Archives for June 2017

Secret Diary About Steve Braunias

CRIME & FICTION – An apt natural photography heading – yours truly, a man fearless to tackle the crims, crooks & crazies of this world alongside the writer of satire . . . the comedian and “damned good [guy]” Steve Braunias, NZ Herald’s Senior Writer at his Wellington book launch – Lincoln Rd something orather.

Tucked deep in the archives of private/political investigative journalism is a wicked sense of humour – a bit of wit awaiting exposure, some say about 50%, dry, like a magnum of Aussie plonk. Like wetas at lunchtime, eventide and when a waterblaster awaits, it hides awaiting revelation at a time and place of its choosing then, bang, it reveals itself in all its splendiferous glory. Well that would be the Braunias way of summarising this post anyway. My way is to say that “Steve Braunias looks like a scruff but is actually turning out to be a good guy in my books, and this is my way of saying thank you to the Senior Reporter of the New Zealand Herald.” He scribbled a personal note of best wishes on this book of his – a gift for my 88 year old father’s birthday (if he makes it through the night), tomorrow. [Read more…]

Missing the Cryptocurrency Point

Simon Black, a usually astute advisor offering internationalisation advice (mainly to his USA audience) makes more observations on BITcoin and Ether and in the process shows those of us who actually understand the nature of money what’s wrong. Viewing money as a commodity, when it’s not – it is only ever truly a measurement. [Read more…]

Maturity in overcoming Path of Truth

I’ve written quite a lot about Victor Hafichuk’s Path of Truth Ministries, either a cult or the only genuine Christian Ministry out there, depending on your degree of commitment to his teaching. My take is that PoT is indeed a Christian Ministry and NOT a cult in the typical use of the word, but I believe I have shown very well the deep flaws in the leadership’s excessive judgmentalism and that I have confirmed the premier complaint from those who have left (or ‘escaped’ if you are in that frame of mind) – hypocrisy. While many have shared their experiences with me over the time I have been researching these guys, one thing that has been missing to date is a mature take from an ex-insider. Here it is. I believe that it shows the most accurate picture of the dynamics at work for those who have engaged and then left. Fortunately, in keeping with the writer’s maturity, he has allowed me to republish his words. I think the world should be grateful for this generosity. It’s long and quite thorough. Enjoy. [Read more…]

Letters to Tuila’epa – Palemia.com

Hot on the heels of publishing my 2015 book Corruption in Samoa, comes a new website and more books, this time drilling down into the life and conduct of Samoa’s Prime Minister Tuila’epa. This post announces www.palemia.com – a series of letters published online and collated into booklet format that reveal “the other side” of Tui’s reign as Samoa’s Palemia. My letters are brutally honest, fearless and will cut through the political mumbo-jumbo that pervades Samoan sensitivities. Do I opine my opinionated, opinion? Indeed! Is it PC? Certainly not! [Read more…]

CIS – The Author

Chapter 15.

I am an author, blogger and IT Entrepreneur, born in New Zealand but living, working and playing in Samoa since 2009.

I walk the fine line between genius and insanity, challenging anything that tries to deceive me as well as anyone who says, “No! It can’t be done!”

Put simply, I facilitate the possible, and live to devise ways to do the rest.

I don’t know all the answers but I’m a thinker and opinionated, fearless to speak it as I see it, no matter the subject or consequences. I have been a truthseeker from my earliest memories initially subconsciously, then consciously the more I found the truth to be extraordinarily elusive in this crazy mixed-up world that we live in!

I’ve spent my career in the IT industry, always self-employed, moving my businesses over three decades from hardware, through software and to the Internet.

I established the Web Developers Association of New Zealand in 2006, which helped our members for some three years from 2006 to 2009 when I relocated to Samoa. I have established various charitable and philanthropic activities over the years, and in Samoa, the SWAP Foundation.

I am truthseeker first and foremost but if asked to quantify my faith I reply that, I am a non-denominational Christian. In a nutshell, this means that I avoid churches but not the Truth. I do not actively proselytise but am not shy of sharing my opinions and experiences.

My writing and publishing consists of a series of eBooks on a range of subjects, IT, philosophy, Samoan Tourism & culture and more, always spoken directly and from a Christian perspective.

