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Chief Justice Patu’s life of service and P.M. Tuilaepa’s “secret whisper”

An era in the history of the judiciary in Samoa has ended. It’s an era that started in 1992 under the leadership of former Prime Minister, the late Tofilau Eti Alesana, who appointed a middle-aged lawyer, Patu Tiava’asu’e Falefatu Sapolu then as the Chief Justice of Samoa.Twenty-seven years later, His Honour Patu exited the bench yesterday, having endured as Samoa’s longest serving Chief Justice.This is not a small feat. Given the challenging nature of the role, his longevity is a reflection of his dedication; passion and unwavering commitment to the cause of justice. It is a feat worth emulating.Today, we join the Head of State, His Highness Tuimaleali’ifano Va’aletoa Sualauvi II, Prime Minister Tuilaepa Dr. Sa’ilele Malielegaoi and the rest of Samoa in acknowledging Patu’s work and life of service.The truth is that 27 years is a very long time – during which some pretty tough challenges could easily have discouraged him – but they didn’t. He persevered and withstood many tests, trials and tribulations to end his work on a high where yesterday at Mulinu’u, he was given the farewell he deserved.Reflecting on his illustrious career, the Chief Justice was gracious enough to share some of the highlights with your newspaper during an interview with Chief Reporter, Joyetter Feagaimaali’, published on the front page yesterday.  At the outset, he said the role was not necessarily something he had aspired to.“I never had any wish or aspiration to be a Chief Justice, when I was approached for the position,” he said. “As a matter of fact it took me a whole month to consider my options before I accepted the proposition. And I want to thank the late Tofilau for giving me the opportunity to serve our country through the Office of the Chief Justice.”The rest as they say is history. One of his legacies without a doubt would be the way he approached all cases.“To me, all the cases that I have heard and decided upon are important. The reason is that it is important to the parties and I have always tried to arrive at a fair and just decision,” he said.“Many people think that the cases which attract public interest, cases that are newsworthy if I may put it that way, are the important cases. I understand that from the public’s point of view that some cases are more important than others, but to me as a Judge every case that I’ve had to deal with is important."Not because of the public attention it attracts, but because to me the issue that has to be decided is important to the parties.”It’s undeniable that Patu would have won many admirers for his decisions and also just as many enemies. It’s the nature of the job. For in every case, there are two types of people, the party that wins and the party that loses. It’s human nature that no one likes to lose. And in a small community like Samoa, it becomes even more difficult.Which is why Patu needed a strong support base, something he found in his wife, Iliganoa Sapolu, and his family.“The public doesn’t know judicial work is hard work. It is time consuming and I know some of my judicial colleagues continue with their work when they’re home,” he said. "And I think our spouses deserve a thank you because if the Judge is going to work full time, so who is going to do the work at home?“Who will be responsible? It will be the spouses; they are unsung heroes who have the heart to put up with us as we continue to take our work to our homes.”He added: “It is a very absorbing job and it took up nearly all of my time and energy. And there was hardly any time for me to be involved with taking care of my family – that task fell on my wife. And I am very grateful for my wife for having to put up with me, while I devote my time and energy to my judicial work as Chief Justice."Lastly, he offered words of wisdom to his colleagues, who will have to continue the work. Said His Honour Patu: “Continue to uphold the independence and impartiality and the integrity of the judiciary. In any democracy the rule of law is essential and in order for the rule of law to function properly, you need an independent and impartial judicial.“If the judiciary is not independence and impartial then democracy is at risk because this is one of the pillars upon which democracy is built, you need a system of independent and impartial Courts.”We couldn’t agree more. The Judiciary is critical in the life of any democracy – anything less would only result in democracy withering and dying a slow death.Nobody wants this to happen in Samoa. Which is why the country needs Patu’s successor to be stronger and even feistier in the administration of justice and making sure that the Judiciary remains independent of the all-powerful Government.The biggest question now is who will be that person.In the newspaper you are reading today, Prime Minister Tuilaepa says he has yet to hear a “secret whisper” from God about who that person will be.“We have to remember that when it comes to things like this, there’s only one place where the secret whisper comes from and that is from God,” he said.“As we are speaking, I’m still waiting, I still haven’t had a prompting. Maybe God is not ready to tell me who the replacement will be.”Asked about rumours that Samoa could have her first female Chief Justice, Tuilaepa said: “Let me ask God, in case I say something that could encourage such thinking. But as of now, no I haven’t had a prompting from our Heavenly father (about who will be the next Chief Justice).”Only time will tell. So let’s wait, see and pray.In the meantime, we want to again thank His Honour Patu for his life of service to the Judiciary and Samoa.Have a wonderful Wednesday, God bless!

