Samoa turned it on again today, as only Samoa can do! I was arrested and charged. I’ve been told that I will be summonsed to court at a date of someone else’s choosing, who knows when. New Zealand’s top cop says – “Document it all well and have your day in court.” Great! Doesn’t it just want to make you want to invest into Samoa? Or maybe relocate here to live and do business in Paradise? Yeah right!
I knew it was coming. You don’t have two of a nasty piece of work’s children arrested for theft and wilful damage without a reaction of some sort. Hours after I lodged the complaint, Force‘s mother (Rebecca, I’ll get her photo up here one day) attacked back with a trumped up charge of her own. Tit for tat means that with a claim of her own she can “save face” amongst her family. They all know she’s a bi*ch but you have to save face over here all the time otherwise you’re a dead duck.
[Pic: Child street hawker outside Frakie's wholesale, Vaitele tonight. His parents sent him out to get money selling their coco-Samoa. Illegal, but it happens all the time. Same kids. Same parents. Same Police action - none! Very bad for tourism.]
The interesting thing though is the process by which it all happened, not so much the details of the charge. In Palagi thought, the process undertaken screams corruption, in that I was assumed and treated as guilty and given no right to present another side (which incidently and of course just happened to be the truth).
Here is a summary of events for the interested, times approx. Hat tip on the direct writing style attitude and approach to the Whale (who lectures his audience subliminally in how to call a spade a spade and how to cut out Political Correctness remarkably effectively) as I’ve had enough of being pretty and poncy with my words when I’m surrounded by crooks inside and outside the Samoan Police Force:
- 1.00pm – A Police car arrived in the driveway. Out pops two gorillas. “Are you Dennis Smith?” “Yes I am” “We are here to arrest you and you need to come to the Apia Police station with us”. “What’s this all about?” “You are being arrested on charges of wilful damage to a property owned by the complainant Rebecca Smith [Actually I'm sure that it is Rebecca vorsWinden / Schmidt, but whatever].” “Those charges are malicious and based on lies. Who instructed you to come here today?” [sustained obfuscation] “WHO WAS THE PERSON WHO INSTRUCTED YOU TO COME HERE TODAY AND ARREST ME?!!!” [finally] “Sargeant Nathan”. “I want to speak to him please.” [a repeat performance on the phone from me to another "goon"]. “I want you in my office NOW!” shouted the Sargeant. “I don’t even know who you are, so why are you treating me like a crim, you rude dickhead!” I thought, but I said that I would come at 2.30pm by my own transport after I had visited the PM and the NZ High Commission. He said he didn’t care who I spoke to but that yes he would agree for me to come to the Police station to meet him at 2.30pm. Sheesh some people are right a*******s aren’t they?
- 2.15pm – The Prime Minister’s office “Sorry to do this to you Tui, but I’m just down to the Apia Police Station at 2.30 as I’m being arrested on trumped up charges”. Tuila’epa: “Leave it to me. I’ll speak to the Commissioner” and I assume that he did.
- 2.35pm –
Conflict centralPolice Station central:
“These charges are malicious and based on lies”.
“I have enough to charge you and I will read you your rights!”
“You haven’t even asked me for the truth or the other side”.
“I have four witnesses and that is enough”
“They are all liars from the same family. You know that this petty charge was brought immediately AFTER I laid charges on them all?”.
“I said I have enough to charge you. Do you know what ENOUGH means?”
“Don’t talk to me like I’m an idiot, I am a author, blogger and public speaker. Of course I know what ENOUGH means, but are you interested in the truth of pressing some trumped up charges?” [seething indignation arises somewhat. Well OK seething rage actually!]
- 2.45pm – [Phone call - it's the Commissioner who wants to talk to Sgt Nathan. Fruitless trip upstairs to speak to the Commissioner. Return to the processing desk]
- 3.00pm – The Commissioner has asked me to read you your rights and arrest you [Yeah right! I reckon that it's porky time again! Why would the Commissioner insist on arresting a guy the PM had probably just phoned him about? Was the Commissioner in the habit of pissing off the PM on purpose? Bah humbug! Must think I'm an idiot. How the h*** did he ever become a Sargeant? Rights read AGAIN and fight continues.] My statement:
1. I am innocent
2. These charges are malicious based on lies
3. I will be making a complaint that you had predetermined my guilt, and failed to conduct a proper investigation. [i.e. corrupt cops, crooked cops (the guy is sure to be related to the crims somehow) or lazy peanut-brained cops who add two and two together to get 100! It has to be one of the above but knowing Samoa, it's 10:1 that nothing will happen and all will be hushed up and covered over.]
