Any death threat should be condemned
It is worrying reading of the caretaker Prime Minister receiving death threats with the general election close to 20 days away.
Tuilaepa Dr. Sa'ilele Malielegaoi told his weekly programme with TV3 on Wednesday that he received multiple death threats, but used the television interview to brush aside any concerns about his security.
In true Tuilaepa style, the caretaker Prime Minister declared on television that even slipping on a peeled mango can become fatal!
“There have been so many threats, most times I am surprised to see the Police rushing to where I am, and I don’t ask, they are doing their job,” he said.
“There was one instance where such a threat went viral and I issued a response saying that if you believe that the life you live is already numbered by God, the day and the way you are called, and if the way I die is by slipping on a mango peel, then it doesn’t matter what I do, I will die by mango peels.”
But in a parliamentary democracy such as ours, there are avenues for people to show their discontent in political leadership and a government’s performance, through their vote at a general election that comes around every five years.
And if you think the actions of a political leader warrants further scrutiny, then you have the Police and even the Ombudsman and the National Human Rights Institutions, who are charged with independent powers to investigate alleged impropriety.
We are after all living in a state that embraces the rule of law where all citizens are considered equal in the eyes of the law.
Therefore, we condemn those who see fit to issue death threats against the head of a democratically-elected Government or any leader or individual for that matter.
In fact no one has the right to take the life of another human being and this is explicitly highlighted in the laws of the land.
Sadly, we don’t have to look far for an example of a political assassination, and the impact it has had on a nation state.
The events of 16 July 1999 surrounding the assassination of the Public Works Minister Luagalau Levaula Kamu during the Human Rights Protection Party’s 20th anniversary celebration in Apia, remains a dark spot on our national consciousness 58 years after the country’s independence.
It is now a part of our history that we want to do without, but have to contend is something that we now have to live with and work hard to ensure that it doesn't happen again, for the sake of this nation’s progress.
And with the country’s next general election just around the corner, our leaders will do voters and the public a favour, if they are civil in their debate and strictly confine their criticisms of political rivals to the issues.
Avoiding name-calling and personal attacks, which could stir emotions amongst party supporters or political foes, is necessary if we are to lay the foundations for a free and fair general election on April 9.
Candidates and political parties’ who chose to use social media platforms such as Facebook to campaign should also self–subscribe to a set of rules, which would guide their online activity and promote its appropriate use.
The jockeying between political parties and village councils in the last two months, over the erection of candidate billboards in the various villages, was also well documented.
But thankfully the difference in opinion (and at times political affiliation) at that time fizzled out after the candidate or party backed down.
As a nation it is important that we have confidence in our democratic institutions and the systems and processes that they use.
And subjecting our institutions and their performance over the last five-years to a post-mortem doesn’t hurt, as it is all part of our evolution as a democratic state.
Perhaps, there is discontent in Samoa’s participatory democracy and how the H.R.P.P. has governed, over the last five-years.
Then voters should realise that the power is in their hands to make a choice at the 9 April General Election.
A quote by the late U.S. Congressman John Lewis highlights the significance of your vote: “The vote is precious. It is the most powerful non–violent tool we have in a democratic society, and we must use it.”