The View from Samoa*
"O le uo mo aso uma 'ae o le uso mo aso vale."
("A friend loveth at all times, and a brother is born for adversity" - Proverbs 17:17)
Thank you for your editorial "China in the Pacific, more than a Friend" dated 27 February, 2015. I have also read about the China and the Pacific Conference (February 25-27, 2015 at the National University of Samoa) though I have not yet had access to any of the presentations. I do, however, understand that from these such conferences it's possible that new openness, new dialogue, new understanding, new hope and optimism are forged. Participants often find common ground, tolerance and respect for each other's views and goals - at least in theory. At the same time, it's also possible to continue to agree to be disagreeable, especially in their political tenets and ideological differences. My viewpoint, as presented in this letter, may or may not be in sync with the predominant views of the Conference, nonetheless a view that may still be worth sharing.
This letter is not borne of paranoia, xenophobia or racism (as speculated of late by the government - and others - to describe those who see and view China's increasing influence in Samoa as ruinous and suspicious). Instead, it is borne of broad and inclusive review and analysis of facts, valid information, and, yes, common sense. The letter's main focus therefore is to inform and raise awareness lest we become naive, indifferent, passive and complacent in our relationship and partnership with those with whom we do not share our most prized principles, interests and values, acquired and ingrained through our democratic, cultural and religious orientations as a country and as a people. Hence "The View from Samoa".
The China enigma in Samoa has gradually become a worrisome one for some, perhaps a detached one for many and obviously a welcomed, desirable and fortuitous one for the government - especially for the ruling Human Rights Protection Party (HRPP) whose affections for China are a result of some concrete (pun intended) economic enticements. These enticements seem to have become the absolute and binding tokens of friendship between the two countries - a friendship that's seemingly mutual and yet unbalanced and unfavorable, not only in terms of trade but in all other aspects of inter-nation relationships. With the increasing role of China as the benefactor, the partnership is viewed more in terms of a donor-recipient relationship; Samoa, obviously, being the recipient and slowly becoming the panhandler. Moreover, the relationship is unfortunately devoid of any common and/or shared deeply-rooted values - political, religious or otherwise.
Compared to similar "concrete enticements" from countries like NZ, Australia or the US, China's enticements, understandably, are viewed with suspect and distrust. Perhaps because of China being a new kid on the block with its sudden surge of "ultratruistic" gestures and offerings. (By the way, the claim that Samoa's "contact with China dates back to the Chinese labour migrants in the early part of the last century" is moot in this discussion.) Most certainly though is because of China's indifference, if not defiance, of the rule of law, freedoms, religion, civil and human rights, etc. Ironically, whereas the HRPP's mantra is the protection of human rights, China punishes human rights advocates, as well as oppose other things of Western and democratic origin. Just this past month, China warns against "Western values" in imported textbooks as reported by the New York Times:
"This week, China's ideological drive against Western liberal ideas broadened to take in a new target: foreign textbooks. Meeting in Beijing with the leaders of several prominent universities, Education Minister Yuan Guiren laid out new rules restricting the use of Western textbooks and banning those sowing ‘Western values.'… Mr. Yuan said at a meeting with university officials… ‘By no means allow teaching materials that disseminate Western values in our classrooms.'Perhaps relevant, and probably more troublesome, for Samoa of the above Western education crackdown, is the concern with our students now studying in China (with more going in the coming years). They are obviously exposed to - if not directly affected by - these types of antagonism towards the West as well as to the hardline anti-democratic policies. Some actually see the above move against Western textbooks as being hypocritical of China which has the largest contingent of students (over 270,000) studying in the US, the most of any foreign country. The President's daughter also attends Harvard.
The strictures on textbooks are the latest of a succession of measures to strengthen the Communist Party's control of intellectual life and eradicate avenues for spreading ideas about rule of law, liberal democracy and civil society that it regards as dangerous contagions, which could undermine its hold on power. On Jan. 19, the leadership issued guidelines demanding that universities make a priority of ideological loyalty to the party, Marxism and [President] Xi's ideas… Chinese universities must ensure that the ideas of Mr. Xi, the powerful and ardently traditionalist party leader, would "enter teaching materials, enter classrooms and enter minds,' Mr. Yuan said."
If learning and education can change or influence one's beliefs, views and perception then it's quite possible that upon returning from China, our students will have learned new and different radical ideas. They will also likely absorb the same hostility towards Western and democratic ideals. Remember that these students will eventually hold positions in government, businesses and other administrative or influential posts where these ideas will be allowed to percolate and fester. Apparently, this exchange in education may develop into an effective method of infiltration. Though it normally takes time, infiltration can be as potent as a military invasion. Let's not forget that Samoa has had its share of conquest by partial infiltration in the past and today, from the subtle yet credible proofs of another influx, let's hope history will not repeat itself. Incidentally, the Citizenship Investment Bill is also sizing up to be another effective mode of infiltration of Samoa.
The PM has touted the obvious, that geographic size, wealth and military might are important with regards to the US and China. Within this rising rivalry in the Pacific, together with its government's pro-China policies, Samoa is slowly becoming a "saveatuvaelua" (one with dual-loyalty) between the two powers. The Wall Street Journal recently noted that among several advantages the US has over China, is the number of Naval bases it has in the Pacific and Asia. As a possible countervailing move, therefore, China may ask Samoa a reciprocating favor (to all her generosity) to set up a naval base here. It's possible. And considering the very affable and congenial friendship Samoa has with China at the moment, I doubt the present Samoan government will be hesitant at all. Moreover, with the aggressive and audacious efforts of the government in its revenue sources roundup (re: Casinos, Customary land leases, Investment Bill, etc.), a Chinese naval base in Samoa would be an even more attractive money tree for the government, with job opportunities for Samoans being the overriding motive, excuse and justification. The naval base question therefore may not be an if, but when.
And with a Chinese base as a possibility, the future of Samoa may never be the same as a democratic and Christian nation, considering archrival United States based just several miles to the east in American Samoa. Such a blatant predicament and division for the Samoas can certainly conjure up images of East and West Germany of the past, or North and South Korea of today. It's very possible if not inevitable. True, according to the PM, that the Pacific is an "ocean of tranquility" now and in the past, however, it can quickly be a tai'ula'ula (ocean of blood) if we covet the proverbial Trojan horse over the entrenched values, freedoms, principles and especially God upon whom our country is founded. Speaking of God, doesn't it say somewhere in the Good Book not to be yoked together with unbelievers? Contextually, at least.
Let's not forget that politically, religiously and ideologically, we have brothers, as in the Samoan context of "uso tu'ofe"; China on the other hand is a good and generous friend - if not a calculating one. In that context, it's wise to remember President Ronald Reagan's watchword "Trust but Verify".
Once again, o le uo mo aso uma ae o le uso i aso vale (Faata'oto 17:17). Maybe if China and Samoa can/will read from the same source and book, the whole enigma may be mitigated. But that's like telling village B, with no shared history or heritage with village A, to give up its age-old faalupega (traditional salutations) and adopt village A's faalupega. Notwithstanding, here are some traditional words of wisdom pertinent to the current situation: "Tatou ‘ae‘ae ia lea manu ua ulu, ae manatua pea, a e seu le manu, taga'i fo'i i le galu, ma ‘aua fo'i ne'i o tatou se'etia i le malu o le tai taeao. E moni, e ‘asa faiva, ae le ‘asa masalo."
God bless Samoa!
*Based on the theme of the Conference "China and the Pacific: The View from Oceania"
Another crafty Savali Editorial
"O Lou Valaauina"
(English translation and Response by yours truly posted on the Home page)
Tusia e Mamea Ulafala (Written by Mamea Ulafala, Editor)
E i ai le talitonuga o le toatele, i le upu nei o le tofi poo lou valaauina foi, ao le fesili tele pe mai le Atua ea tofiga uma?, Ae faapefea ona mautinoa o tofi mai le Atua?.
E anoanoai talitonuga ma mafaufauga i le itu faamataupu silisili, pe a oo ina susue pito fanua ma sueni talitonuga o nisi o le au fai tofa o le Tusi Paia.
Tasi o le mea, ua malie eleele o Samoa i le Talalelei pe a fua i lona faatoa taunuu mai ma apepele e nai o tatou tua?a ua fai i lagi le folauga.
O lona uiga e faigofie lava ona manino ma malamalama le mataupu o fia tuliloaina e tusa o aoaoga a le Tusi Paia i le mataupu o tofiga mai le Atua.
E mai ia aoaoga, ua mautinoa ai soo se tagata e tofia, e fetaiai ma le anoano o faafitauli aemaise o luitau o le soifua. E tu i matagi olo, e feagai pea ma soua ma lavelave o faiva totofi.
E fuatia pe afai e gase ma solomui, aua o le a fai ma itu aso pogisa i le nuu atuatuvale.
A solomuli o le mea mautinoa e fano le nuu, o le itu taua lea ia manino.
O le tele o eleele o fefinauai ai Sasae Tutotonu, o eleele na maua e Isaraelu i le taimi o Tavita, e le solomuli e finau mo le malo o ona tagata.
E oo a i le nofoaga o loo i ai nei le malumalu i Ierusalema ua manino o eleele na maua i le toa o Tavita. Taitai toa e le solomuli. e fetaiai ma faafitauli.
O le valaauina o Mose na te ave le nuu i Kanana, e le taufaamatalaina le muimui i luma ma le mumumumu i tuapola.
E lei solomuli ma apoa le pola motu i tua, ae alu pea ma le faalologo, e musuia e le Agaga e tautala ma le toa, e faaali le Amiotonu i le nuu, e popole i ona tofiga mai le Atua.
Ae faapefea le Taitai e le faalologo i le Atua?
Na faatonuina e le Atua Saulo e alu e faaumatia le nuu o Ai, o le tala na aumai na faasaoina e Saulo manu pepeti ua le o gatasi ma lona valaauina.
Fesili le Atua pe se a le mafuaaga?, fai mai e osi ai le taulaga ia te Ia, le Atua.
E faapefea ona tatou mautinoa le tagata tali i lona valaauina.
