Looking back to 2016: The year that was

By Compiled by Marj Moore 01 January 2017, 12:00AM

As we welcome a brand new year, we take a moment to pause, look back and remember the stories that made 2016 the year that was. There were far too many stories for all of them to be remembered in this edition. But over the next few pages, we share a brief from some of them. In some cases, they are stories we would rather forget:


The year began on a positive note with Customs handing over guns and ammunition seized at Samoa’s borders on the last day of the amnesty to Police Commissioner Fuiavaialili, Egon Keil.

The Ministry of Justice and Courts Administration and the Ministry of Education, Sports and Culture announced the appointment of new C.E.O.s - Karoline Afamasaga-Fuata’i to head the Ministry of Education, Sports and Culture, while former A.C.E.O Papali’i John Taimalelagi landed the top job at the Ministry of Justice and Courts Administration

A National Education Fund, doubling the retirement age pension to $250 a month, free health care for children and a medicare-type insurance scheme were among the promises the Tautua Samoa Party offered should they win the General Elections in March.

Police Commissioner, Fuiavailili Egon Keil, declined to enter into a war of words with his critics over the controversy created by his comments about the matai system and the military.

Meanwhile Prime Minister, Tuilaepa Sa’ilele Malielegaoi drilled holes in the Tautua Samoa Party’s Election plan, saying it was weak accusing Palusalue Fa’apo II, of copying initiatives introduced by the Human Rights Protection Party (H.R.P.P).

A vocal business woman, Moe Lei Sam, expressed concern about the future of Samoans with the influx of foreign-owned businesses springing up all across the country.

In response, a Chinese businessman, Zhu Jian Chen said the reason for their success was that they kept their prices affordable.

Mr. Chen’s said his parents have lived in Samoa for 17 years and now that he is married to a Samoan with two children, this is home for him.

The Director of Catholic Education in Samoa, Aeau Chris Hazelman, joined a growing chorus of parents urging the Ministry of Education, Sports and Culture (M.E.S.C) to be more transparent sparked by concerns that the Ministry has not learnt anything from the failure rate of the 2014 Samoa Secondary Leaving Certificate.

Heavyweight boxer Lupesoliai Joseph Parker was in town for the Rumble in Paradise bout against American southpaw, Jason Bergman. Lupesoliai knocked him out in the eighth round at Tuanaimato.

An order from the Office of the Regulator for Bluesky and the Samoa Rugby Union to apologise to Digicel has been appealed by the parties. 

An application to quash two charges – forgery and fraud against the Associate Minister of the Ministry of the Prime Minister, Peseta Vaifou Tevaga, was dismissed by the Supreme Court. 

Newly appointed Manu Samoa coach, Namulauulu Alama Ieremia, arrived in the country to assume his role and spoke of the need to improve the Under 20’s and Samoa A programmes to create a successful pathway.

Three people were left fighting for their lives at the Tupua Tamasese Meaole Hospital after a bus flipped and landed on its roof on the road between the Faleolo International Airport and the Mulifanua Wharf.

Prime Minister Tuilaepa Sailele Malielegaoi defended the work of firefighters who fought a blaze at the flea market. 

It was announced that the government was negotiating a multi-million-tala deal with China about the possibility of funding a 15-storey Central Government building at Savalalo, where the Flea Market was located.

“that China had accepted ... so we are talking with China.”

Prime Minister, Tuilaepa Sa’ilele Malielegaoi, rubbished claims that his administration was borrowing money to meet its loan repayments when Parliament reconvened at Tuana’imato at the final session of the Parliamentary Sitting. 

The Director General of the Ministry of Health, Leausa Dr. Take Naseri, has said fears about the Zika virus in Samoa are groundless despite three cases confirmed in 2015.

“There is nothing to worry about,” he said. 

The Council of Deputies has two new members - veteran Members of Parliament and Cabinet Ministers, Tuiloma Pule Lameko and Le Mamea Ropati Mualia. 

His Highness the Head of State spoke during the official closing of the 2011 to 2016 Parliament term, held at Tuanaimato. He praised the launch of Samoa’s first State of Human Rights report.



In his last address in parliament before it was dissolved, Prime Minister Tuilaepa Sailele Malielegaoi spoke about the connection between decisions and outcomes which he said are dependent upon the people.    

A new airline, Talofa Airways Limited announced its intention to be the third locally-operated airline.

Chief Justice, His Honour Patu Tiava’asu’e Falefatu Sapolu, issued warrants of arrest for two individuals, Nicolas Gianno and Rosita Stanfield found guilty of running a money-making scam in Samoa.

The appointment of two new members of the Council of Deputies was criticised by the caretaker M.P of Salega, Afualo Dr. Wood Salele because of the government’s failure to appoint a representative from Savai’i to the Council he said.

Meanwhile, the former Whip of the Tautua Samoa Party, Lealailepule Rimoni Aiafi, surprised no one by switching political parties for the upcoming General Elections.

Caretaker Prime Minister, Tuilaepa Sa’ilele Malielegaoi, defended the government’s decision to appoint two long serving members of the H.R.P.P to the Council of Deputies claiming every appointment is from God.

There was no tsunami threat for Samoa after a 6.0-magnitude earthquake.

The battle for the Urban West Constituency seat turned ugly with candidate, Faumuina Asi Wayne Fong, offering a reward of $1,000 for information about who had vandalised his campaign billboard at Sinamoga.

Caretaker Prime Minister, Tuilaepa Sa’ilele Malielegaoi, scoffed at calls to establish an Anti Corruption Tribunal to address allegations of corruption, abuse of power and collusion within certain government bodies, claiming everything is transparent.

A Fijian student studying at the Australia Pacific Technical College (A.P.T.C) was left fighting for his life at the Tupua Tamasese Meaole Hospital, Moto’otua.

Contrary after he was beaten on Beach Road in front of a local nightclub.


Lawyer, Leulua’iali’i Olinda Woodroffe, was refused a Certificate to practice law in Samoa by the Samoa Law Society for not being in compliance with the law.

Tu’ulā Kiliri Lafi Tuitui announced his intention to take on the most powerful politician in the country in the form of Prime Minister Tuilaepa Sa’ilele Malielegaoi in the Lepa constituency. 

