Pacific Media Watch

13 May 2016

SAMOA: Opinion: Samoa Observer on the 'playing the palagi' card

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Mata'afa Keni Lesa ... Samoan PM "shooting his government in the foot". Image: Samoa Observer

APIA (Samoa Observer/Pacific Media Watch): Samoa Observer editor Mata'afa Keni Lesa takes Samoan Prime Minister Tuilaepa Sa’ilele Malielegaoi to task in an editorial over blaming school behaviour on the palagi:


Samoa Observer editorial by Mata'afa Keni Lesa

Prime Minister Tuilaepa Sa’ilele Malielegaoi’s reaction to the growing instances of interschool violence in Samoa, which has led to the temporary closure of Avele College, is all so typical, isn’t it? 

It goes back to what this column has been saying for some time now. We are referring to the fact that our people generally welcome and embrace most things palagi except when it comes to things that make us look bad. Then we suddenly play the Samoa vs palagi card.

Tuilaepa’s comments are a classic example. 

To be brutally frank, it’s arrogant at best and it borders on racism at worst. It speaks of an inherit trait to pass the blame, totally ignoring responsibility and refusing to own up to the problems of today. 

For the uninitiated, on Sunday, Tuilaepa attributed the growing problem of interschool violence to Samoa’s decision to adopt a number of international conventions giving children more freedom and rights.

Tuilaepa did not name a particular convention by the way. Maybe he should have so we can be absolutely clear.

In any case, according to the Prime Minister, these conventions – whatever they are - contradict the teachings of the Holy Bible, which he said should be strictly adhered to by all Samoans.

“We can’t hide this from parents and the teachers that they can no longer control their children,” said Tuilaepa. 

“It’s all because they reached out to these legislations from overseas instead of using the teachings of the Bible. Spare the rod and spoil the child is one of the teachings that should be used to deal with children.”

We agree to an extent that the principle of sparing the rod and spoiling the child has its merits. Used sparingly and sensibly, it can help solve a lot of our problems today.  

We also accept the fact that some of these foreign country-driven conventions are contributing in a small way to differences of opinions between parents and children. These send out mixed messages so that the lines are often blurred between the roles, obligations and responsibilities of adults and children.

But ladies and gentlemen, it is absolutely ludicrous to suggest that what’s happening in Samoa today is the result of these conventions. It is nonsense coming from the very leader of the same government who signed and ratified these conventions for Samoa to follow.

In essence, by attacking these international conventions, Tuilaepa is shooting his government in the foot. 

Let me remind you that the ruling Human Rights Protection Party (HRPP) which Tuilaepa has gleefully lorded over during the past many years introduced a lot of these conventions to Samoa. 

They are still doing so today.

11 May 2016

PM blames 'palagi' law

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