Clash of the two Samoas-Democracy gone wild

It appears that a war of words has begun between two prominent (International) Samoan leaders, both of whom were elected at large by the people to be their representatives, their voice and in some instances – their savior.

Engaged now in a ‘he said, I said, he said’ battle, Faleomavaega Eni Hunkin, U.S. Congressman representative for American Samoa released a somewhat diplomatic, yet steaming response to Samoa Prime Minister – Tuilaepa Sailele Aiono Malielegaoi’s comments about how the Congressman should ‘stop meddling into things he knows nothing about.’

The Prime Minister was referring to remarks made by Faleomavaega to U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and many others at a Foreign Affairs Committee hearing held in Washington D.C on the 22 April 2009 regarding the situation in Fiji and other parts of the Pacific area in that “Fiji was not ready for democracy and elections.” Faleomavaega recently met with the once self imposed interim Prime Minister – Commodore Franque Bainimarama to the troubled – coup congested island nation of Fiji. This meeting happened at a time when the Pacific Forum had already issued sanction warnings to the Commodore that if an election date is not set by the 1st of May 2009, Fiji would be cut out of the Pacific Forum and subsequently from the Commonwealth and the European Union.

Within this ako full of questions, Tama Valevale asks:

Is our portion of this vast Pacific ocean becoming… a little too small?

What ever happened to ‘can we all just get along?’ I get this feeling that while the ocean that separates the two Samoas is vast enough to live comfortably, the meaning for the word ‘comfortable’ is determined by which major country is supplying the big ‘aide money’ to which Samoa.

There is, for as long as I can remember, an air of rivalry between Samoa and its American territorial counterpart – Tutuila, American Samoa. While Samoan traditions are the same in both, Culture is less congruent (Samoan Thesaurus: tutusa). Although, if NZ TVOne News Pacific Correspondent Barbara Dreaver’s story on ‘Gangs and Guns in (Independent) Samoa’ is truthful, then it will then appear that the ‘culture’ of the two Samoas credits its sources of influence from the same place – America.

Jealousy is such an evil thing and it comes at a price. I am not too sure which Samoa is jealous of which Samoa, but there is a McDonalds Restaurant in both, and to any Tom, Dick and Harry and Kiuga – the buck stops in the air conditioned ‘family restaurant’.

If a military commodore can force his way into the highest office in a Pacific Island government, then there is room enough in the Pacific for everyone to breath. Everyone who lives in the Pacific has that God-given right to speak about his or her surroundings and to speak about what they want to happen. Isn’t that Democracy – a ea?

Good intentions versus Personal Agendas

First of all, who stands to gain from this war of words? Will chastising the Congressman’s comments and seemingly ‘out of touch’ remarks, elevate the position and status of Samoa’s Prime Minister any more than it is now? Will taking the time to issue a dissecting rebuttal of the Prime Minister’s comments, do anything to add volume to the work the U.S. wants to do in the Pacific? (I mean, come on, we all know that the U.S. has been wanting to expand its feet here in the Pacific and Faleomavaega is the U.S. man in the Pacific.)

I stopped to question why, upon hearing Faleomavaega was to meet with Commodore Bainimarama. I just could not understand why anyone, in their right mind, would want to have anything to do with Bainimarama – democratically and human rights/ethics speaking. However, that is the mantra of the new U.S. President – Barack Obama to ‘rebuild’ isn’t it? He and his people are out to rebuild. (Oh, to have been a fly on that Fijian hut wall.)

One can only be concerned with Samoa’s agenda in its attempts to close ranks against Fiji, by alienating its closest Pacific neighbors. That is what is happening here. Tuilaepa is merely driving a wedge between him and anyone who isn’t being influenced by New Zealand and Australia.

In his attempts to be a stronger independent country voice, the only thing the Prime Minister is doing is drawing attention to the fact that he does not know where exactly he wants to be. One minute he’s driving on the Left hand side and the next minute he’s on the Right.

