What’s P.M. Tuilaepa worried about?

Prime Minister Tuilaepa Dr. Sa’ilele Malielegaoi appears to be a worried man.

How else do you explain the way he’s been behaving lately, especially in relation to the opposition his administration is beginning to get? 

From “small lawyers” to online critics to village chiefs, the Government is definitely feeling the heat so it’s impossible to deny that perhaps we are beginning to see a small shift in the political climate. 

Which is a great development, something Samoa has been lacking for a few years.

Besides, it’s not normal for a political party to rule for close to 40 years in any democracy, like what has happened in Samoa. It just doesn’t happen that way. 

It goes without saying that change is inevitable, one way or another. This has happened all over the globe and Samoa is not immune. It’s not a question of whether it will happen; it’s only a question of when and how.

Looking at what’s happening today, Prime Minister Tuilaepa senses a shift in the landscape. It’s not a huge one – and probably not enough for him and his administration to be alarmed – but it is a shift nonetheless. 

From our standpoint, he’s gone from being totally relaxed about it to being so anxious he’s starting to sound like a broken record. That’s why we keep seeing words like “idiots,” “fools” and “stupid”, which are being attributed to him just about every day.

Doesn’t he have anything else to say? You see when you keep saying the same thing about every issue, especially when you are the Prime Minister of a country; you begin to lose your value. 

The law of diminishing returns, which ironically is what Prime Minister Tuilaepa constantly refers to in political debates, is starting to haunt him. His address to Government-paid Village representatives last week was a classic example. If anything, it was quite telling.

 “Don’t be easily fooled by people who claim to be lawyers,” Tuilaepa said.

“They go around and call meetings with the village mayors and mislead some of you. They claim the Chinese have taken your lands. So let me ask you, have you lost your lands to any Chinese?”

Again, the Prime Minister does not say whom he is talking about. Which is becoming quite the norm, isn’t it?

But you don’t have to be a laui’a to know he is referring to Unasa Iuni Sapolu and the S.S.I.G., who have been making some progress in their consultations with different villages, on the issue of customary lands.

Back to Tuilaepa’s session with village leaders, he used the opportunity to remind them about their roles, noting that they are to guard against people whose agenda is to mislead their villagers.

 “You are a representative of the Government and you are appointed to serve,” said Tuilaepa. 

Well here therein lies a problem we’ve always known. This is why the Government is so keen on spending money on these village representatives. They basically become puppets for the Government in the villages. It’s something Tuilaepa knows very well and he is using it very well, with the next General Election in mind.

The Prime Minister added that his frustration is towards the Village Mayors who should investigate the agenda of these people who are “calling meetings in the villages and misleading the public on the issue of customary lands.” 

 “Be mindful,” he said. “Satan is smart and has his ways to get you to do his dirty work and in the end, you are the one that will be humiliated. And so my advice, do not appoint idiots as Village Mayors to represent the Government in village affairs.”

Satan? Idiots as village mayors? Well that’s classy, isn’t it?

As for claims that customary lands are under threat, this is when Tuilaepa showed that something is definitely not right up there.

 “In New Zealand, the land belongs to Maoris yet they are not running their government. It’s the same in Australia where the Aborigines are not in charge of their government. Samoa is different. Samoans are in charge of our country, our chiefs are leading the way, we understand our ways and values.”

Really? Why does he need to insult New Zealanders and Australians with a divisive comment to make his point? 

Lastly, Tuilaepa said the Government is made up of many highly educated Samoans, who are smart and would not let anything harm Samoa.

Okay then, it’s important to remember that this is a free country, and while we may not necessarily agree with Prime Minister Tuilaepa and his government, we exist to give them the opportunity to have their say. That’s what freedom of information is about, it’s about presenting readers and members of the public all sides of the argument so they can make up their minds. 

Trust me, readers of this newspaper, and the people of Samoa, are an intelligent lot, they can easily tell the difference between rubbish and the truth. And they too can see what is happening here. They are neither fools nor idiots.

Have a peaceful Sunday Samoa, God bless!

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