A notice of motion for a Declaratory Judgement and Restraining Orders against the caretaker government of Prime Minister Tuilaepa Sa’ilele Malielegaoi was filed by the leader of the Tautua Samoa Party, Palusalue Fa’apo II, asking the Court to prohibit “all members” of Cabinet or the caretaker government “from applying to be candidates in the upcoming General Election.”

A student doctor was found to have performed circumcision operations without permission from the Ministry of Health, charging his patients 70 tala.

The Office of the Electoral Commissioner investigated an alleged election corruption case involving an elderly citizen whose registration was transferred without her knowledge.

Caretaker Prime Minister, Tuilaepa Sa’ilele Malielegaoi, warned the Opposition leader, Palusalue Fa’apo II, and members of the Tautua Samoa Party.

Responding to a call for Tuilaepa to change the name of the Human Rights Protection Party (H.R.P.P) to Human Rights Corrupt Party (H.R.C.P), Tuilaepa cautioned Palusalue. 

Hot favourites for the Vailima Marist Sevens, Auckland Marist St. Joseph’s took part in an opening parade and received a sevens rugby lecture from Prime Minister Tuilaepa Sa’ilele Malielegaoi. 

A family was left reeling after a swindler lied his way into their home, manipulated them and ran away with cash of $1,400. 

Three members of the Elders Committee of the Congregational Christian Church of Samoa (C.C.C.S) defended their decision to strip Rev. Kerita Reupena of two senior positions in the church.

The Committee members were sued over their decision to remove two senior positions from Rev. Reupena of Ipswich, Australia.

Fiji woke to devastating scenes yesterday morning after Cyclone Winston cut a swathe through the islands overnight, killing at least one person, destroying homes and cutting essential services.

A $400million facelift to the Faleolo International Airport with aero bridges and associated ancillary services was one of the luxurious developments promised by the Human Rights Protection Party (H.R.P.P) 

Samoa Rugby Union announced a new representative, Matafeo George Latu on Oceania Rugby (F.O.R.U). He replaced Lefau Harry Schuster.

Prime Minister Tuilaepa Sa’ilele Malielegaoi confirmed his seat in the next Parliamentary term. 

He and two other members of the Human Rights Protection Party (H.R.P.P), Fiame Naomi Mata’afa and Amituanai Fagaivalu Kenrick Samu, won their eligibility challenges.

A notice of motion for a Declaratory Judgment and Restraining Orders against the caretaker government of Prime Minister Tuilaepa Sa’ilele Malielegaoi was struck out in the Supreme Court by Justice Elizabeth Aitken.

The caretaker Speaker of Parliament, La’aulialemalietoa Leuatea Polata’ivao, denied the government was responsible for a debt of about T$53,000, incurred during a trip to China by a Samoan delegation, led by the Speaker, last year. 

Election candidate and former leader of the Tautua Samoa Party, Va’ai Papu, said the fight to allow Samoans living abroad to cast their votes from wherever they were was a matter of people’s Constitutional rights. 

J.I.C.A.’s 40.8 million tala water project aimed at improving water quality for the newly constructed treatments plants at Vailima and Tapatapao and the existing Alaoa Treatment Plant, was said to be on track.



The Secretary of the Liquor Board, Solia Tanuvasa Kalolo, clarified the conditions surrounding the alcohol ban during the General Election days.

“The ban will be in place for shops, bars and nightclubs,” Solia said. 

“But for hotels and restaurants, they would be exempt with the sale of food and beverages.”

Two of the most notorious criminals in Samoa attacked a Samoa Observer journalist outside of the Supreme Court.Notorious thief Faigame Vaitoelau spilled what appeared to have been water from a soda can on Samoa Observer journalist, Pai Mulitalo Ale, while rapist Lauititi Tualima lunged at the reporter throwing an unopened bottle of water at her. He missed and had to be restrained by the Police who pushed him inside the vehicle.

On the eve of the 2016 General Elections, a prominent academic said the ruling Human Rights Protection Party (H.R.P.P) would create history if they won again.

Describing the H.R.P.P as a political “phenomenon,” the Director of the Centre of Samoan Studies at the National University of Samoa (N.U.S), Leasiolagi Dr. Malama Meleisea, said Prime Minister TuilaepaSa’ilele Malielegaoi’s H.R.P.P was set to become the longest serving political party in any democracy.

And should they win it, Samoa could possibly be looking at another 30 years of H.R.P.P, with the birth of a new generation of party supporters. 

As the country headed to the polling booths to cast their votes in the General Elections, the man entrusted with preparing the country for an occasion that happens once every five years had a very simple message.

“Your vote is your voice. Make it count,” said Acting Electoral Commissioner, Faimalomatumua Mathew Lemisio.

Caretaker Prime Minister, Tuilaepa Sa’ilele Malielegaoi, reassured the public that the ruling Human Rights Protection Party (H.R.P.P) was a working group. 

As such, they would continue to make Samoa one of the best countries in the world by undertaking necessary developments so that Samoa was in line with the rest of the world.

Those were his final comments as voters headed to the polls for the 2016 General Elections. Some of the developments he was referring to, include a $400million Faleolo international airport and an international wharf at Vaiusu among many others. 

The leader of the Human Rights Protection Party (H.R.P.P.),Tuilaepa Sa’ilele Malielegaoi, announced the appointment of a new deputy. She is Lotofaga’s Member of Parliament and long-serving Cabinet Minister, Fiame Naomi Mata’afa. 

Fiame edged out another veteran H.R.P.P. member, Faumuina Tiatia Liuga, during a caucus vote at the governmentbuilding when the H.R.P.P met for the first time after Friday’s General Elections. .

A source told the Sunday Samoan that the vote was 21-19 in favour of Fiame.

What was confirmed is that at the meeting, the Party also elected three Whips - Peseta Vaifou Tevaga and two newcomers, Alaiasa Sepulona Moananu and Afamasaga Rico Tupai. 