Democracy in the Pacific

Perhaps the waters of the South Pacific are indeed a little too small, but the constant bickering amongst ourselves is only leaving room for the much larger Pacific rim countries to butt into Pacific affairs. We live in a very difficult time. The present economic climate is doing very little to douse our passion driven, pride fueled attempts to assert dominance in the Pacific.

It is a wonder how we have come as far as we have. Samoans the world over have always been more aggressive in showing pride in our culture, our being. Does this ultimately control our every move? Unfortunately, Yes. It so appears, that in almost every ‘public arena’ where we should stand together with our Pacific peoples, Samoans manage somehow to hold their own private meeting and to come out as their own voice.

This mentality spills over into situations where and when we’re pitted against ourselves. Too many chiefs and not a lot of taule’ale’as. It is like we want to be innovative and to break out of shells but we hold on (tightly) to the one thing that keeps us in our shells…no it is not our pride…it’s our ‘forced respect’. We’re constantly looking for approval to do and say things because of our nature to give and show respect to our elders, our chiefs – who are our leo (voice). Yes this works, but it cannot be adhered to in its entirety – at least not within a democratic world. 

10 thoughts on “Clash of the two Samoas-Democracy gone wild

  1. Tui, needs to hire a PR guy or something, its so disrespectful to comment and to speak about the U.S congressman in that way -- but hey? his ministers are used to it.. mainly because of thier fear of opposing, at least Tautua Samoa are putting up a Media battle with the PM/DPM and the henchman that have the threshold on all things political..

    yes, tui WAS voted in, but his “bought” leadership pretty much takes away any credibility that our people here in Samoa actually support him (p.s Election time saw the payment of WST$20 to all Village Matai’s in the Aleipata District to vote for him, any opposed would get a fine from the village)..

    anyway..

    Eni Hunkin, get over it, Tui speaks like that to everyone -- you SHOULD already know that -- to respond or even kick up a stink about it just shows that in some way, his comments had some meaning.

    Awesome blog Tama! good food for thought!

  2. It’s pathetic for the two Samoan politicians from both Samoas to be rivaling like that. Instead of making remarks or responses that impose degradation or disrespect, “as leaders,” they should be setting an example to the rest of the Samoan people not just in the islands but worldwide--“Fealofani Samoa.” Of course every situation has at least 2 sides of the story, but if you read carefully and understand one’s intentions and facts that are included in the story aforementioned: Tui is wrong making such remarks towards Eni. Pardon his ridicule, Tui is right in the sense that, Eni is a Congress Rep for Am. Samoa, NOT the whole South Pacific, which is why he states that Eni shouldn’t be meddling with something he has no knowledge of. Tui should have maintained his professionalism in perhaps euphemizing that statement to impose the same message with a rather more professional manner instead of attacking Eni like an amateur. And for Eni to come back to him like that is simply unprofessional! He should have kept his composure. Eni on the other hand has the right intentions, but that is not his place--consider his political stature--Congressman for Am. Samoa, and not an Ambassador or someone that enforces the Pacific Forum’s policies or agenda. He was elected by the people of Am. Samoa to represent Am. Samoa in Congress. He needs to work on Am. Samoa’s citizenship issue that had been ignored, and discarded by Congress. He needs to reintroduce that bill into the House persistently with consistency. Tui should have advised Eni respectively in conferring with him privately or something instead of publicizing him like that, which is straight up degrading. LoL I mean, if he did (like real professionals do), we wouldn’t know nothing about it would we? LoL

    We, as humans, have the unalienable rights to express our own opinions, but to degrade another man in that way? It is most definitely legal, but theoretically speaking, it is not morally right, and an unethical approach or should I say unprofessional for a man in his position. People like these men, with high caliber in the political spectrum, should be respective of each other, and conduct themselves in a professional manner. I understand that in human nature, people have the tendency to become perturbed or roiled up especially when someone intentionally offends the other. This clash clearly portrays low caliber of professionalism with these two men. As far as democracy is concerned, I have to disagree with you Tama, no offense Uso, but True Democracy is NONEXISTENT. I mean, from reading the article where it says:

    “This meeting happened at a time when the PACIFIC FORUM had already issued sanction WARNINGS to the Commodore that IF AN ELECTION DATE IS NOT SET by the 1st of May 2009, FIJI WOULD BE CUT OUT OF THE PACIFIC FORUM and subsequently from the COMMONWEALTH and the EUROPEAN UNION.”

