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Hollywood exposure priceless for Samoa, thank you Seiuli Dwayne Johnson!

Any publicity is good publicity, right? When it comes to the exposure of Samoa on the Hollywood blockbuster movie, Hobbs & Shaw, we believe that this country owes Seiuli Dwayne Johnson and his team a vote of thanks.Apart from the fact that it cost Samoa nothing for the free promotion of its name to millions and millions of movie fans across the globe, the idea that Samoa is being talked about in circles and countries around the world – which would not normally happen – is a lot better than not being talked about at all.Now don’t get me wrong. Everyone is entitled to an opinion and every Samoan who has seen the movie will have something to say. Good and bad.We are aware that a lot has been said and much more will continue to be said after this. Which is okay, that’s what freedom of opinion is all about. But perspective is critical we believe and that comes from being truthful with ourselves.This writer was fortunate enough to watch the first screening of this movie in Melbourne, Australia. The huge cinema was packed by many non-Samoans who were left extremely impressed. As a Samoan, I walked out feeling very proud.Whether Seiuli’s pronunciation of certain Samoan words were good or whether the Samoa in the movie was Samoan enough, that’s irrelevant.Folks, we are talking about a movie produced in Hollywood here. Need we say more? The producers never set out to say that this movie was to be the sole authority on the Samoan language or everything Samoan. It was never meant to be a lecture or a documentary about the Samoan culture and families. If in the eyes of some Samoans that the movie looked and sounded plastic, well what did they expect? It’s a Hollywood movie.Let’s face it; Samoa is a small country with limited resources and little money. Our people are often our biggest resource. This includes Samoans born in Samoa and thousands of others born everywhere else in the world.Many of those Samoans cannot speak Samoan and they share a very different perspective about Samoa and the fa’asamoa. Does that make them any less Samoan? We don’t think so.Out there in the world today, Seiuli Dwayne Johnson is arguably the most recognised Samoan there is. He is adored by millions with every thing he posts on his social media accounts followed by millions more. The mere fact that he chose, what is perhaps his biggest film of them all, to direct attention on Samoa is something we should all be proud of.Who are we to judge his intentions? And so what if he couldn’t pronounce Samoan words properly? Have you heard many of the young people living in Samoa today speak Samoan?Indeed, we need to bring some proper perspective into these conversations. And we need to show some appreciation about what other people are doing out of pride in themselves, families and countries.Having the name Samoa exposed to millions on the big screen in Hollywood and elsewhere in the world, where the movie is screened, is not a small feat. Such exposure, especially for a minority culture in a country that is nothing more than just a dot on the world map, usually costs millions of dollars to achieve. Many other countries would love the marketing opportunity.And here we are today; one proud Samoan in Seiuli Dwayne has done it for no cost at all. From what he knows about himself, his Samoan side and his upbringing, he has shared it with the world through what he does best. And thanks to him, so many other people today now know a little bit about Samoa and what we are about, due to his passion and pride in himself.What’s more, even people who never knew that there was actually a place called Samoa might now be interested. Folks, believe it or not, there are millions of people in the world who don’t know that there is an actual country called Samoa.Now how do you place a value on such a gesture? How often do we get this kind of exposure? Which is why Prime Minister Tuilaepa Dr. Sa’ilele Malielegaoi was correct to publicly acknowledge Seiuli.Said Tuilaepa: “We are extremely proud of your achievements and your latest blockbuster movie Hobbs & Shaw. For a few seconds, Seiuli immortalised our country, our people and our Samoan identity on the silver screen.“And for that Seiuli and all of the Samoan actors and actresses in the movie have more than earned the Government and People of Samoa’s approval and highest commendation.”We couldn’t agree more. Like Prime Minister Tuilaepa, we take our hat off to Seiuil Dwayne and his team. We want to say a big faafetai.This of course comes with a request. Since there will be sequel, why not bring the filming of it to Samoa? Imagine one of those scenes featuring Seiuli, Jason Statham and Idris Elba being filmed at the To Sua Trench, Robert Louis Stevenson trail or any of the many breathtakingly beautiful places across Samoa? This can only be good for this country.By the way, congratulations to Seiuli and his wife Lauren Hashian for tying the knot.Have a wonderful Wednesday Samoa, God bless!