Salega East’s new Member of Parliament, Olo Fiti Vaai, announced his intention to join the Tautua Samoa Party when Parliament begins. In doing so, he would become only its third member in Parliament.The former Member of Parliament for Gagaemauga No. 2 switched constituencies and lost his seat at the end of the last Parliamentary sitting.Olo, who contested the election as an independent candidate, returned with a commanding victory over the former Salega East M.P, Tapuai Toese Ah Sam. Olo said he was saddened by the fate of the Tautua Samoa Party which was annihilated by the H.R.P.P winning with 44 seats to 2. But he said he would be happy to join the Tautua M.Ps, Aeau Peniamina Leavaise’eta from Falealupo and Ili Setefano Ta’ateo of Aana Alofi No. 2. 

Whilst the rest of the country celebrated or commiserated over the weekend, the work of the Acting Electoral Commissioner, Faimalomatumua Mathew Lemisio and his staff was far from over.On Saturday, the staff of the Electoral Commission sorted out all the special votes in the presence of all the scrutineers.All the boxes were then kept in the O.E.C office waiting for the final recount. Their main target was to have the finals results ready by Monday.

Sala Fata Pinati was the winner once again for Gaga’emauga No.1.  He acknowledged the support from God and his constituency but declined to talk about what lies ahead.Sala Fata Pinati who ran against Tuala Joseph Ponifasio and Sala Iose McCarthy won with 993 to Tuala’s 803 votes.

Fa’asaleleaga No. 1 East has a new Member of Parliament, according to a corrected version of the preliminary results. He is Pauli Ivan Williams.

Contrary to the results announced on Saturday morning during the first unofficial count of the General Election votes, the Office of the Electoral Commissioner since corrected it.The results had widely reported from Friday night’s count showed that Sili Epa Tuioti had won with 475 votes, four ahead of Pauli’s 471.

Ili Ta’ateo Tafili, the new Tautua Member of Parliament for Aana Alofi No. 2, vowed to do his part to rebuild an opposition party to strengthen Parliamentary democracy in Samoa.

 “An opposition party plays a vital role in making the most righteous decisions for a country. We provide the balance and checks. We look at all the pros and cons of any decision made in Parliament and argue whether we need it now or later.”

Caretaker Prime Minister, Tuilaepa Sa’ileleMalielegaoi, has set the record straight to say that Fonotoe Pierre Lauofo remains the Deputy Prime Minister.

Tuilaepa made the correction following numerous media reports in Samoa and overseas referring to Fiame Naomi Mata’afa as the Deputy Prime Minister.

The leader of the H.R.P.P. said the Deputy Prime Minister would only be announced when Parliament gathered for its first session next week.

“I am still the Caretaker Prime Minister and Fonotoe is the Caretaker Deputy Prime Minister,” he said.

Either Fa’aulusau Rosa Duffy-Stowers, ofGagaifomauga No.3 or Seuoti Sheryl, of Gagaemauga No. 2 were set to become the 50thM.P.

An elderly mother alleged to have been raped before she was murdered in her own home at Faleasi’u la was discovered days later when her sister went to visit her.Leuma Fesola’i Lauesi, a 66-year-old pensioner, was found naked and dead in her home. Police are investigating her death. 

Hundreds of former pupils, grateful parents and friends including Prime Minister Tuilaepa Sa’ilele Malielegaoi farewelled Pat Buckley, a man also known in his early days as Brother Fintan. The popular, former Marist Brother died last week after a two-year struggle with cancer.His career saw him teaching primary, secondary and tertiary students in New Zealand and Samoa.

The Caretaker Speaker of Parliament, La’aulialemalietoa Polataivao Fosi, lent his voice to a strengthening chorus of government officials to assuage fears about Samoa becoming a one-party state.

Speaking to the Samoa Observer, La’auli rejected claims that Samoa has become more of a dictatorship instead of a democracy after the ruling Human Rights Protection Party thumped the Tautua Samoa Party last Friday.

Five Cabinet Ministers lost their seats in Parliament following the General Elections. The Cabinet Ministers in the casualties list included: 

Minister of Women, Community and Social Development, Tolofuaivalelei Falemoe Leiataua; Minister of Natural Resources and Environment, Fa’amoetauloa Dr. Faale Tumalii; Minister of Works, Transport and Infrastructure, Manualesagalala Enokati Posala; Minister of Education, Sports and Culture, Magele Mauiliu Maele; Minister of Communications and Information Technology, Tuisugaletaua Sofara Aveau.

The fate of the Cabinet Ministers were confirmed yesterday when the official result was released by the Acting Electoral Commissioner.

The slippery conditions caused by heavy rain were blamed for a bus crash at Tanumapua.Although no one was injured, the accident could have easily been fatal.

A Police Constable, Dave Tomasi, who was sacked is considering a lawsuit against the Ministry of Police and the Police Commissioner.Mr. Tomasi, whose services were terminated before the General Elections, was the Police officer who made national headlines for stopping Police Commissioner, Fuiava Egon Keil, over an alleged parking infringement in town.

The matter reached Prime Minister, Tuilaepa Sa’ilele Malielegaoi and the Office of the Ombudsman when Mr. Tomasi complained about his treatment since the incident.

Caretaker Prime Minister, Tuilaepa Sa’ilele Malielegaoi, believes the Tautua Samoa Party dug a hole for itself due to the negligence of its leaders.

Tuilaepa made the comment when he was asked to reflect on the outcome of the General Elections where his ruling Human Rights Protection Party thundered back to power with a 47-3 victory over the Opposition Party.

Sili Epa Tuioti is a grateful man. He is grateful to God, his family and all his supporters for entrusting him to be Fa’asaleleaga No. 1’s new Member of Parliament.Having had to endure a nervous wait during the final count of the General Election, Sili secured the seat with six votes ahead of his main rival, Pauli Ivan Williams.

After the disappointment of some pretty dismal performances from the Manu Samoa Sevens in the past few months, captain Faalemiga Selesele finally gave their fans a reason to stay optimistic by winning the plate final of the inaugural Vancouver Sevens. 

Following the first day of an Induction programme, 27 new Members of Parliament were ready for Friday’s Parliamentary opening.

And while most new M.Ps were familiar with Parliamentary debates, many of them admitted that listening to and being involved in the debates are two different things.

A relative of an election candidate who lost during the General Election has blasted members of his uncle’s committee, calling them “traitors.” 

Marita Joseph Silva warned politicians and potential election candidates to make sure they know their so-called committees.

“Some of these people will milk the candidates dry and when it comes to crunch time, they don’t even vote for them,” she said.

