So far it’s been an exciting month. And what a wonderful way to kick-start a brand new year! Not a day’d gone by without an exciting yarn popping up here and there; it’s as if their collective purpose is to peacefully guide our New Year along towards our general elections just up the road.
And if that’s not exciting enough, let me tell you that politically speaking, it’s been a wonderful time to fool around corrupt-ridden Samoa, not just here in town but everywhere.
Trust me. Bumming around this country this time of the year can be a memorably wonderful experience.
And if you really want to know, I can tell you that there behind the minds of all caring Samoans lurks the terrible fear that their Parliament could self-destruct – figuratively speaking that is - at any time soon.
It’s a perennial worry, I suppose, and it all started when it emerged that the Speaker had got himself entangled in a nasty dispute with an Associate Cabinet Minister, where charges of alleged forgery and fraud had apparently been made.
Now that’s a terrible shame if you asked my opinion – and an unfortunate one too - if you really want to know what I’m talking about.
So what do you think?
Do you think those two did not know that the words forgery and fraud meant dishonesty, when they got themselves entangled in that silly dispute?
Do you think that way they also did not know that they were allegedly tearing apart the law that they’d helped made?
Incidentally, is it possible that their minds were either closed or malfunctioning or both, when they allowed themselves to be entangled in that allegedly unlawful plunder that is now morally threatening to tear their country apart?
Please tell us what you think.
The way we see it though, if that political spat was not sizzling enough, the challenge from the Opposition’s Shadow Minister of Finance, Afualo Dr. Wood Salele, for Prime Minister Tuilaepa to step down, somehow made pretty good sense. (Samoa Observer, 13 January 2016.)
Afualo told the Samoa Observer: “I think it’s time for him to step aside and enjoy whatever is left for him and enjoy his life.
“The country will go on. We have to remember that as MPs we are only instruments, we are only tools.”
Afualo then went to the Bible.
He said: “I would also like to remind the Prime Minister and the H.R.P.P about what the Bible says. It is very clear in Proverbs 29:18 that where there is no vision, the people perish.”
Fine. But what he meant by that one he did not explain. Instead he acknowledged that the government “have done a lot for the country, but then they have run out of new ideas.”
How so? Afualo, an economist, said: “What we’re seeing time and time again from the government is nothing new. It’s just the retouching of old policies that they have had for many years.”
In comparison Afualo told Parliament his party was not impressed with old ideas. He then promised that if his party would somehow become the government, they would scrap all old policies and they would introduce new ones.
“This is a new vision and a new thinking,” he told Parliament. “If we are to sit down and statistically analyze the thirty plus years of H.R.P.P rule, then Samoa should not have been like this.
“It should have been a much better Samoa.”
He then acknowledged that the government “has done a lot to develop the country in terms of infrastructure, but when it comes to social equality and people development, they have failed.”
Said Afualo: As for Tuilaepa rubbishing our plans all the time, this is hardly surprising.
“He is quite irresponsible at times,” Afualo said. “I think most of the time he calls us stupid but he really doesn’t know that he is the stupid one.
“If he was a wise person, then he cannot speak and belittle others because the wisdom from God would should stop him. But what we have seen with him is that there is no wisdom at all.
“My question then is where is his wisdom from? It’s definitely from the devil. It seems to me that he is the devil’s advocate but we still respect him as a leader.”
Now that’s refreshing. Is Afualo absolutely sure about that one? When was the last time he and the devil sat down and talked about wisdom face to face?
Still, as it was to be expected, Afualo’s challenge that it was time for Tuialepa to step down, did not go unheeded. Instead, it was smartly rebuffed by Tuilaepa himself who snorted: “Afualo thinks he has plenty of ideas, but as for me, I don’t have ideas. They just come up. I ask God to give me some ideas.” (Samoa Observer, 13 January 2016.)
Tuilaepa said the problem with Afualo was that he depended on his academic intelligence.
“As for me,” Tuilaepa pointed out, “when it comes to running the country, I don’t always have ideas.
“But when I need them, I depend on God.
“That is how it is. If I sit here and I have no ideas, I say: Please Lord give me ideas.”
And as if to enhance his point that this practice of asking God for ideas is insisted upon elsewhere in the democratic world, he explains how the Senate of the United States of America conducts its meetings.
“When the President calls on the Senator from American Samoa to conclude the day with a prayer,” Tuilaepa pointed out, “he stands up and say, Lord give me some ideas to help tackle these problems.”
Now supposing that Tuilaepa, over the last fifteen years as HRPP leader and this country’s prime minister, has been obediently following the President of the United States of America’s example, the questions are:
Whose idea was it to cast the blind eye on certain cabinet ministers of the Samoan government who’d allegedly mismanaged public funds numbering in the thousands - if not millions - and that in doing so marginalized families everywhere became poorer as a result, and their children are therefore deprived of their right to get a free primary education?
Indeed, whose idea was it to allow slovenly-clothed children to harass people everywhere by urging them to buy the junk they are hawking, which is their families’ only source of income.
And lastly, were these God’s ideas, or were they just some of mortal man’s unforgivable plunders?
It would be interesting to know.
Still, it’s close to the general elections, so let’s not start pointing fingers at each other and say who’s right and who’s wrong.
It’s too late for that now.
The HRPP under Tuilaepa’s tutelage has been in power for the last fifteen years.
And that should be time enough for the Opposition to do what it had to do, to show it was ready to be the new leader of their country. Sadly enough though the signs are not there.
So let’s remind that deeds speak louder than words, and by the way, we wouldn’t bank on Tuilaepa stepping down of his own free will any time soon.
As this country’s longest serving prime minister who’s responsible for all the positive changes we’re seeing around the place today - on top of it all the undeniable respect that, as a result, is continuing to head his way from around the world - he is one man who is pretty hard to fault or even ignore.
Bear in mind that Tuilaepa is his late mentor Tofilau Eti Alesana’s chosen prodigy, and today, fifteen years after Tofilau had passed on, he is “The last of the Mohigans”* - if you will – who has continued to remind about Tofilau’s most treasured mandate that said: “What is good for Upolu is good also for Savai’i.”
On that day when it was time for Tofilau to leave Parliment for the last time - I remember the moment clearly as if it was just yesterday – Tofilau, who was wheelchair-bound and could barely move on his own, gave Tuilaepa his blessing.
Afterwards, Tofilau is seen being wheeled away in his wheelchair by his wife Pitolua, and soon they are gone. It was a solemn moment alright.
Still, that scene would continue to remind why Tuilaepa is not considering the idea of stepping down now, or in the foreseeable future. Since like Tofilau, he needs to have by his side a prodigy – or a genius if you will – to pass the reigns to.
At this point in time there is no one. Not just yet anyway.
Have a peaceful Sunday Samoa, God bless.
*“The last of the Mohigans”.
A novel by James Fenimore Cooper.