Samoa is a small place and as such, the Faleata West Member of Parliament’s little dirty secret – one of the worst kept secrets in town perhaps – has finally been confirmed.
It happened last Friday when the former Whip of the Tautua Samoa Party, Lealailepule Rimoni Aiafi, turned up as one of the Human Rights Protection Party (H.R.P.P)’s candidates when the party met to reveal its candidates for the General Election. It turns out, it’s just another day at the office for Leala. A typical day for politicians, I guess.
The truth is that we’ve known about the Leala’s move for some time now. It was only going to be a matter of time and what spin the Member of Parliament would put on.
And being the charismatic character and the man of words we know he is, Leala did not disappoint. As the representative of his people, Leala said he must follow what his constituents want. And what they want is for him to be more involved with the development of the country. That means jumping the fence.
But don’t be upset.
“I am doing this for the betterment of my constituency,” said Leala. “I have been advised by my supporters to make this decision.”
Well in that case, who can argue against that?
You see according to him, for the past 10 years, he has contributed to the development of Samoa by poking holes in government policies and pointing out where they were wrong as an Opposition M.P.
However, this time round - and if he is successful after March - he wants to become more involved in the decision making.
“My constituency is now the centre of most of the developments we have in country. I want to contribute in the decision making of these developments and have a stronger voice in what’s being done,” he said.
“I believe that a Member of Parliament is someone who listens to what people want and need. He voices it in Parliament and that is my obligation to my people. I represent them in Parliament.”
Well, fair enough Leala! But what about the Party he has been a part of for the past 10 years?
How can someone who is the Whip of the Opposition Party cross the floor and expect people to still take him seriously?
But then again, let’s not get too hard on Leala. A former leader of the Opposition party did just that a few years ago and look where he has ended up? Maybe Leala drew inspiration from that move. Who knows?
As for any suggestion of bad blood between Leala and the Tautua, there is absolutely none of that.
“I went and talked to Palu and members of the Tautua Party after meeting with Tuilaepa,” he said.
“I discussed with him why I had to switch parties and he understood my reasons. He gave me his blessings.”
Isn’t Palusalue the nicest party leader ever? What a bloke!
Getting back to Leala, he said: “I am not switching because of any disagreements among members of Tautua and myself. No, my decision is based on what I know is best for me and my constituency.”
The one thing with Leala is that he is confident man. And this time, he believes he has made the right decision.
Looking back though, he has no regrets at all about the time he spent as an Opposition M.P.
“It has helped me in shaping up my career as a politician,” he said. “Most importantly, being with the opposition party had helped me to build up my confidence.”
And he maintains they are still friends.
“They are all my friends and they are still my friends. Just because I am switching sides, doesn’t mean we will no longer talk to each other,” he said.
“Politics is like that. We may argue and disagree about a lot of things, but we are all friends and we all understand each other.”
And now having switched sides, should he return as an H.R.P.P MP and possibly a Cabinet Minister, Leala has declared his full support for the government, vowing to do his best as a government M.P.
“In the future if the opposition has a go against me, well I have to argue back because that is politics,” he said.
“And we may have to argue about a few things, but at the end of the day, we shake hands, have coffee and laugh together.”
Yes folks, it’s that simple. No biggie.
Don’t get upset, it’s only politics right?
And it’s just another day at the office for Leala!