“Reports blown out of proportion”
Reports on the alleged attack on Prime Minister Tuilaepa Sa’ilele Malielegaoi in Brisbane recently have been “blown out of proportion”.
This is the response of Minister of Commerce Industry and Labour, Lautafi Selafi Purcell, in response to questions on whether the safety of the Prime Minister was compromised during the launch of Samoa Airways’ Apia-Brisbane service recently.
“As if enough hasn’t been said on that,” Lautafi told the Samoa Observer, in relation to the reports on the incident.
“Well I think things have been blown out of proportion to an extent. I came back on Friday afternoon and I saw some stuff and a whole lot of things have been said. What I can categorically say is that some of the comments and things thrown at the Prime Minister are not true.
“With that little incident, to me the scale of things is insignificant event, and it’s been blown out like there’s a threat to the life of the Prime Minister.”
Lautafi said it is sad that reports stating that the pig’s head was thrown at Tuilaepa makes people think it almost hit him.
“But no, it was far away. It was about 30 metres and I am not sure if there was any intention to hit the Prime Minister, they just want to throw it inside the hall, and to make a point, whatever their point is,” he said
“I didn’t know there was anything thrown in. The only thing I saw was some leaflets. I didn’t know how many people were involved because that’s how far away we were. People were standing up.
“There was never a time that I felt that the safety of the Prime Minister was at risk during that incident. I think it lasted about five seconds, that’s all, they just came in, threw the stuff in, yelled the Prime Minister’s name, and threw leaflets and then we found out there was this pig head, so to me it was a storm in a tea cup.”
Lautafi said the intentions of those who carried out the actions are unknown, but any Samoan in his right mind, would not have disrupted an event that would benefit them in the future.
“The matter is in the hands of the Police, but they look like youths from what we’ve seen now, but like I said on the night, I didn’t even see them.
“None of things happen, especially in a church environment in a Samoan community, this is the whole Samoan community representative in the whole of Brisbane, and their president Lemalu Roy Slade coordinated all this, with the help of all the other Samoan leaders there. So it was a representative of the whole Samoan community in Brisbane.
“And it’s sad, and I think they probably underestimated, nobody knew it was going to happen. And apart from that, nothing else happened. We went there two months ago, there was no security, there was nothing in Brisbane as well when we went to announce the intention of flying there.”
Lautafi said the majority of the comments from people condemn the action against the Prime Minister.
“Some misguided youths, you know some people can always behave irrationally. People overreacted to some of the things they read about, that they are not fully aware of the situations, yet they just get led by what’s being said on Facebook, what’s been said by the media. I don’t put much emphasis on it, I don’t think that’s the feeling of majority of Samoa.
“I just want to assure the public that somebody was there with the Prime Minister and I don’t feel at all that the safety of the P.M. was compromised at all, and little incidents like that and it doesn’t mean we go and bring the army to protect the P.M.
“Whatever their reasons are, I am sure they are sitting down now and thinking ‘oh gosh, why the heck did we do that the whole country is now against them’.”
Lautafi said they will let justice take its course targeting those who committed the act.