Samoa needs a strong opposition party

The return of the reinvigorated Tautua Samoa Party is a welcome development for democracy in this country, especially with the next General Election drawing closer.

But the Tautua Samoa Party and the other political parties including the Samoa National Democratic Party (S.N.D.P) and the Samoa First Political Party have so much work to do. This is so they could become a voice rather than just noise.

Nothing can be further from the truth. Up until now, the only established voice when it comes to the political sphere in Samoa is that of the powerful Human Rights Protection Party (H.R.P.P.).

That has been the case for nearly 40 years now. In Samoa today, it’s undeniable that the H.R.P.P. has become far too powerful that they have the ability to do whatever they want wherever, however and whenever. This is unhealthy.

This is why the emergence of three other political parties in Samoa is critical. Samoa sorely needs a credible opposition party or parties. That much is undeniable.

But for that to happen, these so-called opposition parties need to be serious first and foremost about themselves. They need to be doing more than merely making vague noises. They need to offer a platform where voters will take them a lot more seriously. Why should the voters trust them?

A year away from the General Election that should already be happening. Sad to say, all we have seen and heard up until this point have been merely noises. And a lot of the noises lack any credibility when it comes to the meaty issues.

Which is not what this country needs right now.

We are at a critical juncture of our journey as a nation. While the H.R.P.P. has achieved a lot for Samoa - which we are extremely grateful for – history exists to remind us that power tends to corrupt, and absolute power corrupts absolutely.

The fact that so much power is concentrated in the hands of one political party cannot be good for Samoa in the long run. We have seen the result of this over the years. That is why developments such as a re-launch of the Tautua Samoa Party last Friday are important.

Now let’s be realistic here. The Tautua Samoa and other political parties are up against an extremely powerful machine. It would be foolish of us to expect changes right away but you’ve got to start somewhere.

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At the party launch on Friday, President Luagalau Dr. Wood Salele and the Tautua’s executive members, declared: “We are ready to take over Government with 49 new candidates to run in the General Election.”

That is a bold declaration, don’t you think? They also revealed their election manifesto titled: “A new beginning: Serve to uphold justice and prosperity for all citizens of Samoa, be true, Samoa is founded upon God.”  The manifesto contained a lot their plans and policies which is a great start.

Away from the manifesto, Tautua’s Executive member and former Cabinet Minister, Le Tagaloa Pita, came out all guns blazing.

“Have they fulfilled those promises they made to you?” he said about the H.R.P.P’s election promises from the last General Election.

 “The people voted for H.R.P.P. and it has concluded with 83 deaths from measles and a low immunisation coverage under the current Government.”

“Let them answer to the country and its grievances.”

That wasn’t all Le Tagaloa was fired up about.

“They say Samoa is founded on God but they moved to tax church ministers who are being fed by donations from the villages. But are they (government officials) paying tax for the envelopes they get from cultural events?”

That’s a good question. The controversy where church ministers are now required to pay taxes could become an important election issue, especially with the involvement of the biggest denomination on the land, the Congregational Christian Church of Samoa (C.C.C.S.).

It would be very interesting to see what Prime Minister Tuilaepa Dr. Sa’ilele Malielegaoi says in response. Speaking of Tuilaepa, the President of Tautua described him as a "colourful" man.

 “He is a comedian at times, he’s a scientist and an engineer and at times he answers like a comedian,” Luagalau said. “Our reply to him is a quote from MacBeth: Shakespeare that said 'it is a tale told by an idiot, full of sound and fury, signifying nothing'.”

Well if that’s a sign of things to come, the next few months will be a very interesting time. Stay tuned!

Have a restful Sunday Samoa, God bless!

 

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