Matai bestowals worry P.M.
Prime Minister Tuilaepa Sa'ilele Malielegaoi is concerned about the growing number of matai titles bestowed especially nearing the festive season.
Speaking to the media on Thursday, Tuilaepa said it wasn’t a new issue, stressing that the growing number of bestowed titles raise questions about their value.
“It’s worrying, especially when you consider the importance of the matai title,” he said.
“I’m still thinking of a way to solve this problem (growing number of matai bestowals). When there are a lot of paramount chiefs (matai sao) in a family, it’s like a boil that’s been infected. One would suggest development and someone else will start waving up their paramount chief authority.”
Tuilaepa said many families use foresight and wisdom.
In dealing with relatives who want a title bestowment, he suggested that there are other small titles that can be given to them. He then explained the difficulty in having more than 20 paramount chief titles being bestowed.
According to Tuilaepa, when the Village Counci convenes, it creates an awkward situation as there can only be one chief to take the seat.
“One usual practice is only one paramount chief from that title will sit in the council while the rest sit at the back,” he said.
“But if that is a problem then, they can always have a boxing ring outside and whoever the winner is can sit in the council.”
Tuilaepa said there are many ways to resolve these kinds of problems.
He also recalled that during the time of former Prime Minister, Tofilau Eti Alesana, there was a ban on the bestowment of titles during elections.
In dealing with that problem, he pointed out that untitled men were then allowed to vote as well as people over 21 years old.