20 Mar “Get rid of those Chinese in Samoa”

“Kill that stupid Chinese, he’s not deserve to be alive.”

“Get rid of those F Chinese in Samoa. Give them a hiding and sent them where they from.”

“The last thing we need with these foreign investors coming into our country is that not only have they robbed us of our wealth, but go on to kill our people and expect this puppet govt to help them walk free and get away with it.”

“One day Samoa will wake up and there will be Chinese everywhere they will take over the land the shops the houses everything that Samoans have worked hard for will belong to Chinese”

A sampling of social media comments responding to a Samoa Observer article about a traffic accident on the 11th of March, where one person died and others were injured. The accident involved a rental car driven by a Chinese, and a bus driven by a Samoan (we assume). I say assume, because the article doesn’t tell us what nationality or ethnicity the bus driver was. Because, presumably, it doesn’t matter.

I wonder, if the rental car driver had been palagi, would there be the same hatefulness being spewed about? Would we be calling for all palagi to be sent back to where they came from?  Can you imagine it?

“Kill that stupid Australian, he’s not deserve to be alive!”

“Get rid of those F New Zealanders…give them a hiding and sent them where they from…”

Or even this, “One day Samoa will wake up and there will be palagi everywhere they will take over the land the shops the houses everything that Samoans have worked hard for will belong to palagi.”

When you swap in palagi, it sounds utterly ridiculous doesn’t it? Even though, and quite ironically – when you consider that it wasn’t so long ago that palagi were everywhere in Samoa and they owned everything and were our colonial masters. So it’s actually not such a nutty worry that palagi people could be secretly…deviously…evilly plotting to do so again.

But no. It’s the Chinese we’re all worried about. It’s not just comments on newspaper articles though. You can read similar conversations all over social media and hear them discussed from the marketplace to the boardroom.

Back to the accident. The news reports in various media,  tell us nothing else about the Chinese driver.

But many readers, have made their own conclusions. Including, that he must be a ‘foreign investor’, perhaps one of those ‘many Chinese threatening to overrun Samoa…’ and putting local shop owners out of business. One particularly imaginative person even went so far as to write in that the Chinese deliberately targeted the victim because he was an entrepeneurial grower and seller of cabbages. And they wanted to eliminate competition.

A few facts though. Easily found when you ask a few questions.

The Chinese in the rental car were sub-contractors here doing work for Bluesky. They were not foreign investors. Or devious business men looking for Salelologa shops to lease. (As far as we can tell, they weren’t here looking for Samoan women to marry either, so they could then ‘steal our ancestral lands’.)

And the ‘puppet government’ isn’t helping them ‘walk free and get away with it’. We understand that Bluesky helped engage a lawyer for the Chinese driver after the accident, in case he needs one. After he gets out of hospital, because we hear that he’s still in there injured.

Nothing to get conspiracy theorists worried about.

And while on the topic of ‘getting away with it’ – who’s trying to get away with what? Until an investigation is completed, we don’t know what really happened, or who’s fault the accident was. Or who is ultimately responsible for Mr Tanielu Seinafo’s tragic death.

Tanuvasa Petone, the Head of Fire and Emergency Services told Samoa Planet on the day of the accident, that their first response team from Faleata Station went to the site, along with an ambulance from Apia. But by the time their team got there, people had already taken the injured to the hospital.

“We are still trying to teach our people to not touch the injured or drag them from accidents. Their heart is to help, but it can make things worse.”

Accidents happen and many different factors contribute to them. There is much we don’t know. So how about we hold back on the anti-Chinese crusade, and let the police do their job?

My condolences go to Mr Seinafo’s family at this difficult time. Speculation and wild accusations about the accident that caused his death – add unnecessary hurt and stress in their time of mourning.

Especially if some are just using this to fuel their own agendas. We must ask ourselves – how are we being manipulated and why?

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The race-based responses to this accident are only one example of a wider trend of anti-Chinese sentiment taking place in our country. One that I find deeply troubling. Yes it’s important that we dialogue and find ways to be the owners and architects of our own economic progress. Wisdom is needed as we figure out how much we concede when dealing with investors and donor partners – all of them, not just Chinese ones. We must ensure that we are the decision makers for how our aiga, our village and our nation grow and develop.

But do we really need to fuel fear and hatred against a foreign “other” while we’re at it?

Perhaps it’s just easier to get angry / envious/ resentful at the Chinese store owner up the road and blame them for all our troubles. Rather than looking at why our own business isn’t succeeding? Rather than accepting that maybe we need to change the way we work, the way we’ve ‘always done it’?

A favorite story comes to mind.

An old Cherokee is teaching his grandson about life. “A fight is going on inside me,” he said to the boy.

“It is a terrible fight and it is between two wolves. One is evil – he is anger, envy, sorrow, regret, greed, arrogance, self-pity, guilt, resentment, inferiority, lies, false pride, superiority, and ego.” He continued, “The other is good – he is joy, peace, love, hope, serenity, humility, kindness, benevolence, empathy, generosity, truth, compassion, and faith. The same fight is going on inside you – and inside every other person, too.”

The grandson thought about it for a minute and then asked his grandfather, “Which wolf will win?”

The old Cherokee simply replied, “The one you feed.”

Whether we are media, keyboard warriors, social media commenters or business owners – (or all of the above!), maybe we should be asking ourselves – which wolf am I feeding?

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