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The vicious school attack and its effect on addressing gender-based violence

Schools are institutions of learning for our children. They are supposed to guarantee safety for students, teachers and staff and provide a conducive environment for Samoa’s next generation to be moulded and imparted with knowledge to prepare them to face the world.But last Thursday the unthinkable happened in front of Vaivase Primary School. Four unidentified women descended on the school and attacked 41-year-old mother Lesina Fidow, as she waited to pick up her four children, who happen to attend that particular school.It was a cowardly attack. The four women dragged her from her car, stripped and beat her up, in front of her terrified children. Mrs Fidow told this newspaper that she had to be hospitalised for four days following the horrific attack.There is no doubt her children remain traumatised to this very day, having seen their mother assaulted by these gang of four. The women appeared to be on a vicious mission and decided that of all places – they will attack her outside a school and in front of her children – again shameful conduct."Our own personal motherly and friendly dramas [are] causing my son to stay home because he’s scared to go to school now," she said.She says the attack ended shortly after a knife pierced the right side of her head. “I [had] nothing else on my mind but my children and I got to admit I was scared that something worse might happen to me in front of my children and worse, I was naked all over.”Vaivase resident Motiana Aukuso, who witnessed the brazen assault, described how the victim’s children yelled out for help when their mother was attacked."Whatever reasons those women had, they should’ve done it without her children looking. We all do not know what the real issue is and who is right or wrong but my point is, we are all Samoans and having children involved in a situation like this is indescribable.”The irony behind this story is the concerted effort that the community is making to address gender-based violence which victimises women in Samoa. Various studies over the years including the Office of the Ombudsman’s two-year inquiry – which was released in September 2018 – highlight alarming statistics in Samoa. The Office of the Ombudsman Inquiry concluded that 90 per cent of intimate partner violence in Samoa goes unreported.Gender-based violence in all its forms is unacceptable. But what do we do when women are viciously attacking other women, dragging them out of cars and assaulting them in front of their children? Why should our children in schools be exposed to violent behaviour, this time perpetrated by women? Should women be peacemakers in our communities rather than become agents of disunity and violence as happened last Thursday? It is tragic that the four women who perpetrated the attack choose to overlook community dispute resolution mechanisms such as the village councils or even the Police to address their grievance. And taking the dispute to the front yard of a community school – in full view of the students and parents picking up their children – was totally unacceptable. It appears Mrs Fidow knows the identities of two of the four women. We hope she does the right thing as a law abiding citizen and lay a complaint with the Police so her assailants can be charged for assault. She needs to take that step so such behaviour in the future  is not condoned or promoted and instead condemned. The actions of the four women is also a disincentive to the gender empowerment movement, where women leadership is critically needed to turn the tide and fortunes of the people, in a male-dominated society. And let us not forget too that violence begets violence. Therefore, having women as the perpetrators of such violence does not augur well for a loving, peaceful and violence-free community that we all aspire for.Have a lovely Thursday Samoa and God bless. 

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Why the alleged assassination plot against the P.M. cannot be ignored

