The Minister of Communications and Information Technology, Afamasaga Rico Tupa’i, has declined to comment on reports about the decision by his village of Fasito’o-tai to fine him as a result of a dispute over his o’o, following his victory in last year’s General Election.
Instead, he assured the Samoa Observer yesterday that the matter has been “discussed” and that no one from the village was to speak to any media about it again.
“I’m sorry I cannot comment on the issue because we have already discussed it in the meeting last week Saturday,” he told the Samoa Observer.
“The matais have already made their decision that nobody is allowed to speak about the issue to anyone of the media hence why I will not comment on that.”
With that said, the Minister declined to confirm or deny reports he was ordered by the Village Council to pay a substantial fine.
The Samoa Observer was told that the fine followed a dispute between the Minister and the Village Council over what he was supposed to present as o’o.
The o’o is a gift of food and money. Prior to last year’s General Election, government had changed the law so that a o’o can only be presented after the election.
According to a source, the Village Council became angry when the Minister allegedly claimed the projects funded by the government are all part of his o’o.
The Pulenu’u of Fasitoo Tai, Tago Matoa, declined to comment.
“I will not say anything with regards to the issue because it has already been resolved,” he said. “I’m sorry.”
When the Samoa Observer visited Fasito’o, none of the chiefs would discuss the matter on the record.
One of them confirmed the dispute but said it was an internal matter.
“We had a meeting last week Saturday and this matter was discussed in our village fono,” he said.
“Our pulenuu was not happy because the issue was supposed to be an internal matter."
“It was never meant to be out in the public. This is why we are looking for the person who contacted your office about what happened.”
The matai said if the Village Council finds the person who informed the Samoa Observer, they would be in trouble.
“We want to find that person so we can knock some senses into his skull to correct his/her way about calling the newspaper.
“The matter was just between us and our Faipule. O le matou lava mulumulugaveve ma le matou tofi na fai pau lea final loa. We didn’t think it was going to reach your newspaper.”