E tali i galuega ma fuafuaga ua tino, Pe tele iule o le faitio, ae tali i le agai pea i luma o atinae sa tele ai upu tau faaleaga, e tali i le siitia o le tamaoaiga, sa ave ai tala sese, e tali i le tele o suiga lelei ua i ai Samoa, sa tele ai upu faaoloataua ma nisi upu le faavaea.
E le fefe e fai suiga ua na iloa e manuia ai le atunuu.
Aisea? Ua talitonu i lona valaauina,
O le talitonuga faa-Eperu i le tofi faa-leoleo mamoe, e muamua i luma o le lafu faamoemoe, (1) fetaiai ma le fili e osofaia le lafu, (2) e lagona e le lafu lona manogi taitaitama, e savavali ma le saoloto aua ua mautinoa e laveaina i latou.
Afai e i ai se mamoe ua le fia mulimuli, o le tala fai mai ua segia i taaga, o le tali o le fasi mate.
E le fefe foi e faa-mate le mamoe le fia mulimuli, aua ne?i pisia lagona faa-taaga, ona maumau lea o le lafu.
Submitted response (not yet posted by the Savali):
Manaia le ‘autu ma le ute o le tusitusiga, ae maise tala si'i mai i le Tusi Pa'ia e tapu'e ma lagolagoina ai le manatu ‘autu i le tatau ona tumau ma ‘aua le solomuli se ta'ita'i tofia i le faatinoina o lona tofiga, ae maise pe a feagai ma faigata, faitioga ma faasea.
Pau o lona, e foliga ua toe se lava le atu i ama i le si'uga o le tusitusiga. Atonu e moni i le Feagaiga Tuai ma le faa-Eperu ona fasi mate se mamoe ua le fia mulimuli ma a'a i le tui, ae faapea lava a'u ua ao Samoa ina ua mulimuli i le a'oa'oga a le Faaola o Iesu Keriso (Faavae ai Samoa) lea na afio mai ma le Tulafono Maualuga e faavae i le ALOFA. Lea na a'oa'o mai ai, a se le mamoe e tasi, e tu'u le iva sefulu ma le iva ae alu e sa'ili ma lavea'i le mamoe se e tasi. E tatau fo'i ona faapena se ta'ita'i o se malo, ae maise Samoa. Poo a tuga ma faigata o faitioga ma faasea o tagata-a-nu'u, e tatau pea ona maua e le ta'ita'i le onosa'i, alofa, faapalepale ma le faamagalo. Se'i vagana ua se'e ese mai le ta'ita'i mai i le faavae e pei ona ta'ua i luga, ae matua liliu atu i faiga fa'apolokiki fa'a Makiaveli ia ma nisi o faiga fouvale a malo ua tula'i mai nei i Sasa'e Tutotonu, ona tau talafeagai lea o le fasi mate o le mamoe se ma le le fia mulimuli.
I la'u lava fa'auigaga, e pei ua fai si ogaoga ma taufa'amata'u o le faai'uga ma le tu'utu'uga e pei ona folasia.
Ia na o se manatu e lafo atu i'ina, a aoga lelei, a leai ia lafo i nu'u tuufua.
Ma le fa'aaloalo tele,
My response to an editorial (Here) in the Savali (Samoan government newspaper) that contains anti-US sentiments.
Now this has to stop!
Mr. Tavita, you can disagree and argue the specific issue(s) without being too extreme especially in spewing preposterous and foolish claims such as these – notably the second one:
1. Perhaps it’ll be in our best interests if the United States continues to stay away from this part of the world.
2. After all, the United States is the most selfish country in the world.
I know and understand real well your ingrained personal vendetta and vitriolic campaign against the United States. I also understand that the above represent your own personal opinions and therefore you need to learn a thing or two about your unmitigated audacity as a Chief Editor of a government newspaper.
Now if the article was your own, written in your own time and published as an op-ed or letter to the editor in a non-governmental newspaper I would not have bothered at all plus the fact that your personal opinion in such matters does not amount to much, if anything, anyway.
In other words, it’s not the possible effect or impact of a particular accusation – far from it; rather it’s the far reaching answerability stemming from your being a public servant/employee and government representative that has prompted me to respond.
Generally speaking therefore your opinion in that capacity and role is not exclusively yours anymore. It represents that of the Savali, hence the PM, the HRPP, the Government and ultimately the people of Samoa (unless you can categorically prove/claim that it doesn’t – but how?). And so in international and diplomatic contexts, your editorial can, and should, be interpreted as such. The absence of any disclaimer – specific or comprehensive – makes it even more so. Moreover, the posted roles and functions of the Savali further attest to government responsibility in your anti-US diatribe.
Here's my question to others in government: Is this kind of editorial sanctioned and/or checked by anyone in government or is Mr. Tavita given a free absolute and unfettered pass in dishing out these such unfounded castigation? In fact these types of government editorials can affect relations between nations.
The biggest irony in all this, is that as a “journalist” you (Mr. Tavita) do understand and seem to enjoy the freedom to express yourself – albeit maliciously – and yet it’s the United States (your archenemy) that is at the front line in defending that very freedom. Conversely, in other countries (ahem), you can be sent off to a labour camp for doing the same thing.
So next time you write an editorial, please remember and consider the fact that you’re not speaking for yourself only, but for others as well; and stop using the “people’s newspaper” to vent your personal biases and agendas.
I was more surprised than disappointed in seeing an anti-LDS (Mormon) article here in the pages of the Samoa Observer. I was surprised mainly at seeing such an insidious anti-religious treatise - often found in certain publications and websites - in a regular newspaper. I wonder if it's because I'm used to seeing news of good deeds and humanitarian services of the LDS Church in these same pages that any antagonism towards the Church becomes conspicuously disconcerting.
For novices and those whose curiosity may have been aroused by Mr. Zukeran's article, these types of anti-LDS claims, attacks and faultfinding imbue, permeate - if not saturate - the Internet. So they're neither new, nor exclusive to the Internet. Apologetics abound on both sides of the debate. A few years ago, some in the anti-LDS camp were concerned that the LDS apologetics were ahead in their research and dedication, hence in their rebuttals and responses in this chasm of religious divide. Perhaps, subsequently, more seem to be jumping on this libelous bandwagon including new ministries such as Probe.
As someone who is quite familiar with anti-LDS writings and propaganda and the tedium and inefficacy that they contain, I often muse quietly the effort, energy and resources people like Mr. Zukeran devote to such endeavors - though rightfully justified and protected by freedoms of expression and religion. Generally speaking, some LDS Church members are passive towards these refutations while others take on more active roles as apologists. By the latter, every single anti-LDS claim including all those in Mr. Zukeran's article have been repudiated and explained. One can find all these online. Therefore I will not comment on all of Mr. Zukeran's claims - it's unnecessary.
I will however respond to only one item, mainly to demonstrate Mr. Zukeran's careless, flagrant and irresponsible exegesis and eisegesis.
As one of Zukeran's key supports for Jesus being exclusively spirit, lacking a corporeal body, he quotes the Lord himself when He says that "a spirit hath not flesh and bones." This is an example of a blatant out-of-context violation and flop. Let me introduce the background and context of the misquote.
After the Resurrection, the disciples (apostles) - and others - apparently had the same problem of wondering whether Jesus was a Spirit or had a body of flesh and bones. The experience of Cleopas and another disciple on the Emmaus road when Jesus imperceptibly joined them in conversation only adds to the dilemma. Later on, while the eleven apostles were pondering some of the recent experiences in which Jesus seemed to have taken on a veiled appearance from which they thought He was a Spirit, Jesus then appeared to them, and settled the issue. Note that this was after the Resurrection. In other words, Jesus' body - of flesh and bones - is a resurrected IMMORTAL body.
"And as [the apostles] thus spake, Jesus himself stood in the midst of them, and saith unto them, Peace be unto you.
But they were terrified and affrighted, and SUPPOSED that THEY HAD SEEN A SPIRIT.
And [Jesus] said unto them, Why are ye troubled? and why do thoughts arise in your hearts?
Behold MY HANDS and MY FEET, that it is I myself: HANDLE me, and SEE; for a SPIRIT HATH NOT FLESH AND BONES, as YE SEE ME HAVE.
And when [Jesus] had thus spoken, he SHEWED them HIS HANDS and HIS FEET." ~ Luke 24: 36-40 (emphasis mine).
Again, the out of context interpretation is dishonest since "as ye see me have," is purposely omitted. So Zukeran was employing more eisegesis than exegesis. And many can be misled by this type of duplicity especially those who may not diligently search the truth for themselves with the help of the Spirit and prayerful study.
Syllogistically, also, his claim does not pass.
1. A spirit hath not flesh and bones
2. Jesus hath flesh and bones
3. Jesus is not a spirit.
(Note: Jesus duality of body (of flesh and bones) AND spirit is part of LDS doctrine.)
If Zukeran employs such an irresponsible and crooked interpretation in this particular claim, what about his other ones?
Now if Jesus had a resurrected body of flesh and bones according to the Bible, what has become of it?
Some forty days later (after the Resurrection), we have this account of His ascension in Acts.
"To whom also [Jesus] SHEWED HIMSELF ALIVE after his passion by many INFALLIBLE PROOFS, being SEEN of them forty days, and speaking of the things pertaining to the kingdom of God:
And when [Jesus] had spoken these things, while they beheld, he was taken up; and a cloud received him OUT OF THEIR SIGHT.
And while they LOOKED stedfastly toward heaven as HE WENT UP, behold, two men stood by them in white apparel;
Which also said, Ye men of Galilee, why stand ye gazing up into heaven? this SAME JESUS, which is TAKEN UP from you INTO HEAVEN, shall so COME IN LIKE MANNER as ye have SEEN HIM GO INTO HEAVEN" - 1: 3, 9-11 (emphasis mine).
There is not much interpretation needed in the above sequence of events unless someone wants to alter and tweak them to suit their beliefs (eisegesis).
So the simplified plot is that Jesus dies, resurrects, goes into heaven with the same body of flesh and bones and then will come again. How is he like when He comes again? Zechariah gives us a clue on that aspect when Jesus returns - that He will still have his body of flesh and bones:
"And one shall say unto him, What are these WOUNDS in thine HANDS? Then he shall answer, Those with which I was wounded in the house of my friends." - Zechariah 13:6 (emphasis mine).
