P.M. says new party should be called “Samoa halfback”

By Mata'afa Keni Lesa ,

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Prime Minister Tuilaepa Sa'ilele Malielegaoi.

Prime Minister Tuilaepa Sa'ilele Malielegaoi. (Photo: Samoa Observer)

Prime Minister Tuilaepa Dr. Sa’ilele Malielegaoi has welcomed the registration of Samoa First Political Party.

But the leader of the Human Rights Protection Party (H.R.P.P.) has objected to the use of the words “Samoa First” in the name of the party. He has instead advised them to change their name to “Samoa Ninth” or “Samoa halfback.”

“When we talk about the first in Samoa, that’s the H.R.P.P. You see when it comes to protecting Samoa’s traditions, culture as well as our customary lands, the H.R.P.P. is number one,” Tuilaepa said.

“So they need to reconsider their name. Maybe they didn’t think about it but who knows next week they might. What do you call the number nine in rugby? Halfback? Maybe they should call it Samoa halfback?”

Tuilaepa made the point during his weekly media conference yesterday where he gave his blessings to the party. 

He said the establishment of the new party could only strengthen democracy in Samoa.

Asked if he was concerned that the new party could be a threat given they have close to a hundred members already and growing, Tuilaepa said no. 

“This is what we wanted, to have some other parties to make the game a bit more interesting. It’s a bit dull when there is only one so it’s good to have an array of parties, it makes it a bit more colourful.”

But Tuilaepa was not impressed by the name.

“The first point for any new party is for the name to be believable. There is New Zealand First, Fiji First so it seems to me that these guys have copied them. 

They should have sat down and picked a proper name to reflect their vision for future developments when they come in.”

The leader of the H.R.P.P. added that it’s misleading when they refer to themselves as Samoa First.

“So why have they called themselves Samoa First? Are they the first party (in Samoa)?” 

Told that the party’s goal is to put Samoa first, Tuilaepa said that’s what all parties want. 

“There’s no party that is established in Samoa and yet they put Great Britain or Papua New Guinea first. Maybe that is their method to attract supporters.”

He reminded that there were eight other political parties before this newest party, pointing to S.D.U.P., S.N.D.P., Christian Party, Tautua Party, Toalepai Toeolesulusulu’s party, Samoa United Party and other parties.

“So to me, a more believable name for them because they are the newest and the baby of them all, and I think they are ninth in the ranking, they should be called Samoa Ninth. In Samoan, they should be Samoa Numera Iva.”

Tuilaepa reminded that the H.R.P.P. has been governing for 39 years and they have done many firsts for Samoa and they continue to put Samoans first.

The registration of the new political party was confirmed by the Electoral Commissioner, Faimalo Matthew Lemisio, earlier this week.

The Party’s Secretary is Feagaima’alii Bruce To’omalatai. 

Repeated attempts to get a comment from Feagaima’alii were unsuccessful.

Prominent lawyer, Unasa Iuni Sapolu, is a member.

“Yes there is a new political party called Samoa First Political Party or Muamua Samoa, Vaega Faaupufai,” she said in an email to the Samoa Observer earlier this week.

“This is a new political party that has been formed, prompted by our beloved people in the villages as they become informed of the law and their rights, they force the move which is now the new party. 

“I understand the members are working on its manifesto at the moment. One hopes the new party discourages electoral bribing and hopefully voters will vote on issues and not how much Vailima or money one gets.”

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