The alleged plot to assassinate Prime Minister Tuilaepa Dr. Sa’ilele Malielegaoi is sad and unnecessary. And while it’s hard to believe that this could actually be happening in peaceful Samoa, a place we’d like to refer to as our slice of paradise, the authorities cannot be ignorant if such a threat does exist.Which is why it is reassuring to know that the Police and the relevant authorities have moved swiftly to investigate and do what is necessary to eliminate the threat once and for all.We say this knowing that some 20 years ago, no one could have imagined that a political assassination was possible in Samoa. And yet what unfolded then, when a Cabinet Minister was shot during the celebration of the birthday of the Human Rights Protection Party (H.R.P.P.) at Alafua, will forever be etched in the memory on this proud nation as one of its darkest days.Indeed the shooting of the late Luagalau Levaula Kamu by the son of another Cabinet Minister will remain as proof that when anger, hate and lust for more power and material wealth remain untreated, the impossible becomes very possible, even in places where we least expect it.That’s precisely what happened in 1999.Twenty years on, here we are today talking about another alleged assassination plot. We don’t know all the details yet but the matter is serious enough that the Police have moved swiftly. One of the suspects has been identified as Samoa First Party candidate, Lema’i Faioso Sione, who was apparently taken in by the Police for questioning on Thursday night.Another one is Malele Atofu Paulo, better known as King Faipopo, who was arrested yesterday at the Court House at Mulinu’u. Speaking to the Samoa Observer before his arrest, Paulo denied the alleged plot.“I got nothing to do with it,” he said. “It brings sadness to my heart because the world thinks that I am that kind of person but I am not.”Lema’i and Paulo’s lawyer, Unasa Iuni Sapolu, confirmed her clients are suspects in the alleged conspiracy to plan the assassination of the Prime Minister. She questioned the search and the validity of the decision to detain her clients.“Let’s see what evidence they have,” said Unasa, adding that unless there is evidence to prove the claims, the men are otherwise innocent.She’s correct. At this stage, it is premature to draw a conclusion on these developments. Besides we live in a country where we’d like to think that people are innocent until proven guilty.What’s important is that if the Police have found enough evidence to warrant an investigation into such an allegation, that they have not sat on their laurels but have instead moved quickly on it. At the end of the day, it could well amount to nothing.But that’s beside the point. It’s better to be safe than sorry. And there is too much hatred out there especially against Prime Minister Tuilaepa to take such threats lightly.Looking at Samoa today, despite the challenges, we remain a peaceful country. We continue to be a leader in the Pacific region, and to some extent the world, when it comes to peace and political stability.But let’s not be complacent here, ladies and gentlemen. And let’s not also be ignorant of threats being posed to exert harm and fear. There are people out there who harbour motives that are evil and deadly.We need to think back and revisit the lessons of 1999 when the unthinkable happened on these shores. What we remember from the time was the evidence of corruption, frictions between members of the ruling political party, animosity among leaders in the country and the eerie calmness that preceded what unfolded. There is a reason they say history always repeats itself.What we also need to remember is that when Luagalau was shot on that fateful day, he wasn’t the only target. There were others on the hit list – including Prime Minister Tuilaepa. Other people on that list were high profile figures in the community.As a country, we cannot be ignorant of the alleged threat to assassinate the Prime Minister. If the threat is genuine, we must stand up against it by denouncing it and doing everything possible to avoid a repeat of that fateful night at Alafua 20 years ago.Stay safe Samoa and may God help us all.

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Club vs. country: Same rhetoric, different World Cup year

It’s a tough one, isn’t it? But it’s not a new issue for Samoan rugby and other nations considered “minnows” in the rugby world.We are talking about the never-ending challenge posed by club vs. country, an issue that has once again reared its ugly head a few months out from the 2019 Rugby World Cup in Japan.Indeed, people who follow rugby closely in this part of the world know that this issue always pops up right about now.Somewhere somehow there is always someone threatening to stop minnow countries from fielding their best teams, one way or another. Which is precisely what appears to be happening again.The story titled “New Manu players included, some opt out ahead of World Cup” gave us that dejavu feeling all over again. Published in yesterday’s Samoa Observer, it is a pity.A few months out from the World Cup, this is not what a team like the Manu Samoa needs. They already have enough on their plate. Struggling with funding and poor form, the coaching staff and the team’s leadership group shouldn’t have to worry about this.What strikes us as unusual is that after all these years; no one seems to have found a solution. It’s as if the issue exists as a convenient excuse by the powers that be to sabotage any chance by a minnow team to go far.Now listen to Manu Samoa coach, Vaeluagaomatagi Steve Jackson, again. Talking about the World Cup squad, he warned that there would be “speculation” as to why some expected names are off the list. The answer?“Club over country,” he said. “There will be speculation about players that aren’t there and it’s purely because they have made themselves unavailable.”The coach would not divulge the identities of the players except to say that “there was a few, I can tell you. It’s pretty much club over country which is the reality we deal with at the moment.”For senior players Jack Lam and Alapati Leiua, they would have seen it over the years.“Obviously it’s quite sad that our players even have to be put in that position where they have to choose club over country,” Lam said.“For some of those players, they have to look after their families and they have chosen to do that, and for others it’s a  matter of how much do you really want to play for Samoa and how much do you want to play in the jersey.”Lam is absolutely correct. At the end of the day, it comes down to what an individual player considers as his priority. While pride for country and family is one thing, rugby puts food on the table for these players. It’s something Samoan rugby cannot do when it has no money. Many of these players take a huge risk when they leave their clubs to represent their countries.Which is why the voice of former Manu Samoa, Daniel Leo, continues to be one of reason when it comes to the issue of changing eligibility rules. Speaking to TVNZ, he said the richer tier one nations need to "release their grip" on the game if rugby is to grow globally. This includes allowing professional players who are not needed by these big teams to turn up for other countries."For me that’s a no brainer. It’s something that wouldn’t cost anything to change," he says."It would be an easy way to help smaller nations and smaller populations on less resources, and it’s something that wouldn’t break World Rugby’s bank too.""This is a non-monetary way that we could invest into teams, not just the Pacific Islands, other tier two nations as well would hugely benefit from getting some of their players back who may have been capped for other countries."Leo warned that without financial incentive for players to play professionally at home the game will struggle to grow."That’s the issue with the current eligibility laws, is that you make that decision based not on your loyalty necessarily to a jumper, but on your economic situation,” he said."And not just that of you personally but in a lot of Pacific Islanders’ case that of your family."And the reality of the sport at the moment is that if I was to play for the All Blacks, or for England, or for Ireland, I’ll make a heck of a lot more than if I play for Samoa or Fiji.""That’s only going to change if some of these richer nations release their grip on the financing of the game and get behind this policy change."Leo couldn’t have said it better and we could not agree more. But then this talk is old; this is the same rhetoric we hear every year the World Cup comes around. We are tired of it to be quite honest.Chances are that after this latest round, nothing will come from it. Typical.To be fair to Coach Vaeluaga, at least he is trying to be positive.“It is what it is, and we can’t have players that want to second guess playing for the jersey, we want guys that are hungry and want to be there,” he said. “There will be some new players coming into camp in the next few days and that is exciting in and of itself.”His optimism is to be commended.But then again, this issue is probably a nice distraction from the real story, which is that a couple of months out from the World Cup, Samoan rugby is far from being prepared judging from its recent form during the Pacific Nations Cup.The good news is that miracles still happen and there are a few days from now until 24 September 2019 when Manu Samoa takes on Russia in its first World Cup match. Let’s pray.Have a wonderful weekend Samoa, God bless!

