About Prime Minister Tuilaepa, climate change, and the truth!

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Gatoaitele Savea Sano Malifa

Every time Prime Minister, Dr Tuilaepa Sailele Malielegaoi, accuses someone of being an “idiot and a fool”, my mind winces and refuses to think. 

The reason, I suppose, is that over the years all that the insults had done was made the mind wonder whether Samoa was the right place to be.

And that was how it felt when I picked up the paper Saturday morning, and saw the headline across the front page, saying: “They’re ‘utterly stupid’ - PM.  

At the top of the first paragraph was the blurb, saying: “So any leader of any country who believes that there is no climate change, I think he ought to be taken to mental confinement.

“He is utterly stupid,” P.M. Tuilaepa Sailele Malielegaoi added. “And I say the same thing for any leader here.”

“We all know the problem,” he went on. “We all know the solutions, and all that is left would be some political courage, some political guts, to tell people of your countries there is a certainty of disaster.”

Tuilaepa’s address on climate change was delivered at the Lowy Institute in Sydney recently, in his role as the Chairman of the Pacific Islands Forum. 

He apparently stressed the point that climate change posed “a challenge to low lying islands in the Pacific, which is why developed countries needed to reduce pollution in order to curb rising temperatures and sea levels.”

According to ABC, Tuilaepa’s intervention “came as some Coalition MPs have pressed Australia’s new Prime Minister, Scott Morrison, to abandon Australia’s promise to cut carbon emissions under the Paris Agreement.”

It is reported that “Australia’s new Foreign Minister, Marise Payne, is expected to face questions about his country’s climate change policies at the Pacific Islands Forum leader’s meeting, in Nauru next week.”

Indeed, it has been reported that a security agreement known as “Biketawa Plus”, which declares that climate change remains the “single greatest threat to the livelihoods, security and wellbeing of the peoples of the Pacific”, is likely to be signed soon.”

It is understood though that Fiji’s Prime Minister, Frank Bainimarama, and the Marshall Island’s President, Hilda Heine, among others, have called on Australia to do more to cut emissions.

As for Prime Minister, Tuilaepa, it’s understood he’s made it clear that “greater ambition” was needed to stop the destructive impact of climate change.

He said: “While climate change may be considered a slow onset threat by some in the region, its adverse impacts are already being felt by Island communities.”

The report said: “Tuilaepa also took a thinly veiled swipe at Australian anxiety about China’s rise in the Pacific, warning that brewing competition was creating enormous uncertainty for small nations in the region.”

It added: “China’s increasing presence in the Pacific has unnerved foreign policy officials in Australia, New Zealand and the United States, and all three countries have been scrambling to reassert their influence.”

However, such is the growing friction being encountered among Pacific Island nations and their bigger partners, Australia and New Zealand, that “Prime Minister, Tuilaepa, had apparently warned against manipulation of Pacific Island nations by any major power.”

He explained: “The concept of power and domination has engulfed the world, its tendrils extending to the most isolated atoll communities.

“The big powers are doggedly pursuing strategies to widen and extend their reach, inculcating a far reaching sense of insecurity.”

As for China being accused “of building roads in the Pacific and burdening small nations with heavy debts,” Prime Minister, Tuilaepa, has made one point clear.

He said: “Our partners have fallen short of acknowledging Pacific leadership.

“Some might say there is a patronizing nuance, believing Pacific nations did not know what they were doing, or were incapable of reaping benefits of close relationships with countries that will be in the region for some time to come.

“One has the tendency to be bemused by the fact that the reaction is an attempt to hide what we see as strategic neglect.”

Now that’s fine.

What we’d like to know is why is Prime Minister Tuilaepa so infatuated with the word “stupid.” 

Here’s our guess. 

* On the front page of the Samoa Observer on Tuesday, 13 March 2018, the headline said: “Stupid,” P.M. slams Samoa Airways report.

So what’s gone wrong with Tuilaepa’s baby, Samoa Airways? 

Indeed, why is he calling everyone “stupid” at a time when he should be celebrating, now that he’s got Samoa Airways to replace his other baby, defunct Polynesian Airlines, that had gone bankrupt way back in 1999?

“Stupid,” P.M. slams Samoa Airways critics.

On the front page of the Samoa Observer on 12 March 2018, the front page story titled “Samoa Airways $2m teething problems,” was published. 

In response, Prime Minister, Tuilaepa, attacked the paper’s editor, calling him “stupid.”

Tuilaepa went on to say: “In the real world, a loss made in the first two months may be offset in months three; four and five. 

“It can be a loss again in months six, seven and eight and that can be money earned in nine, ten, eleven and twelve, which will offset the negative results in the earlier months of a business.” 

Now is that so? 

Indeed, is this why his government is so keen to tax church ministers for the first time since Samoa became politically independent, fifty-six years ago? 

And then, there was the Chinese visitor, named Kim Quang-I1-Jin Jipei.

When the story about Kim was published, Tuilaepa attacked the editor in Parliament where he announced: “Such things should have never been made public.”  

Why? 

He did not say.

What he said was: “The problem is that the Samoa Observer is being run by idiots and fools.” 

In response, the Member of Parliament, Tuala Falenaoti Malietoa, stood up in the House, and told the Speaker: “But what is happening is that the Samoa Observer has been publishing the truth.” 

Indeed the truth, nothing but the truth!

Have a peaceful Sunday Samoa, God bless.

© Samoa Observer 2016

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