Prime Minister Tuilaepa Sailele Malielegaoi has a legitimate concern.
Judging from a string of headlines about some of the criminal developments in Samoa recently, the image of Samoa being created in the minds of people who don’t know us better will certainly not be flattering.
You see, if we in Samoa are asking the question of what is wrong with some of our very own people today, imagine then what other people, who don’t know anything about Samoa, are thinking. Especially with the barrage of incidents involving rape, incest, petty theft, robberies and more.
All these have been captured and reported in the media for the world to see.
Let’s quickly revisit some of the more recent headlines to highlight our point. It wasn’t long ago that a story titled “Brother and sister investigated for incest” shocked us all. According to the Acting Police Commissioner, Sala’a Moananu Sale, the brother and sister go to the same church where the pastor had become suspicious about their activities.
As if that wasn’t bad enough, another story under the headline “Man charged for making13-year-old girl his wife” was equally disturbing. Who does that?
Try this for another story: “Police furious about new baby sex case.” This story was about the sexual violation of two babies, aged two and six, by their male babysitter. Mind blowing, isn’t it?
But that’s just the tip of the iceberg, folks.
Which is perhaps what led to Prime Minister Tuilaepa’s decision to try and put a lid on the source of these stories. Last week, he expressed concerns over the negative impact of media reports about incest and rape cases.
“These negative reports give the impression that our country is not a place people would like to visit, and this is what the newspapers and radio are doing,” he said.
“In New Zealand, with its thousands and thousands of citizens, you hardly hear of any incest case being reported like here in (Samoa).”
Well, this is not true. There are cases of incest being reported on a daily basis in the New Zealand media -- and many of them involve Pacific Island people.
But we don’t want to delve into that today. The point is, while the Prime Minister might have a legitimate concern about protecting the image of Samoa, it doesn’t take away the fact we have got a real problem on our hands.
The idea, that in 2017, these incidents are continuing in Christian state Samoa really does boggle the mind. When we look at all these cases, you really have to ask the question, what has become of morality in Samoa today? How did we get to where we are now?
This is the real issue and this is where leaders, like Tuilaepa, can do some real work. Muzzling the media is not the way to do it. We need to hold everyone accountable since this is a country that belongs to all of us, not just a few people.
We need to look the pillars of our community and find out where we have gone wrong. For instance, where is the church? What is it doing to stop such repulsive incidents involving immorality of the worst form and violation of basic human rights for these girls?
Let us be reminded once more today that Samoa has just become an official Christian state. The decision is not necessarily a bad thing and when the actions of this country follow our declaration, it can be a most wonderful development.
But let’s stop kidding ourselves. Samoa today is a mess. And enshrining Christianity in our Constitution does not automatically cure this sickness.
The fact is, Christianity is not supposed to be a label you wear. It is a daily lifestyle that reflects a person’s intimate relationship with his God. It’s a personal matter that you don’t need to shout from the rooftop.
Anybody can claim to be a Christian, which is probably the biggest problem in Samoa today. But it’s their integrity and actions which prove who they really are. And that’s what matters.
Mind you, the church is not the only pillar of this community.
Does our Samoan culture have a role? Where are our cultural values and principles? Do they have a part to play in stopping the rot we are seeing?
What about the village leaderships? Where are the Alii ma Faipule?
Do they have a part to play? And what is that part?
What about the mothers? The fathers? The children?
As for government leaders, well, their role is quite simple. They are entrusted to formulate and implement policies that should help the people of this country deal with economical and social challenges which are directly connected to the social ills we are talking about today.
Is that happening? What is our government doing about this? Does it care at all? Or is their only solution -- and response -- to shoot the messenger and pretend that all is well, contrary to what are seeing?
What do you think? Write and share your thoughts with us!
Have a wonderful Wednesday, Samoa, God bless!