    Democracy does not exist in America, literally--sad but true. You can say whatever you wanna say in America, but if the government feels threatened by it, you’re going to prison, PILIOKA! LoL My apologies for being too critique but I wanted to emphasize something I had in mind, theoretically speaking, the statement I quote from your writing has no imposition of Democracy. LoL It’s a conundrum, or should I say…Catch 22? They’re not leaving them no choice. I mean, consequentially, what would happen to Fiji if its Commodore does not comply with what the Pacific Forum demands. There you go LoL It’s evident that Fiji is being granted its right to choose, but the negative consequences of that decision (if he does not comply) will have adverse affects on its people and way of life, which would suck for them. Pardon my lengthy, and essay-like/novel-like response. LoL I just wanted to commentate on this interesting subject matter hey! 🙂 My apologies if I have unintentionally offended someone. It is only a matter of sharing opinions (Agreeing; Disagreeing/independent thought and etc.) respectively 😀 Fa’afetai lava, ma ia manuia fuafuaga o le aso o totoe!
    Soifua.

  3. this is really interesting. Thanx tama for bringing it up -- its awesome.

    i think that both samoas should just get a grip on themselves and just do something worthwhile with their jobz. The last thing we need is to have leaders bitching and we then there might be a war with both countries (ia kailo), and start paying attention to things for the welfare of their countries -- the people didnt give them that power for nothing.

    overall, i pray and hope for the best for all the pacific island nations -- esp the 2 samoas and the leaders…

    faafetai lava mo le avanoa…

    cheerz*

  4. A very interesting read. Thank you for sharing.
    I hope and pray all goes well for Fiji and that the two leaders get along.

  5. If thats the case, then Benny needs to get his priorities straightened out. Is he confused? The heck is he doing giving the ethnos more power. As an islander myself, I do feel for the native fijians because some fool come into my house and turn the channel on my tv, Id be kicking some ass. For a while I thought that was the case and the reason why my man Benny is all pissed off at the Indians on his island. You know what! those damn Brit are staying quiet over there. After all theyre the bullies who kidnapped and forced the Indian in their boats and brought them over as slave workers to work the sugarcane. 100 years later, Fiji is stuck a bunch of Vijay Sghns all over the place. They need to compensate Fiji for the chaos they started.

  6. Sorry, me again. Just wanted to respond to island stallion. I think it’s the other way around. Frank Bainimarama is proposing to bring equal votes to Indo-Fijians and ethnic Fijians, because the previous set up favoured ethnic Fijians, thereby reducing their control over Fiji.

  7. Yeah our portion of the Pacific ocean IS too small for us, literally and figuratively. Very interesting read. Really enjoying it. Keep up the good work!

  8. Tui needs to chill and quit kissing Aus and NZ’s butts. Fiji needs help from its island brothers and Eni is doing the right thing. This all goes back to the native Fijians trying their best to take their island back from the Indiands who are getting too powerful. Aus and NZ are not helping. They too are getting a little profit from all the business dealings in Fiji. Native Fijians need to take back control of what is theirs.

  9. Interesting read. Sad but true that there is animosity between the two Samoas. Why? Wish I knew and wish that people would squash whatever differences they have and get along with each other, not only with our own but with other Pacific Islanders. What’s even more sad is that whatever friction between the two Samoas shows through their own representatives; individuals considered leaders by the people. You would think that they, at least, would get along and work side-by-side on issues concerning our people and the Pacific.

    Thanks for sharing 🙂

    Manuia!

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