Could the Bible be any plainer? No, unless someone distorts it and makes it unclear and ambiguous. I don't know about Zukeran's Biblical comparison on the nature of God, but the LDS' comparison is perfectly in line with what the Bible says - one that is without all the tweaks and ambiguities.
Finally, I have no intention of engaging in a drawn-out and repetitious debate. As I said these platitudinal and unoriginal anti-LDS rhetoric have been rebutted in-depth and more professionally in other online forums and websites. I must say that I am quite capable of debating these issues, but time is not on my side since I have better things to do than to engage ad nauseam in religious dogmatism.
First of all, one's religious conviction is a personal choice, largely based on personal testimony, experiences and relationship with the Spirit which, after all, is the convincing power in acquiring the truth about Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ. Therefore each individual is entitled to, and passionate about, his own religious beliefs, whatever those may be. I certainly respect that and expect reciprocality.
As I said in my previous letter, virtually all accusations, falsifications, misrepresentations and misinterpretations of LDS doctrines - including the ones Liberated stated - have been rebutted and refuted on many LDS related sites such as http://www.fairlds.org, or one can also google "Mormon Apologetics" to get additional sites. As Liberator said, "do some research and find out for yourself!" And if one is open-minded and fairminded it will do him more justice to mull them, at least to get a more balanced view than a one-sided anti-Mormon agenda bordering on religious hatred and bigotry.
Still, however, I want to give Liberator just a sample of how I respond to his largely borrowed claims which are neither absolute nor irrefutable. At the very least, the sample is to get him to understand that he does not have a monopoly or advantage with regards to the knowledge about God, the Bible and religious issues.
I. Mormonism is not Christianity
The cliched accusation is relative at best and ignorant at worst. It is irresponsible without qualifying it - if at all possible - with specific and exclusive characteristics of the term "Christianity". How do you define Christianity without shunning others who also believe in Christ? One would be surprised that in some "Christian" circles, some of the common traditional churches are not part of their proprietary Christian clique. Most so-called Christian churches hide behind the Christianity label using the Trinity and Creeds as their flagship banners, and yet when it comes down to making it to Heaven, each has its own patented methods and proprietary sacraments and ceremonies. It's akin to the old Protestant motif.
So Christianity is like a funnel. You start out wide and inclusive but as you continue downward, it gets narrower and more exclusive having filtered out all the impurities - churches, denominations, differences in practices and doctrinal interpretations. Therefore it is not unusual or surprising to find only one church, ministry or club - normally your own - at the end of the funnel as the "only way", having started off with the whole gamut.
Otherwise why are there specific names for each church and persuasion - despite any and all assumed commonalities? Do not be too quick to play the cheerleader role because you now have a common enemy in the LDS Church. If you're not in Zukeran's ministry, you can count on being disparaged as well sooner or later. Everyone's church, even those in the Christianity conglomeration, is fair game to the next church's exclusivity and funneling.
All in all, Christianity is a term that has been equivocated and loosely used, if not abused and misused by many of the critics and detractors of the LDS Church. Most use the title "Christianity" as a notional pact and veil to exclude others, but behind the same veil, the apostle Paul's apprehension of divisions and quarrels becomes more real and commonplace. Pitting the LDS Church against a larger abstract group does not - and will not - make one any holier or more right. If anything, it goes to show his own deficiencies and inadequacies through zealotry and monomania.
II. The Book of Mormon.
From DNA issues to anachronisms to grammatical errors, those have all been explained by LDS apologists in their respective fields. But although such evidence - archaeological and others - can play a part in building one's faith and testimony, the unequivocal, more perfect and unambiguous testimony of truth is born of the Spirit - not of a place or unearthed city or site. In fact, the whole art of archaeological proof can be very fickle, and Liberator understands it when he claims that "...[some things] to date [have] not been proven." Moreover, most, if not all, of those who dismiss the Book of Mormon as false doctrine have not read and pondered it, let alone opened or seen it.
III. Anti-Mormon Tactics
Most anti-Mormons, like Liberator, use subtle and seemingly effective tactics - at least to the untutored. One of those is the claim of being a "former Mormon, born and raised ...." Though true in some cases, it is one of the old tricks in the book. What Liberator is saying here, is that if not every member of the LDS Church will eventually leave, there should at least be a trend of a mass exodus which outnumbers converts and current members. Well, only the contrary is true. The LDS Church - even despite such antagonistic and denigrating efforts as those that have been published and propagated - continues to be one of the fastest growing religions in America and in the world.
IV. The Truth
It's man's quest. The truth is knowing God and Jesus Christ and knowing encompasses actions. The truth also is found in the totality of the gospel and not in isolated incidents and disjointed exegesis or eisegesis. Speaking of truth on a lesser degree, Liberator would be well in revealing the truth about his/her identity. Responsible journalists use their real names. Real journalists also do not make glaring spelling mistakes such as "themself".
V. Pure Religion
Now having said all of the above, I must say to people like Liberator, Zukeran and others with similar or same anti-LDS dispositions, that we can debate and reason until the heavens shut and the sky falls, but the truest measure of our convictions is in what James calls "pure religion" which is found in serving others and in our Christlike actions.
The Book of Mormon echoes the same and reminds us "that when [we] are in the service of [our] fellow beings [we] are only in the service of [our] God."
It's these Christian principles and fundamentals - not the distorted and falsified propaganda - that are at the core of the LDS Church doctrines and doctrine of God.
A few weeks ago, the Samoa government newspaper “Savali ” (online version - www.savalinews.com) printed an editorial entitled: “Don’’t hate the Chinese, learn from them.” The crux of the article called for Samoans to learn from the Chinese - especially their business practices - instead of trying to hate them or be intimidated by them. The editorial seems to have been prompted by a warning by Samoa’s Chamber of Commerce on the present influx of Asians - especially Chinese - and setting up covert businesses around Apia. Moreover, the editorial accuses the Samoans of xenophobic attitudes towards the Chinese.
The following is an ensuing exchange/debate between me and PS, who seems to be the chief editor of the Savali.
First, “hate” is too strong a word to be used in the bigger business context of the editorial. How about “disparage”, “ignore” “underestimate” and the like?
Second, are the business principles you mentioned here originated in China or elsewhere? Or is it that the Chinese use them better than others? Modern business practices and principles – taught in prestigious Business Schools in Europe and America – have their origins in the West where individual innovation blossomed into today’s business culture and models. I cannot – and will not – say the same for a country which champions and promotes the interests of the state via its Communist ideology. Modern business is a Capitalist concept – not a Communist one. Today’s young Chinese entrepreneurs are using Western business principles and models to succeed and excel (click here). China’s booming economy, however, is a result of some duplicitous schemes especially that of currency manipulation, which leads to keeping its exports cheaper and therefore bettering the competitors. Most experts see this current boom as being unsustainable. It’s fragile and is susceptible to a sudden crash with severe global effects and ramifications.
Third, Chinese and Samoan values clash. Business is a part of an overall elaborate system – social, economic, political and religious. Hence, just one of the many aspects of this interdependence is that Samoans believe in God (Chinese do not) and therefore would spare some time for worship and other socio-religious obligations and some stores will not open 24/7. Sabbath day observance is important to most Samoans. By the way, opening a store 24/7 does not guarantee success. It does not work everywhere every time; in fact, it could be a liability in places like Samoa.
Lastly, the basic business successes you attributed to the Chinese are based on universal “good common business sense” and not on some Chinese inceptions and ingenuity. There are many more important business principles than the superficial ones discussed here.
You seem quite vigilant in bootlicking the Chinese and being careful not to bite the hand that feeds at the same time.
Seems to me that LV is bootlicking up to the palagis from America and Europe.
Samoans actually share a lot of common values with the Chinese. The concept of respect for the elderly and senior citizens in an extended family context is the best example of Confuscian values which is similar to the Samoan concept of faaaloalo and osiaiga.
Whilst China might be politically communist, it is most definitely economically capitalist and culturally it is confuscian. Just because your American tv channels and schools taught you that communism in the USSR was the enemy, it doesn’t mean that everywhere else in the world follows Russian communism. China has at least 5000 years of history on which to base its concepts of the world on. It was the most advanced society on the planet for thousands of years before Europe took over in the last 400yrs.
In reality, the reason China is growing at breakneck speed (and why America is financially indebted to it) is pure and simply down to the damned hard work of the Chinese people.
Everywhere in the world that the Chinese immigrant populations are, whether it be Singapore, Malaysia, Fiji, Tonga, Samoa, or America, you will see hardworking Chinese people who work night and day for their crust and for a better life. This work ethic is what we Samoans should admire and emulate. In fact, half of Samoa is descended from the Chinese labourers who were shipped out to Samoa in the early 20th century and some of our most successful samoan businesses today are owned by Samoans of Chinese descent.
Thank you for trying – albeit futilely – to respond to my comments. It’s obvious how skimpy and deficient your factual and intellectual resources are to tackle the issues raised in this thread. Your points are not only superficial, but you keep referring and resorting to the work ethic of the Chinese as your main – and only – recourse. You made it sound as if “hard work” is something that was invented by the Chinese.
So you claim that Russian communism and Chinese communism are different? Are they different in both practice and principle – or just the former? Are they different to the extent that Marxism is absent in one and not the other? Are they different in their interpretation of a one-party system (no pun intended)? Are they different in their emphasis on state rights over the individual’s? And speaking of individual/human rights – something that you as an HRPP supporter embrace – do you see eye to eye with the Chinese on that issue?
Finally, please qualify the fact that “half of Samoa is descended from Chinese labourers….”
And I hope the Chinese are not offended by your transliteration of Confucian (not Confuscian) Seems like ua kele kele lou confusion. Are you sure you’re not inebriated?
Is that all you got? lol Ua kele kele ou kala ae ga o le akigi apa ga pa’o mai ai…
Difference in Russian and Chinese communism? Easy. They went to war, albeit a short war, in the 1960s over their northern border. That is the only difference you need to worry yourself about. It was because of that war that the Americans under Nixon started being friendly with Beijing.
