Interesting political developments

It has been an interesting week locally and regionally.

Whereas all the attention in Samoa is fixed on the resignation of the former Minister of Agriculture and Fisheries, La’auli Leuatea Polataivao, over a longstanding feud with a fellow H.R.P.P member, a few hours from Faleolo International Airport in Tonga, something quite spectacular was unfolding there as this edition of the paper was going to print last night.

From what we’ve been told, for the first time in Tongan history, the “monarch has dismissed a Prime Minister and dissolved Parliament sparking fears of violence.”

The decision comes after Prime Minister Akilisi Pohiva has been under increasing pressure in recent months, especially after he cancelled the Pacific Games, which has now placed Samoa in the box seat as host.

The latest development is not surprising though. Pohiva has been accused of so many things including nepotism and being careless with government money.

Now last night, King Tupou had ordered that new representatives be elected, at elections “to be held no later than 16 November 2017.” (see story)

Reactions came swiftly from the Tongan community around the world. For instance, Pasifika Director at Massey University Dr Malakai Koloamatangi told One News that although in the past ministers have been dismissed, it’s the first time it’s happened on such a large scale.

“Constitutionally he has the power to do it but usually under the advice of the Prime Minister,” he said.

Dr. Koloamatangi says there is a very real fear of violence given that Akilisi Pohiva has a lot of support amongst Tongans. 

This is certainly a very interesting time for the Kingdom. We can only hope that whatever happens next, peace is maintained at all times and that Tongans will think about mutual respect and peaceful dialogue as the way to resolve problems. We say this thinking back to the riots in the Kingdom a few years ago, which we are pretty sure no one wants to revisit.

But then here in Samoa, we’ve got some pretty big problems of our own too to think about.

Earlier this week, the Minister of Agriculture and Fisheries, La’aulialemalietoa Leuatea Polataivao Fosi, unexpectedly resigned from his ministerial portfolios.

The decision comes after the former Speaker was charged with allegedly obtaining money by deception in relation to an on-going court case over a nonu company involving another senior member of the ruling Human Rights Protection Party and Associate Minister of Cabinet and Prime Minister, Peseta Vaifou Tevaga. 

During the press conference, La’auli said he is resigning with a heavy heart out of respect for the government.

“It is with a heavy heart that I announce my resignation as a Minister of Cabinet,” he said. “For the integrity of Cabinet, Government and with the highest of respect to the Prime Minister, I willingly surrender my Cabinet portfolios but will retain my status as a Member of Parliament to await the outcome of the court proceedings.”

The decision is welcomed by Prime Minister Tuilaepa Sa’ilele Malielegaoi 

“Even though the charges are not related to performing his duties and responsibilities as a Cabinet Minister, he (Laaulialemalietoa) decided to resign to protect the integrity of Government and Cabinet,” Tuilaepa said. “He made the courageous decision for the sake of the government’s accountability and transparency.”

Tuilaepa said leaders should lead by example.

“They must do what is right and not leave any room to be questioned by the public,” said Tuilaepa, adding that the incident is a timely reminder to public servants that the performance of their duties are subject to public scrutiny.

 “This is also an important lesson to Members of Parliament and Ministers.”

Well he is correct.

As for someone to replace him, Tuilaepa said he is waiting for a “divine whisper from the heavens.” Let’s hope he hears correctly. And soon too.

Come to think of it, these are challenging times. One of the biggest challenges comes with the closure of Yazaki as highlighted on the front page of the paper you are reading.  

And as we unwind this weekend, whisper a prayer and remember these troubling times and all the people who are struggling with one thing or another. For many of us, we sure face plenty of challenges but step back a bit, take a deep breath and soon you’d realise that it’s not that bad. 

Somebody always has it worse than you. Have a restful weekend Samoa, God bless!

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