And so today is our 55th Independence Day, which is why we should celebrate to the fullest this unity as a nation that is decidedly ours, as well as this freedom that we’re been taking for granted every day.
Indeed, let’s also celebrate peace, unequivocal peace.
Since today, Samoa is 55 years old - democratically speaking that is - and yet despite the harshness of the challenges we’ve been encountering along the way, we did not succumb nor did we turn and run away.
Instead, our resolve had remained undaunted since our belief that this country of ours is “founded on God”, never faltered.
Which is why we should be celebrating our sovereignty as a nation, and our independence as a people abundantly, and in solemn retrospection today.
And as we’re doing so, let’s be reminded that elsewhere in the world today, there are those whose lives are being torn asunder by man-made wars as a result of man’s hatred of man, so that theirs is a never-ending struggle to be peaceful and free.
Here in Samoa on the other hand, we are being assured of an abundance of this miracle called freedom as well as this priceless gift called peace, for which we are most grateful.
Let us therefore hold tightly on them, since they are the tools that build and not destroy, the stimulating ideas that embolden and neither weaken, nor condemn.
And that is precisely the kind of life we want to see in Samoa in years ahead; one that is fostered by freedom and peace, which will inevitably lead to a life being made abundantly invigorating with happiness, unity.
Still today, as a nation that is soundly besotted with the idea of freedom and peace, let’s celebrate; indeed, let’s celebrate yet another form of freedom that is just as priceless, if not more so.
Let’s celebrate our Prime Minister, Tuilaepa Sailele Malielegaoi’s gift as a writer, as it has now become evidently clear.
Yesterday, his book titled, “PALEMIA – A MEMOIR”, was launched at the Taumesina Island Resort.
Distinguished guests including the Head of State, His Highness Tuiatua Tupua Tamasese Efi, Masiofo Filifilia Tamasese, Deputy Head of State, Tumaleaali’ifano Va’aletoa Soalauvi 11, his Lady Fa’a,ausili Leinafo, Cabinet Ministers and Members of Parliament, business leaders, relatives, friends and others, attended.
As Samoa’s longest reigning Prime Minister – he is now in his fourth term in office - Tuilaepa, during his address, made the suggestion that perhaps Samoa’s experience would now influence other nations into doing away altogether with general elections, and instead allow the reigning candidate to stay in office for as long as he is sufficiently able.
Incidentally, that quip of his inspired giggling and even cackling, from the floor.
As it turned out though, the Samoa Observer, and especially the writer, are featuring quite substantively, in PALEMIA – A MEMIOR.
For instance, on page 97, the book says: “Several days later the story came out in the Samoa Observer: ‘Corruption! A hundred thousand to a local lawyer. This is absolutely unwarranted.”
It blew up in Parliament. Tupuola Efi, as usual, tried to make a loud noise about it.
I said in Parliament: “The only thing that one must remember is that, when the Attorney General’s office confirmed that they must not do it, what could we do? Government policy is that we must seek the private sector. That’s it. That’s what we did. The bill, 100,000 Tala, is wrong. We never paid 100,000 Tala. That’s all garbage.’
On page 252, PALEMIA – A MEMOIR, says: “The time of this editorial was interesting. The previous week had seen Samoa host a hugely successful event; New Zealand’s All Backs playing Samoa’s Manu Samoa at the Apia Park.
“John Key, the New Zealand Prime Minister, led a large delegation to watch the game. A close result ensued, and Samoa was in a party mode for a week.
“The Sunday Samoan editorial, four days after the rugby game, pricked and deflated the party balloons. Malifa’s editorial began: ‘Now that the mesmerizing euphoria, sparked by the All Blacks’ visit last week, is truly out of the way, perhaps it’s time to return to our everyday life and confront those nagging, unfinished businesses that are continuing to stare at us, defiantly in the face.
“One features Prime Minister Sailele Malielegaoi on one side, and on the other side is the Minister of Public Enterprises, Papali’i Niko Lee Hang.”
And then on page 2053, the PALEMIA – A MEMOIR, reveals: “When asked about how he deals with the constant public criticism, Tuila’epa said: ‘There is a wise saying in Samoa. ‘Leave the birds to sing their songs to their death.”
Says PALEMIA – A MEMOIR, quoting Tuilaepa: “Sano deliberately over-sensationalizes for money to sell his newspapers.
“I have a way to get to Sano. He knows that I know what he is doing, so I play the game. At the same time, Sano remembers that I saved him from going to prison from a court case put in by Tofilau.”
Continues PALEMIA – A MEMOIR: “What he does not know is that I was behind the court case. I had been pressuring Tofilau to take the case because the defamation was enormous on the old man, and he, (Sano) was heading towards prison until I intervened.
“So he knew I saved him. It’s all part of the game.”
Still, there is a lot more in PALEMIA – A MEMOIR, about the writer and the game he played that could keep one entertained, but then perhaps that can wait for another time.
Suffice to say though that from reading his memoir, one cannot escape the notion that Prime Minister Tuilaepa is not only a very smart politician, but a subtle weaver of words as well which is why I will always respect him as both a leader and a friend.
Still, the separation of responsibilities under law, is quite clear.
Whereas he as Prime Minister, is responsible to government in running the affairs of the country I, as a reporter is the so-called watchdog for the public interest, he cannot deny.
And in that vein, PALEMIA – A MEMOIR, is quite right when it says: “The Samoa Observer appears to have a ‘love-hate’ relationship with Tuila’epa.”
It’s hard to explain. All that I can say is that’s the way it has been, and that’s the way it will always be.
And lastly, I urge you all to get a copy of PALEMIA – A MEMOIR. It says a lot about the subtle mind of Samoa’s longest serving Prime Minister, Tuilaepa Sailele Malielegaoi, including the sort of stuff that you might have heard about before.
May your Independence Celebrations Samoa be peaceful and free, as they should always be, God bless.