Prime Minister Tuilaepa Dr. Sa’ilele Malielegaoi objected to being called a “sifi” yesterday when Parliament convened to discuss the 2018/19 Budget at their makeshift home at Tuana’imato.
The word sifi in Samoan is often used to describe the leader of a bad gang who is the last to be killed in an action movie.
“I’m not a sifi,” Tuilaepa retorted, “I’m a servant of the (H.R.P.P.) party and the country. Remember God’s word, if you want to be great, be a servant of the kingdom first. The problem today is that there are too many sifi.”
The reference to Tuilaepa being a sifi was made by Member of Parliament, Faumuina Wayne Fong, who raised concerns about the apparent lack of consultation with his constituents over the Government’s plan to build a wharf at Vaiusu.
Faumuina reminded the Government that they need to consult with the people who will be most affected by their plans.
“Think about the villages affected,” he said. “Think about Vaigaga, Vaiusu, Vailoa and everyone who lives there. I believe when people understand the intentions behind the developments then there will be no trouble.”
From what has transpired so far, Faumuina said it appears the Government has proceeded without seeking the opinions of the landowners.
“We are still waiting,” he said.
That’s when the Minister of Works, Transport and Infrastructure, Papali’i Niko Lee Hang, intervened. He told Faumuina that while the Vaiusu wharf is one of the Government’s dream projects, nothing has been finalised.
Prime Minister Tuilaepa followed Papali’i and said that the plan for the Vaiusu wharf has been mooted since the 1970s. Civil engineers who have conducted four different studies have all concluded that Vaiusu is the best place to have the wharf given the strong currents at Matautu that often slam the boats against the wharf, destroying it.
“So I have been talking about this development for a while now,” he said. “When the negotiations are done then we will consult with the villages. We can’t consult the villages until we secure the funding.”
The Prime Minister said the Government is negotiating with her development partners to use grants to fund the project.
“We’re looking for grants to fund it, it’s a big development with a massive cost,” he said.
He added that the negotiations are about 60 percent completed.
“If we wanted it to be built on a soft term loan, it would have been done right away but we want it to be funded through a grant.”
At that point, Tuilaepa blamed the “newspaper” for spreading misinformation.
“There are too many false things in the newspaper so don’t read it,” Tuilaepa said. “That’s why you come up with these statements because you are reading the Observer when you should listen to the 2AP where accurate statements are being aired.”
Back on the floor, Faumuina was trying to explain himself.
Still Tuilaepa was not satisfied so he stood up again.
“What you’re saying is that you (Government) can’t go ahead until we (villages) talk and we (villages) give you permission.
“I’m telling you now that we can’t have consultations with until the negotiations are completed.”
It was at that moment that Faumuina referred to Tuilaepa as the “sifi.”
Parliament continued last night.