Your attempts to instil fear in Samoans about the Chinese is laughable. China is the fastest growing economy in the world because of ordinary Chinese people working hard and a central government which is focused on economic growth (obviously for their own survival). This whole issue of currency manipulation is just a piss-poor excuse by the americans because they cannot compete. The whole reason why there is a global recession in the first place is because of the corrupt American financial sector imploding on itself.
Oh and by the way, the only example of a hostile takeover of a Pacific country by a foreign power is Hawaii. Taken over by american business men because the indigenous government wasn’t playing ball.
Se malo PS!
First, you’re not responding to the points and questions that I raised and if you did, you were way off – or you’re equivocating and trying to steer the discussion elsewhere. For instance, I said that Russian and Chinese communism are not different. They may be “different” in practice but not in principle – they both are based on Marxism. Your dubious answer on the border war as the “only difference” – that I should worry about – proves my initial point that, again, Russian and Chinese communism at the core are the same. Therefore, unbeknownst to you – stemming from your obvious ineptness – you’re shooting yourself in the foot. And by the way, those questions were rhetorical ones.
Second, I am not instilling fear in Samoans about the Chinese. That’s a claim made by a debater who is groping for answers, then resorts to generalizations. My points of argument are still within civil and pedantic bounds. Why don’t you blame the editorial (yours?) for using “hate” -which equates with “fear” – and not try to find a convenient scapegoat?
Third, Chinese may have a booming economy now, but the US is still number one. A trivial point anyhow. Here’s a more critical one: You cannot have a booming and sustainable economy without a strong foundation of basic economic – and political – fundamentals and principles. Included in these are innovation and other individual rights and freedoms. There’s always a danger in a society in which the individual is made a slave to the state and with power vested in a select few – group or party. Take note of the current events in Egypt, Lybia, Tunisia, etc. and it’s only a matter of time before we see the rest of totalitarian societies buckle under the popular will. Therefore, a totalitarian society with a booming economy is still suspect at best and duplicitous at worst.
Finally, what’s with the “hostile takeover” comment? You had just proved me right in saying that you are definitely inebriated. Your thoughts hence your writing are a mess, to say the least. You have not qualified some lousy and baseless claims you made yet you continue to expose your inadequacies. Even your Samoan is a perfect example of the Samoan which “fia palagi” people and/or novices speak. Little kids also speak awkward Samoan. The only other time I hear coarse broken Samoan is when a native speaker is drunk and his speech is slurred and distorted. Anyway, here’s the correct way of saying what you were trying to say: “Ua kele kele au (not “ou”) kala ae ga o le akigi apa ga [e] pa’o mai ai ….” That’s how a real Samoan speaks. Are you an “afa-Samoa”, “fia palagi” or …part-Chinese? …LOL!
In the last two years, I submitted articles, letters, poems, etc., to the Samoa Observer newspaper. I am including them here. With some of the letters and responses to particular writers, I will try to add some background and contextual information so as to minimize any in medias res confusion. If you wish to read more of my letters, articles and poems, you can visit http://www.samoaobserver.ws/ and type "Letalu" in the Search window. Note: Most, but not all, of the resulting entries and links are mine, notably the ones with "LV" initials.
The movie “Milk” was banned in Samoa, as it was elsewhere. One of the arguments against the decision by the Samoa Censor Board was that other movies - “R” rated ones - are worst, with violence, sex, drugs, etc., and yet are allowed in Samoa. So what’s the big deal in censoring/banning “Milk”?
Here’s my letter to the Editor on this issue.
"It's the message, stupid"
Although the tone of my letter sounds supportive of the Samoa Censor Board’s decision in banning “Milk”, the movie, it is actually an attempt to provide a fair and perceptive analysis on just one aspect of a more inclusive and broader debate, and that is the slanted comparison of “Milk” to other movies containing scenes with sex, drugs and violence.
As a disclaimer, I am aware of the fact that moviegoers vary and differ in their reasons for watching and enjoying movies, therefore, consider the following for whatever it is worth.
The argument against the Censor Board’s decision to ban the movie “Milk” while at the same time permitting movies filled with violence, sex, drugs, etc., is pervious, unsound and absurd. Though such an argument seems sound on the surface, an in-depth look may prove the contrary. Scenes, plot, subplots, characters, dialogue and storyline all contribute to supporting and enhancing the central and main message of a movie.
In movies that contain sexual, violent and drug scenes, the central message is hardly the extolling or lauding of violent, criminal and immoral behaviour; instead, it’s almost always, the prototypic “crime [and immorality] do not pay”. The “crime does not pay” message and theme still dominate and drive the majority of movies.
Hence, in the conclusion of most movies, the antagonists (drug dealers, crooks, perverts, monsters, etc., ) are always killed and/or defeated. In essence, it’s the “good versus evil” message in which good always triumphs in the end that underlie most movies. It’s a pervasive, archetypal and universal theme. Therefore, on the basis of this traditional and authentic theme and message, R-rated movies are often sanctioned and permitted.
On the other hand, “Milk”, which is more a docudrama than a typical movie, presents a different and not so subtle message. It recounts the struggles, desires, ambitions and hopes of an individual. In such generic context and broad levels, “‘Milk’ does a [person] good” (to borrow from a TV commercial slogan). In fact one review states that the “one message or underlying theme in “Milk” ...is that all people have to have hope.”
Certainly! I could not agree more, at least in the general sense, only that the same “hope” theme has been more effectively depicted in a myriad of other movies.. What makes Milk’s “hopes” unique, exclusive and queer (pun not intended), however, is that they are hopes of Harvey as a homosexual man - not as a politician, or as a Navy officer, or as a teacher, as Harvey Milk was all of those.
“Milk” hopes that homosexuality will eventually become an acceptable lifestyle and a norm in society. (The movie’s release coincided with Proposition 8 banning same sex marriage in California in 2008.) Again, it is the message. It’s the message about the acceptance of homosexuality, together with all its ramifications and potential impact on Samoan society, that apparently became a gnawing concern for the Board, I believe.
In this case, to most people, especially Samoans who are reputed as devout and predominantly Christians, “Milk” is propaganda for the antisocial, the abnormal, the bizarre and the heretical; it’s a drama in which the overriding message is that evil triumphs or on a par with good.
Simply, the main message of “Milk” conflicts with Samoan values. On this basis, personally, I believe the Board should be given a break in its decision. After all, I’m sure that one of the main objectives of the Board is to “safeguard” the norms, core values and principles of Samoan society against some inappropriate and degenerating media/movies.
Once again, the reasons for allowing some movies and banning others have more to do with the overriding message than the contents.
The migrant matai ("matai tausavali")
(Printed in the Samoa Observer Oct. 01, 2010 under the Viewpoint column)
Much has been written lately about some of the political pandemonium in our island paradise. Editorials in this paper highlighted political rifts and jockeying. Defection among Members - and former Members - of Parliament, dubious and fraudulent land deals as well as improprieties within the traditional socio-political protocols dominated the headlines and local news.
Perhaps what seems interesting and even more disturbing is the fact that all these involve the so-called “people in high places”.
But before I get into the crux of this letter, I would like to warn some readers that this letter can and will offend a certain group of people - as is the nature of most, if not all letters to the Editor. Let me also state unequivocally that there is truth - a little or a lot - in what I’’m going to say, hence the abovementioned caution of the offending nature of the letter. Truth, after all, hurts and therefore offensive to some.
The subject matter of this letter may be more appropriate for scholarly journals, periodicals, books and other academic publications where it can be eviscerated, treated and studied in-depth. Suffice it for me to say, that for my purposes, I will only perform an augury (faamataaliga/faali'ali'aga).
While some may agree - wholly or partially - others will find the letter bodacious, and still others, hopefully, will find it educational and constructive.
The crux and problem have to do with the evolution of the role(s) of the matai, therefore, the roots are found in the culture (faa-Samoa). The shifts and changes in the role(s) of the matai within the socio-political arena, catapulted by economic forces, have contributed directly to some of the current and ongoing violations and improprieties in the traditional protocols including the ava fatafata and va fealoa’’i.
During the early years of Samoa’s independence, the paramount chief in each district became the MP by default, often by virtue of his traditional status as being the ali’i sili. It also tied into the traditional representative nature and order of the village council (fono), whose structure and format were/are borrowed by the national Parliament (Fono).
At the time, the matai’s role, for the most part, was one of presiding, delegating and supervising. This ali’i sili or any other notable matai lived and resided in the village. Having attained the mataiship through the traditional tautua (vs. today’s wealth, education, employment and other more modern types of qualifications), the titleholder enjoys the position of an overseer.
His shares to the village affairs (faiganu’u) or family matters (faalavelave) were largely contributed and donated by the extended family (aiga). Ideally, he (matai) did/does not need to contribute anything.
Fast forward to decades following, even to date, and we find the aiga looking for a matai who can “serve” (tausi) the aiga, as opposed to being served by the aiga. This reversal or shift, perhaps has more to do with economic vicissitudes and changes.
As a result, therefore, the search and trend seem to focus on “recruiting” those who are well-off, better educated with stable and better paying jobs into the pool of prospective matai candidates.
Ostensibly, those who were born, raised and had businesses in the town areas became the favorites over those still rendering the traditional tautua in the village. (As far as who recruited whom - between the aiga and the matai - is not important as far this letter is concerned.)
This new breed of matai that I’ve decided to call “migrant matai” (matai tausavali), has deep pockets especially during faalavelaves and in other village and/or aiga obligations. A typical case is that when/if the aiga is unable to come up with the rest of an expected monetary gift (si’i) during a faalavelave, the migrant matai will then make up the difference, if not the entire amount - which often is in the thousands of dollars.
It is not hard to find these types of matai nowadays; they’re everywhere. The whole arrangement however is not one-sided. The aiga is not the only beneficiary. Sometimes, the benefactors (migrant matai) also become the beneficiaries especially as promising candidates for the elections and eventually as MPs, Ministers, Associate Ministers or Prime Minister.
