Prime Minister Tuilaepa’s landslide victory, and his three Deputies

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Gatoaitele Sano Malifa

Much has been said about Samoa’s recent general elections and how the reigning Human Rights Protection Party (H.R.P.P.), lorded over by seemingly indefatigable Prime Minister, Tuilaepa Sa’ilele Malielegaoi, emerged the undisputed victor.

They won by a landslide victory having bagged 47 of the General Assembly’s 50 seats, and in so doing they’d smashed the Opposition Tautua Party cleanly to its knees.

It was such a resounding triumph never seen before so that there is now no doubt in everyone’s mind that in there it will stay; it will not go away.

And yet those elections were both simple and clean. 

Which follows that if there is one word that can aptly describe the pervading mood on that day that word would be in capital letters, and it would surely be PEACE. 

And since on that day PEACE was everywhere, it would remain in the memory for a long, long time.  

 It was there from morning when the booths were opened and polling started, and it remained there all the way towards later in the afternoon when polling ended, and the booths were shut down.

 There was profound tranquility everywhere, and all the time not an out-of-place sound - suggesting that violence of one form or another was brewing - was heard. None. 

Even the branches on the trees were silent, they refused to move; and so were the birds in the trees, they too would not chirp; it was as if their silence was their way of respecting Samoa’s general elections so that on that day, PEACE was indeed everywhere.

And yet elsewhere around the world on that very day, especially in certain parts of the Middle East where human life is said to be meaningless, PEACE surely did not exist.

It did not as far as we’re aware, so that people – including the innocent - were no doubt being shot dead somewhere in those places at the time, simply because PEACE there is also meaningless.  

In Samoa on that day though tantalizing, blissful PEACE remained, so that it seemed the right thing to do was to scream out loud for the world to hear: There is PEACE here! There is so much of it all you have to do is come on over and help yourself, and then when you’re finished you can just take all that you need home with you.

That was then. 

Today, however, the focus is on Tuilaepa. Sneering remarks aimed at him have been made public since the elections, and the H.R.P.P.’s landslide victory is responsible.

Now his critics are merciless. 

They are predicting that Tuilaepa will be using the incredible power he’s acquired as a result of the general election, to catapult him towards becoming a dictator but then how is he going to do all that? 

So what is a dictator anyway? He’s a despot, a tyrant, an autocrat, according to one list; and conversely, what is the opposite of a dictator? Well, he’s a democrat, a populist, a constitutionalist among others.  

Now let’s see. From what we’ve known all these years about the man named Tuilaepa Sa’ilele Malielegaoi, we just cannot depict him as someone who is eager to become a dictator based on these seemingly descriptive words.

In other words, as far as we can make out, based on what’s before us now, he can very well be either a dictator or not a dictator at all, and in fact he can also be both. 

Our point is that based on the reported massacres of millions of people under the rule of true dictators – Stalin, Hitler, Mao seTun, Pol Pot and Mugabe  – Tuilaepa will never be a dictator.

So that the worry that he’s becoming one should be dispelled forthwith from everyone’s mind.

And in the meantime, bear in mind that the most violent attack Tuilaepa can ever possibly unleash is entirely verbal; like calling the people of one village out west “stinging pigs” when he thought they misbehaved, among similar outbursts he’d fired away all the time.

I should know. I became the target of one of his most stinging attacks when I exposed his conspiracy with the late Prime Minister, Tofilau Eti Alesana, to sell Samoan passports and citizenships to foreigners, especially Chinese.

And there he was. He stood up inside Parliament that day, and now addressing the Speaker, he spoke out loud for the entire country – they were listening in on the radio by the way - to hear: “The problem with the Samoa Observer is that it’s being run by idiots and fools.”

Then he sat down. In the meantime no one moved; except one. Member of Parliament, Falenaoti Tiresa Malietoa, stood up and told the House: “But the Samoa Observer has told the truth. Samoan passports and citizenships are being sold to foreigners overseas.”  

She was right. At the time, they were selling them in Hong Kong and Washington D.C. Obviously both Tuilaepa and Tofilau knew, but then under the circumstances, it was preferable that they did not.

Then she sat down. And still no one moved. They were frozen in their chairs like statues instead. 

Still, such are the sorts of attacks Tuilaepa is capable of; the verbal ones. 

It follows that from wherever you’re looking from, there is no way any of such attacks can possibly resemble anything close, to being dictatorial.

No way. 

And now that Tuilaepa is such a busy man he’s swamped with work since every time a job is done another one is on its way over, perhaps he should seriously consider the idea of stepping down. 

Take for instance this little snag about him trying to decide who should be his deputy, there are three to pick from, and the word is that any one of them is just right for the job.

There is Fiame Naomi Mata’afa, Deputy Leader of the H.R.P.P.

Then there is Fonotoe Pierre Lauofo, the caretaker Deputy Prime Minister.

And lastly, there is Cabinet Minister, Faumuina Tiatia Liuga, the man who gets things done in whatever way he sees fit, including being appointed twice as a Cabinet minister during one term of office, so that today he’s just impossible to ignore.

Still, as mentally able, well-qualified and distinctively loyal members of the Human Rights Protection Party, these three are undeniably a blessing to Samoa.

Which follows that if we were given the chance to pick one of them for the position of Deputy Prime Minister, we would instead not hesitate a second to pick all of them. 

Fiame would be made the Deputy Prime Minister for Families and Women Affairs; her responsibilities would include getting all children away from the streets where they’re peddling junk and begging so that their families are fed and clothed, and to make sure they are attending school instead.

In addition, her office would conduct a survey around the country to assess the levels of poverty among all families there, so that a compensation system aimed at alleviating violence as a result of poverty could be worked out and implemented.

Fonotoe, on the other hand, would be made the Deputy Prime Minister of Police, Tourism, Hotels and Airports.

Since he’s developed a special relationship with the Police following that unfortunate affair on Beach Road some years ago, he would definitely be the right government man for the job today. 

He would consult with the Police on matters pertaining to Tourism, Hotels and Airports, and since his hotel is close to the unfinished Aleipata Wharf there, perhaps he should either help to finish it or just drag it to the reef and then dump it over into the sea.

What about the hotel the government was planning to build at Aleipata anyway? Does he know about it? And if so, would he be kind enough to tell us all about it? 

And lastly, Cabinet Minister, Faumuina Tiatia Liuga, the man who made such a profound impact on the leadership of the ruling Human Rights Protection Party, so that today he’s simply impossible to ignore.

As Minister of Finance in June 2013, Faumuina became the centre of controversy when his office upgrade costing $T600,000, was made publicly known.

As the man responsible for the Samoa Land Corporation (S.L.C.), he was implicated in a report by the Chief Auditor, and as a result a parliamentary committee recommended, that charges against him be filed.

Later, he was criticized by both government M.Ps and the opposition over his involvement in the alleged mishandling of money and the administration of S.L.C., and as a result he stepped down as Minister of Finance.

Later still, he was given a new portfolio and once again he became a cabinet minister, a position he is still holding today.  

And so, what responsibility should we give Faumuina, if we were given the chance today? 

We would gladly make him the Deputy Prime Minister of Prime Minister Tuilaepa Sailele Malielegaoi’s Office, on the condition that he reimburse first the $T600,000 of public funds that had been spent on that office of his on Beach Road.

And lastly, let’s pray that he would never be allowed to be in charge of a public office again. 

Stay tuned.

© Samoa Observer 2016

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