La'auli rejects Tuilaepa's title claim
Member of Parliament for Gagaifomauga No. 3, La'aulialemalietoa Leuatea Schmidt, has rejected claims by Prime Minister, Tuilaepa Dr. Sail'ele Malielegaoi that he altered his chiefly title.
Tuilaepa had accused his former party colleague of adding "alemalietoa" to his La'auli title in response to questions during an interview on TV3.
"There is no such title (La'aulialemalietoa) in the Malietoa Family (Aiga Sa Malietoa),” Tuilaepa said.
Tuilaepa's comments were then put to La'auli by Radio Samoa during an interview last week. La'auli flatly dismissed Tuilaepa's comments saying Tuilaepa had gone too far by talking about his family "measina" (treasure).
While La'auli said Tuilaepa's comments were harsh, he was now used to his ways of communicating.
"Samoans are aware of this; he would talk about a lot of issues but would always find a way to attack me at the end," said La'auli.
"It's not new, but I am prepared to face anything."
According to La'auli, Tuilaepa must be missing the close relationship the pair had before the former left the ruling Human Rights Protection Party (H.R.P.P.)
"I was always by his side, God knows that what I am saying is true,” Laauli said. “I was there holding his hand [to] advise him when things [got] tough. I used to remind him to be careful and be careful before he makes a decision. That's what I used to do. If I [saw] that something is not right, I stood by him and [told] him to think hard before he made up his mind.
"There was also this other time where I went to him in the early morning to tell him of something I heard about people trying to assassinate him. He knows that. That's how true my love was for him. Whenever he fell ill, I was always the first to be by his side.
"If I heard something bad happened to him or his family, I was always the first to be there for him."
According to La'auli, it was out of his respect towards his late father's last wishes that he stood by Tuilaepa after all these years.
"My father's wishes for me were” ‘Son, go and stand behind this man (Tuilaepa), because it is he whom we chose to lead the country’.
"But what did Tuilaepa do? He has called me all sorts of names. He has called me "Rah, Roh, a liar, a thief, and so forth, what did I ever do to him? How can he defame me over and over again after everything I did for him? It was my neck that he stood on to reach where he is now.
"Why does he keep doing this to the people who started the party that he is now so proud of? Everything I did for him was out of love. The other people who are standing beside him, are just waiting for the opportunity to attack him. Once they find a way to push him down, they will do it."
La'auli then apologised to the elders of his constituency, who bestowed the "La'aulialemalietoa" title upon him.
"Our Aiga Sa Tupua (Tupua family) Aiga Sa Malietoa (Malietoa family) and the Faletolu, they gave me the honour and named me "La'aulialemalietoa.
"There is only La'auli in our constituency; that is the La'aulialemalietoa they bestowed upon me. That is my salutation within the district, I am a Tama Aiga under the supervision of the Aiga Sa Tupua, Aiga Sa Malietoa, Togoi'u, Polataivao, Vagana and Leasi.
"They are the ones who own me. The La'aulialemalietoa title was given to me before I was 20. It was their wish for me to continue the legacy of my late father, Polataivao Fosi. That is something Tuilaepa does not understand."
La'auli said Tuilaepa should refrain from making such personal claims.
"I forgive him (Tuilaepa); but my advice for him is to be mindful of what he says."
Questions were sent to the Press Secretariat for a response to La'auli’s comments.
Government spokesman Nanai Lave Tuiletufuga replied via email saying: "Tuilaepa has already responded to most of these issues before."
The elders of La'auli's village were contacted for a comment regarding the Prime Minister’s comments.
A spokesperson, Seve Avaula from Sasina, was not pleased to hear about Tuilaepa's comment.
"He (Tuilaepa) has gone too far this time," Seve replied in an interview with the Samoa Observer.
"That is something he should've never said. He has no idea what he was talking about.
"If we were to explain every detail of how the title came about and the meaning, it would take some time. But that title was a gift for La'auli from the late Malietoa. It was his inheritance from Malietoa."
After a long running dispute with the Prime Minister, La'auli was ejected from the H.R.P.P. and his seat was declared vacant following a dispute about whether the M.P. had resigned from Parliament.
He recontested and won the seat of Gagaifomauga No.3 in a 28 August by-election.