Shareholders of C.S.L Mobile had over four million reasons to celebrate. It followed the payment to local shareholders by Digicel Samoa. The cheque of $4,652,412 was presented by Digicel Samoa Chairman, Pepe Christian Fruean and C.E.O, Rory Condon.

The Legislative Assembly announced a new Speaker of Parliament. 

He is the Member of Parliament for Aana Alofi No. 1, Leaupepe Toleafoa Apulu Fa’afisi. He will work closely with his Deputy Speaker and the new M.P. for Gagaemauga No, 3, Nafo’itoa Talaimanu Keti.

A former Police officer who threatened to sue the Ministry and the Police Commissioner was accused of acting in an unprofessional manner.

The allegation against David Tomasi comes from businessman and legendary rugby personality, Tuigamala Vaaiga Tuigamala.

The Savalalo market became a boxing venue for some students who gathered there to catch buses on their way home from school.Various solutions to the problem were offered by adults and parents including bringing back corporal punishment, passing the problem onto the village matai to deal with and stricter supervision at the bus stop.

The XVI Parliamentary sitting is the “beginning for the political evolution of Samoa,” according to Prime Minister Tuilaepa Sa’ilele Malielegaoiwith the appointment of Samoa’s first female Deputy Prime Minister, Fiame Naomi Mata’afa. 

Fiame is not only the Deputy Prime Minister she is also the Deputy leader of the Human Rights Protection Party having won the caucus vote two weeks ago.

The General Secretary of the biggest denomination in Samoa, Reverend Dr. Afereti Uili, assured the public that the construction of the $13million tala Jubilee Church at Malua would be completed sometime this year.

When exactly that would be, the General Secretary of the Congregational Christian Church of Samoa (C.C.C.S) did not know.The project, which started in 2014, was initially estimated to cost $7m. 

A 31-year-old who was stabbed over the head by his older brother as a result of differences forgave his brother. The victim, who was recovering from the attack supported an application by Ieremia Manu Leilua, for bail.

Prime Minister, Tuilaepa Sa’ilele Malielegaoi, remained tightlipped about the 13 Associate Ministers appointed.

In Europe, Brussels turned into a ghost city as a stunned population ran for shelter after at least 31 died in terror attacks. The government warned that accomplices could be on the loose in Belgium’s capital.

The Prime Minister and his Cabinet were announced. 

Tuilaepa Sa’ilele Malielegaoi: Prime Minister Public Service Commission, Office of the Attorney General and Foreign Affairs  

Fiame Naomi Mata’afa: Deputy Prime Minister Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment

Lautafi Fio Purcell: Ministry of Commerce, Industry and Labour, Public Enterprises, Tourism and Samoa Land Corporation 

Tuitama Dr. Leao Tuitama: Ministry of Health 

Sala Fata Pinati: Ministry of Police 

Sili Epa Tuioti: Ministry of Finance 

Faimalo Kika Stowers: Ministry of Women, Community and Social Development 

La’auli Leauatea Polataivao: Ministry of Agriculture and Fisheries

Afamasaga Rico Tupa’I: Ministry of Communications and Information Technology

Faaolesa Katopau Ainuu: Ministry of Justice and Courts Administration 

Tialavea Tionisio Hunt: Ministry of Revenue

Papali’i Niko Lee Hang: Ministry of Works, Transport and Infrastructure 

Loau Keneti Sio: Ministry of Education, Sports and Culture 

Prime Minister, Tuilaepa Sa’ilele Malielegaoi also revealed his 13 Associate Ministers for the next five years. The Associate Ministers are: Peseta Vaifou Tevaga Ministry of Prime Minister and Cabinet; Taefu Lemi Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment; Fagaivalu Kenrick SamuMinistry of Police and Prisons; Salausa Dr. Ah Ching Ministry of Health; Leleisiuao Misa RisatiMinistry of Public Enterprises; Faaso’otauloa Pati TaulapapaMinistry of Agriculture and Fisheries; Alaiasa Sepulona MoananuMinistry of Education, Sports and Culture; Sooalo MeneMinistry of Revenue; Seiuli Ueligitone SeiuliMinistry of Works, Transport and Infrastructure; Lealailepule Rimoni AiafiMinistry of Communications and Information Technology; Mulipola LakiMinistry of Finance; Lio Foleni Ministry of Women, Community and Social Development and Lenatai Victor Tamapua Ministry of Justice and Courts Administration

The Deputy Leader of the Human Rights Protection Party and newly appointed Deputy Prime Minister is M.P for Lotofaga, Fiame Naomi Mataafa. 

The appointment did not come as a surprise to Fiame who said she felt grateful for the confidence of her colleagues. 

Unasa Farani Vili O’Brien and his family have now returned to Faleula village after the Village Fono banished them nine years ago.

 “We’re now just trying to get things back together and develop our family as it was before.”Unasa said that the matter was initially caused by conflict between the Ali’i and Faipule of Faleula and hisfamily.

The Speaker of Parliament, Leaupepe Tole’afoa Fa’afisi, was accused of wrongdoing in connection to the recent General Election. The allegation came from election candidate for Aana Alofi No. 1, Aiono Tile Gafa, who filed an election petition against Leaupepe and the Office of the Electoral Commissioner. The case was one of five election petitions filed with the Ministry of Justice and Courts Administration as of 5pm yesterday, the closing time 

The big island of Savai’i became the centre of attention with the official launch of the Inaugural Savai’i Games 2016.The events involve the inaugural Upolu to Savai’i Swim on the 7 April 2016 (22.3km); the bike ride around Savai’i (180km); and then the Marathon from Sale’aula to Salelologa on 16 April 2016.

A young woman who claimed she was carrying the marks of Jesus Christ’s suffering during his crucifixion became the target of verbal abuse and threatening remarks on social media.So much so the 23-year-old stigmatist, Toaipuapuaga Opapo, was afraid to talk about her ordeal.

Lupesoliai La’auli Joseph Parker’s promoters gave their man the best possible chance to win his IBF heavyweight title elimination bout against Carlos Takam.

They did this by holding the fight at Manukau’s Vodafone Events Centre, about nine kilometres from where he was brought up.

Lupesoliai, now based in Las Vegas, has fought twice at the Vodafone Events Centre for comprehensive TKO victories over Americans Brian Minto and Jason Pettaway and is comfortable fighting in familiar surroundings in front of friends and family.