My most recent publication is an investigative work tracking down and highlighting the Australian conman, Daniel Evans, who terrorised the commercial Barter industry for more than a decade.

His latest fraudulent commercial venture (Ormita) was forced to close down shortly following my publication of The Ormita Report that (along with online exposure) listed and explained his fraudulent activities in graphic detail.

First, Best & Worst
My first philosophical treatise was that “Life is simple, but that doesn’t make it easy”, something that still rings true in my ears almost four decades later. Sometimes we get it right!

My greatest learning experience was to recognise as a truthseeker that truth was not an abstract, rather a Person – and therefore required a relationship. As a result of that, my biggest desire is that at some point in the future I will hear the words, “Well done good and faithful servant!”

My worst moment of existence was when I was confronted in my early twenties with the stark reality of who I really was, but the best moment was when I accepted it, then got on with living in that knowledge anyway!

My most treasured characteristic is that if I believe in something, I never give up which essentially means that I am an achiever but I’m told bl**dy difficult to live with! A “prickly character” is what they say behind my back.

Thanks for reading!

I trust you’ve enjoyed it and learned something.

 
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CIS – The PM Responds

Chapter 14.

A week prior to the scheduled publication of this book and website, I delivered an electronic copy to the Prime Minister for his perusal.

He replied:

29 May 2015

Dennis A. Smith

Thanks for copying me with your draft. There are numerous inaccurate and defamatory statements in your draft based on your very superficial and/or lack of understanding on the workings of the Government and the customs of Samoa. As it stands, your baseless allegations will open you to defamatory actions in Court. Indeed small knowledge is dangerous knowledge. I will elaborate more next Tuesday – Enjoy the Independent celebrations – Cheers!

It should be noted that I had sought a response from him prior to the publication date (1st June 2015), and that his promise to respond later was a professional response – not a delaying tactic as it might appear on the surface.

His detailed reply was:

9 June 2015

Dennis A. Smith

I promised to come back on your draft story of Paradise

You will recall way back my suggestion that you meet with an American Hotelier in XXX and I activated an invitation for you to attend and talk to the American who has been in Samoa for a long time who learned and understood the culture.

In suggesting this my attention was for you to learn from another European how he coped and understood. You have a lot to learn

After I saw what you wanted to do at Satapuala, I felt that you had something good to offer to Samoans. That was why I tried to help you and I went out of my way to come and settle your differences with the first Landlord who informed me that you were an accomplished liar. And the reason that he disliked you was that you did not pay your rent as you both agreed.

I began to believe that Satapuala chief when SLC copied me with your rent arrears reminders.

Several of the overseas people you brought to Samoa in yoru program also ended up in my office complaining.

You, like many overseas people who came for help do not understand how Governments operate. Ministers are only involved on policies. Public Servants implement policies – they are the technicians, graduates with degrees. When I direct my CEOs to give help, the unspoken understanding is whatever help that is given must follow Government processes and policies of accountability and transparency. CEOs have the right to use their common sense and judgement. You, like many others think wrongly that once I agree to direct my CEO to help – that help is given regardless, No! If after CEOs examine a proposal she/he thinks it was not necessary, they advise me of their decisions.

Your story is full of defamatory allegations which will expose you to court actions. It is up to you to decide – but I am telling you that your draft is full of bull….

I replied to the Prime Minister thus:

Hello Tui

Thank you for responding to the draft of Corruption In Samoa.

1. The book went live online at the scheduled time and date that was broadcast months in advance being midday 1 June 2015. I did not receive any reply from you, although I understand now from your staff that you did but they failed to forward it to me. I have suspended the website temporarily as an act of goodwill.

2. I consider your references to past events to be irrelevant. I’ve ignored those comments.

3. I counsel you that your faith in the words of a self-confessed proven liar with an obvious agenda to deceive, over a man of God with little reason to misrepresent such a minor matter should be a warning sign to you that you have or are starting to ‘lose the plot’. You also do not know the story behind SLC and neither does SLC either because they simply will not engage in a constructive manner with goodwill. They really want to take me to court and I will wait to state my case in court. In regards to making assessments on financial matters without the full information, I considered using the word foolish but my intent here is to inform you and teach you, not to aggravate you.

