What dictatorship? Samoa is a democracy!

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Mata'afa Keni Lesa

Prime Minister Tuilaepa Sa’ilele Malielegaoi’s decision to clarify claims that he runs the H.R.P.P government like a one-man band is reassuring.

The explanation he provided last week, however truthful it is, will go a long way to change the perception that Samoa has become a dictatorship given the government’s total dominance in Parliament – and in all facets of life.

What’s more, Tuilaepa’s response will give his critics lots to mull over during what is without a doubt a very interesting time for this country.

It’s a time defined by changes that have shaken the foundation of this nation so that the question of whether there is anything sacred left anymore is hard to ignore. 

In Samoa today, it’s undeniable that Prime Minister Tuilaepa is a very powerful man. In fact, he is undoubtedly the most powerful man in this country today with the ability to make any changes he wants wherever, however and whenever he wants to.

We don’t need to tell you. History and developments in this country in the not too distant past live to testify about this. A lot of things some of us did not agree with have become realities in Samoa.

But claims that these decisions were made singlehandedly by the Prime Minister – including the one to change the Head of State recently - have not gone down well with the man himself.

Last week, he scoffed at them saying they are far from the truth.

“There are people going around today saying that the H.R.P.P changed the law so they can bring in anyone they want,” Tuilaepa said.

“My response is that is the way Parliamentary democracy works. The party that has the numbers is the party that dictates the changes they want – including the appointment of the Head of State. 

“So we are merely following Constitutional policies. This is also how the Governor Generals of New Zealand and Australia are appointed, whoever the governments want is the person they will have.”

Tuilaepa defended the decision saying they are in accordance with the Constitution. Fair enough.

But whose Constitution are we talking about? We know what the original Constitution of Samoa says about a lot of the issues in question. But that original Constitution has been rendered almost irrelevant given the number of changes it has undergone under Tuilaepa’s leadership.

It would be fair to say that the Constitution we have today is that of Tuilaepa and the H.R.P.P. After all, they have butchered the poor thing so much the framers of the original Constitution would be turning in their graves at the sight of it now.

Now back to the question of whether Tuilaepa is a one-man band in running the H.R.P.P, his response is interesting. 

“I’ve often heard statements such as the P.M. holds the key to opening and closing the door. I’ve heard people say that whatever the P.M. say that’s what goes,” he said. 

“Such an opinion is harboured by people whom if they are given the chance to administer the government, they will run it like an army. They will rule it like a military; they will not listen to any advice from Members of Parliament or Cabinet.”

Tuilaepa added that he is quite the opposite of what some people are saying about him.

“I listen to what the party says, which is the democratic system. It dictates that for every leader, they must listen to the party,” he said.

“This is why this party remains united as it has been from the start. As a leader, I always seek the opinion of my party before any decision is made.”

Well that’s good to know. But for how long more?

What do you think?

Have a great Tuesday Samoa, God bless!

© Samoa Observer 2016

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