And whether these migrant matai like it or not, the fact remains that the traditional system is their gangplank to their positions and aspirations in government and other high places. In essence, they need to pass through the traditional system to get to the modern one. Reciprocally, however, the recognition, reputation and distinction that these matai bring to the aiga through their visible roles in government and business are also indisputable.
If the relationship is based on respect and mutuality, then all the better; but manipulation, guile and chicanery can often creep in and take their toll. Subsequently, questions of loyalty, dedication and commitment arise on the part of the migrant matai to his often removed and remote aiga and village fono. One may ask: Are these migrant matai serious and devoted - in deed, mind and spirit - to the aiga and village, or do they regard them as just means to an end? Much advice has been given on the need and importance of the matai to be close - residentially and otherwise - to his aiga and nu’u. Residence requirements for electoral and other purposes which have been mandated by law are based on the same concept and cruciality.
Though location/residence can be relative things, the preference is that the matai reside in the village to which the aiga and title belong and where the duty-bound services (monotaga) are rendered, in order for the whole relationship to be mutually effective and trustworthy.
James Madison in the “Federalist Papers” says:
“It is a known fact in human nature that its affections are commonly weak in proportion to the distance or diffusiveness of the object. Upon the same principle that a man is more attached to his family than to his neighborhood, to his neighborhood than to the community at large, ....”
In principle, the above quote can be reflected in some of the current cases involving ripples, tensions and improprieties between the migrant matai and the aiga and/or nu’u. One often wonders if the camaraderie, morale, affinity and overall closeness and effectiveness that befit the migrant matai-aiga/nu’u relationship are compromised by some of the gaps and separation imposed by the residence, economic standing, lifestyle and sociability of the titleholder.
Further, the migrant matai is often “superior” to the rest of the aiga in all determiners - except traditional oratory in most cases. Compared to the typical matai who resides in the village and is an intrinsic part of the aiga, the migrant matai may see himself as a detached boss because of his transient status. Therefore in a lot of ways, he can boast and flaunt a sense of independence in many more ways than one. His affections for the aiga and nu’u can also suffer as a result.
The ava fatafata and va fealoa’i can be at risk and not reach their appropriate levels than those achieved had the migrant matai been living in the village. The lack or undermining of such cordialities is often demonstrated and proven when the relationship hits rough waters. The migrant matai, because of his domineering role as well as “distance” from the aiga and nu’u may then feel repulsive disaffected and indifferent, if not arrogant. Simultaneously, the aiga and village may start to feel cajoled and/or used.
Therefore, during this rift, the aiga and village may - in hindsight - ruefully resurrect traditional standards, at least in principle, of the tautua (e le’i pusa se umu, e le’i mu mata, etc.,) the lack of which often lead to a recidivism in respect and cordiality on the part of the migrant matai. The aiga and village eventually impose bans and restrictions on these matai.
Sometimes, migrant matai hold several notable titles from different villages. This practice can affect the effectiveness of their services and loyalty by serving several masters. Moreover, as a holder of multiple titles, a migrant matai may care less if one of the villages imposes a ban on him since he still has “more lives” as a matai left in other villages. The multiple titles for the migrant matai therefore can be impudent and/or corrosive to the faa-Samoa. For one thing, they not only cheapen the titles but also make it impossible for the migrant matai to establish residence - again a critical need and necessity - with one aiga and/or nu’u. The overall effectiveness of the general role of a matai is therefore, also, undermined and sabotaged.
It may be interesting to know that some of our top political leaders are migrant matai. They do not physically reside in the villages. That being said, it is well to understand that not all migrant matai are the same in the level of fulfillment and discharge of their duties and responsibilities with regards to their aiga and nu’u. Neither can they be faulted for being migrant matai in the first place, since it’s the aiga - by consensus - and the nu’u which are the ones who bestow the matai honors. Nonetheless, all sides need to be aware of the challenges and problems that come with the arrangement and practice of migratory matai.
Finally, though the migrant matai-aiga/nu’u relationship is still largely based on a quid pro quo basis, the protocols of ava fatafata, faaaloalo and va fealoa’i should supersede the Si’ulepas and Togamaus and the conditionality of most cultural relationships. Also, the migrant matai, or any other matai for that matter, needs to understand that being in “high places” has its dire drawbacks; the Biblical equivalent is even more faalemanuia.
Fa'alogoga vs. Fa'alogona
Several months ago, in the Samoa Observer, a debate started on the above words. Oka Fauolo the main proponent of “faalogoga” claimed that it is the only correct word - not “faalogona”. Although the debate started between Mr. Fauolo and others, I became his main interlocutor because of what I injected into the debate. The debate was passionate at times but was largely civil and informative.
Fauolo’s claim is based on the “ga” noun inflection rule, in which “ga” (affix/suffix) is added to a verb/root word to form a noun, as in these examples:
tausami - tausamiga
sa’ili - sa’iliga
sa'oloto - sa'olotoga
faaali - faaaliga
amio - amioga
poloa’i - polo’aiga
fautua - fautuaga
Hence, faalogo - faalogoga, and not faalogona. Good valid point, HOWEVER ...
(Warning: This is a lengthy read. )
I have been following the debate - trivial as it may seem sometimes - on the words “fa’alogoga” and “fa’alogona”. The more the debate continues, however, the more I’m able to apply, theoretically at least, a grammar template to the whole squabble.
The debate seems to support and give credence to the notion of basically two types of grammar (or grammarians) - prescriptive grammar and descriptive grammar.
Prescriptive grammar “prescribes” what we should not do with language. Some notion of authority and strict rules must be followed and obeyed and language should be explicitly learned.
Descriptive grammar, on the other hand, looks at language and how it is used in everyday speech, how it works and how it naturally evolves and changes.
Based on views already expressed on this issue, therefore, the “fa’alogoga” followers (Mr. Fauolo and others) belong to the prescriptive camp, while those who prefer “faalogona” are with the descriptive side.
It will be interesting to know the age distribution of the two groups, since generally speaking prescriptive grammarians tend to be older and more conservative with language while descriptive grammarians are younger, more liberal and permissive in usage - the “older generator” versus the “younger generator”, if I may infuse some Tofiga humor into the melee.
Which camp am I in? Well, to use the political “trichotomy”, I’d like to be an independent. But if I may speak for the descriptive side, let me offer the following.
The word “fa’alogona” seems natural to the human speech mechanism. But if the natural aspect of language does not completely explain and defend the descriptive case, then here’s a thought. Perhaps an equivalent word or synonym plays the role of a “catalyst” in the process, and that word is “lagona”.
“Lagona”, technically can be an important part of the mix, since it refers to inner feelings as well as thoughts, just like fa’alogoga/faalogona. Naturally, therefore, a native speaker, because of the more visceral part of language and speech, can make an intuitive association between the two words “fa’alogo” and “lagona” and subsequently construct a mental or abstract coinage resulting in the word “fa’alogona”. It’s just a thought.
The other words that fall in this similar category are “faguga” and “fanuga” - the former being more correct according to prescriptive grammarians, and the latter for the descriptive camp. Personally, I like both, but with preference for “fanuga”.
Language is a component of culture and therefore is a social phenomenon which is prone and susceptible to change. For instance, the word “glamor/glamour” has its origins in the word “grammar”. My conclusion therefore is that we can, and should use both words “fa’alogoga” and “fa’alogona” without the fear of being intimidated, vilified and/or embarrassed.
William Somerset Maugham, a noted English playwright and novelist, once said:
“It is necessary to know grammar, and it is better to write grammatically than not, but it is well to remember that grammar is common speech formulated. Usage is the only test.”
A word is right only when it follows the grammar rules that govern its use. The many people who use the wrong word, including the “faifeaus” as claimed, does not make right the wrong.
It only displays their lack of proper understanding of their own language. I really sympathize with those people who certainly need to properly understand their language. And they must not force the language to suit their ignorance of it.
The non-sequitor comparison to English words like “science” does not make sense.
The English language has its own syntax. And it is not necessary to bring in its vocabulary and the etymology of its words to help explain the Samoan words. Besides that, how does an English borrowed word from the old French through Latin’s “scientia” become a good example for the Samoan word? Surely it sounds much more ridiculous than true.
“A common progression for words” as mentioned, is not called for in this matter, nor is it the case for an issue “approved by an individual” but a “group of people” who worked out the syntax of the Samoan language. Their works, I believe, are still obtainable in some bookshops today, if any people are humble enough to consult them.
The “Prescriptive” vs “Descriptive” of LV Letalu (Observer 8/5/09), appears to be an observational speculation that some people may be interested in, but I find no value in it for the current debate, because it is off the track trod, and out of the target pursued.
And although I can say a lot about the stuff presented and so much unrelatedness among the examples given, I feel I must save my time for other things.
E fia faaiu la’u tusi lenei i le fa’amanatu a Paulo ia Timoteo: “Afai foi e finau se tasi i le fia malo i tausinioga, e le faapaleina o ia pe a le finau e tusa ma tulafono.”
I would like to conclude this writing with Paul’s reminder to Timothy: “An athlete is not crowned unless he competes according to the rules.” What is right must be right in its own nature, and not by the claim of some strong common sense. Too much theorisation does not always help.
Mr. Fauolo obviously missed my conclusion - intentionally or unintentionally - on the “faalogoga vs. faalogona” debate, so I am resubmitting it here:
“My conclusion therefore is that we can, and should use both words “faalogoga” and “faalogona” without the fear of being intimidated, vilified and/or embarrassed.”
Contrary to his claim that he found “no value ....and much unrelatedness” in my observation, I must say that my letter had value to those with open, rational and analytical minds.
There are two apparent reasons for Mr. Fauolo’s feeble claim - first, he did not fully understand my letter, and second, he has adamantly decided to remain firm and unmoved in his views on the word “faalogoga”.
Therefore, he has become unabashed in exposing his closed-mindedness on the “faalogoga” issue and about the volatility of language in general. Such is the disposition of a tenacious prescriptive grammarian who insists on a rule-based approach, as well as being afraid and intimidated by change.