Boy would I love to go to court. I’d represent myself with relish. The fine if proven guilty (which of course I absolutely AM NOT, but I know from the school of hard knocks that justice and the legal system do not always go hand in hand!) might be a few hundred Tala but the fun of putting four liars on the stand, cross-examining them so that they would all end up perjuring themselves and then having all their photos and a write-up on the Internet for the world to see would be worth every minute of my time! What sweet revenge to a bunch of liars and ‘top achievers’ out to ruin something good!
I once heard a joke about a teacher who had four teenage boys arrive late in class. They claimed that their car had a flat tyre, hence their late arrival. Knowing that there was a porky involved, she said “No problem! Each of you take a piece of paper and write down which tyre it was.
SNAP! Teacher 1, Smartarses, 0.
Can four liars all lie the same in court? I doubt it!
There is a
funny naughty sequel to this story BTW. One of the boys caught out thought that he’d show off and make fun of the teacher later on. He complained that he couldn’t do the lesson because of “extreme sexual exhaustion” which of course put the class into fits of laughter. Her reply however put him back into place pretty quickly . . . “No worries sonny, just use the other hand!” she intoned.
Double SNAP! Teacher 2, Smartarse, 0.
And there you have it. When liars lie and w***ers w**k you just gotta sit back and expose them all – cops or crims. Too bad guys and girls, cops and crims, when you rip me off, or lie to me, or lay malicious charges agaisnt me, you’ve gotta be prepared to be exposed for who you really are.
So, I asked Sgt Nathan if he could give me his full name, exactly as he first introduced himself to me, a big long pompous name with Samoan titles and so on. He refused. What I wanted to say would have been something like “Oh so you’re ashamed of your own name are you?”. I didn’t but it did make me wonder why before when he had “control” of me his name was very important but that when he felt that there may be trouble brewing, he didn’t want me to know it. “You will get it on the Summons” he said. Sure, Sgt Nathan, I can wait! I asked if I could take his photo. That was decent of me eh? “Nope, not until later.” “When later?” “After the court case.” OK Sgt Nathan, I’ll do exactly that – I’ll wait until after the court case before I take your photo and share it with the world.
Boy some people make me mad! There really is just NO NEED for this sort of BS.
Now just in case you think I’m Samoa bashing and what I say is bad for tourism, I have today arranged for a young cop from Faleolo and his wife to receive a SWAP award for excellence in the line of duty. A young copper by the name of Tony says to me “I’m just doing my job” whenever I thank him for being diligent, honest and actually doing the work, which is NOT the norm here. One day he and his wife will meet the PM, maybe even have dinner or lunch with us and he’ll have a memory and a photo to treasure. Another lady by the name of Sara (pronounced SALA) will be lifted up in the same manner too – her
crime good deed? She slips in a couple of extra pancakes into my bag and greets me by name. Many of the others hike the price or try to short change me. Genuine caring service here sticks out a mile and my heart is to reward people who do good for the country and tourism.
So now that I’ve dumped on poor Sgt Nathan, I’ll balance it up with another
idiot bad cop . . . a guy called Onassai out at the Faleolo Police Station who rented a car off us and still owes us money. Weeks later. I only go into the station every few days now to ask for it. It’s a waste of time. He’s never there. All the big cheeses say “Oh dear, tut tut, we’ll charge him with bringing the Police force into disrepute if he doesn’t pay you”, but of course nothing happens. 10:1 nothing will happen either. Actually, things might now, because Tuila’epa asked me the name of the cop that screwed us still owes us money. Maybe that might be brought up at his meeting with the Commissioner? Ouch! Might pay to sort out your bill pretty quick methinks Onassai!
Look I could go on and on but you get the idea. Things don’t run in Samoa like they do in the rest of the developed world. I’ve worked out how to get action here. You don’t leave it with the cops here. There are 20 policemen and women who share one car out at Faleolo. You’ll wait 2 weeks before they start the investigation. In stead you offer to drive then to the crim’s house and take the crim to the Police station for them, NOW, yes, in YOUR car! You feed them with pies and coke and smokes and they love you for it because half the time they’re out of smokes and hungry without any cash. You listen to their dirty jokes and laugh with them and you smile and wave as you pass through their checkpoints in the road like you are a great friend for life. Bribery and corruption? Not really – it’s just the way things work here; greasing the wheel is more like it.
And that brings me to the last story for the night . . . I watched as a visitor to a public office today dropped a note onto a secretaries desk on his way out the door. “Buy yourself some lunch!” I am told he said in Samoan (this was 4.45pm on a Friday afternoon). Hmmm. I though it was a $2.00 note. In fact, calm as cucumbers, the staff exchanged the note for five ten tala bills off one of the richer dudes in the office and split it amongst themselves $10.00×5=$50.00!!! It was a bloomin’ $50.00 “tip”. Whew! I wish I worked in this office I thought!
