To date in my letters I have been scathing in my commentary of you. I started very strongly calling you a coward and an outright crook. You are both of these because you deported me from your country for no good reason other than fear that I would publish my book Corruption in Samoa which revealed your inappropriate relationship with Sonja Hunter, one of your CEOs. You also did that secretly and illegally and tried to hide your involvement, unsuccessfully of course.
I then backed off somewhat and have addressed several issues of a political/conceptual nature more identifying reality than attacking you per se. I continue now talking in the same vein about your style as a Palemia of which one thing is quite striking to me, an outsider – your lack of vision.
As you know, we spent many hours together in the first couple of years after my arrival in Samoa. I’ve explained in more detail elsewhere how this was a mutually beneficial relationship – for you, you got the “goss” from the new Palagi in town and for me I got the “creds” from having spent time with the big-cheese.
OK Sure, the gloss wore off when you ripped me off over Sonja’s bad attitude and things got a little heated when I wrote the book Corruption in Samoa, but I think it could be said that I spent enough time with you to understand you VERY well.
Unfortunately I doubt that you will ever understand me, and that’s nothing cultural, it’s just that crooks who lie all day and live eat and breathe deception, cannot really understand people that live by principle, like me. You just can’t “get” that someone doesn’t have a hidden agenda and plays it dead straight all the time, thus you will never come to grips with it all.
That said though, if we analysed all the many hours of banter and discussions there was a HUGE imbalance in the conversations. Nigh on the entire time you spoke, 99.9999% of it was of the past, nothing of the future. In my case maybe 5% of it was about the past, 5% of it was about the present, but a whopping 90% of it was about the future.
This is not really a post shouting out about my skills in vision and leading people into better ways for the future, although I think that’s true to an extent, it’s actually designed to show the world who you are – a man who sits on the throne, talking to people about yourself and your achievements in the past, then making decisions and leading them but all done without a vision. There is a saying for this in English Tui, and it is the “blind leading the blind”. You do this, quite well BTW.
Now this is certainly a criticism of you and your style but it is first an OBSERVATION. You are a beancounter. You studied economics, which in itself tells us a lot about you because economics is a game of BS and make-believe to start with (you can’t even agree among yourselves whether Keynesian or Austrian Economics are fact!), but it means that you look at things from a biased perspective from the outset. An idealist or philosopher or thinker or visionary or even just a regular businessman will look at a situation and work out opportunities and a future. Yes, you can handle a crisis and take action to fix a problem but you simply cannot see the future and set a course for your country. This is and has been a VERY serious problem for Samoa.
Let’s take a few little examples of how this works in practice. You have said many times that you inherited a country with low financial reserves and a crisis. You tell us that you fixed the problem. Great, you turned the country around and then what? For the next decade, you plunged into massive debt. Go figure?!
And the moment that must have had international commentators scratching their heads the world over, and the locals knowingly nodding saying “Only in Samoa!” was the day that you announced that there would be budget cuts, because . . . wait for it . . . the government has been spending more than what it earned! Ummmmm, hang on a minute? But you are the government aren’t you and you’ve been running the show for how long? A decade or more? Am I missing something here? What a goose!
Then the one that only you me and your LTA people know about – personalised number plates. I put a proposal to you for the introduction of personalised number plates with an investment component. I laid out my experience having scoped New Zealand’s highly successful entry into this market and put it to you and your people. “Umm I thought plates went on cars?” You said to me. I gave up. It’s a huge multi-million dollar opportunity for Samoa if you did it right, I said. “Sorry but we’ll do it ourselves!” your LTA people said echoing the racism that pervades Samoa. The result years later – zip – nothing. Typical of Samoa and your lack of vision eh? It was like casting pearls before swine!
I’ve shared this elsewhere but do you remember the time that the international businessman came down to Samoa and offered you a wad of cash for the .ws domain name space? Woah! That was a huge payday for some of you wasn’t it? Well Tui, your vision at the time, with Octevi was so long-term that you needed reading glasses to get past the bottom line. Sir, you know and I know that you sold something that should have been retained by Samoa for Samoans for a pittance; that the sale is one of the most short-sighted actions in the entire history of the Internet. It’s is so incredibly stupid from you and your advisors that nobody can believe that what I say is true. The reason it got your nod (apart from the fact that there was money on the table)? Lack of vision. Nothing else, well apart from your greed. Just another stupid Samoan getting conned by a smart-talking Palagi with a wad of cash. If the people knew Tui. If the people knew how many millions and millions and millions you gave away to one businessman forever on just this one deal you wouldn’t be alive, literally, let alone be Palemia. You sold the golden goose didn’t you? And only you and I and Octevi know it – and some people in the industry offshore!
And the Samoa Day, now six years on after I developed an idea that Bev Barlow and her vision had for Samoa and got you excited about. NOTHING. Samoa Tourism has a loser of a Tourism department with a loser of a Minister and the people? Nothing. No international celebration. No marketing every year and an exciting celebration of things Samoan like Bev wanted and we proposed – where’s your vision sir?
Tui, the Samoan people have had no real need for vision for years. The food has fallen from the sky day and night for centuries. Anyone with some get-up and go has – got up and gone. A Samoan’s dream is to get out, or to own a store or a bus if they want to stay. This is not vision Mr Palemia. Taking my ideas and telling a cynical, small-thinking, dilatory floozie of yours to work with me is not vision, it’s opportunism. Vision is seeing a better way. It is putting things into place so that people get behind you, believe you, support you and work as a team. This is not you, nor your style of leadership.
This is the style of your leadership – to shuffle chairs around; to cover up the indiscretions of the strong of people within your ranks getting caught with their pants down; protecting your butt from prying journalists or any public criticism, then lying to the media and the rest of the world about how great and wonderful Samoa is.
You do this, and you do this well, but there comes a time Tui that it doesn’t and can’t work anymore. People are and will continue to find out about and learn who you really are. Sadly, this process has been sped up with the publication of Corruption in Samoa and my letters here, on www.palemia.com.
In my tenth letter to you, I turn the attention onto me. I tell the world who I am, not for my own glory, Heaven forbid that, I could have nailed you to the wall a million times in the last seven years if I wanted glory, but I want the world, and specifically your people to know exactly what you have done for Samoa by casting me out like you have.
When people really find out, and when the spin of the Samoan gossip machine is removed, not a person of integrity on the planet will deny that your conduct has been an utter a disgrace and a source of incredible shame on the people of Samoa.