Yesterday in Samoa’s House of Representatives history was made.
It was when Prime Minister, Tuilaepa Sailele Malielegaoi, dispelled all doubts when he confirmed that a new Head of State for Samoa, had indeed been appointed.
And yet neither the new appointee nor the one he was replacing, was present in Parliament when Tuilaepa’s announcement was made.
Still, the new Head of State is His Highness, Va’aletoa Sualauvi II, who has been holding the Tama Aiga Title, Tuimalealiifano, since 1977.
The man he is replacing is His Highness, Tui Atua Tupua Tamasese Efi, who has served as Head of State himself, since 2007.
As for Tuimaleali’ifano, at age 70, there is no doubt he has prepared himself well, for the task up ahead.
His credentials are impressive.
He has a Bachelor of Laws Degree from The Australian National University, a Diploma in Theological Studies from Malua Theological College, he was a Secondary School Teacher, a Police Chief Inspector in Samoa, and in New Zealand for three years, a Principal State Solicitor in the Office of the Attorney-General, a former Public Defender with the Justice Department, a former Public Trustee, a Barrister and Solicitor of the Supreme Court of Samoa, and of course, he was - and he still is - a Member of the Council of Deputies to the Head of State, first in 1993-2001 and later from 2004 to today.
In any case, these are the acquired “tools” he’d been honing down over the years, knowing well they would stand him in good stead today.
In yesterday’s ceremony though, Prime Minister Tuilaepa Sa’ilele Malielegaoi, was straight to the point.
He said: “The appointment of the Honorable Tuia’ana as Head of State is a milestone, for the Independent State of Samoa.”
He also said: “I congratulate Honorable Tuimalealiifano Vaaletoa Sualauvi II, for his calling.”
He reminded Parliament that “Tuimalealiifano served in the Ministry of Police, he is an Attorney, and later he was appointed to the Council of Deputies.”
Tuilaepa added: “He has served the Government for more than 20 years, (and) when Malietoa Tanumafili II passed away in 2007, Tuimaleali’ifano was one of the names considered for the position of Head of State twice; in 2007 and again in 2012.
“However,” Tuilaepa pointed out, “the bid was unsuccessful.
“It was believed then that the timing was not right. He was not ready to be the Head of State.”
Tuilapepa said: “Every appointment comes from God, and you have waited patiently …”
And now, acknowledging the former Head of State, Tuiatua Tupua Tamasese Efi, and his service to Samoa over the last ten years, Tuilaepa said: “This is a call from God and it was made through a secret whisper to each member of the Human Rights Protection Party, as it’s indicated under the Constitution.”
He also said: “I commend Tui Atua for his service in the last 10 years.
“I’m certain you want to continue serving your country, however thank you for your service.
“In your many years of service, you have served in every aspect of the Government.
“You were a Member of Parliament; a Prime Minister; a Member of the Council of Deputies; and a Head of State.
“Only God can reward you abundantly for your service to your Government and the people of Samoa.”
Prime Minister Tuilaepa assured: “The appointment of the Head of State was conducted in a democratic way. It was not an easy decision to make for such a small country.
“However, Samoa is a family,” he reminded.
And with that, he announced that the swearing in ceremony for the new Head of State, would be announced shortly.
As for the new Head of State, Tuimalealiifano Vaaletoa Sualauvi II, he remains his quiet self.
During an interview with the Samoa Observer, in his office on Tuesday, he said: “I am humbled by my appointment to lead Samoa over the next five years.”
He also said: “With all humility, we humbly accept the appointment. The glory is to God, not to us, not to our families, not to our friends.
“We want to serve our country, and if this is the capacity in which we can serve, we want to serve.
“All I want to say is thank you to the Head of State,” Tuimalealiifano told the Samoa Observer.
The out-going Head of State, His Highness, Tui Atua Tupua Tamasese Efi, could not be reach for an interview, at press time last night.
His tenure in office ends on 25 July 2017, Prime Minister, Tuilaepa Sailele Malielegaoi, revealed.
Let us now take this opportunity to wish Samoa’s new Head of State, Tuimalealiifano Vaaletoa Sualauvi II, and his family, the best of health as they’re carrying out the duties and responsibilities of office, that are without a doubt waiting up ahead.