Samoa – that’s how things work here – don’t you just love the place?
FEEDBACK RECEIVED 24/12/2010:
Just read your article re Bad Cops, good cop where you detailed your encounter with the police.
I have had maybe a dozen encounters with the Police in Samoa and these are just a few of the stories.
The police are held in high regard in the Samoa culture and all have been through a selection, induction and vetting process.
Ummm? I beg to differ, so much so that I wonder if we are talking about the same country! They are definitely not held in high regard – not when you get through the cultural niceties and listen to the people talk from their heart about corruption and selective enforcement. In the villages my experiences has been one of overwhelming contempt for the police who are seen to be intruders and are certainly not welcome. In fact it is so bad where I live (Satapuala) that my landlord has had a ban on Police entering this property and advice I have been given is that the Police avoid involving themselves in the entire villages of Faleatiu and Satapuala. Village law is constantly offended by Police presence, stones are thrown at Police vehicles and in one recent case in Savaii reported by Samoa Observer an entire village descended on the Police station to remove a “suspect” who had been arrested. The default setting for the Police is to DO NOTHING so as to respect Village justice systems. They actually EXPECT charges to be withdrawn as a Fa’a Samoa solution overrides Western-style policing processes. One thing I think you are simplifying here is that there is a big cultural difference between the way that Palagi and Samoan justice systems work.
If you look down and continue to publish such things then you get what is coming to you.
Is this a threat? You are absolutely right though – I will get what I deserve, but think about this . . . if I speak the truth then the world will know and thieves and the corrupt will go to jail. Hiding the truth behind a veil of secrecy and cultural pretence will achieve nothing good in the long run. In fact I think that my “looking down” as you call it is moderated and as one person told me, that I “write generously”.
For your information, the Samoa police do know how to utilise the internet, they do know how to enter in your URL and read all the information you publish. They are not as dum as you may think!
Blogging from within Samoa is definitely a challenge. I have to balance my own “safety” with the desire to lift Samoa through increased foreign investment and tourism initiatives but basing this all on truth – not pretence and spin. I appreciate your comments as many would not bother to share with me. A lot of care and thought goes into every post, balancing the personal with philosophical and revelations that could potentially harm as well as lift up.
For your information the last few months the PM has been working with the Police Commissioner (particularly in regards to the Apia police station) to reign in corruption – the very thing I have experienced and share publicly. There’s a lot more to my blogging than just one Palagi spouting off.
Running to the PM every time the police come calling and then publishing it does not help either. I cant imagine the Samoan tax payer paying for the PM to sit there and try to help every single person like you that goes running to his office. Anyway, if the PM did become involve, then I call that intefering and corrupting the system.
Koko Samoa boy.
You misunderstand. May I please put this into context? I have been working with and for the PM for some months now. He has actually ASKED me to keep him informed of all matters of concern. He knows I am a target and WANTS to protect me. For the record from what I’ve seen he actually wants to and does make himself available to anyone “that goes running to his office”. Except for John Campbell who seems to have got the short straw with Tui, he is an extraordinarily approachable man and I’m sure that his involvement in the matter was very professional whatever it was.
You also published a photograph of a young boy selling koko samoa. This boy obviously trying to earn some extra dollars for whatever. At least he was selling them in the evening and not in the middle of the day when he should have been at school.
Taking photos of someone’s son (without parental consent) and then posting it on the internet for the world to see and associating it with your views and comments is unethical and possibly not something the Samoan media will do. And what will happen if this boy’s parents found out?
Hopefully they will be treated the same as any other parent who sends their children out to sell on the streets. Underage street vendors are illegal. Breaking the law appears to be quite OK to you if it is not during school hours and if the family needs money. You appear to be putting potentially family shame for being caught out ahead of the law. There are thousands of other parents in Samoa who would love to do the same thing but they choose to obey the law. I’m definitely not the Samoan media. I am a blogger writing about my personal experiences in post-Tsunami Samoa, primarily for Palagi. The photo is a lovely one, snapped just as he was lifting his hand up to do the fingers thing for the camera. It’s not the boy’s fault – as I said in the post he was sent out to sell by his parents. The boy had a neat smile and it hurts to say no to his offer, but if you buy from underage street hawkers you just reinforce the behaviour. For the record I have other photos of underage hawkers going back over a year. I have even seen horrendous pictures of other serious crimes in Samoa, such as commercial turtle poaching in the Aggie Grey’s Lagoon area by Manono boats. Rest assured that if I really wanted to ping people I could have done that many times over. I simply chose this photo because I took it the same day that I wrote the post; I like the photo and it fitted in with the theme of the post. If the parents are shamed because they break the law and got/get caught out, too bad! Just don’t do the crime.
Manuia le kirisimasi
Manuia le kirisimasi