A report about an outstanding warrant of arrest for the Minister of Justice and Courts Administration, Faaolesa Katopau Ainu’u, in American Samoa took him by surprise.

That’s what Prime Minister, Tuilaepa Sa’ilele Malielegaoi, said when he was asked to comment on a report in Samoa News about the matter.

“I have spoken with the Minister who is shocked about it,” said Tuilaepa. 

The Pasifika Media Association (PasiMA) yesterday afternoon launched its pioneering regional online media training course, the Pasifika Trainer.

Held at the Samoa Observer newspaper office at Vaitele, the launch was attended by Prime Minister, Tuilaepa Dr. Sa’ilele Malielegaoi, Members of the Diplomatic Corps, Representatives of the Media, and distinguished guests.

The shocking state of the Tafa’igata Prison facilities, which houses a growing number of prisoners, was highlighted once more.

The concerns were raised in the second inspection report by the Office of the Ombudsman and the National Human Rights Institute (N.H.R.I) released publically.

 “Such are issues with hygiene in cells which prisons are kept in: cells are still dirty and malodorous, toilets and showers are broken down and the kitchen is dirty with the ceiling about to collapse,” the report’s findings read. 

The Minister of Communications and Information and Technology (M.C.I.T), Afamasaga Rico Tupa’i, has denied that a conflict of interest exists with his business interests and his new role in the telecommunication sector. The new Minister has given assurances that he is not letting anything get in the way of performing his duties. 

He said he was stepping away from Skylite Productions, a production company co-owned by Afamasaga, which does a lot of work with Digicel in Samoa and around the region.

The Chairman of the Ray of Hope Foundation, Pepe Fia’ailetoa Fruean, presented the Ray of Hope house dream, founded out of the outpouring of love from musician friends of the late Raymond Fruean, during his untimely death. 

Prime Minister and Ray of Hope Foundation Patron, Tuilaepa Sa’ilele Malielegaoi, officially handed over the Ray of Hope House to the Samoa Victims Support Group in order to house pregnant teenage victims of sexual violence and incest. 

After six and a half years of struggles and sleepless nights Kamara Aniva Pouono 

was congratulated by her family members, friends and especially her parents when she was announced as the top medical student in front of hundreds of people who attended the graduation.She received a trophy and a certificate as a graduate from the National University of Samoa School of Medicine for completing six years of studies and gaining her Bachelor of Medicine and Surgery with seven other students.

The Ministry of Police Media officer Maotaoalii Kaioneta Kitiona, said their special Operation Riots would continue to patrol the market.The tough message to students thousands was that fighting would simply not be tolerated, second chances would not be offered for offenders and the police needed to be left to uphold the law without interference.The Tactical Operation Squad, carrying out this operation reiterated there would be no more chances for the school students. 

An investigation is underway to determine the cause of an explosion at one of the diesel fuel storage tanks on the wharf at Matautu-tai.

The explosion killed an employee of Petroleum Products Supplies Limited (P.P.S.) who was working on the storage tank during the time of the explosion.

Another employee of the company was hospitalised butlater discharged.The blaze caused widespread panic throughout the Apia township where workers, visitors and students were evacuated.

An officer at Samoa’s High Commission in Australia routinely assisted Mossack Fonseca in creating shell companies, files from the firm reveal. One of those shell companies later faced sanctions for supplying goods to the Syrian government and military.

Documents on Mossack Fonseca were obtained by the German newspaper Süddeutsche Zeitung and shared by the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists with the Guardian and other media outlets.The files show that Mossack Fonseca’s Samoan office appeared to have been using the Samoan High Commission in Canberra, to assist it in forwarding documents for the creation of shell companies to other countries, such as the United Arab Emirates and Uruguay.

Claims that the fire at one of the fuel tanks at the Matautu Wharf on Monday could have blown up the wharf, destroying a large part of the Apia waterfront and placing hundreds of lives at risk, were rejected by Petroleum Products Supplies Ltd (P.P.S).

P.P.S. Managing Director, Fanene Samau Sefo, said that there was no threat of the sort whatsoever.

 “The tanks were designed in a way that they cannot be destroyed by a fire,” said Fanene. 

Is it a coincidence that a thundering explosion and a deadly blaze is followed by revelations about a woman claiming to be carrying the marks of Jesus Christ?

This question and more gripped the nation’s attention as the result of the events of the previous days. 

The wife of a former E.F.K.S. Church Minister was fined by the District Court for attempting to defeat justice. Elaine Elena Ulia was sentenced by District Court Judge, VaepuleVaemoaVaai, yesterday. 

She and a staff member of the Samoa Victims Support Group (S.V.S.G), TumuaLuafalealo, were convicted and Luafalealo was ordered to pay $800 while Uliawas fined $200.

Allegations of election corruption leveled against the Speaker of Parliament, Leaupepe Toleafoa Fa’afisi, by an election rival cast doubts over his future in Parliament.

But Prime Minister, Tuilaepa Sa’ilele Malielegaoi, told the Samoa Observer that he is prepared for whatever the outcome might be.

 “These appointments are done on the assumption that there will be no problems,” he said.“But if there will be problems, then we have to have another election.”

Soon after the elections, Member of Parliament, Aiono Tile Gafa, filed a petition against him.

Kofi Annan’s son apparently made a million pound profit by purchasing a luxury flat on the King’s Road, Chelsea, using a company in Samoa named in the Panama Papers.

According to leaked Mossack Fonseca documents, Kojo Annan, 42, the former U.N. Secretary General’s only son, used the Samoan company Sapphire Holding Ltd to buy the property in 2004 for £400,000. 

Market data show that it is now worth £1,559,293.

The Minister of Justice and Courts Administration, Fa’aolesa Katopau Ainu’u, awaited the outcome of an investigation by the American Samoa Attorney General’s (A.G.) Office into an outstanding warrant of arrest against him in the Territory.

Fa’aolesa told the Samoa Observer he had not heard anything from the American Samoa A.G yet.

 “I’m waiting for the investigation by the Attorney General’s office (American Samoa),” he explained. 

The leader for a team of firefighters who got dangerously close to the blazing fuel tank at the Matautu wharf on Monday downplayed widespread praises for their bravery.