4. Your hint/threat of litigation is totally meaningless – even with your formal detailed response yesterday you STILL didn’t detail WHAT you have a problem with. I invite you to respond in detail and/or sue me – it will also help my book sales enormously. Better still, you could put my whistle-blower credibility through the roof if you had my immigration status ‘reviewed’. Be careful for I am an intelligent man and the contents of the book and the website are way more than just me mouthing off. I believe that in an atmosphere of goodwill it is my responsibility to get things right but that it is your responsibility to be specific on what you have a problem with.

5. Your formal written response is, in my opinion, inappropriate for a Prime Minister. Your words, attitude and quality of thought give me the impression of paternal, even condescending arrogance and are offensive.

6. You have a lot to learn about me and have totally misjudged my character, motives and intent. I am a capable, intelligent, committed and passionate man who has spent more than five years of his life committed to learning the intricacies of your culture. If there’s one thing about me Tui, it is that I ALWAYS ‘get it’ – always. It might take me some time but I always get there. After attending the American’s relaunch and birthday celebration I understood very well – thank you VERY much. Your error in judgement though is to assume today that because I am still a square peg in a round hole that I don’t know how to play the game. The reality, I venture to suggest, is because I am a square peg and will never become a round peg in this lifetime, that either the Lord has made a big mistake bringing me here or that He WANTS me to be a square peg in the land of round holes. You wouldn’t be the first to make this mistake but if you never ask me any questions and you lean on gossip from people with vested interests then you’ll never understand. I don’t blame you for I have hardly shared anything with you since the time that you shrugged your shoulders and palmed me off but things are different now three years on – very different.

7. The book and website represent a potentially very serious threat to the status quo and for people who have something to hide. It is a deliberate, well-planned, well-thought through, calculated online resource that will grow in time to have major influence in primarily the Samoan diaspora online (my constituency) but which will in due course affect the local political environment (your constituency) which is partly online but growing daily. Despite my pleading and teaching over five years you still have no idea of the power of the Internet when used intelligently. You will learn this though from the influence of [updated] www.Palemia.com – that I promise.

8. Strategically I am highly skilled in this area Tui and you will eventually learn the power that I have because I work hard and smart; I am fearless, have nothing to lose and understand how to use the Internet for a given purpose. The way I see it is that you have political power; are at the peak of your career and fear what man thinks. You thus have a lot to lose with a book and website like this. I on the other hand have nothing to lose, and have every opportunity ahead of me to build a career as an Internet strategist extraordinaire in Samoa. If there is a need in Samoan society for people to share their frustrations and someone comes along with an escape value [valve] then it doesn’t matter who that person is, the Samoan people will use that technology. It is my assessment that the topic of corruption (with primarily but not exclusively your people) has become red-hot and that Internet Samoan people-power is ready to flex its muscles. I believe (and it iss one of the reasons I have done this) that there is a market ready and waiting to vent, to let off steam and to do things differently. I have scheduled the interactive aspects of thewww.CorruptionInSamoa.com website for 2016, however I can bring them forward OR push them out to the end of 2016 depending on outside events. I can also respond ultra-quickly, literally, within an hour.

9. I respectfully suggest that it is in your best interest to engage with me meaningfully in which case I can help you, specifically with advance notice of politically sensitive material, an outlet for your side of stories and in other political and personal ways. I know that this may not appeal to you, so I accept that you may simply choose to ignore me or enter into a conflict situation – as you said to me, but too late to have any meaning, “it is up to you to decide”. It’s not too late for you though.

I confirmed with the Prime Minister’s secretary that he did received this message of reply and copied him a revised draft of this book (Ver 1.06), and apart from the addition of this chapter, have gone to press with it virtually unchanged. [UPDATE 1 June 2017, now Ver 2.01 containing contact detail changes & minor spelling & grammar corrections]

 
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CIS – The Solution

Chapter 13.

Corruption is a complex subject that as I have shown covers conduct right across the board. It is widely viewed primarily as a political phenomenon and is presented as an external problem.

It’s neither. It’s a widespread matter and is an internal problem – it resides within us all. [Read more…]

CIS – Exposing Samoan Corruption

Chapter 12.

