Madness or a masterstroke?

By Mata'afa Keni Lesa 20 March 2016, 12:00AM

So there we have it Samoa. Prime Minister Tuilaepa Sa’ilele Malielegaoi’s secret is out of the bag and now in the open. 

We’re referring to the much-anticipated announcement of his Deputy Prime Minister and the chosen 12 for his new look Cabinet.

So allow us to take this opportunity to congratulate Prime Minister Tuilaepa on his selection of Cabinet Ministers for the next five years. 

Indeed, we will all have different interpretations and reactions but that is expected. It is what it is. 

We especially want to congratulate Samoa’s first female Deputy Prime Minister, Fiame Naomi Mata’afa, on her appointment. This is a gigantic leap forward in terms of the push for gender equality in the halls of power in this country. 

It’s a moment we should all celebrate. 

Ladies and gentlemen, it’s not just the fact that Fiame is a woman that makes this appointment a milestone. She is a well-respected leader with qualifications and merits that have earned her the position. That is what is so wonderful and empowering about this. 

What’s more, with all the speculations surrounding the position of Deputy Prime Minister prior to Friday, we are sure glad that common sense has prevailed.

Away from Fiame and the Deputy Prime Minister, we believe Tuilaepa has made some very smart choices in a number of portfolios.

Take for instance the appointment of Sili Epa Tuioti to the position of Minister of Finance. He was the obvious choice and we are sure Sili has the vision, skills and the work ethics to help Samoa out of the doldrums we’ve found ourselves in.

Papali’i Niko Lee Hang’s return to Cabinet as the Minister of Works, Transport and Infrastructure is another wise move as well as the decision to allow Lautafi Fio Purcell to continue the good progress he has been making at the Ministry of Public Enterprises.

It would be remiss of us not to say that there were a few surprises – and perhaps appointments that would raise eyebrows and questions – but that’s the nature of these things. While one person cannot always get it right, on the other hand, you can never keep everyone happy.

Overall, it’s a very balanced and sensible selection. It’s one we can imagine was made under extremely difficult circumstances especially with party unity on the line. 

Ironically, when Prime Minister Tuilaepa made the announcement, he admitted as much.

“I wish to say that the selection has proven a lot more difficult given the importance of ensuring a balanced consideration of many factors including individual skills, expertise, capabilities, the years of political experience, a fair geographical distribution and being cognizant of constituencies that have never been represented in Cabinet,” he said.

“The choices we make are ultimately our responsibility, and I am all too aware that coming together is a beginning. Working together is a step towards success.

“It is in this spirit of togetherness that I hasten to counsel that for those who will not be selected for Ministerial portfolios - which are themselves very limited - other opportunities to serve abound within the parliamentary processes and practices.”

The truth is that since the country went to the polls two weeks ago, the selection has been the subject of much discussion, speculations and disagreements about who would fill those much sought after seats. 

Prime Minister Tuilaepa heightened the tension when he flatly refused to reveal or discuss his selection with anyone until he made the announcement on Friday. 

So imagine then being a member of the H.R.P.P caucus for the past two weeks – away from Tuilaepa, the new Speaker of Parliament and his Deputy? 

Think of the expectations, anticipation, tension and the anxiety. 

For sure there would have been plenty of nerve-wracking times for the members up until the announcement was made. 

The look of relief on their faces when their names were called out was priceless.

But here’s the thing, the idea that one man could have so much power which would allow him to control everything and keep everyone guessing is truly scary.

We accept that the term dictator has been dismissed and rejected repeatedly by this administration but then looking at the developments over the past two weeks, especially in relation these appointments, we respectfully beg to differ.

This was a classic example of one man having so much power resulting in other party members having no other option but to hold their breaths for dear life. 

Which brings us to the fate of Tuilaepa’s former Deputy Prime Minister, Fonotoe Pierre Lauofo. 

It must be said that the decision to completely exclude him from Cabinet has got to be one of the biggest political snubs in the history of this country. Never before has anything of this nature happened. 

We agree that Fonotoe had been unwise with some of the things he was caught up in during the last Parliamentary term and that there is always a price to be paid. 

But to completely ignore him – even if he is handed an Associate Minister portfolio later – is a real slap in the face. 

That would hurt. For sure.

So what happened there? Could this be the straw that finally breaks the camel’s back? Or have we just witnessed another masterstroke from the book of Master Tuilaepa?

Lastly, the exclusion of Faumuina Tiatia Liuga from Cabinet is reassuring. It gives us hope that Prime Minister Tuilaepa is prepared to do the right thing. 

Now let’s hope these guys don’t forget the Chief Auditor’s report and that of the O.P.C.

Have a peaceful Sunday Samoa, God bless!

By Mata'afa Keni Lesa 20 March 2016, 12:00AM

Trending Stories

Samoa Observer

Upgrade to Premium

Subscribe to
Samoa Observer Online

Enjoy access to over a thousand articles per month, on any device.

Ready to signup?