The Commander of Operations, Aleaga Fuafiva, said they were merely carrying out the work they exist to do.

More than thirty families at Sogi faced eviction by the government, years after they were told to relocate to Falelauniu.

An official at the Samoa Land Corporation (S.L.C) said the families had been warned for the last time to relocate on their own, without being forcefully removed.

The new Minister of Works, Transport and Infrastructure (M.W.T.I), Papali’i Niko Lee Hang, has vowed to continue the fight for justice when it comes to corrupt practices within the public service.

Papali’i, who became a voice against corruption in the government during the last Parliamentary term, assured the public that his new role would not change anything.

The Speaker of Parliament, Leaupepe Tole’afoa Fa’afisi, is a relieved man. 

The Member of Parliament for Aana Alofi No. 1 West will serve out the rest of the Parliamentary term following a village meeting yesterday where a decision was reached to withdraw a petition against him.

A former Member of Parliament, businessman and a sports administrator, Nu’u Vaeolenofoafia Tapasu Leung Wai, passed away.

Nu’u died peacefully on Sunday morning. He was 57.

The government denied any wrongdoing in relation to the Panama Papers leak, one the biggest tax haven leaks of recent times. 

It was also defended the actions of a Samoan diplomat who was found to have routinely assisted Mossack Fonseca in creating shell companies.

A statement from the Office of the Press Secretariat said  that government would strengthen its efforts to ensure Samoa was not used by money launderers and tax evaders.

The cost of electricity in Samoa remains far too high according to the new E.P.C Minister, Papali’i Niko Lee Hang who wants the Corporation to make electricity cheaper for all households in Samoa in the next five years. 

“The country is crying out for the high cost of living and electricity to drop,” Papali’i said, addressing E.P.C’s staff members. 

Two more election petitions were withdrawn. This meant Falelatai and Samatau’s Member of Parliament, Taefu Lemi, and the Member of Parliament for Urban West, Faumuina Wayne Fong, would serve out their five-year terms in Parliament.

The Electoral Court  dismissed a motion by the Associate Minister of Communications and Information Technology, Lealailepule Rimoni Aiafi, to strike out allegations of illegal practices during the election against him.

The decision was reached by a panel of judges chaired by Chief Justice, His Honour Patu Tiava’asue Falefatu Sapolu on Wednesday.

A group of matai fighting for the protection of customary lands in Samoa stepped up their fight.The group who lodged a complaint with the Asian Development Bank (A.D.B) in 2014 on the back of fears about the alienation of customary lands elevated their complaint to the Compliance Review Panel (C.R.P), the highest level of grievance mechanism in A.D.B.

The Member of Parliament for Alataua West, Ali’imalemanu Alofa Tu’uau, has been spared to serve her five-year term in Parliament.It follows a decision from former M.P for the constituency, Lafaitele Patrick Lei’ataualesa, to withdraw his election petition yesterday.

Ombudsman Maiava Iulai Toma blasted the behaviour of the Police – including Police Commissioner, Fuiava Egon Keil – as irresponsible, unlawful and cruel.

The criticisms were made in the findings of an investigation by the Ombudsman’s Office over a complaint made by a member of the public, Suitupe Misa. They referred to an incident at the Fugalei market on 18 August 2015.Described as a “watershed moment in the history of Samoa,” the incident saw the Police use firearms in a public place to carry out a pre-planned arrest of an individual.

A warrant of arrest against the Minister of Justice and Courts Administration, Fa’aolesa Ainu’u Katopau, was deemed valid. 

American Samoa’s Attorney General, Talauega Eleasalo Ale, said his office had checked with the Court and confirmed the warrant was still valid. 

A report out from the tank explosion at Matautu Wharf three weeks ago suggested a  mixture of petroleum and diesel may have caused the tank explosion sparked by welding works. 

Prime Minister, Tuilaepa Sailele Malielegaoi said if there was only diesel in the tanks, nothing like that could have happened. 

 “It is important to note that welding works were also done on the other (two) tanks but it (the explosion) happened here (on the third tank),” said Tuilaepa. 

In the District Court, a lawyer, representing two defendants accused of handing out money during the general election, questioned the basis of the charges and the Electoral Act. However he received a sharp rebuke from the presiding judge when asked for a “please explain” and it was revealed he did not have all the relevant information on the charges. 

The Police Commissioner, Fuiava Egon Keil, issued a brief response to a report by Ombudsman Maiava Iulai Toma lambasting him and his officers in relation to the wrongful arrest of a member of the public.

“The Samoa Police has great respect and reverence for the laws of Samoa and are sensitive to every person’s Constitutional Rights,” Fuiava said in a statement. 

“The Samoa Police will continue to do whatever it takes within the law to keep our country and our people safe.”

Mitavale Levaopolo Sione, born 18 April 1907, celebrated her 109th birthday making her possibly the oldest person in Samoa.

An  official said they could not confirm the age of the oldest person in Samoa. 

The electoral rights of voters in the Faleata West constituency were at the heart of a petition yesterday. A former Member of Parliament, Ale Vena Ale questioned the kinship of hundreds of voters from the constituency of Faleta West claiming they did not have a blood relationship in the constituency.

The election candidate also took the Office of the Electoral Commissioner to Court for their part in accepting the registration of the more than 400 voters who Ale alleged, were not eligible to be registered in Faleata West. 

Delays continued to plague the construction and completion of the Congregational  Christian Church of Samoa’s (C.C.C.S.) Jubilee Church.The project, which started in 2014, was initially estimated to cost $7m. At that time, the building was scheduled to be opened in 2015, last year. 

The last of the six petitions before the Supreme Court were withdrawn.Ale, a former Member of Parliament asked for the petition to be withdrawn.

In doing so, it meant the Associate Minister of Communications and Information Technology would serve out the rest of his five years in Parliament. 

Cyclone Amos continued to develop in the Pacific but members of the public in Samoa were asked not to panic.

The message came from the Chairman of the Disaster Advisory Committee, Suluimalo Amataga Penaia, who said members of the public should stay alert and be aware of possible flooding due to the developing cyclone.

The World President of the Seventh-day-Adventist Church, Elder Ted Wilson, met with the Head of State, His Highness Tui Atua Tupua Tamasese Efi. 