I have chosen to expose corruption in Samoa at this time and in this manner for several reasons: [Read more…]

CIS – Individuals

Chapter 11.

In the five years I have lived in Samoa, I’ve had extensive interaction with many individuals from across both islands, and from government to businesses, village leaders to the untitled.

Corruption is the norm in day-to-day living as well as in politics and power. [Read more…]

CIS – Fourth Estate – Samoa Observer

Chapter 10.

The Samoa Observer is the primary daily Samoan newspaper. Established some 40 years ago and run by a Samoan businessman (Savea Sano Malifa1) it claims a long track-record in taking on the Government of the day and standing up for the little guy.

This claim is true to some extent and it can be rightly viewed as a mix between a newspaper, a tabloid and a Fourth Estate watchdog in many respects. Their tendency to rush to press with one-sided stories and shallow investigative work is balanced with long-term tenacity on some important matters of exposing corruption.

In the last decade or so, as the owner has aged, and personalities have clashed between him and the current Prime Minister, quality of thought has mainly come from other editors who can have some good points at times but are rarely able to drill down into the real root cause of Samoa’s ills. While a challenge to speak words of wisdom daily as an editor of a newspaper, their response to corruption tends towards bleating and tut-tutting.

The owner of Samoa Observer is widely viewed as a crook2 as multiple people I have spoken to have recounted not getting a fair deal or simply not getting paid from him. I’ve detailed his foolishness in previous commentary and blogging but he’s a proud businessman driven by money, making it and protecting it. His number one concern is clearly to make money and to not get sued in the process.

His staff fear him and submit, for obvious reasons.

The paper does take up the stories of the small guy hard done-by on occasion but these stories are quite often shallow, one-sided and are countered in due course by official denials and cover-ups.

The Samoan government led by Prime Minister Tuila’epa appear to tolerate the paper and their stories but certainly do not respect them. I’ve noticed some good strikes from the paper in the five years that I have been here but the many more losses than successes indicate a gross inefficiency in terms of dealing with Corruption in Samoa meaningfully. They are a voice, but little more than that.

I would counsel people on the end of Corruption to seek Samoa Observer’s support in leveraging their exposure but wouldn’t hold my breath on any meaningful change.
CASE STUDY

Savea Sano Malifa – Fooled by Gossip3

The background

I came to Samoa from New Zealand in September 2009 and immigrated in February 2010.

I’ve blogged extensively about the Samoan culture, particularly in the context of the Christian world-view. This is my interest and I guess you could say it is a passion of mine.

My third book, A little Slice of Paradise is currently pending publication and talks a lot about the Samoan culture alongside the factual events of my first few years in Paradise.

I approached Savea on the 5th October 2012 (more than three years after I first came to Samoa), introduced myself, chatted a while with him in his office and told him that I would be interested in writing a column “Palagi Perspectives”, and shared a little of the planned subjects.

We agreed to a deal – I would write 300-600 words weekly (as long as it “made people think and didn’t get him sued”) and he’d run one daily classified advertisement for me, which was a roughly agreed equivalent value. I summarised this conversation and our agreement by email to Savea that same afternoon. He instructed his staff accordingly.
I blogged about the new challenge at the time4.

I delivered, on time as promised and Samoa Observer published the columns for several months.

Samoa Observer though didn’t deliver the advertisements as agreed. Despite several calls over those months, and follow-up visits, Samoa Observer dropped the ball badly. They didn’t or wouldn’t reconcile my account, although the Editor did recognise that they “should honour any deal they agreed to”.

Savea got news from his Editor that I had suggested that to rectify historical matters, he should just pay me for the missing adverts and start the adverts running properly, then he fired me off an email that contained a little bit of flowery language, basically telling me to F*** off!

Great eh?

Corruption, greed, foolishness and arrogance from the Fourth Estate!

You can read the entire sorry details of this saga online, if you’re interested, with the actual communications and my commentary. It’s quite sad to see the ugly pride of an old Samoan man, one who could be resting on his laurels with a lifetime of service to his country and the industry he worked in for decades, yet just shown up for being another greedy racist Samoan lacking in integrity the same as many others.

But that’s corruption in Samoa outworked yet again, for you!

 
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