Malietoa's descendant responds to Tuilaepa's insult
A descendant of the former Head of State, the late His Highness Malietoa Tanumafili II, has reminded Prime Minister Tuilaepa Dr. Sa'ilele Malielegaoi that the same forefathers whom he disrespected by saying they did not understand the Constitution had fought to secure Samoa’s freedom.
Papali’i Titiuatoa Malietoa Tanumafili II said the recent comment from Prime Minister Tuilaepa has wounded the family who had the utmost respect for their late father who was part of the Constitution Convention in 1960.
“It hurts to hear him say words to claim that our ancestors were uneducated and didn’t understand the Constitutional convention,” he said in an interview with the Samoa Observer on Monday.
“Our ancestors who he referred to as not having any understanding of [the Constitution] were exiled and brutally attacked in their fight for Samoa’s freedom.
“It makes a mockery of them [our forefathers] and their struggle to our road of freedom. Not everyone will feel this pain we are hurting from, and only those whose ancestors were involved…”
The comments from Prime Minister, Tuilaepa Dr. Sailele Malielegaoi were made to counter mounting concerns about Constitution Amendment Bill 2020, Land and Titles Court (L.T.C.) Bill 2020 and Judicature Bill 2020.
Tuilaepa made the point that the question is often asked as to why the rights of an individual are considered more important than the rights and decisions passed down by village council.
He said often the answer is because the Constitution protects the individual rights and does not take into account the Samoan culture.
“The reason is because of the palagis that (sic) inserted this [in the Constitution] and our forefathers didn’t understand it…” said Tuilaepa.
But the Prime Minister has been highly criticised by descendants of those who were part of the Constitutional Convention in 1960.
Another former Head of State, His Highness Tui Atua Tupua Tamasese Efi had also responded to the statement made by the Prime Minister about the forefathers.
“Maybe Tuilaepa spoke casually about our ancestors because his parents were not part of the Constitutional Convention,” said Tui Atua.
“But for us whose parents were involved in the Constitutional Convention, these claims are not cheap. They are seriously painful.”
In support of the former Head of State’s comments on the issue, Papali’i said the Malietoa family feels the same way.
Papali’i said his grandfather was one of those elderly men that Tuilaepa said "did not understand” the discussions involving Samoa’s Constitution.
He reminded the Prime Minister of a Samoan proverb: “Ai ulu tuana’i taisi” which can be translated as ingratitude is the world’s reward.
He said that proverb sums up how the family feels about the comments from the Prime Minister.
In addition, he said, he has no intention to speak ill of the Prime Minister but his words have wounded his family.
In response to comments from Tui Atua, Tuilaepa on his 2AP programme urged people to read the explanation from former Attorney General, Lemalu Hermann Retzlaff that spells out why the proposed L.T.C. changes are before Parliament.
Tuilaepa said the Constitution clearly emphasises individual rights and it is one of the examples that supports his claim that the Samoan customs is not recognised in the Supreme Law.
He added if that is not sufficient to clarify the issue then the former Head of State should attend the Special Parliamentary Committee which can explain it to him.
The office of current Head of State, His Highness Tuimaleali'ifano Va'aletoa Sualauvi II, has also been contacted for a comment.
The Secretary of the Head of State, Ulugia Mareko, said a request for an interview will be passed on to the Head of State.