The lack of women in Prime Miniter Tuilaepa’s Cabinet

Dear Editor,

Is it just me or is there a shockingly obvious lack of women in the recently announced executive of our new government? 

This interesting result follows a prolonged publicized and costly campaign in the last few years by PM Tuilaepa, his then cabinet, senior officials and international donors, Australia and UN agencies namely, for what they signalled was the imperative need to have more women if not equal women in the apex decision making bodies (i.e. parliament and by implication cabinet) in Samoa!?

What a ridiculous joke and complete farce having an offering of 5 women parliamentarians to choose from to help form cabinet and only two women end up in there! And even worse none of the three women snubbed from cabinet were chosen as associate ministers! 

This speaks deafening volumes of how PM Tuilaepa (who chose his ministers) and his cabinet ministers (who reportedly chose or had a say in their associate ministers) really feel in the depths of their hearts and souls - that women are not worthy or incapable of equally taking up key leadership and decision making positions in cabinet. 

Unfortunately the historic and milestone actions of that dashing young Canadian PM, who in one full sweep appointed women to half of his cabinet last year, in the end did not resonate loudly enough a clear message across the Pacific to our small island state to teach Tuilaepa and his cronies that things can be drastically different with one simple brave thought and decision.

Ironically having two women in cabinet did not serve their fellow parliamentarian sisters any favours or give them any advantage whatsoever. Goes to show these women cabinet ministers are either self-serving and threatened by other strong and capable women or they are deeply misguided that the men they chose as their associate ministers could do better than their female colleagues. 

Whatever the case may be it is obviously a very sad state of affairs for those of us that believe that women must support other women in this country. I mean why would these two women MPs want to join an already overcrowded unthinking support base for male leaders in this country? Didn’t they want to stand out from the rest of an overwhelmingly male cabinet and make women’s voices count and shine in the selection of these associates?  

As far as I am concerned these two women in cabinet have utterly failed to stand up for their sisters in parliament and make every Samoan woman’s voice count by defying the boys club in cabinet and lobby for more women associate ministers and ultimately choose for themselves other women to be their associate ministers to reinforce this loud and clear. 

This is why those in the minority who think Fiame Naomi is the ‘bees knees’ can worship her all they like but the truth is, there are many more people in this country, women included who know that she would not step out to help someone, who needs a leg-up in the leadership stakes, especially a strong and capable woman that may burst her elitist and out of touch bubble. 

If you do not believe me ask yourselves - has she ever supported and chosen a female CEO in the ministries she oversights? And why does she keep challenging anyone that tries to run against her in the constituency of Lotofaga.

I find it very amusing when I see foreigners and some of our locals who basically want to be seen as somebody important, continue to flock and cling to her as if the oracle itself has arrived in town. 

This is why I think the PM’s choice for Deputy PM is a grave mistake and someone else should have been selected. And if it was going to be a woman to please the international donors and those of us who genuinely want to see women succeed equally as men in any field - it should have been Gatoloaifaana Amataga Gidlow.

I would be surprised if anyone disagrees with this because everyone that has interacted with Gatoloai knows how smart, genuine, kindly, hardworking, pleasant and engaging a person she is.

And one can see that she actually likes to touch base with everyday people and to serve others rather than be served. Alternatively, a younger, fresher and more dynamic choice for Deputy PM would also have been much better than what our people ended up with. 

Sadly I can only think of one word in response to the new Cabinet and Associate Ministers selections - UNINSPIRATIONAL.  Fortunately there are two beacons of light and hope in there for Samoa - Sili Epa Tuioti and Papalii Niko Lee Hang.

I hope that they will diligently assess and get rid of the dead-weights in the ministries and public bodies or agencies that they are now oversighting starting with their CEOs. As a leadership sage once said - you cannot lift the performance of an organisation without lifting the performance of its top leader - the CEO.

Those in the know in government and around town are well aware of long-serving deadbeat CEOs who are just cruising and so must be shown the door, as well as some of the new CEOs recently appointed through cabinet decisions rather than on ‘selection criteria’ merit who did not perform as ACEOs or in previous roles they held but are now expected to improve and take these government organisations forward. Where is the logic or common sense i ia mea fai mai ai le isi loomatua o le matou aiga i tua.

Recent case in point are the idiotic statements of Lavea Iulai, the current CEO of the Ministry of Finance regarding Samoa having no poverty na’o le hardship ea po’o lea ea. E ta’u mai ai lava le va’ava’a ma le fa’avalevalea and how completely out of touch Lavea Iulai is and perhaps other CEOs of government about the impoverished realities of most people’s lives i totonu o si o tatou atunuu. 

But then isn’t Lavea Iulai just repeating PM Tuilaepa’s ongoing public rhetoric about there being no poverty i Samoa? E sa’o ai o mea lava na a’oa’i e le Palemia lea e saunoa mai ai le CEO lea. Which means Lavea Iulai does not have an independent or intelligent mind to process things like reality and make sound judgments or decisions of his own. Fai atu ai foi. 

Ia manuia tele malologa o le Eseta Samoa.


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