Don’t forget the words of the late Fa’amatuainu Tuifau!

By Mata'afa Keni Lesa 14 February 2016, 12:00AM

Let’s see. One could easily be forgiven for thinking that the political exchanges in Samoa these days, three weeks from the General Elections, is one big comedy.

What with politicians – especially the almighty government - making lightweight of the issues at hand, you have to laugh. 

The exchanges are hilarious after all. 

Take for example the political sparring over a lawsuit filed by the Tautua Samoa Party against Prime Minister Tuilaepa Sa’ilele Malielegaoi and his government earlier this week.

According to the Opposition Party leader, Palusalue Fa’apo II, the government has violated section 32 of the Constitution. The section in question by the way reads: (1) There shall be a Cabinet of Ministers, who shall have the general direction and control of the executive government of Samoa and shall be collectively responsible therefore to Parliament.

The lawsuit is asking the Court to declare Prime Minister Tuilaepa’s caretaker government void to allow the Head of State to appoint a caretaker Prime Minister and Cabinet.

 “It’s clear under section 32 that if a Minister resigns, all other Ministers should resign as a collective responsibility,” Palusaule said. 

The resignation Palusalue is referring to by the way is that of former Minister of Finance, Faumuina Tiatia Liuga. 

Faumuina had resigned two years ago amidst allegations against him in connection to his handling of some of his Cabinet portfolios – including the time when he was the Minister of the Samoa Land Corporation.

Salega M.P., Afualo Dr. Wood Salele, said it’s important for the government to lead by example.

 “What’s the point of having legislation if the government does not follow it?” he asked. “We waited until Parliament dissolves to see what Cabinet will do. But just like we suspected, they’ve done nothing so we decided to take legal action to ensure that the people are protected.”

Lawyer and M.P for Vaimauga, Lefau Harry Schuster, said Cabinet had made a judgment that should have been done by the Court system. 

He recalled that there were allegations in the Chief Auditor’s report, which were investigated by the Office of Parliament Committee (O.P.C). The findings were referred to the Office of the Attorney General. 

“They said there was not enough evidence to pursue the matter,” said Lefau. “But from my view, Cabinet has done what the Court system is here for. Cabinet is not there to convict or not, that is the Court’s job. 

“They had used the resignation as a way to escape further repercussions and to dismiss the allegations as if the claims were useless.”

Ladies and gentlemen, these are very serious allegations. Or so you’d think.

But then Prime Minister Tuilaepa is a man with a very wicked sense of humour.

While your average politician would have thought twice about the ramifications of such a legal threat before saying anything, Tuilaepa is not one of them. 

So he immediately laughed off the lawsuit.

“I’m going to sue them for $100 billion and two coconuts, starting from Palu,” he responded. “(I’ll also sue) their Judge Harry (Schuster) and their former police officer (Papali’i Taeu Masipau). But I’ll save Aeau (Peniamina Leavaise’eta) as I see he looks sick.” 

Only in Samoa where someone will get away with saying something like this, especially about someone’s health. 

But Tuilaepa has made a habit of it over the years.

 “If I sue Aeau, something might happen to him because another Aeau had recently passed away, the one I wanted to be in the Council of Deputies but he’s been called early. 

“So he’s (Aeau) the only one I’ll save because he looks tired.” 

As for the lawsuit, Tuilaepa said the two coconuts would be used to feed his chickens while the $100billion will go towards government developments. 

And now finally touching on the issue about Faumuina raised by the Tautua, Tuilaepa reverted to his favourite word. That folks is “foolish.” 

 “Why should we be penalised when he (Faumuina) resigned out of his freewill?” Tuilaepa said. “This is the first time the government is sued and I’m going to counter sue them. I’m going to sue each of them with $100billion and two coconuts to teach them a lesson.”

Now that ladies and gentlemen is how you debate serious matters, Samoan style. 

It’s hilarious, isn’t it? It’s also very typical, isn’t it? Just what we’ve come to expect from a government that would do anything to sidetrack our attention from the real issues.

The question is what happens after we laugh? 

The answer is we find that the issues are quite serious and very much there. And because we’ve been manipulated by the humour and the colourful oratory, some of us suddenly get a false sense of security so that we go on thinking that all is okay.

The reality though is quite different. The bottom line is that we are talking about corruption that has not been dealt with, which continues to hurt this country. No amount of humour and colourful jokes will make that go away.

Let’s not camouflage the real issues… let’s not allow humour and charisma to sidetrack attention from what needs to be done.

At the end of the day, we are talking about real issues, real problems that impact on real people like you and me. These are screaming out for solutions, immediately.

Indeed, it doesn’t really matter what spin they put on it. It’s irrelevant how they try to discredit and ridicule anyone who speaks up against this sort of abuse.

Which reminds us of the words of a former M.P., the late Fa’amatuainu Tuifau, which were repeated by former Opposition leader, Tupuola Efi in Parliament some time ago. One day in Parliament, Fa’amatuainu told the House in Samoan: “E fiu lava e u’u le tae pua’a e pipilo lava.” (tulou). In English; “It doesn’t matter how much perfume you pour on pig sh*t, it still stinks.”

Today, let’s ask ourselves, how do we measure the success of a nation? How have the policies put in place by the government impacted on every day lives?

If you are poor, what is the connection between the poverty you wallowing in and the decisions being made at the highest level? 

Are government leaders responsible for the growing number of children hawking goods on the streets? How much better would life be in Samoa if those millions of taxpayers money being abused and wasted were put to better use?

Have a peaceful Sunday Samoa, God bless!

By Mata'afa Keni Lesa 14 February 2016, 12:00AM

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