My 2 Cents on Samoa's 2006 General Elections :
I don't know if living outside the country for now has given me a different perspective say If I was still home and had voted in the latest election. Coz it appears to me that nothing has really changed, except for a couple of fresh faces and new allegiances.
Before the actual voting there was much talk of the possibility of a change in government only to have the ruling party win it by a mile. After all the pre-election hype we have the same people in power for another five years and they have been there for the last two decades. Is that bad?...
Have the people of Samoa spoken? Have they truly excercised their democratic rights?
What does it all mean?
I have a number of burning questions that I really wish someone had the answers to.
That is do the Election results reflect;
- That our opposition parties were not strong enough to take on the might of the HRPP?
- That they weren't believable to the people?
- That they were not able to sell themselves to the public?
- That their image suffered because they were busy dissin' the present government but did not provide any viable solutions or paint a rosier picture of life once they take over?
- That the ruling party has indeed been doing a good job and therefore cemented another victory?
- That the people have chosen to go with a safe choice like better the evil they know rather than one they don't know?
- That the HRPP has deeper pockets, wider reach and a more hypnotizing influence?
- That their candidates are more appealing, better liars or much more in tune with the problems of the everyday Samoan?
- That most people just don't care coz in their minds all politicians are the same and that it does not matter who wins as long as no more taxes are being imposed,that the cost of living remains affordable and that law and order still prevails?
I don't know who has the answers...or if anyone can answer them truthfully because everyone is entitled to an opinion and opinions can be colored my many pre existing factors. All I can hope and pray for, is that those in power will not forget the little man who voted him in... But that is a big ask as the elected MP's all have SMS (Selective Memory Syndrome) They only remember you 6 months prior to Election Time. It's a sad fact of life but holds true for most.
What is even sadder is that most voters also suffer from the same condition b'coz they will have forgotten everything else except who has given them the most dollars leading up to the elections and who has promised them a favor after they are selected.
It's a peculiar kind of cat and mouse game the voters and their candidates play. One that even Samoa who only achieved Universal Sufferage in 1991 has learned to play exeptionally well.And the No campaigning Policy well that just goes into the boot of the car along with the boxes of corn beef, tin fish, mutton flaps and what not.
The only thing that is sadder than the previous 2 is the heartache suffered by candidates (and their families) who are naive enough to think that voters would select someone who would work for peanuts if only to have the chance to represent them and their interests. They go to bat with all they have, only to discover when the results come out that they've been duped, lied to and then cast aside by the very same people who looked them in the eye and pledged them their support. (If you could turn this into a Reality Show it would knock off American Idol, Temptation Island and Survivor off the podium :It has all the ingredients for a successful show - the drama, the tears, the disbelief, the anger, the repercussions. TAKE 5... Action..!!)
Politics : the science of feigning humility till you are elevated to the top. Then you can kick everybody else in the teeth and play hop scotch over their heads because you can.
It is the art of posing as a servant till power oozes from your fingertips and you can zap everybody else with bolts of envy n malice. Suffice to say that not all politicians are the same but I have yet to know of one who will pass up riding in a 100 thousand plus car. Who will willingly donate his parlimentary salary to some charity cause and decline invitations to them fancy government dinners so that we can save taxpayer money.. mind u this is Samoa we are taking about and we never .. ever.. pass up on a free meal No Matter what station we hold in life.
My brother in law won his Constituent's Seat (if he survives his court case and charges laid by the candidate he was running against) he and my sister might get to go to 'em fancy dinners and nibble on meals that would probably be in the range of $150 tala upwards...the perks.. the perks... (Pinati & Georgy's still rock my world n within my budget) Should he get lucky mighty even get a Govt issued luxury car, but thankfully he owns a $170,000 one so it wont be the first time his ass gets to ride in 'em expensive wheels. Don't know if he will be able to do something constructive for his electorate I can only hope so! I guess he can test drive his luck for the next five years. Two of my brothers I believe may have voted for the opposition, perhaps my eldest sister also as she is a strong believer in change as well as the principles of good governance which are transparency, accountability, equity and participation.. no we are not a dysfunctional family ..we just believe in excercising our individual rights to choose and it makes for one helluvan amazing dinner conversation.
Don't know who my parents voted for. My mom is a radical usually votes for whomever is brave enough to risk being eaten by our dogs. She thinks entering a strangers house for the first time and daring to ask for support shows confidence and commitment. I think it's kinda lame and shows desperation but what the hey... whatever tickles ur fancy ne? My dad is a Tory he votes only for friends or people he knows.
Sometimes we know that his friends are the honest types who will never stand a chance as their platforms look too good to be true and therefore has almost zero possibility of being accepted but I still think its sweet. My dad and his mates are a rare and dying breed but its nice to know that such chivalry and nobleness of thought still exists and trying to penetrate the political arena though mostly without success.
Politics, politicking & politicians comes in all sorts of shapes and sizes, all manners of thought and speech. It permeates through our senses the good ones and the insane ones. You name I will call it. It affects our lives in all levels, dictates our choices and influences our actions direct and indirectly. Sometimes it can complicate our lives, presents obstacles and causes dilemas but we have to see it in its totality. We have to look at the bigger picture and therefore be able to separate the good from the bad. To not only be able to see black and white but the splotches of grey in between. We just have to be smart about our choices and our choices have to be smart enough to capture our votes.
Like I have mentioned before the political arena is for the ruthless and the cunning (those lovely people with green blood..jokes..) but we who put them there have to be even more so. We have to make our voice heard and our vote count, we have to safeguard our votes and not allow them to be bought. If we are to have leaders who respect the sanctity of life, marriage, family etc we have to make them earn our vote. They need to represent all that is good and respectable about our people, our values and way of life. They have to be stronger, dignified, more able than the rest of us, to seek out what is best for everyone not a selected few.They have to represent what is important more so who and that is us..
Ok, lets come back to earth now. I know that our elected members of parliament each have an agenda for wantin' in...(everybody wants something no one is that altruistic) but helping out ones fellow men is not usually at the top of their "must to do list" We have to be realistic concerning our demands on our reps. There are some members who haven't had the luxury of a higher education and the scope of their visions are at times quite short sighter, some are small or medium business men and therefore only interested in profits and making more $$, others just want to make a name for themselves and have a piece of that good life that most of us have only heard about but have yet to experience.
There are also those rare souls who before entering parliament had grand notions of doing good, setting things right, playing it by the book and walking the straight narrow line of incorruptibility... Unfortunately more times than not they get lost in the system which seems to have the knack of eating good people alive and spit them out as insensitive, robotic shadows of their former selves. (Do you think you can beat the system.. change things around for the better. the greatest thing about hope is that it springs eternal..) We have yet to have our turn who knows then??
So where do we stand now? for me at the precipe hoping for a better tomorrow. Praying that our leaders are better men than we think they are and worthy to guide our country thereby pleasantly suprising all of us.
God Bless Samoa and God Bless All of Us!