Beside Mr. Fauolo’s audacious imposition and diehard advocacy of grammar rules, which seemingly ascribe to language a degree of immutability, the fact remains that the origins, study, development and issues regarding the use of language are still largely inconclusive at best and speculative at worst. In other words, theories (e.g. Nativist, Empiricist, Emergentist, etc.,) abound in the study of language, and Mr. Fauolo’s dislike for theorisation in language issues, therefore, only proves his limitations.
In linguistics, rules are good; but they can also become prohibitive to the point of impeding language in its natural development and adaptation. Furthermore, rules - and laws - do change, like everything else.
Notwithstanding Mr Fauolo’s adamancy, it’s not hard to find the truth and reality in people’s preference for “faalogona” over “faalogoga”. If he were to google the two words, the findings will not be surprising. While the few instances of “faalogoga” are mostly from this Observer debate, the many instances of “faalogona” reflect its wide acceptance and usage that range from the vernacular to the official and the formal. Newspapers, government, educational and religious publications, etc., all use “faalogona”. Would the guardians and so called “rule makers” of the Samoan language now initiate a policing campaign against these violations? Good luck!
O se mea taua tele le tapu’eina o se mafaufau tatala ma le fetalaa’i i le anoanoa’i o mataupu i nei ona po. O lea o le faauliulito, tautu ma taofiofimau i ni manatu, lagona ma finauga faamatafela, e faaono taofia ai le tagata mai i le atinaa’eina o se uta ma se tofa manino e faaa’upegaina ai o ia aua le feagai ai ma tiute ma fesoua’iga atoa ma mataupu feteena’i o le olaga. E fatitu gofie le la’au malo (rigid/stiff), a’o le la’au e vavai ma falala gofie (flexible) i au o matagi e anagata, e tumau ma e le gau. Rigidity (closed-mindedness) breaks, flexibility (open-mindedness) endures.
Lastly, I understand that Mr. Fauolo’s specialty and forte are in the spiritual department, and quoting the Bible, verbatim and contextually, to validate and justify his opinions is acceptable and admirable. However, quoting the Bible using some radical, personal and dogmatic exegesis is within the vicinity of blasphemous tendencies.
“Diehard Grammarian” is LV Letalu’s own wording (Observer 16/5/09).
Labelling and naming like stone throwing from a glass house lie within one’s complete freedom but a job of no wisdom. The debate started off in a simple way. I stated a criticism based on the grammar rules that are generally accepted. But certain writers countered it with opinions based on common sense, and they only made things complicated.
Letalu’s intruding into the debate arena with his bright ideas made things worse and more complicated from the debate standpoint, because however plausible they seem, they are based on his/her common sense.
That was why I reckoned them to be off the track trod and therefore valueless for the debate.
For instance: which language when learning or studying requires you to look at the type of grammar, whether ‘prescriptive’ or ‘descriptive’? And do you have to decide if the language you need is for the older or younger generation?
Of the few languages I have learnt, the key is knowing the grammar syntax, and then coupled with learning of the vocabulary. That is all you need without any further speculation.
And when something is wrong, what to do is admit the error and attempt the correct one, rather than stubbornly making all kinds of excuses to make the mistake look correct. That is childish.
To accuse me of being against change or changes is baseless. I will always welcome changes that are needed for improvement and betterment of anything, but am strongly against changes that are caused by someone’s desire to justify the unjustifiable.
Letalu’s reference to his letter having value “to those with open, rational and analytical…” is no more than a mere assumption in his/her own mind. Looking at your own picture in a mirror makes you dwell in the world of imagination. That does not help you much if at all. I really don’t mind all this stuff (paragraphs 4 and 5, to save time and space) with all the insulting remarks and false accusations, like mud-throwing by someone who finds insufficient power to keep his feet on the right track.
So I don’t bother much about that. In fact I dealt with this kind of writings before, and they were much more serious than these. But I still look upon those writers with respect and love.
After all, there was a similar group of people during the Infra-Renasci period whose leisure was spent mainly in wallowing on iridizing the spheres. The public disliked their ideas. And so they disappeared.
Now talking about “rational” mind, it is hard to see how that remark goes along with his idea of “google the two words” (meaning “faalogoga” and “faalogona”). Why should there be a googling anyway? What for? Will it prove anything? And why is he not doing it himself if there is any value in the suggestion?
At any rate, if your googling results in this: There are 10,000 people using faalogona and only 100 use faalogoga, are you saying then that “faalogona” is correct? How ridiculous!
Is that rational? The large number of people however large who use the wrong word can never change the wrong to right, just as the small number who use the right word can never be wrong.
Not until a change is made in the grammar rules, when there is a real need to do so, and not in order to cover some wrong doing.
O se faiga lelei le talia o suiga ma fesuiaiga fou e tauala mai ai manuia e tusa ma taaviliga o le lalolagi, ae le o le soona tasui ai fua ma isi mea i mafuaaga sese.
E le o laau malo uma e fatitugofie, e le o laau vaivai uma foi e anagata. Rigidity does not always break, flexibility does not always endure. It is just a nice saying but it’s not real.
I did not quote St Paul’s reminder because it is in the Scripture, but I believe in the philosophy behind his advice which is applicable to all situations in life. That was the way the Apostles presented the application of the message of the Gospel in their preaching.
The Kerygma (message) plus the didache (teaching) equals evangelizomai tov evangelion (proclaiming the Evagelia or Gospelling the Gospel).
The apostolic preaching presented the Message with deep faith in the empowering by the Holy Spirit without which success would never come about.
In this way there is no room for blasphemy. This should always be the case among God’s people today.
"Fa’alogoga’ is correct; ‘faalogona’ is wrong - says who?" (Part I)
Let me first restate the crux of the debate on the two words - at least involving my so-called “intrusion.”
Reverend Oka Fauolo, and others, insist that “faalogoga” is right, and “faalogona” is wrong, and there are no two ways about it. (Personally, I feel that since Mr. Fauolo is a church leader, and a renowned one at that, it’s possible that he sees the issue as strictly a moral one, especially having attributed our language, in a moot way, as being God-given.)
Other participants, albeit sporadic, take the opposing viewpoint and believe that “faalogona” is correct. Still others, including myself, have a more open and more tolerant approach in accepting both words.
Now, let me get back to the question posed in the title of this letter. Obviously, there seems to be one main and absolute answer to the question, according to Mr. Fauolo and the proponents of the “‘faalogoga’ only” position, and that is: “Says the Rules!” Rules. Rules. Rules. These have been indisputably established during the course of the debate. Although tradition seems to be another reason, as claimed in the statement: “That’s what I have been taught by pastors and teachers,” rules still represent the underlying idea - the pastors and teachers taught the “rules”.
Let’s look at this preoccupation and insistence on “rules”.
Mr. Fauolo apparently learned from teachers who taught “standard” grammar rules, possibly through the influence of Latin (the lingua franca of the Church) and which, in turn, influenced English in the rule-based approach. Latin is known for its heavy dependence on rules.
As I mentioned in one of my letters on this debate, rules are good and can/should be followed. In language they play an important role in the general grammar and syntax. However, in certain areas, such as in morphology (the specific branch we are dealing with in this debate), “rules” do change and they can be fickle and inconstant. Hence, there will always be exceptions and anomalies, which are, and can still be, acceptable and conventional.
Deviations and irregulars are therefore common in every language.
I am going use some “rules” of English to illustrate my point above. English is the vehicular language in Samoa, spoken and understood by many, so the examples are, and should be, intelligible.
Example 1. The Comparative Superlative “Rule”:
The “rule” is to add “er” to form the comparative case/form and “est” for the superlative form. For example: rich/richer/richest; fine/finer/finest, etc., But what happens to words like “good” and “bad”? Of course we don’t have a “good/gooder/goodest” or “bad/badder/baddest”. The “rule” certainly stops working. Yet still more anomalies in words like “beautiful” and “colourful” in which the “rule” changes again and modifiers “more” and “most” are used.
Example 2. The Plural “Rule”: Adding the “s” to form the plural case.
This is the standard rule for the plural case, and we have girl/girls, boy/boys, book/books, etc., How about words like “man” “child” “thief”? The “rule” certainly does not apply. And still more irregulars like “focus” (foci/focuses), “index” (indices/indexes), etc., Oh the fickleness of rules!
If I may spoof the Bard of Avon, let me say that rules can be likened to the moon in its seeming constancy and invariability, yet still emanates variance.
“O, swear not by the [rule], the fickle [rule], the inconstant [rule], that [periodically] changes in her [role] ....” (“O, swear not by the moon, the fickle moon, the inconstant moon, that monthly changes in her circle orb, ....”)
Again my point is on the inconstancy of “rules” with regard to language. This same fickleness can be used to explain the irregular “faalogona”. In fact there’s a number of other similar Samoan words that fit in this pattern: faalagi- faalagiga/faalagina/faalaniga; feasogi - feasogiga/feasogina (feasoniga is also used); tapega/tapena - tapegaga/tapegana/tapenaga; faataga - faatagaga/faatagana/faatanaga; faafuga - faafugaga/faafugana/faafunaga.
Samoans, at home and abroad, use all these words all the time. As I have said before, language is still a complex and changeable phenomenon. The complexities of language often derive from cognition as well as mysteries and yet-to-be-understood functions of the human brain. Unlike a computer which mostly processes programmed instructions (re: rules), the brain is largely, if not completely, a self-serving organ. Therefore, a notion exists in language development of a mental - or neural - grammar, which helps in explaining the disposition and preference in some people for certain affixes and derivational patterns.
“The term mental grammar refers to the systematic knowledge of language that is in the mind/brain of every competent speaker of a language. It refers to whatever body of knowledge allows the speaker to be a fluent speaker/understander of his/her language.... All competent speakers of a language have a mental grammar, regardless of whether their knowledge and use of the language conforms to the ‘prestige’ form [or rules] of the language.” (Lectures: Linguistics & Cognitive Science at the University of Delaware.)
Sometimes, euphony plays a part in this concept as well. In other words, the sound in certain pronunciations are more agreeable with some people than others. Oftentimes this can be a regional aspect based on geographical distribution of speakers. Even in Samoa, some villages have different words for the same thing, idea or concept. When Mr. Fauolo claims that “Faalogoga is certainly not [his] personal liking, nor faalogona [his] dislike,” it’s obvious that his emotions, mental faculties, social orientation or preferences are at play. Either euphony or something else is telling him, mentally and/or subconsciously, that rules don’t always make sense, hence his dilemma.
