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Samoa Observer trying to topple Govt: P.M.

The Prime Minister, Tuilaepa Dr. Sa'ilele Malielegaoi, claims the Samoa Observer has long been trying to topple the Government.

Speaking on the state-owned 2AP radio programme on Thursday, Tuilaepa said the country’s only daily newspaper has used “different tricks” to look for flaws in the Government and has “boasted of its ability and power” to undermine his administration.

He made the comments in response to a question from the radio host about an article published on Wednesday on the payment of $16,000 each to Human Rights Protection Party (H.R.P.P.) Members of Parliament from the ruling party’s own funds for distribution in their constituencies ("H.R.P.P. Treasurer explains M.P. payments"). 

The Samoa Observer article quoted the H.R.P.P. Treasurer and MP for Alataua Sisifo, Ali'imalemanu Alofa Tuuau, who confirmed that each party Member was given $8,000 at the end of last year during the measles epidemic as part of a package designed to support their electorates. A separate $8,000 was paid recently to each H.R.P.P. M.P. as part of the party’s assistance to its members during the coronavirus pandemic.

However, the Prime Minister claims that there was no need for the Samoa Observer to run the story as he has already provided an explanation for the payments to the H.R.P.P. Members of Parliament.

“I talked to the Treasurer and what she had said was ‘this [funding] is to assist each Member of Parliament in carrying out their duties’. Do you see that what they [Samoa Observer] have said is a 360 degree error but that is what she told them? I already explained it and I don’t know why the Observer went there,” said Tuilaepa.

“That means the Observer is looking for faults. It’s their usual practice. The Observer has said for a long time that they have the ability to depose the Government. From the start, since the Observer has come, they and Samoa Times has said the same thing – that they have the power to depose a Government. They are still trying.”

He then laughed and repeated: “They are still trying.”

The Observer, he said, always turns his words around.

“We disseminate our information and they really turn it around and make it crooked. And when they make a mistake, they don’t apologise. 

And when they do apologise, it will be this tiny thing that you will need binoculars [to see it.] The mistake will be huge and the apology [you] will need glasses in order to see it [properly.] Those are the tricks of the Observer,” Tuilaepa said.

“None of their tricks have worked so that is why the Government has to try and correct them every week, every week, every week. We have to correct their mistakes…this paper, they try to sabotage [faaleaga] the Government. 

“It will be a small thing but they will make it so bad [valivaliuliuli]. So now I am talking about them [Samoa Observer] and tomorrow they will say that Tuilaepa attacked us [osofai].”

I have not attacked them, he added.

“They will say I attacked them. Do you see the words they use? I can see it from a far distance all their different tricks. I am answering your questions. If you look at it another way, it is fatherly advice so they, their newspaper can get it right. It is the same thing with E.F.K.S. T.V.,” the Prime Minister said.

The practice of distributing money to members of the party dates back to the days of Tofilau Eti Alesana and Tupuola Efi.

Members of Parliament, according to Tuilaepa, have so many duties that incur expenses such as paying for gas to travel to their constituencies and getting breakfast for meetings.

“We are using our money wisely. This is not new,” Tuilaepa added.

The practice was put in place to help Members of Parliament maintain their independence and prevent them from relying on businesses for monetary support. Relying on businesses leads to wrong decision-making, added Tuilaepa.

The H.R.P.P. has funds for their birthday, to give to Mapuifagalele and to support rugby fundraisers, he said.

The Prime Minister blamed Opposition Members of Parliament, Olo Fiti Vaai and Faumuina Wayne Fong for the article that the Samoa Observer published. 

“Those guys don’t do anything. They have $200,000 and I don’t know what they did with their money,” said Tuilaepa.

“One faipule (member) does not go and look what the other faipule is doing. This always happens, especially now it’s close to elections. When it happens I just laugh and drink my water.”

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