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Street Talk

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What does Manu Samoa need to do to prepare for the Rugby World Cup?

To me the Manu Samoa is good right now, but every game I watch they are doing great, and they should know know that in the Rugby World Cup competition they are going against the number one team of every country around the world. Well, from my observation of the game against Fiji, the thing that Manu Samoa need to improve is their fitness of players; the team should have a great fitness but the players have good skills in playing but they lack fitness. My view is Manu Samoa players are still not ready for the Rugby World Cup competition because they will go against Australia, South African, New Zealand and more. In terms of improving, the team should focus on the players' fitness of the back line players. I watched the game Manu Samoa vs Fiji on Saturday night. One thing I picked up  was lack of communication between the players, like the half-back and the first-five-eighth, but I hope when it's time for the Rugby World Cup our Manu Samoa team will be ready.  Watching the game on T.V., the players' fitness is lacking. [It seems they are] not being honest with their training. The coach are doing a great job but the players are the problem. I am a big fan of the Manu Samoa rugby team [and so is] my family. The main thing that they are missing out is discipline of the players. The Manu Samoa should work hard on the fitness of their players because that is the problem and also the discipline of the team. In the game against Fiji team they had lots of errors.For me, the Manu Samoa rugby team is doing good so far. And I support the team win or lose. Things like this happen in every team just like the All Blacks rugby team. But the one thing they should know is that a Samoan person plays from the heart. They should have known how the other teams play. The important thing is the heart of a Samoan because every Samoan represents the country with their hearts.There is a difference within our team's [makeup] and I know that the coach is still looking for some other players [not available for the Pacific Nations Cup]. In the game with Fiji they should have won by many points, but they did not. Improvements should [come from] the skills of the players  such as forwards and the back-line. And they should also work on the errors from the game against the Fiji team. My personal view of our Manu Samoa rugby team: they have not yet reached the level of other teams like South Africa, Australia, New Zealand and more. For teams such as Japan, U.S.A, and other teams Manu Samoa [usually] always wins against them. But now they lose. Communication between players is lacking, for example between the second- five-eighth and the half-back. 

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Members of the public thank volunteers for Games success

For me personally I thank those people who volunteered because they did a great job helping out at the Pacific Games. A lot of them were young and still become volunteers, ensuring Samoa had a good name. I feel happy for the volunteers who showed Pacific countries Samoan people's hospitality. They have done a great job and I take off my hat to the volunteers for their effort during the Pacific Games.The volunteers did a great job as they were very helpful, in a way we need to know everything and they helped us find information about the games and other issues. I am grateful to volunteers for fulfilling their tasks which supported the games. They managed to help out and show Pacific countries that Samoan people are friendly and helpful people, overall what a fantastic job they have done. I thank the volunteers for the work they have done in supporting and helping out at the Pacific Games, as they represent Samoa and made sure the Games ended well. Also to the young children, youth and adults who were volunteers, I thank all of them for making our country proud. I thank the volunteers for the job they did, making a good name for Samoa, even they have left their families and worked as volunteers to support the games. I am grateful for the work they have done in the Pacific Games. 

