So who is the ‘Father of the Nation’ today?

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Gatoaitele Savea Sano Malifa

On Friday last week, when Prime Minister, Tuilaepa Sailele Malielegaoi, told Parliament: “I am not the ‘Father of the Nation’,” right away we sensed the feeling, that he’d known all along he had done enough for this country, so that it was now time for him to think about stepping out.

Now the question is: What happens if he did step out, and then one morning when he wakes up, he finds that he is no longer the man who has, over the years, been screaming obscenities at everyone? 

What would he do in such a situation? 

We would dearly love to know.

In Parliament that day though, Tuilaepa went ahead and set the record straight by making absolutely clear, that he is not the Father of the Nation, as some have been addressing him.  

“No,” he told Samoa as they were listening in on government-owned, Radio 2AP: “That title is befittingly assumed by the ‘Head of State’.

“He is, indeed “The Father of the Nation,” Tuilaepa explained. “I am the Leader of the Country.”

Now is that so? 

What’s the difference between “The Father of the Nation,” and the “Leader of the Country?”

Indeed, what does the “Father of the Nation” do, and what does the “Leader of the Nation do?”

It would interesting to know.

All this interesting stuff, by the way, was included in a bill from the Ministry of Revenue, where an increase in the cost of imported foods, such as chicken products, turkey tails, and so forth, were being discussed.

And now speaking on imported foods, Prime Minister Tuilaepa said he was concerned that heath problems were continuing to grow.

He also pointed out, that the number of dialysis patients was continuing to increase dramatically, as a result of eating unhealthy foods.

He insisted that the bill therefore “is critical in addressing growing health concerns,” which is why “we’re encouraging all Samoans, to go back to farming free-range chicken and pigs, as opposed to relying on cheap imported chicken.”

As it turned out though, the bill was approved in its final reading, that very day.

Wonderful. 

As it turned out though, it was at that point that Prime Minister, Tuilaepa Sailele Malielegaoi, gave particular emphasis on the subject, called: “Father of the Nation.”

He said: “Many people think I’m a fool because they use that only when they want some money from me.

“Members of the public come to see me for everything,” Prime Tuilaepa said. 

“They come to me to help them pay the bills, also for the fa’amati and food for their children. 

“They then use this title The Father of the Nation to lure me to help them.”

Tuilaepa said: “Now let me make this clear. I am not The Father of the Nation. Each and every person in Samoa has his own father.”

Indeed, this is why the Government wants to encourage the use of customary land, Tuilaepa added. Since that way, they don’t develop that dependency mentality.

Anyway, that was when the sole Opposition M.P,, Olo Fiti Vaai, intervened.

He said he disagreed with the government’s decision  to tax imported chicken, saying: “Today, the average people can only afford chicken.

“If it’s people’s health that they’re worried about, then why did they allow  chicken in the first place?” 

He said “the move to tax frozen chicken is a clear indication the government has no love for the people.”

However, Tuilaepa was not listening; it looked as if his mind was elsewhere. Soon it was established that his mind was with the former  Head of State.  

Said Tuilaepa: “By the way, my being addressed The Father of the Nation by members of the public, has apparently upset the former Head of State, because he is The Father of the Nation.”

Now that’s interesting! What about the present Head of State? Is he not upset if Prime Minister Tuilaepa is being addressed by people as The Father of the Nation?

Perhaps Prime Minister, Tuilaepa, should ask him? 

Who knows? The present one has done some pretty interesting things himself in the past, and yet we don’t think he’d mind being called, The Father of the Nation; not now anyway. 

Still, why is the Former Head of State being harassed, and yet he has not done anything wrong, other than keeping quiet even though his allowances have been terminated by Prime Minister, Tuilaepa Sailele Malielegaoi, of Lepa?

As for people begging Tuilaepa for money, he said he was  encouraging them to work the land.

He said: “I asked these people. Does your family not have a pig farm or a chicken farm? Of course they lie to me. 

