Family first for Speaker
Friday was not all about the General Elections for the Speaker of Parliament, Laauli Leuatea Polataivao.
The Member of Parliament for Gagaifomauga No. 3, who survived a strong challenge from Faaulusau Rosa Stowers winning with 666 votes, had another reason to celebrate.
The day was his daughter, Faatulia Amituanai Schmidt’s 21st birthday and for Laauli, that was his priority.
When the Samoa Observer arrived at Sasina, the Speaker was all smiles.
He was more interested in spending time with his family, given the rigorous demands of his job when he is in Apia.
“Today is a normal day for me,” he said. “This is when you sit back and taste the fruits of your work.”
When the results came in on Friday, an upset looked as if it was on the cards with his opponent leading in the early.
But it took a late night and an early morning wait for a ferry to arrive from Savai'i to confirm that La’auli is back.
Asked about his opponent, Laauli remained good natured.
“I don't want to talk negative about her because she is my flesh and blood,” he said.
“We are very closely related. I honour her and her decision to run because this is the first time that women candidates are being encouraged to run.”
Back to his family, Laauli said he loves spending time with his children. He acknowledged the hand of God in the growth of Faatulia and all his children.
Away from home, Laauli said he was proud that Samoa was able to vote in a peaceful manner.
He thanked all the election officials, including the Office of the Electoral Commissioner for all their hard work.
La’auli said it’s a pity that many people who registered did not turn up to vote.
He lamented the failure of members of the public to take heed of the messages promoted by the Electoral Office in their public awareness campaigns.
He said this is something that should be looked at.
But in the meantime, Laauli has got more important things on his mind. First up is the celebration of his daughter’s birthday.
And with another five years in Parliament secured – barring a court petition – the Speaker of Parliament can certainly afford to smile.