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Public expect a Manu Samoa victory due to home-ground advantage

For me I watch rugby games but the thing is I don't know all the Manu Samoa players, only some like Tusi Pisi the first five eight, and Alapati Lilua, those are the only names of the players I know. The team to beat is Manu Samoa because we have new players and our team also has old players, I am 90-95 per cent sure that Samoa will win and I will watch the game at home on TV.  Well I only know Partick Fapale from Vaiala and I think the Manu Samoa will win the game against Tonga. I am 100 per cent sure that Samoa will win the match. I am working on Saturday but I would like to go and watch the game, but it depends on when the match starts, if I can’t make it I will watch it on TV.Well I like to watch rugby games especially the Manu Samoa team, but the thing is I don't know the names of the players in the team. This Saturday I will support the Samoa team and I am sure Samoa will win over Tonga. I will watch the game at home on TV.To me I only know the old players but not the new players of the Manu Samoa team, I believe that Samoa will win because the game is in Samoa, and Manu Samoa  should win in our country. I am 100 percentage sure about that and will watch the game on TV.Well I know one player Henry Stowers from New Zealand, I am hoping Manu Samoa will win the game because its a good start for our coach, management and team's development. I am 80- 100 percentage sure that Manu Samoa will win. I am attending the game at the Apia Park on Saturday to cheer on Manu Samoa. I know the Manu Samoa players but only some of them like Chirs Vui, Johnny Vaili and other players. For me it's going to be a hard game because some of the Tonga team players are from overseas, but I am sure that Manu Samoa will win. I am sure Manu Samoa will win over Tonga and I will watch the game on TV.

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"Tongans should have raised their concerns before the game kicked off"

Well to me if the Tonga had won the game they will not complain, but Samoa won the game and the Tongan team should have raised their concerns before the game started. But now they lost, well, its a loss but they complained – it wouldn't have been a problem if they won the game. Well Tonga should have raised the issue about the condition of the oval before the game started. But now they complain after the game is over? Well there is nothing that can be done about it because the game is over. For me that was the day the game was scheduled so nothing could be done about it, and I am sure the game could not be rescheduled to another day. The Tongan team is now complaining because they lost the game. For me different countries have different weather and for Samoa the match was here in Apia. The weather was rainy but if the game was held on another day, well, who knows because our team wants to win just as much as the Tongan team. I agree with Tonga's concerns about the condition of the ground at Apia Park and the bad weather. But it's too late for them to complain because the game is done and dusted, and now they complain after the game is over! But I totally agree with the concerns expressed by the Tongan team about the field and the weather.  

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Letter to Editor

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Fair play for women please

Dear Editor,There is an outcry in the ongoing South Pacific Games, unfair play.We have sports catered for male and female how is it that there is a third gender destroying women sports. Where is the fair play that we so proudly claim that our sports uphold?! For a transgender to be allowed to compete with women is beyond outrageous, only a fool will believe that a man who has undergone surgery for a sex change will fully become woman in bone structure and muscle mass. The truth is there is a huge disadvantage to women, men are stronger they have greater muscle mass; they have denser, stronger bones, tendons and ligaments. The hormones that transgender take to reduce testosterone levels does nothing to reduce their strength advantage over women.For New Zealand to push their transgender athletes into the South Pacific Games arena is foul play. Have the rules been changed? Have the South Pacific Games committee put into place rules that allow transgender to compete in the women’s category? I doubt it. We should put forward a protest to this unfair practice before it becomes the norm. Just because the outside world claim it is right does not mean that the Pacific should go along with this stupidity. If they want to compete then they can have their own transgender competitions.For so long we have fought for women’s rights and now we are witnessing the eroding of those rights. If we do not act now, there will no longer be any women’s sport in the future it will be dominated by transgenders. God created male and female, two genders not three.Leutogitupaitea

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How it works

Re: I admire the Minister  In a Westminster system, the buck stops with Cabinet.

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What are you afraid of?

Re: Issues about the HRPP bylaws  Are you afraid of democracy Wendy?

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Confidential? In Samoa?

Re: PSC Chairman writes  I sympathise with the Chairman on his plea for the paper to desist from further commentary on this case to protect the integrity of the investigation and to protect the public servants being investigated.

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