By Lagi Keresoma
APIA, SAMOA – WEDNESDAY 09 MAY 2018: When a Samoan man based in Utah claimed he was questioned by the FBI about a pressure group in Samoa called SSIG he was involved in, the groups supporters immediately pointed to the Prime Minister.
They accused the Prime Minister Tuilaepa Lupesoliai Sailele Malielegaoi for calling on the assistance of the United States Federal Bureau of Investigations (FBI) to investigate the people behind the face book blog O Le Palemia (OLP) and the Samoa Solidarity International Group (SSIG).
SSIG is behind the protest marches to repeal the Land Registration Act 2008 and their cause is supported by the OLP blog that had been accusing the government and PM of corruption and made vicious and defamatory statements about many people and the private lives of other individuals.
To the Prime Minister and Government, it is a move to destabilize the country and build up anti-government feelings in order to take over the government.
SSIG American based member Namulauulu Albert Ainu’u claimed that the FBI questioned him about SSIG and the motives behind the establishment of the group.
Namulaulu later posted on social media that the FBI were concerned that SSIG is working to take over the (Samoan) Government.
On the social media, SSIG supporters accusing Tuilaepa of wasting money on the FBI to do his bidding.
During this weeks’ weekly news program with Talamua, Tuilaepa laughed off the accusations saying he would probably go straight to heaven when he passed on, because he had been accused unfairly so many times by OLP and their followers.
He believes that if the FBI was indeed investigating OLP or SSIG, then perhaps the US spies are looking into every organization capable of creating coups against Governments.
“Maybe the FBI knows about our little group here, and now they (SSIG) blame it on me,” said Tuilaepa.
The claim came at a time when facebooks founder, Mark Zuckerberg was investigated last week by Congress over data misuse by his social platform.
During their peaceful march in Savai’i last month, several SSIG members traveling from Upolu to attend take part were held at the Salelologa wharf, because they were wearing t-shirts with words such as “I Am OLP” and “My Mother Is OLP.”
Last week, another person wearing a t-shirt with similar wordings was held and questioned by police in Apia.
In a recent interview, Tuilaepa told Talamua that he had instructed the officials to investigate the OLP blog and the identity of those behind it as the content was vicious and defamatory and was character assassination.
History repeating itself
This week, Tuilaepa told Talamua that what SSIG is doing is no different from what the Opposition political party did from 1993 to 1998, to oust the then Government.
He believed the original intention of SSIG was political.
“So they used customary lands as a driving force to appeal to the public and build their stance against HRPP in the 2021 general elections,” said Tuilaepa.
Citing past events such as the taro leaf plight (1993) and the introduction of the Value Added Goods and Service Tax (VAGST), he said the opposition used these issues to turn the people against the Government at the time.
“They resulted in protest marches,” said Tuilaepa.
When that did not work, the opposition drew in the traditional group of orators Tumua ma Pule and protest marches were led against the government.
A petition followed with more than 200,000 signatures collected in a box the protesters carried to the then Head of State, the late Malietoa Tanumafili 11 asking for the removal of the Government then. Tuilaepa said an inquiry into the petition found that only several signatures were genuine.
He said for 6 years, the opposition focused on removing Tofilau Eti Alesana’s Government by misleading the people to join in their protests.
“I took over in 1999, and I have had my share of protests, and now SSIG is doing nothing but repeating the old cycle,” said Tuilaepa. He is adamant that SSIG has political ambitions.
Speaking to Talamua last month, SSIG lawyer Unasa Iuni Sapolu denied SSIG was a political party.
She said they did not want people to think that they were using customary lands as a platform to launch a political strategy. She said they were a pressure group advocating on certain issues, and if their members want to, they can run as individuals in the (upcoming) general elections.