Samoan Defamation & Corruption

Opapu Oeti with his ‘stigmata’ daughter, Toa. Image Source<

A brouhaha has followed a stigmata claim from 2016 in Samoa. In this post I share my thoughts on defamation – a whistleblower has clearly called the Samoan family [father & daughter] liars in public and the police/politicians/pedo are apparently moving to clamp down on him – and on corruption in Samoa, something I think I know a little bit about, having written the book, “Corruption in Samoa”!

At the outset of this story, I state for the record that I know nothing personal of this case, having left Samoa in 2016, thus I can only assess it all from a distance. I do however know the Samoan culture and conduct very well. The claim that the stigmata thing is/was a hoax; that the PM is covering up his and his government’s involvement fits in well with the way things work in Samoa. The claim of incest between the father and daughter gets a little ugly and is the cause of the defamation claims, but it too fits in neatly with the facts as revealed in public from what I can see.

This post summarises the events in Samoa and the Vatican; then I discuss the matters of defamation and conclude with my take on Corruption in Samoa and how this could likely be just yet another example of it.

Stigmata

The brouhaha started in 2016 with a girl supposedly manifesting stigmata. Her father a Minister ended up fighting with the local church, converted to Catholicism and went public with his daughter’s ‘miracle’ which produced media coverage of the bloody things; serious conflict within his parish and the church leaders; a series of prophecies/words and a visit to the Pope. People duly nodded in disbelief or in support (depending on their take!).

The girl and her father went to the Pope and she bore a child while in Rome. The whistleblower claims that this is the father’s child conceived as a result of incest. He first husband committed suicide. The whistleblower claims that the Prime Minister, Tuila’epa [who BTW is a Catholic too] has gotten conned by publicly endorsing the stigmata story and by sending a government official up to see the Pope. The government claims it spent no public monies over the events and that the family raised $WST10,000.00. The whistleblower has calculated a total cost of €100,000.00 though.

Things certainly don’t add up!

The losing church has ‘kept Mum’ about it all stating that they will leave the matter before God – He can sort it all out. A million people, mostly Samoans have piled in on the debate posting hate messages against the whistleblower as well as supporting him (I presume) and pontificating as always about how bad/sad this all is for Samoa.

In the meantime for those wondering what the truth is over the matter I offer the following advice:

  1. Integrity and honesty are not Samoan national traits. Sexual misconduct by way of incest as claimed is higher than anyone wants to admit in Samoa.
  2. As a general rule, Samoans struggle with reality. Cover-ups “to save face” are the norm. This is called diplomacy, or the Samoan way (Fa’a Samoa) where truth is compromised and justified for cultural purposes to avoid causing shame. Kiss-and-makeup behind doors is the way things are done.
  3. The stigmata story is not credible and put into the Samoan context has even less credibility. That there has been a conversion of a family to Catholicism raises the concerns even more.
  4. That the previous church leadership simply won’t talk about it raises the possibility of hoax to very high levels.
  5. That the PM endorsed the story publicly, then sent an official with them to the Pope and then denied that public money was spent almost certainly means that there WAS public money spent; that they are embarrassed at getting caught and are covering up.

The whistleblower [who, BTW is not me for those of you wondering for I can’t speak more than single words in Samoan] shows good skills of logic; has taken a brave stance; and probably has either inside information of knows something that we don’t. Whether is it actual evidence or not, time will tell, but credibility he does have, for me, certainly at first blush.

Defamation

Now the whistleblower has been very direct but has chinks in his armour. He’s a little naive in some regards (he was surprised that they came after him, and he taunted them that they’ll never find him) but he was VERY direct with simple claims – incest occurred. According to him the baby is the girl’s father’s – period.

If the father (or family) takes the whistleblower to court, through the police or through the civil legal channels and if it can be proven that the whistleblower did NOT speak the truth then he’s in for a bit of time locked up, or will be footing a big bill! Here’s what he said:

The father committed incest with his own daughter Toa and the result was her eldest daughter.
Source

That’s not just his opinion – he states that as fact, so it is actionable if proven false.

This is where it gets interesting because if he is charged under criminal law, which is what appears to be being considered, the prosecution has to prove their case – the only real way to do this is to have a DNA test. If it proves to be a different father, the whistleblower is in deep doodoo. But . . . if the claim is true, do you think that the father and girl will happily trot off to be tested – unlikely!

Except for the ugliness of the subject (Samoan lies and fighting over incest) it would be a fun case to watch if I was up in Samoa. My guess is that the whistleblower is probably right; that the legal/criminal thing is all talk; and the whistleblower will get away with what he said, but as I said at the outset – I simply do not know!

Reporting of the story has also been interesting to watch:

‘O le Palemia’ Hunt, A Police First
Martha Taumata.

Caption: Police spokesman Su’a Tiumalu

The police hunt for the identity of the online blogger ‘Ole Palemia’ will be a first of its kind for the Ministry of Police, unlike others they have done on the Internet.
Police spokesman Su’a Tiumalu described the investigation as different from what the police did of tracking the person whose name and face appears they can see on some of the online popular social sites like Facebook.
‘Ole Palemia’ is a faceless and nameless online blogger who wrote in an opinion article, slanderous allegations of an incestuous relationship between (Rev.) Opapo Oeti Soana’i and his stigmatic daughter, Toaipuapuaga.
Soana’i took exception to the vicious contents of the article when it was carried by the local daily newspaper, and filed a criminal complaint with the police.
Police spokesman Su’a confirmed the urgency that is being placed on the search to uncover the bloggers true identify and bring criminal charges against whoever the person is.
“ The investigation is not a difficult one because they are Information Technology (IT) experts with the kind of expertise required to reveal the person’s identity,” Su’a told Newsline.
Several IT experts asked by Newsline for their opinion re-affirmed the confidence of the police in tracking the mystery person down.
Police investigating officers reportedly gave assurances to the complainant that they will catch whoever is responsible for the scandalous allegations.
Soana’i and his family have been at the centre of the Falelatai stigmata controversy that has also forced the EFKS Congregation to remove his ordained duties as a serving minister of the church.
It has also forced him to leave the Si’ufaga EFKS village church he has served for about 20 years.
Since the stigmata experience last Easter, the division of public opinions has caught him and his daughter in the centre of the controversial fallout.
But the ‘Ole Palemia’ unsubstantiated claims was too vicious and malicious for Soana’i to pass up.
“ I will not let this go because the allegations by this person is the lowest and I will only be happy when the person is locked up in prison,” he confided in Newsline.
“ As far as I’m concerned, I’m determined to uncover the identity of this person even if I have to pay to hire a professional to track down whoever this individual is.”
The hunt may trace the scent of the mystery writer to the daily newspaper that printed the article.
“They printed the article so they should know who wrote it.”

Source

Corruption

The whistleblower demonstrates a huge contempt for the current Prime Minister of Samoa. This contempt is palpable with the phrase “corrupt Tuila’epa” repeated ad infinitum. Source

Knowing Tuila’epa very well, I share that same contempt that OLP has for the Samoan Palemia as the following posts will explain . . . In my next posts I detail the things that have happened to me that caused the Palemia to ban me from Samoa.

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