline for this rise in number of alcohol-fuelled incidents whatever these incidents were. The same article also states that the Olioli wine “is very dangerous to consume…” and there is also the “risk of an alcohol-included coma which could result in death”. Parts of the second article expressly state or clearly imply that the Olioli wine “causes health problems…and should it be banned”. Those statements are disparaging and clearly damaging of the Olioli wine and Skyline’s business.

 

  1. As you must be aware Mr. Editor, alcohol related criminal and traffic offending have been in Samoa for a very long time. It became a serious problem which ultimately led to the establishment in February 2016 of the Alcohol and Drugs Court with which the work of the Salvation Army is associated. Olioli was only produced and sold by Skyline in September 2018.

 

  1. In a Ministry of Justice research as reported by the Samoa Observer on 28 February 2016, in 2012 about 44% of crimes which were dealt with by the Supreme Court were linked to the use of alcohol and drugs. In 2013, the figure rose to 51% and in 2014 it “spiked” to 72%.

 

  1. Olioli is not the only alcoholic beverage available in the market – there are other locally manufactured beers and hard liquors and imported wines and hard liquors. These beverages and liquors have different percentages of alcohol ranging from 5.5% to 40% as in the rice wine vodka commonly known as Fagu Maso. The alcohol content of the Olioli beverages is 8% and 13%.

 

  1. Skyline’s products were formally tested by the Scientific Research Organisation of Samoa (SROS) which uses an internationally accepted test standard. They also met the test standards set by the Ministry of Health and it was on the basis of those tests’ results, that the Samoa Liquor Board approved the production of the Olioli beverages.

 

  1. Skyline respectfully says that the effect of alcohol generally, on crime, is not caused by the percentage of alcohol in the drink or its price, but through excessive or irresponsible drinking which can lead to the loss of consciousness and/or self-control. As shown by the crime figures above, cost could not have been a factor in the rise in alcohol and drug related crime.

 

  1. A reasonable market competition, a varied selection and affordable prices are all good for Samoa’s developing economy and Skyline hopes it can bring wider choice for people to enjoy. People however, are encouraged to take responsibility for their choice.

 

  1.  Skyline will continue to serve its customers with respect to the culture, laws and people of Samoa and wishes to continue to contribute to the developing economy of the country. It hopes that the media reports and programmes an Olioli are not motivated by unfair competition from any business rivals.

 

Yours sincerely

PL STRATEGY CONSULTING LTD

  

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