LETTER TO THE EDITOR by Tuilaepa Sailele Malielegaoi.
“EVERY SAMOAN IS A BORNED POLITICIAN” – NZ Labour leader David Lange during the Privy Council ruling and the Protocol.
Samoa had its own form of democracy millenniums before the Europeans came, and it is still alive and well.
For instance, every heir has a right and say in the selection of the matai-head of the family.
And no law is activated unless the Village Council of Chiefs has first debated it and give its approval.
Even the worst punishment decided upon as recommended by the togisala, is subject to appeal by the prominent chiefs (vaesala) and no crime goes unpunished.
Even the Matai with the highest Kingly Status is not immune from punishment for wrong doing, regardless of rank and family connection.
The worst punishment for the worst crime like murder may result in the eviction from the village of the highest chief, sometimes for life.
And the heirs may also decide to remove a Chief’s Title if the holder of the title does not perform his duties as a Matai.
The faaleleiga, through ifoga and other means of reconciliation is also respected.
Ifoga comprises the most humiliating action of remorse by the offender covering himself with a fine mat and sitting infront of the home of the offended family, submitting his whole person to the mercy of the offended relatives. Sometimes the offender gets killed.
Christian values of forgiveness nowadays result often in the immediate acceptance of the ifoga or apology.
Other disputes may be settled with words of apology where both the offender and the offended apologizes to each other, and harmony is reestablished.
Both forgive and forget.
This was the basis of our Samoan based harmony agreement with Hon Fiame Naomi Mata’afa and the Faatuatua i le Atua Samoa ua Tasi Party, to remove all our Court cases against each other and move forward to develop Samoa, but the Court without any hearing (no witnesses called) ruled against the HRPP leadership.
This became the basis used by Fiame and FAST to launch their FAST based decision in Parliament for the suspension of two HRPP MPs.
In the Samoan Culture the Harmony Agreement is a means to forgive and forget, and to live in peace.
Both the offender and the party offended forgive each other with words of apologies implying both were wrong in getting into a dispute in the first instance.
The Matai’s role is to keep the peace.
It is why the recent Political Speech by the NZ Judge Ida Malosi that the Judiciary in Samoa saved our Democracy was important.
Judge Malosi came in a group of Judges to learn of our culture which may help in their own Judgment of crimes committed by Islanders in New Zealand was important.
The speech became a cause for this article to add on to their great wealth of knowledge gained from talking to our Judiciary.
What I did not know before was that the Judges in New Zealand seem to be freely engaged in delivering political speeches in public these days.
This is a great law reform for the New Zealand Judiciary now it is near election time in Kiwi land.
And I would love to hear Justice Ida in a campaign trail for the Party that she supports.
New Zealand Labour leader David Lange in an interview in 1982 correctly observed that every Samoan is a borned politician.
So we don’t have the problem New Zealand has when it comes to politics.
For every Tom, Dick and Harry etc, etc, etc is a politician and Samoa’s Democracy has been saved and protected by our strong Culture and Christian values.