This can be an example of the prohibitive nature of rules in the natural development of language that I mentioned in another letter. While a speaker feels inclined to speak something different, yet a rule becomes an obstacle. In moral issues it’s fine, but in language, we need to at least relax and be open to the expressions and natural abilities of our minds. After all, I doubt one’s “mental grammar” will provide anything radical and extreme, since it’s largely based on existing stockpiles of knowledge.
Additionally, I seriously doubt “faalogona” will lead one to hell, let alone to the confession booth. So once again my suggestion to Mr. Fauolo regarding the two words: “allow the wheat and tares to grow together” and que sera sera.
....to be continued
“‘Faalogoga’ is correct; ‘faalogona’ is wrong - says who?” (Part II)
Again, with regard to the issues discussed in this debate, rules are necessary but they are neither absolute nor inviolable.
And since Mr. Fauolo charged me and others with using just common sense to fashion our opinions, I’d like to say that the above claim, and the rest of the erudition provided herein, are based on much more than common sense - they are based on scholarship and intelligence.
Now to Mr. Fauolo’s nebulous and fuzzy knowledge, as well as his specific blanket accusations.
First off, “diehard grammarian” are my words, though not in that order. It was the editor’s assigned title.
The two words appear separately in my letter and therefore do not have the same meaning or context as the above construction.
Also, I may be a child, comparatively speaking, but not “childish” according to Mr. Fauolo’s own wording - “labeling and naming.”
Let me address some specific points.
Which language when learning or studying requires you to look at the type of grammar, whether ‘prescriptive’ or ‘descriptive’?
The languages are English, Samoan and many, if not all, others. Even a little bit of reading on grammar in general would reveal much on descriptive and prescriptive grammar/grammarians. He’ll be surprised at how prescriptive grammar is sufficiently descriptive of him, as well as his views and ideas.
“Why should there be a googling anyway? What for? Will it prove anything?”
“The large number of people however large who use the wrong word can never change the wrong to right.”
These enquiries go to prove some of his inadequacies in language matters. He continues to impose the same moral compass and criteria (right is right regardless of the large number of those who do the same thing wrongly) on other aspects and areas of a secular nature. In moral issues, his above conclusion carries a lot of weight, but in linguistics, it’s petty, ambiguous and dogmatic.
The large number of users (of a word) can make a big difference in the viability, credibility, acceptance and eventually the standardization of a word. In other words, the number of users can make a “wrong” word “right” especially since usage - not rules - is the main guardian and regulator of a language.
English is perhaps the most dynamic, vibrant and active language because of its universality, its history, the technology influence and its wide borrowing base found in other languages.
Because of these, English perhaps has more new words (like “google/googling”) added to its lexicon every year than any other language. Therefore, it easily becomes a model for the study of language in general.
English is also the best example in the process of word standardization. Many of the traditional agents of standardization such as radio, television, newspapers, etc., still play important roles. But the Internet, because of its ubiquitous nature, is becoming the fastest, most active and durable force in standardizing words and language.
In saying that, I understand that this pervasive influence of the Internet can also work in Mr. Fauolo’s favour and aspirations for “purifying” the Samoan language, but only with a well executed campaign in changing people’s habits and minds. Nonetheless, today, if someone were to google a word, the acceptance and authenticity of that word is directly proportional to the number of its users and occurrences.
So to answer his question, and let me emphasize the study of language as the main point of reference, the number of users of a certain non-standard word can have a direct impact on making that word standard, therefore eventually acceptable and right. Language, after all, is a product of the masses. The irony though is that Mr. Fauolo DOES believe in this concept. In fact, in one of his earlier letters on this debate he said: “... the continual repetition of something wrong for a long time, would eventually make it sound lie [sic] right.”
Concerning language, repetition would not only make it sound right, it eventually makes it right - and therefore acceptable.
He obviously understands the concept though he does not want to agree with it. His position in the above statement flagrantly contradicts his claim at the top of this section.
And with all that, I have provided “sufficient power to keep my feet on the right track” and also answered the following by Mr. Fauolo:
“...talking about “rational” mind, it is hard to see how that remark goes along with [Mr. Letalu’s] idea of ‘google the two words’ .....”
So, with an open, rational and analytical approach as well as an open-minded attitude towards the dynamics of language, Mr Fauolo and friends should relax their unyielding position of saying that “faalogona” is wrong. After assessing the word within the context of the crucial, yet fickle, grammar rules, as well as explaining the implications of its widespread use, “faalogona” is also correct in its own right.
Two plus two equals four is correct – says who?
One does not have to make a study of the originator of the above-mentioned in order to find if it is true or not. Unless there is someone with a different kind of mind and a different kind of thinking, and especially someone so anxious to show his/her intellectual capability to indulge in speculation and rationalisation, and to bring in so much unnecessary stuff to convince the readers that here is someone with a big knowledge who can arrogantly look down on others as having “nebulous and fuzzy knowledge.”
Anyone who entered the debate with such purpose has certainly received his reward. And it is always a happy thing to me when that happens.
But I still remain on the same point where I started, after the movers failed to move their target. “faalogona is correct in its own right.” Says who?
Two plus two equals five, and possibly six, are also correct
Reverend Fau’olo, thank you for yet another fitting and appropriate metaphor and representation of our respective positions on the “faalogoga/faalogona” issue.
While 2+2=4 represents an exclusive, absolute, closed and restrictive formula, 2+2=5 (possibly 6) represents a more inclusive, profound, perceptive and open process.
By the way, in the more involved and intricate world of numbers and computations (e.g. rounding, truncation, quantization, etc.,) the latter formula, though seemingly irregular, represents a real and practical mathematical equation, and not some abstract and speculative phenomenon. It’s just like the reality and practicality of the word “faalogona” in Samoan.
Thank you also for your thoughts and views on the issues.
Despite some minor personal detours and comments, I believe the overall debate has been mostly civil and constructive. In these kinds of debate, it matters not who is right but what is right, and in the words and “faalogona” of one songwriter, “...everything’s gonna be alright.”
I le ma lenei, e ia te a’u le faaaloalo tele i lau susuga, e le gata i lou silafia e uiga i le mataupu, ae faapea foi i lou tulaga o se tasi o ulutaia ma taiao i le Ekalesia faapea fo’i i fuafuaga fai a le atunu’u. Faafetai ma faamalo atu e tusa ai ma le faasoaina ma le faafaletuiina o manatu ma mafaufauga e uiga i nisi o mataupu faavae o le gagana.
O le tulaga e tusa ai ma ni a’u folasaga o nisi o faamatalaga ma malamalama, e pei ona e ta’ua, e leai, e le o se fia sa’ili lanu poo se fia nanunanu, ae ona o le tomanatunatu ma le manumanu.
O lea, afai fo’i sa sala se upu a lenei tagata, ia faasala ia ia Vala e pei o lea muagagana. Faamanuia atili le Atua i ou tofiga ma tiute ae maise i le avea ma Tapuitea ta’i malaga i le itu faale-Agaga o nai o tatou tagata.
A Tribute to Lalomanu
Be brave after the wave
Oh what destruction, what loss, what pillage
The wave had inflicted on my treasured village
The devastating indiscriminate damage
The early killing and the unkind rampage
The deadly force from beneath the surface
Sent the wave roaring with an ugly grimace
With a crest and swells that sometimes thrill
It lurched upon the young and old for the kill
Once it was kind soothing and generous
This day, it was angry furious and treacherous
Without timely warning on the fateful morning
It came and went, leaving my village in mourning
Bodies lifeless bleeding and swelling
Mingled with mangled flattened dwelling
Some half buried in the disturbed sand
Others scattered and carried farther inland
A lifetime of enterprise and ambitions
Reduced to rubbled rubbished conditions
Beach fales demolished and destroyed
When the wave and invisible wrath employed
Lalomanu, Lalomanu, my pride and joy
From days past as a carefree little boy
I swam in the sea from which everyone fled
Once a refuge now cradling the dead
Still shocked with no words to explain
Like a sad song of smothered strain
Let us endure the sorrow and the pain
There is hope and sunshine after the rain
Though now you seem a fleeting fame
Neither should you be a sheathing shame
So let the name be a burning flame
In your hearts, mine and others’ all the same
We’ve lost so much and many we couldn’t save
But let us rave with our fists to the grave
With resilience and resolve to rebuke the knave
Take courage and be brave after the wave
Months after the devastating tsunami of Sept. 29, 2009, those who had suffered became frustrated with the government’s slow response - or lack of it at times - in restoring normalcy to people’s lives with things like water, shelter and other everyday necessities. Articles and reports on these improprieties by the government started appearing in the Samoa Observer. A government sympathizer and supporter wrote to respond to one of these articles, vilifying and attacking tsunami victims, especially those from my village of Lalomanu.The following was my response to the government supporter’s (Hot Air) letter.
To Sick of Lalomanu Hot Air:
I write in response to a letter by a reader and observer namely “Sick of Lalomanu Hot Air” (hereafter known as “Hot Air”) dated the 16th of January. As for this response, it’s better late than never (E sili le tuai nai lo le leai).
Hot Air’s letter was disproportionate in both content and tone. It was an overbearing, denunciative and vindictive overkill for what seems to be a sympathetic and innocuous article - “We are sick of waiting” (dd. 11/1).
The article had no apparent malice on the part of the interviewees, except to express feelings of desperation and frustration with their government. Hot Air is obviously a government supporter - if not a government employee/representative - from the tone of the letter as well as from its acerbic proportionate title “We are sick too”.
Apparently, the use of the word “sick” in the title of the original article may have triggered Hot Air’s outburst. Nonetheless, the resulting tirade was not only uncalled for, but, also, simply that - hot air.
E pei ua fai lava si mateletele o le e ona le tusi lea. The unpleasant attacks seem to come from someone with a personal vendetta against some people from my village and others. Hot Air’s letter also reveals his/her exorbitant disdain and indifference to those who have been victimized by the tsunami.