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Street Talk

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Public express mixed reaction to M.M.R. vaccination resumption

I have heard of the incident in Savai'i before and I have to apologize to the nurses for saying this but I will not trust my kids to be vaccinated anymore. I’d rather have them stay at home and I take care of them there, than have them take the risk of not knowing if the same thing would happen again or not. It’s not like I’m bad mouthing the nurses and their job or whatever, but I just do not intend to continue my son’s vaccination ever again.It’s good because what usually happens is that parents are always looking forward to having their children vaccinated and having that would protect them for a long period of time. But ever since the incident from Savai’i, I noticed that a lot of parents are starting to doubt the MMR vaccination. I am just want the people to know that we have to have our faith again in the jobs of the nurses. That was just a mistake that could be learnt and to never happen again because at the end of the day, it’s for the safety of our children.I’m about to give birth to my baby and it has been such a worry for me when I heard of the deaths last year, I was confused of whether to vaccinate my baby in the future or not but I guess it all depends on our faith. When the right time comes that I feel confident to vaccinate my baby then I will wait for that right time but for now I am putting my trust in God to show me what to do.I support the continuation of the MMR vaccination because we all know that it’s something that can protect our children from all the different diseases that are floating in the air. Two, we have to think about the safety our children in the future. What will happen to them if they don’t take vaccination? These are the things that we should consider when we think about our decisions. I know that ever since the incident, we have doubted the vaccine, but we are a Christian country and we have to put our faith in God to guide our nurses and ourselves as well.I have a one-year-old son and he has had only one MMR vaccination. Ever since the incident from Savai'i, I stopped taking him to the hospital, up to when I heard that the vaccination was terminated for a period. From then onward, I told myself that I will never take my children to for vaccination ever again – even if it opens again. But this morning seeing all these mothers and their children sort of changed my mood so to be honest, I am putting my faith in God to guide me in doing what I am supposed to do for my children.The right thing to do is to have our own children protected at home by ourselves. That is the right thing to do because it has already taken lives of those innocent babies who are our blessings from above. So what I suggest we should do is to have them checked at the hospital if they’re sick and maybe take medications for them for cure instead of vaccinations. I am willing to do whatever it takes to safeguard my kids at home rather than taking risks. My kids are my blessings from the heavenly Father and I can’t risk their lives.

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Letter to Editor

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U.S. Ambassador tries but no one is fooled

The photo in Wednesday’s Samoa Observer of the American Ambassador and his good lady with Imam Laulu Mohammed Stanley is very touching. Such fake empathy and compassion! If Ambassador Brown is truly sympathetic about what happened to the Muslim community in Christchurch, why not do something real like telling his boss in the White House and his former employers at Fox News to stop demonizing the Muslims with lies and fake news? And while you’re at it by the way, do the same with the evangelical so-called Christians of America.Because when you have such power over how people think and behave, you can’t go on preaching hate against other peoples and then not expect your followers and admirers somewhere to act on it. Words have consequences, the more so when they come from leaders. And what good is wearing a hijab in Samoa other than to take people here for fools, and to copycat the incomparable Ms. Ardern? The big difference is that Ms. Ardern wore the signature Muslim women dress with panache, compassion and most importantly sincerity. The whole world saw that in her, and with the exception of you know where, applauded. She also backed it up immediately afterwards with concrete action.  So please don’t add insult to injury and desecrate the hijab.  Your current employer in the White House and former employer at Fake News continue to empower killers like what’s his name in the Christchurch massacre. Wearing the hijab at this time is nothing but hypocrisy of the highest order and fools no one here. E le valea uma ValeGasa Lefa T. Vailima

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