Different strokes for different folks

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Mata'afa Keni Lesa

Now let’s see. As some of you probably already know; Prime Minister, Tuilaepa Sa’ilele Malielegaoi has strongly rejected calls from some members of the public to cap the number of terms for the holder of the Prime Minister position.

In light of the government’s decision to appoint a new Head of State, some members of the public – including Parliamentarians – have suggested that the government seriously consider placing a term limit on the Prime Ministership as well. 

The idea is that Prime Minister Tuilaepa, who has held the position since 1998, has been there for too long and it’s perhaps time for him to go too.

But when his thoughts were sought, Tuilaepa obviously didn’t want to hear it.

 “The Members of Parliament are not even thinking about that,” he said. “Not even close. That is far from their thoughts.”

Here’s an interesting thought. Has our Prime Minister suddenly become an expert in reading people’s thoughts? How would he know what they are thinking? And how does he know that the issue is far from their thoughts? Has he suddenly become a mind reader?

In any case, when pressed about the issue, Tuilaepa demanded to know why the line of questioning was being pursued when his position was not even being debated.

 “It’s not my appointment that’s up for discussion,” he said.

“Why drag the Prime Ministership into this when the Prime Minister’s seat is not even the subject of the matter?”

Well he is correct that his position is not under scrutiny.

But the simple is that since he is the Prime Minister lording over a government that has just singlehandedly changed the way the most sacred position holder on the land is chosen, it would be interesting to know how he would react if he was in the shoes of the Head of State who had served two terms and suddenly found that he would soon be replaced. 

We say this reminding ourselves of the good old saying that we should do unto others as we would have others do unto us. Which means that if Tuilaepa has enjoyed nearly 20 years of unquestionable power as Prime Minister, what did he find so irritating about the outgoing holder of the Head of State that his government would feel duty-bound to change the Constitution to allow what is unfolding before us today?

We are not opposed to changes. Changes are sometimes warranted. In fact they are needed. But these changes must be rational and consistent with what people need.

Sad to say, far too many changes we have witnessed over the years is at the whim of a government that’s wanting to create a new legacy for themselves, ignoring what is right, sacred and decent.

The irony of ironies is that after all that, the Prime Minister goes on in his next breath to defend the sacredness of the decision behind the new appointment. Asked about claims that Samoa has lost the sacredness of the selection of the  Head of State, Tuilaepa said:  “The most sacred thing to do is to follow the law.... our laws.”

What laws is he talking about? What’s so sacred about laws they keep changing depending on whichever side of the bed they wake up on? 

Last week, the lone voice of opposition in Parliament, Olo Fiti Va’ai, said the only way to restore the sacredness of position is for it to be brought back to Parliament for a vote as opposed to the H.R.P.P. having the only say.

But in typical Tuilaepa fashion, he said the call reflects “how stupid he (Olo) is.”

 “Why did they run for office, when they are unable to make hard decisions?” Tuilaepa said. “Because his comments clearly indicate that he is unable to make a decision. Yet they are respective representatives of the constituencies who voice concerns on behalf of the constituents. His comments are very childish.”

 “Another important aspect is that the decision is in accordance with the Constitution. What other sacredness is talking about? The most sacred thing to do is to follow the law, our laws.”

Come to think of it, Olo has a point. 

Although the reality of the decision being different is highly unlikely given H.R.P.P’s total dominance in terms of numbers, an appointment made in Parliament will still be considered a more representative decision as opposed to a decision made at the Petesa Hall down the road or in Cabinet’s meeting room. 

Folks it’s the thought that counts. 

And whether there are three or 50 non-members of the H.R.P.P. in the House, the Head of State is an appointment for all Samoans, not just for H.R.P.P. supporters and members. 

What do you think? 

Write and share your thoughts with us!

Have a wonderful Wednesday Samoa, God bless!

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