China’s Vice Minister for International Liaison Department of the Central Committee of the Communist Party of China, Guo Yezhou, has paid tribute to former Prime Minister, Tofilau Eti Alesana, for paving the way for Samoa and China’s growing relationship.
Mr. Guo offered the tribute in Beijing when he addressed a Parliament delegation from Samoa that was on a fact-finding mission in the People’s Republic of China last week.
The delegation was led by Senior Member of Parliament, Gatoloaifaana Amataga Alesana-Gidlow, who is a daughter of the late Tofilau Eti.
“The successful and ongoing relationships between China and Samoa are attributed to the progress made by generations of politicians including your father, the late Tofilau Eti Alesana,” Mr. Guo said.
“The Chinese people will never forget her friends and that’s why we will never forget the tremendous contribution made by your father in fostering and promoting the China Samoa ties.
“That spirit - and the robustness and closeness of our relations is but one of Tofilau’s legacies to both our countries. We are also very happy to see that you are very active in promoting the China Samoa relationships.”
Prime Minister Tuilaepa Lupesoliai Dr. Sailele Malielegaoi was also complimented for his role.
“The current Prime Minister Tuilaepa is also very active in promoting our friendship and he has personally chosen your delegation which demonstrated his goodwill to promote the friendship between our two countries.”
Tofilau personified the resilience of the Samoan people in the wake of the devastating cyclones of the early 1990’s. His leadership came to the fore in the remarkable reconstruction that rebuilt Samoa’s economy and infrastructure after the heartbreaking damage of those disasters.
At the regional level, in the South Pacific Forum, Tofilau was a quiet but wise mentor for other Leaders as they worked through common issues of economic and political co-operation in the Pacific.
He played a similar role as an elder statesman for the Pacific in the Commonwealth of Nations. Among the most significant of Tofilau’s achievements was the extension of suffrage from the Matai to include other citizens.
His concern for the ordinary citizen shows the kind of visionary leader Tofilau was. He also left the inheritance of his deep interest in education.
Many Samoans have benefited over the years from Tofilau’s uncompromising pursuit of the best opportunities he could get for them to learn, and acquire the skills necessary for success.
The needs of Samoa were always in his heart and on his mind. He was from Samoa, and always for Samoa.
Tofilau Eti Alesana, born Aualamalefalelima Alesana (4 June 1924 – 19 March 1999), was a Samoan politician.
He was born in Vaitogi, Tutuila, American Samoa to Samoan upper-class parents, Reverend James Alesana Fai’ivae and Vaoita Iosefa Mala’itai.
In 1957 he was elected to the legislative council, and in 1958 he became health minister. He helped draft the constitution for the newly independent state of Western Samoa. Alesana helped form the Human Rights Protection Party which won power in 1982. Alesana served as prime minister for the first time from 1982 until 1985 when he was deposed by Parliament with the help of disgruntled members of his own party.
He regained control of the party in 1988 and became prime minister. Tofilau led the party to almost complete control of the country, with more than a 2/3 majority in the Parliament. In 1997 Tofilau’s government changed the country’s name from Western Samoa to Samoa.
Tofilau began to suffer from health problems in the 1990s, finally resigning as Prime Minister in November 1998 but remained a member of Cabinet as Minister Without Portfolio until he passed away.
His party still holds power. He was also foreign minister of Samoa from 1984 to 1985 and from 1988 to 1998.
Tofilau is the first of a prominent political family in both Samoas.
He was the uncle to the late former Governor of American Samoa, Tauese Pita Alesana as well as the former U.S. Congressional Representative Fofo Sunia, the former Lt.Governor of American Samoa, Faoa Aitofele Sunia and late former Congressional representative, Faleomavaega Eni Hunkin also of American Samoa.
His wife was Pitolua Alesana.