The inspirational, menial and downright bizarre

This is the undeniable truth. The Prime Minister’s public address to Government representatives in the villages at the To’oa Salamasina Hall last week sounded more like a parent scolding his children. 

As such, some of the remarks were inspirational. Take for instance the Prime Minister’s challenge to village leaders about being bold in decision-making – even if it risks upsetting the high, mighty and the powerful.

“Honesty should be adhered on all levels,” he said. “You are the representative of the Government, do what’s right. 

“Some Village Mayors are more worried about their relationship with the Paramount Chief than doing what is right. It does not matter if it’s the paramount chief or his son, we must do what is right, if not us, who?” (Read story on page 2 of the Samoa Observer yesterday) 

Well that’s great to hear, isn’t it, especially coming at a time when we require bold leadership to address so many challenges this country is facing. 

Indeed, when we stop to look at the problems confronting Samoa today – whether its social, spiritual, economic or political – we need leaders who are not afraid to do what is right. We want leaders who cannot be swayed by money, bribes and corruption, but must insist on honesty at all times.

We also need leaders who have their priorities in the right order, people who focus their energy on the right issues, rather than wasting time with nonsense.

Which is where we think Prime Minister Tuilaepa’s address last week becomes downright bizarre, requiring scrutiny.

Take the part where the Prime Minister criticised the family services and the length of funeral services. 

 “It is common sense and it should be limited down to one hour, some services last to nine hours,” Tuilaepa said. 

“It is ridiculous and the Chief of the family should be the one to minimize the family service to one hour and then during the final service should be limited to three testimonies.”

Now hang on a minute, what right does the Prime Minister have to tell individual families – who are mourning their dead – how to conduct their funerals?

Let’s get this straight; the Government has absolutely no business on whether a family decides to hold a family service for a loved one – let alone a nine-hour service.

Here’s the irony, when Prime Minister Tuilaepa chooses to speak for more than an hour – in many occasions where he does, nobody tells him what to do. Why then is he meddling with things he has absolutely no business in? 

But he wasn’t done there. He went on to make another outrageous claim that certain Church Ministers are prolonging the services in order to be paid more.

 “Another puzzling issue is the church minister – he gives the sermon and then does a testimony separately when that shouldn’t be the case – he should utilise the opportunity during his sermon to make his testimony,” he said. 

“Well maybe the church minister is anticipating the longer the service the bigger his traditional sua presentation.” 

Again this is ridiculous. Church Ministers are not telling the Prime Minister how to do his job. Why is a politician then lecturing Church Ministers on how to do theirs? 

By the way, what is it with Prime Minister Tuilaepa’s latest fascination in taking pot shots at Church Ministers? What did they do to him? Is it because of their submissive silence that he thinks he can insult them anyway he likes? 

Has Tuilaepa forgotten that Church Ministers are referred to in Samoa as ao o fa’alupega for a reason?

Lastly, he suggested that Church Ministers should be given cash as opposed to the practice of sua (gifts of food and fine mats).

 Said Tuilaepa: “I would suggest the Church Ministers should be given cash instead of the usual sua presentation such as a cow etc. The Church Minister will put those funds in good use with church purposes.

“For example, you purchase a cow for the traditional presentation; and spend $1,500 and is presented to the Church Minister. He will turn around and sell it and he will probably get $300. See the loss in purchasing a cow – just give the cash to supplement for the cow.”

Poor Prime Minister, breaking his back trying to get these menial things in order. Doesn’t he have better and bigger things to talk about and fix? Like the roads, drinking water, rugby, dealing with corrupt Government officials and so forth. 

Besides, was it not his Government that came up with the idea of halving the box of tinned fish a few years ago as a cost-cutting measure, only that this has now ended up costing people even more money? 

Bizarre. Absolutely bizarre. 

Have a great Tuesday Samoa, God bless!

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