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SAMOA: Observer editor hits back at PM claims media is 'lazy, stupid'

Samoan media "lazy, stupid" claims Prime Minister Tuilaepa Sa'iele Malielegaoi ... media unfazed. Image: Samoa Observer

Wednesday, August 23, 2017

Item: 9982

AUCKLAND (Pacific Media Watch): Samoa Observer editor Mata'afa Keni Lesa has responded to comments by Prime Minister Tuilaepa Sa'ilele Malielegaoi accusing the media of being lazy and stupid.

Mata'afa says the prime minister is simply unhappy the media is reporting the hard truths about Samoa.

"More and more children are becoming street vendors every day. Rape, incest, theft and all criminal offences are on the rise," he said.

Mata'afa claimed the prime minister was trying to hide the country's problems and gag the media in the process.

"Isn't this yet another classic Samoan 'democracy' moment where the only solution to our problems is to hide them and make sure no one says a thing?"

However, Mata'afa said he was unfased by the prime minister's claims and said the media will continue to do its job.

"Truth be told folks: we don't mind. We're used to it. You see, we've heard it all before and we are pretty sure it's not going to be the last time."

Rape, incest coverage
Mata'afa's response comes after Prime Minister Tuilaepa, who is also the Police Minister, announced there would be no more weekly media conferences with police.

The prime minister said negative media reports about rape and incest were the reason for his decision.

"These negative reports give the impression that our country is not a place people would like to visit, and this is what the newspapers and radio are doing," Tuilaepa said.

Although Mata'afa has dismissed such claims, he admitted the prime minister had legitimate concerns about Samoa's image in another editorial.

"If we in Samoa are asking the question of what is wrong with some of our very own people today, imagine then what other people, who don't know anything about Samoa, are thinking."

The "real issue" for Samoa -- and where politicians could do some "real work" -- Mata'afa said, was assessing where the country's morality had gone.

"We need to hold everyone accountable since this is a country that belongs to all of us, not just a few people."

Address issues call
Mata'afa said it was essential the barrage of rape, incest, and petty theft be addressed by Tuilaepa and his government, rather than the prime minister muzzling the media.

"Is their only solution - and response - to shoot the messenger and pretend that all is well, contrary to what we are seeing?"

The government then needs to continue its "quite simple" role and ensure it formulates and implements economic and social policies which will address Samoa's social ills, Mata'afa added.

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Pacific Media Watch is compiled for the Pacific Media Centre as a regional media freedom and educational resource by a network of journalists, students, stringers and commentators.
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