If you want to be a leader, you must serve first.
“You’re not given the honour of being a matai so you can just sit on it,” caretaker Prime Minister, Tuilaepa Sa’ilele Malielegaoi said.
“You should use your brain to go and visit the village and give your monotaga anyway so you can fulfill God’s words that if you want to lead, you must serve.”
Prime Minister Tuilaepa made the comment in response to calls from the Opposition party that the monotaga element of the Electoral Act will be removed if they win next week’s General Elections.
The claim came from Tautua Samoa Leader, Palusalue Fa’apo II, who said the monotaga should be removed because the requirement is a hindrance to people who want to contest the elections.
But Tuilaepa disagrees.
He believes that no matter who you are – even if you are a king – you should not be exempted.
“You should still serve your village through your monotaga,” he said.
“It is not a service that is being forced (onto you) but you should go and see the village.
“The difference is if your village, like Sili (doesn’t require you to do monotaga), you should use common sense because that honour (of being a matai) is not just given to you.
“You’re not given it (honour) so you can just sit on it. You should use your brain.”
This week, former Cabinet Minister, Le Tagaloa Pita was disqualified from being a candidate in next Friday’s General Elections because of not fulfilling the monotaga.
He had argued that his village of Sili’s customs and traditions do not require him to do this.
But Tuilaepa maintained that the three years of service is a requirement and it is compulsory for anyone who wants to run.
“But for the pāpā from Sili who claims he is not required to do so, well there is nothing like that in the legislation. All it says is if you want to be an M.P. you must render a monotaga for no less than three years.”
Tuilaepa reminded that the position of an M.P. should not be one to play with.
He said candidates should not play with the lives of people they represent, reminding that the position is a sign of respect and honour by the constituency.
“It’s not a position for you and your dad,” said Tuilaepa.
“You don’t muck around and then suddenly you decide to run and go ahead. There are things you need to do; the position belongs to the village and district.”
Those things include talking to the paramount chief of the family (sa'o o le aiga).
Tuilaepa said if you want to run in the election you have to talk to the paramount chief of your family so that your church and village will know your intentions and they will support you.
“Then you will be told that in order for you to do so, you have to provide service for the village and you should give contributions in the following weeks and attend monthly meetings,” said Tuilaepa.
“No one will vote for you (if you don’t do these things). You have to put your whole heart and mind into it. It starts from the paramount chief of your family then through to your village they will give their blessings. But you don’t just roam around town where people don’t know you and make announcements that you are going against the Prime Minister.”