(M.P.M.C. Press Secretary); Palemia Memoirs-co-authored by Prime Minister Tuilaepa Lupesoliai Sailele Malielegaoi contains a plateful of food for thoughts.
For this first time since the publication was launched in Apia last month, Tuilaepa has been coy in talking about his Memoirs and the message behind it until this week when he was forthcoming in sharing his personal views on his book believed to be the first in a series.
“Perhaps the most valuable message relayed in my travels (in Palemia Memoirs) is that anything is possible if you are fortunate to have had a quality education.
“There is no reason why a young boy from kua-back, (rural villages) cannot become a Prime Minister.
“There is every reason for a young street vendor selling ulas and what not on the streets to support his family to become a Prime Minister, “says Tuilaepa remembering the year 1952 when he was living at Saluki.
“We were all street vendors back then including me.
“Electricity was scarce as most families relied on kerosene lamp.
“Times were hard but it helped shaped my character and cemented my resolve to succeed in whatever the Almighty chooses me to do.
“We did not have the luxuries that the generation of today is enjoying and I have no regrets,” he continued. “In my view, the most important message in Memoirs is for our young people, born in Samoa, and grew up in Samoa. Never give up. Whatever life throws at you take it, deal with it.
“There’s a saying that I use for self-motivation and encouragement.
“It’s better to give up trying than giving up altogether without trying at all.” Recalling his first years in school while attending the Marist Brothers at Mulivai, Tuilaepa was not ashamed of his first year in school.
“I should hold a gold medal as the first Samoa to repeat Primer 1 four times back in the day. Who would have thought that someone like me could overcome those challenges. Palemia Memoirs is also a public record that Tuilaepa hopes for future Samoan politicians to use as a pathway.
Entering parliament in 1981, Tuilaepa reminisces on the troubling times that greeted him. “There was no honeymoon. It was my first year there were four Prime Ministers in and out of office in a period of 12 months,” he recalled.
And with the leadership at crossroads, Tuilaepa says the Human Rights Protection Party, (HRPP) at the time knew that for Samoa to recover from its menacing situation, the HRPP needed to be in charge continuously in order to salvage the economy and restore public confidence.
“You only need to say 1981 and the miserable memories of the PSA strike come to play.
“Our political stability was in chaos,” recalls the Prime Minister. “Our credibility was in shams but when HRPP took over we started to make changes.”
In essence, over the past 37 years, Tuilaepa has been in politics, his modus operandi is pragmatism coupled with commitment and never ending perseverance.
“What I’m trying to say is that we’re working all the time, the government is not sitting still. We are looking at all different options. “Time is not on our side. We cannot wait; our children are finishing school every year so we need to look at all kinds of options and possibilities of employment all the time.”
“Incredibly and one of the important things that come out from the book is the political stability that Samoa has had for the last two decades,” says co-author Dr. Peter Swain. He added that Samoa was in a period of turbulence, when Tuilaepa first came into parliament in 1980 and there were four prime ministers in the first 12 months.
“So there was a period of change going on there when he came in as leader to succeed Tofilau there was a turbulence as he settled into his position,” added Dr. Swain. “Subsequently Samoa’s political stability its economic development has been on a strong upward plane since that time. So that is an important factor in his leadership”
Tuilaepa on the other hand remains convinced that party politics is one of the most important achievements architected by his administration.
“The political party system today is designed to protect our political stability.
“Per say, it’s like an insurance policy to guarantee that mistakes influenced by a few greedy party hoping politicians will not be repeated.
Tuilaepa is Samoa’s longest-serving Prime Minister. His premiership has been marked by political and economic crises, natural disasters, regional tensions and local challenges.
Tuilaepa’s political career started during turbulent times but has resulted in an unprecedented period of political stability and economic development through his leadership in modernizing the economy, improving education and health and reducing poverty in Samoa.
The Prime Minister left for New Zealand this weekend to launch Palemia Memoirs in Wellington and Auckland next week.
Tuilaepa Lupesoliai Neioti Aiono Sailele Malielegaoi (born 14 April 1945) is a Samoan politician who has been Prime Minister of Samoa since 1998.
Born at Lepa, Samoa, Malielegaoi is an economist by profession. He attended high school at St Joseph’s College in Lotopa; he then obtained a master’s from the University of Auckland, becoming the first Samoan to receive a master’s degree in commerce.
He worked for the European Economic Community and Coopers & Lybrand before being elected to the Samoan parliament in 1980.
Tuilaepa was the Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Finance under Tofilau Eti Alesana following the Human Rights Protection Party‘s return to power after the coalition government of Va’ai Kolone and Tupua. For a while he was both Prime Minister and Minister of Finance after Tofialu stepped down from the Premiership.
However, following a Cabinet reshuffle after the following elections in which he led the HRPP for an additional term, Tuilaepa relinquished the post of Minister of Finance to Misa Telefoni Retzlaff who also became the new Deputy Prime Minister.
The reason given for Tuilaepa’s relinquishment of the Ministry of Finance was the amount of responsibility and work involved being both Prime Minister and Minister of Finance and to do the job properly required a full-time Minister. Tuilaepa has twice reassigned the Finance portfolio since that time.
Tuilaepa first won election to represent his Lepa district in 1980, after the death of the previous representative. He has been re-elected for Lepa since that time. He served as finance minister in the Tofilau government of 1991 and 1996.
In 1996, he was appointed deputy prime minister. In 1998, Tofilau retired from parliament (and hence the prime ministership) due to ill-health. Tuilaepa then became the 6th Prime Minister of Samoa. He has successfully led his HRPP party to re-election in the 2001, 2006, 2011, and 2016 general elections.