“So Mr. Speaker, these people are lazy to go and work the farm, and this is our fault, because we have been very lenient  on them, and that way we would not tell them truth, that would snapped them out of their laziness mode.”

Tuilaepa added this was why the Government wanted to encourage the use of customary land, so that people don’t develop that dependency mentality.

In response, Member of Parliament, Olo Fiti Vaai, disagreed. Instead, he asked the government to reconsider their decision on the taxing of imported chicken.  

He said: “Today, the average people can only afford chicken

“If it is their poor health the government is worried about, then why was the chicken allowed in the first place?” 

He also told Parliament: “The move to tax frozen chicken is a clear indication the government has no love for the people.”

Now for a brief glance behind us, to reassure that all is well here  in Paradise, let’s go back in time to 2 July 1997. 

On that day, on the first page of the Samoa Observer, the story titled: MP behaves like a wounded man, was published.

The story said the MP in question accused other MP’s of being “fools” and perpetrators of “misleading” information, and still others of being “wet in the ‘ie (lavalava)”.

The MP was adamant that those who believed in “publications” whose intentions, were to fool others “are themselves fools.” He went on to warn “not to judge” the government “or you also will be judged.”

The P.M. was unleashing his anger at another M.P. who, at the time, was addressing the passport scandal.

When a letter from the Acting Financial Secretary was produced, it showed that 590 passports could not be accounted for, by the Immigration Office.

In addition, the letter said the Immigration Office had requested $300,000 to buy 20,000 passports, adding that there were not enough in stock for members of the public.

The letter went on to say Treasury was not committing itself as it was trying to sort out, how much had been made from the “sale of passport”.

“It asked that the Immigration Office provide urgently what Treasury needed, in its investigation especially the details of the sale of passports overseas, including funds that had been made.

“Please also provide an explanation as to where the 590 missing passports went as it had been mentioned by Treasury,” the letter said.

It also asked that “the information should be given to Cabinet at its meeting on 13 December 1995.”

It is not clear if Cabinet had received this information.

At the time, Prime Minister, Tofilau Eti Alesana, who is also the Minister of Immigration, admitted that the request for more passports that had been referred to, had been made by his department.

“The request was mine,” Tofilau said. “It was a request for more passports. The reason Treasury was difficult was that it needed accountability.

Tofilau also said that at the time, “Treasury knew that passports were indeed being sold.

“They were being sold for $US5,000 overseas.” 

A government MP said the introduction of this information was a “dirty” ploy, in that it was not included in the PM’s ministerial statement, being debated.

But Tofilau wanted to offer an explanation anyway. He was reported to have said: “Passports cost $100 each, those for naturalised citizens cost $2,000, but that price was increased to $10,000 in about November last year.”

The report also said: “The increase in price is to discourage people from applying for Samoan passports.”

At one point, a “letter” about Samoan passports being sold overseas, was introduced. However, a senior government official, said it was not relevant to the passport issue that was being discussed.

What followed was that the senior government official in question, said: “The problem is that those involved are fools. It was intended to fool which shows that those who are involved are themselves fools.”

Asked Tuiatua. Referring to a snide that’s been previously made, he asked: “What about a person with a wet lavalava? Is he smart  or a fool?”

Speaker Toleafoa Fa’afisi, reminded that the remark had been made the day before, so it had no more relevant. 

He also said: “Those words were not made today. They are in the past.”

And yet, other government MP’s, were not satisfied. They objected, saying that Tuitatua should be ordered, to withdraw his remarks.

Replied Tuiatua: “Parliament knows to whom those words belong. But does that mean he who’d said them is also a fool or is he smart?”

According to the Speaker, there was nothing he could do because the person who’d asked that question, had offered no objection.

Now lastly! What do you think? 

Is a person who wears a “wet ‘ie (lavalava)” an idiot, and also a fool? 

The question is, with crime and poverty every where, who wants the Head of State?

Have a peaceful Sunday Samoa, God bless.

 

* ’ie (lavalava)” - wraparound one’s waist!

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