I would like to venture that the interview was conducted in Samoan. In that case, it’s quite possible that the word “sick” may have been misused to describe/translate what may have been less repulsive Samoan equivalents.
In fact I’ve found the word “tired” - not “sick” - used in the article in one of the interviewees’ comments. Though semantics therefore seems to play a role in the resulting tantrum, it still needs to be understood that all possible Samoan contextual translations of the word “sick” do not convey - with equal effect and meaning - the applied connotations of “disgust” and “repugnance” in the original title and especially in Hot Air’s response. E ‘ese le fiu, ‘ese le inoino.
“Tired” would be a more appropriate and gentler word to describe the usual and most common translations of “fiu”, “lelavava” or “a leaga a’e” which were likely used. This thought should and could have been deduced through proper knowledge of the native parlance, social intuition of the overall nature of the Samoans, as well as unpretentiousness on the part of Hot Air, and should have been sufficient for averting his/her vented resentment and spitefulness.
With regards to the difference between certain innovative resorts and simple beach fale ventures, it may be a classic case in an attempt to illustrate Samoa’s unique and present economic system, especially in what seems to be a slow but stubborn transition from - in general terms - socialism to capitalism. The former is represented by Romeo Fales while the latter is typified by Coconut and Sinalei resorts.
The two models are currently operating in Samoa under one government, and even on a dichotomy of traditional versus modernity. It’s almost like the difference between a roadside fish vendor (faatau taui’a) in the village and a fish market/business in the city with its insurance and other safeguards.
In the case of the roadside vendor, the government can help in funding/building a stall or shelter for him. For the fish market, the government can provide a variety of incentives.
Hence, in either case, the government is still, and should be, a crucial player in business and in people’s lives based on its intrinsic and ubiquitous role as guardian of the governed.
That’s the inherent nature of legitimate governments. True that the Samoan government may not be “in the insurance underwriting business”, as claimed, but it still has a host of other obligations, moral and otherwise, to the people in various capacities. And since most beach fales operate under a more socialistic model, of which the Samoan system is largely a part, the government is therefore obligated to help - directly and/or indirectly.
Hot Air does not seem to believe in any government help or bailout for people like “poor and uninsured” Romeo. Surprisingly, even the most capitalistic nation (the US) - compared to a socialist government - does offer bailouts for businesses of every kind, most notably in cases of emergency/natural disasters like hurricane Katrina. In Samoa, the tsunami was such a disaster.
If anything, the government should give these resort and beach fale operators loans (low/interest free) to rebuild. After all, these entrepreneurs play an important role in generating revenue, which in turn helps the overall economy of the country.
Lastly, the government presently holds the millions of dollars, given specifically, intended and earmarked for assistance in the tsunami recovery efforts. For that reason, at the very least, Lalomanu and Saleapaga beach fale operators are justified in voicing their grievances. And though the details of the government promises are, or may have been, recalled in a misinterpreted or distorted manner, that still does not and should not stop or affect the government’s timely discharge of its contractual obligations and responsibilities to the people.
So here’s a gentle nudge for Hot Air to calm down. And if he/she is still “sick of Lalomanu hot air”, then it’’s time to take a dip in that warm refreshing Lalomanu lagoon. It certainly cools him/her down quickly. E fofo e le alamea le alamea.
The People not The Party
In some parts of the world - more so than others - Democracy is still a wild beast in the process of being tamed and domesticated. Different people and nations have different approaches and attitudes about it. Citizens and governments have modified, customized and localized it; still others deplore or are skeptical about it. But despite this seeming malleability, democracy also has immutability embedded in its basic fundamentals and principles.
The overriding ideal is that the legitimacy, effectiveness and utility of the democratic ideology always - and ultimately - rest with one source: The People. But even this ideal seems to have been undermined by some of its own fickle underpinnings and political haggling in Samoa. This is true with party politics.
Party or partisan politics, a visceral and natural development in democratic societies, has not only taken root but has also become a thriving practice in Samoa. Though its inevitability bequeaths a degree of acceptability and legitimacy, its functionality oftentimes invites scrutiny. This easily is the case in our political paradise.
With the recent changes in the Constitution having to do with the elections and party protocols, among other things, some relevant and legitimate concerns about the rise, dominance and potency of political parties - let alone a political party, or "the party" - need to be considered, at least from a surface and general viewpoint.
First, is the issue of true representation which is being obscured and marginalized by this fixation on party politics. When a candidate is elected, he/she is voted to represent the constituency in Parliament - not in a party. Member of Parliament is his first and most important designation, duty and responsibility, and party member second or after. The Member of Parliament therefore is and should be accountable first and foremost to the people, not to the party.
The way the laws are written now, the representative (MP) is made to report and accountable to the party first and the people second. Remember, Parliament can still exist without political parties but the parties cannot exist without Parliament. Parliament is and should be prior. The party is only a political vehicle and a means to an end.
So when an MP changes his party affiliation, he should be able to change freely. It is a right that is intrinsic and evident in the authority granted by the voters and not by a party or any party-friendly mandates. Even though the party affiliation of the candidate may be listed on the ballot, still his first and most important duty and commission is to be a member of Parliament. Again he is elected to Parliament and not to a party. In fact, the candidate's official title and designation is Member of Parliament - not Member of Party - which defines his most important role as an elected official. He owes his seat in Parliament to the people and not to a party. Simply, the seat belongs to the people not to a/the party.
Therefore, granting the right and freedom to the representative to change party affiliation - as opposed to being mandated by law - means that the interests of the people supersede those of the party. In addition, more often than not, the party's interests can and will be at odds with the interests of the constituents/people, in which case the people's interests are and should always be prior.
True representation - of the people, for the people and by the people - with all its virtues and perspicuity are being violated, weakened and suppressed by the push to make parties more unassailable through impudent constitutional amendments. No effective argument either, based on whatever merits and values of representative government, is sufficient to support and justify the concealed emphasis and covert shift to the party as the legitimate and ultimate surrogate for the people's representation.
Second, the claim by the PM that the changes are to promote and enhance the integrity of political parties, and for a more stable government, certainly has its merits. But what have we, the people, lost or given up as a result of the changes? Well, a lot. Suffice it to reiterate that the party certainly has been enhanced and made to become the more important and even more powerful political unit, and not the people. Consequently, the majority party - "the party" or government - is one that gets bigger and powerful despite the few and rare situations in which a referendum is held. I believe the new laws are superficial at best and self-serving at worst.
Moreover, the words "integrity" and "stable" (in the PM's claim) can be theoretically attractive but practically deceiving. They can easily be substituted with "invincibility" and "powerful" respectively. Hence in a purely pragmatic political context, the changes are to promote and "enhance the [invincibility] of political parties, and for a more [powerful] government." Now if we place this on an imaginary continuum, and track its progress, it eventually and directly leads to a one party state system of government. I'm sure that we have already seen some intimations of this in the last several years.
It's needless to mention or reference the notoriety of contemporary and historical one party states. But most Samoans, especially politicians, will disagree and deny that we are even close to such a system. Though that may be true to some degree, there is however an equally dire and bleak model that is imminent if not already operational in Samoa - that of totalitarian democracy. Here's a cited summary and description:
"Totalitarian democracy is a system of government in which lawfully elected representatives maintain the integrity of the nation state. While its citizens are granted the right to vote, there is little if any difference in the political positions of the candidates for office, and voters accept that their vote is meaningless in any case.
This is in part because the philosophy of totalitarian democracy is based on a top-down view, which sees an absolute and perfect political truth to which all reasonable humans ought be drawn. Moreover, any public or private activities which do not forward this goal have no useful purpose, sap time and energy from those which do, and so must be eliminated.
A totalitarian democracy accepts exclusive territorial sovereignty as its right. It retains full power of expropriation and full power of imposition, [that is], control over everything and everyone. Maintenance of such power requires the forceful suppression of any dissent element except that which the government permits or organizes. A totalitarian democratic state assumes as close to total control over the lives of its citizens as is possible, using the dual rationale of general will and majority rule."
According to conventional and empirical wisdom, whenever a government becomes too big and too powerful, it is on the verge of totalitarian and unrighteous control. Such imminence is now in its incubated stage, nursed and bred by the recent changes which can empower political parties towards the brink of absolutism. The lack of any judicial review and/or interposition by the courts on the constitutional changes does not bode well for the future effects of the seemingly unbridled and unchecked legislative power of the government - or "the party".
Moreover, the Constitution, a document whose essence is to protect the individual more than the group is now in the process of a reversal. The party is now the protected one - not the MP. So when an MP is sent for a by-election, simply because he switched parties, his preeminent right to his seat in Parliament, granted by the people, is abrogated in favor of party membership and party loyalty.
And I quote again from the above totalitarian citation: "While [the] citizens are granted the right to vote, there is little if any difference in the political positions of the candidates for office, and voters accept that their vote is meaningless in any case." Yes, the people's vote is meaningless because the party has taken control.
The misleading mentality of party supremacy and advantage seems to be catching on with the public as evidenced in the recent case of a former member of the HRPP who has been urged by his village (vs. constituency?) to run for the HRPP. Most people think that if they align themselves with the majority party (or government) then their needs and interests will be served. Though that can effectively be defended, and assigned a certain degree of legitimacy, the people still need to be educated and informed about the true nature of democratic representation versus the capricious nature of political parties.
Finally, are political parties a necessary evil? I guess the answer is yes, they are - unfortunately.
Now if you're a religious fanatic - as some government officials have obviously become - you should and can argue against the legality of political parties on the grounds that Samoa is to be founded on Christian principles, according to the Constitution. Simply, parties - or divisions - are un-Christian because the Bible disapproves of them:
"Now I beseech you, brethren, by the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that ye all speak the same thing, and that there be no divisions among you; but that ye be perfectly joined together in the same mind and in the same judgment." (1 Cor. 1: 10)
Similarly, parties and/or divisions conflict with Samoan cultural traditions which are also sanctioned by the same Preamble as Christian principles. The traditional fono is consensus-based while Parliament, today, is not - it's partisan.
...is it time yet for a party, people?