The meeting was arranged during a special prayer breakfast attended by His Highness Tui Atua, the Masiofo, Her Highness Filifilia Tamasese, deputy Prime Minister, Fiame Naomi Mata’afa and several church leaders.

The meeting was one of the last activities for Elder Wilson and his wife Nancy before they left the country.

Tropical Cyclone Amos was expected to be felt in parts of Samoaand to intensify as it developed into a category 3 cyclone.  

Senior Scientific Officer at the Meteorology Office, Eseese Ah Ken, said the current track of Amos continued to move eastwards of Samoa. 

Former world heavyweight boxing title challenger and one of Samoa’s favourite sons, To’aletai David Tua, returned to Samoa.The Faleatiu native arrived for the Annie Grace Samoa Concert held in front of the government building. Tua share dhis testimony about his struggles with issues.

Tropical Cyclone Amos is predicted to be stronger than Cyclone Evan in 2012. 

That’s the latest word from the Samoa Meteorology Office as they continue to monitor the development of the cyclone, with the country hunkering down and praying for the best.

While the country braced for Cyclone Amos, Prime Minister, Tuilaepa Sa’ilele Malielegaoi, offered his prayers from New York.

He was among leaders from 175 countries gathering to sign the Paris Agreement on climate change, as the landmark deal took a key step forward, potentially entering into force years ahead of schedule.

The signing took place yesterday, to commemorate Earth Day.

While the threat of Tropical Cyclone Amos may have upset some of the plans for the 2016 ANZAC Day commemorations, it certainly did not ‘rain on their parade’.

The ANZAC Parade and Dawn Service took place this morning at 6.00am. The Parade and Dawn Service saw war veterans, the diplomatic corps, government leaders, distinguished guests, descendants of soldiers and nurses, families and friends assemble in front of the World War 1 memorial (Town Clock) where a memorial service and wreath laying took place. 

Members of the public need to be increasingly diligent with their personal bank account details. The Central Bank of Samoa’s Governor, Maiava Atalina Enari, and the C.E.O. of the ANZ Bank in Samoa, Tonga and the Cook Islands, Matt Fisher, gave this warning in a joint statement.

The fallen heroes of ANZAC were commemmoratedin written tributes in their honour.

As Samoa joined the commemoration of ANZAC y, the placegetters in the ANZAC Essay writing competition were congratulated at the Office of the New Zealand High Commission in Apia.The winner of the competition Aunoa Uele from Samoa College. Her prize was to represent Samoa in September at the Somme Commemorations in France; joining other winners from Cook Islands, Tonga and Niue. 

A former Member of Parliament and Speaker of the House, Leota Leulua’iali’i Ituau Ale, passed away. He died at the Tupua Tamasese Meaole Hospital from a sudden illness. He was 75.

Notorious criminal and prison escapee Lauititi Tualima was found.The criminal who ran away from Tafa’igata Prison was returned to police custody. Tualima was found at a family home at Lalovaea.



The Opening Ceremony of S.I.G.F.A.’s 20th annual international game fishing tournament was held at Robert Louis Stevenson Museum.

The action began with the beginning of the Ladies Tournament.

A candidate during the recent General Election, Ofoia Nomeneta Ofoia, was convicted and fined for making a false declaration with the Office of the Electoral Commission. District Court Judge, Vaepule Vaemoa Va’ai, sentenced Ofoia. 

They are cowards.That’s how a former student of Avele College and former Member of Parliament, Tuia Paepae Letoa, described the students who claimed to be from Avele College and issued a death threat to Maluafou students on Facebook. The threat led to the school being shut. 

Concern for innocent students and the name of Avele College were just two of the reasons behind a push to have the school reopened, according to Education Minister, Loau Keneti Sio.

A report from relevant sectors the Education Department after wide consultations with the school staff, parents and former pupils offered a way forward to ensure change at the beleaguered secondary school.

A business couple convicted for masterminding a money-making scam in Samoa had their application to leave the country denied.The application by Nicolas Giannos and Rosita Stanfield, was denied by Chief Justice, His Honour Patu Tiava’asue Falefatu Sapolu.

The new man in charge of the Manu Samoa, Namulauulu Alama Ieremia, was optimistic.The former All Black and Manu Samoa international admitted that while there were plenty of challenges and obstacles to overcome, there were also many exciting opportunities on the horizon.

Prime Minister Tuilaepa Sa’ilele Malielegaoi did not mince words when he blasted the Principal, teachers and parents of students attending Avele College during a closed meeting. The media was barred. 

The recently opened $10million market at Fugalei was reported to be leaking. 

According to vendors, it leaked as soon as it was opened.

The new Chief Executive Officer of the Samoa Chamber of Commerce Hobart Va’ai said he was ready to serve the private sector and its members and had already laid down plans to do so.

Mr. Vaai said his plans are basically in line with their strategic focus.

The Manu Samoa Sevens hoisted Cup at the Paris Sevens after coming from behind to beat Fiji, 29-26, to win their first Cup of the 2015/16 HSBC World Rugby Sevens. 

The Congregational Christian Church of Samoa (C.C.C.S.) stripped all roles from their General Secretary Reverend Afereti Uili over an allegation of sexual nature made by an unnamed woman.

Effective immediately, the Committee has removed the General Secretary role and suspended him from all his ministerial duties for five years. The decision means the Church will have to appoint a General Secretary first before their annual conference begins. 

The Supreme Court dismissed a lawsuit against members of the Elders Committee of the Congregational Christian Church of Samoa (C.C.C.S). 

The decision delivered yesterday by the Chief Justice, His Honour Patu Tiava’asue Falefatu Sapolu, was welcomed by the Elders and members of the church who packed the courtroom at Mulinu’u.

The Head of the Muslim League in Samoa, Dr. Muhammad Yahya, was confident that the government would not yield to a call from the National Council of Churches (N.C.C) to ban Islam in Samoa.

Dr. Muhammad, also known as Laulu Dan Stanley, said the call places Samoa in the same light as extremists in the United States of America, especially supporters of Donald Trump, who called for a ban on Muslims.

Lupesoliai Laauli Joseph Parker did it. He won the IBF eliminator at the Vodafone Events Centre in Manukau, giving him the mandatory rights to challenge for the IBF’s belt, currently worn by Britain’s Anthony Joshua. Details in Sports. 

