P.M. rejects claims, blasts newspapers

By Lanuola Tusani Tupufia ,

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SIVA MAI: The Leone dance group from American Samoa in action. (Inset) Prime Minister Tuilaepa Sa'ilele Malielegaoi.

SIVA MAI: The Leone dance group from American Samoa in action. (Inset) Prime Minister Tuilaepa Sa'ilele Malielegaoi.

Prime Minister Tuilaepa Sa'ilele Malielegaoi has dismissed reports that performers from American Samoa invited to the 54th Independence celebration last week were unhappy when they were told to stop.

Tuilaepa instead blamed newspapers for making up stories to try and sell their editions. He did not say which newspaper he was referring to.

Tuilaepa made the comments when he was asked to respond to being called “rude” by villagers from Leone, American Samoa.

The performers were led by Leone High Chief, Fai’ivae Iuli Alex Godinet. 

But Tuilaepa said the reports are wrong.

“I met with Fai’ivae and he had apologised that their performance was a bit lengthy,” said Tuilaepa. “But you must remember the newspapers in Tutuila are no different from our newspaper. They want to live too (e fiaola uma). What I mean by that is that there weren’t any differences (between Samoa and American Samoa) but they have caused tension.”

According to Tuilaepa the village of Leone had also requested for the boat that travels to and from American Samoa to leave on Friday instead of its usual scheduled date of Thursday. 

“The celebration was on Wednesday and the boat leaves on Thursday but they had wanted to stay behind until Friday,” recalled Tuilaepa. 

“So I told them I’ll ask the head of Shipping but (they) insisted for me to make a decision. 

“I responded to them that that is the difference between us and them…when we make decisions we do it but when they make decisions, they change it ten times.”

Tuilaepa said he finally talked to the Shipping Corporation who okayed the change.

However, when the performers were told that they could stay behind another day so they can spend their money in Samoa, they had changed their minds.

“What I’m trying to tell you is that everything was good in our meeting.”

During the Independence celebration on Wednesday last week, Leone’s performance was stopped by the Prime Minister because they had exceeded the 20minutes time limit. 

Fai’ivae told Samoa News, they were under the impression that because they were “special guests” at Samoa’s Independence celebration, they would have some leeway, but this was not the case.  Although some of the performers were not happy, Fai’ivae said they had to honor the request, because after all “we were only guests.”

According to Fai’ivae, the Independence Day committee approached them when they first arrived in Samoa and told them that they had to perform their entire program for the committee. 

It was at that time that they were told that the “Pese & Siva” was supposed to be only 20 minutes.

Fai’ivae stated that their invitation, which was made directly to the Leone Village, was for them to perform their Pese & Siva and bring their fautasi boat. 

Later, the P.M. decided there would be no Fautasi Race this year.

© Samoa Observer 2016

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