The General Manager of the Electric Power Corporation (E.P.C), Tologata Tile Tuimaleali’ifano, defended the Corporation’s decision to purchase a new fleet of vehicles costing $1.7million tala.mQuestions were raised about the timing of the purchase, especially since the Corporation recently made 62 employees redundant as part of cost cutting measures.

The Chief Justice, His Honour Patu Tiava’asue Falefatu Sapolu  ordered a warrant of arrest for former United States army personnel, Mualia Salamo. 

Mr. Salamo failed to appear before the Supreme Courtwhere a hearing date was scheduled to be set. He had previously pleaded not guilty to five charges against him under the Drugs and Narcotics and the possession of Unlawful and Illegal Weapons Act. 

The launch of a Samoa Rugby Union Academy (S.R.U.A.) raised a few eyebrows.

With the already existing Rugby Academy of Samoa (R.A.S.) it was tempting to think that the launch of S.R.U.A. was a friction-causing statement by the Union that they could do it better.

Prime Minister Tuilaepa Sailele Malielegaoi was looking at setting up the Hope 4 Cancer Clinic at the MedCen Hospital at Vailima while the government looked for a permanent place on the beach for the clinic.

 “These doctors from the United States of America are here with the hope to set up a clinic here in Samoa that will treat all illnesses especially cancer by using different kinds of treatment rather than letting the patient go through chemo and radiation,” he said.

The construction of a new parliament house at Malae Tiafau was at last underway.Workers from Craig Constructions were at the site preparing the area for building. The existing foundations will remain.  

The annual Samoa Independence International Sevens (SII 7’s) tournament took place to help make this year’s Independence celebration more enjoyable.

Crowds gathered along Beach Road to have their first real look at what the SII 7’s had to offer with both local and international teams parading.

Prime Minister, Tuilaepa Sailele Malielegaoi reaffirmed his views on a Constitution amendment to declare that Christianity was the official church of Samoa. 

Tuilaepa emphasised the need to correct an error he claimed was made by foreigners in the Constitution. 

“That is the only amendment to the Constitution,” he explained.

Surprising results, field brawls, dethroned defending champs but a well-entertained crowd.Samoa Independence International Sevens (SII 7’s) 2016 had it all.And at the end of the day, the Cup went to the well-deserving Betham Brother Enterprise (B.B.E.) Vaiala team who were finalists in all other tournaments this year (Tutuila Flag Day Sevens and Marist Sevens).



The Minister of Finance, SiliEpaTuioti’s maiden budget of $894 million tabled in Parliament promised to be responsible, fair and visionary. The new Minister of Finance laid down the law in terms of how the country’s finances would look in the next 12 months.

The 54th Independence celebration was officially opened during a Church service at Matafele. The Head of State, His Highness Tui Atua Tupua Tamasese Efi acknowledged the thousands of marchers during the official celebration of Samoa’s 54th Independence Day celebration at the Tuanaimato Hockey Stadium. During the celebration, His Highness paid tribute to the journey of Samoa’s forebears who fought for freedom

The abandoned $4.2million Samoa Land Corporation (S.L.C) headquarters at Tuanaimato, dubbed a “ghost house” attracted three bidders interested in developing the building. Lautafi Selafi Purcell, said the three interested companies were all local and the recommendation report from the Board of S.L.C. would be passed on to Cabinet for a final decision. 

The man who carried the hopes of the nation into the final Olympic Sevens Rugby Qualifying tournament in Monaco as Captain of the Manu Samoa Sevens team, Falemiga Selesele, became a High Chief. He was bestowed the honour of the Tole’afoa title from his village of Vaega, Satupaitea.

The Police investigated the death of a young man from Taufusi who was reportedly stabbed senseless after a night out in town.

A Police Officer, confirmed the incident.

Muhammad Ali, the magnificent heavyweight champion whose fast fists and irrepressible personality transcended sports and captivated the world, died aged 74.Ali suffered for years from Parkinson’s disease, which ravaged his body but could never dim his larger-than-life presence.

Members of the public were warned about a gang of youths making the rounds in Apia, beating up people, stealing food and whatever else they could find on them. 

An unexpected conclusion was witnessed by hundreds when the Olatoefuataina group ended their performance during the 54th Independence celebrations at Tuanaimato last week. The group, made up largely of prisoners serving time at Tafagiata Prison, offered a traditional apology (ifoga) to the whole of Samoa.

For student writers from American Samoa; the long wait was finally over.

Last Wednesday, the prizegiving for the Samoa Observer story competition took place at the American Samoa Community College (A.S.C.C.) lecture theatre.

Sponsored by Samoa Stationery and Books, Pago and Eveni Pago, the competition was the first of its kind in the Territory. 

In an attempt to capture the youth gangs who were causing trouble in the Apia Township, theMayor of Apia, TuiletufugaSiaosiTuiletufuga, said the men of the village were monitoring the streets. 

Prime Minister Tuilaepa Sa’ilele Malielegaoi rallied the public service to place more emphasis on their responsibility to achieve an “honest, ethical and trustworthy public sector.”

“There is nothing more valuable than the principles of honesty and integrity,” the Prime Minister said. 

“The price of dishonest and unethical behavior is paid by the average citizen. 

A former executive director of a Hong Kong-listed dairy company fell from grace yesterday, as he was jailed for seven years and nine months for conspiring in an “evil” bid to defraud his company and the stock exchange.

There is already a good basis upon which Samoa can use if it decides to sign the United Nations Convention Against Corruption (U.N.C.A.C).

That’s the opinion of the Attorney General, Lemalu Herman Retzlaff.

The $4.5million headquarters of the Samoa Land Corporation (S.L.C) at Tuana’imato will soon become the home of the Hope 4 Cancer Clinic. 

This was revealed by Prime Minister, Tuilaepa Sa’ilele Malielegaoi, to the media yesterday, shortly after Cabinet had endorsed the plan. 

Hours before the Manu Samoa ran on to the Apia Park for their first international of the season against Georgia, the message from the coaching staff was quite simple.

 “It’s about trying to make sure that they are focused on their job,��

By Compiled by Marj Moore 01 January 2017, 12:00AM
Samoa Observer

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