M.P. Faumuina pledges loyalty to Fiame
Independent Member of Parliament, Faumuina Wayne Fong, has praised Deputy Prime Minister Fiame Naomi Mata'afa for resigning.
He has also pledged his full loyalty to her next political move.
Fiame resigned from Cabinet and the party of Government on Friday following a disagreement over proposed bills to change the Land and Titles Court (L.T.C.). She intends to serve as an independent Member of Parliament and to contest the next election.
Faumuina, himself a former member of the ruling Human Rights Protection Party (H.R.P.P.), told the Samoa Observer that Fiame’s decision had shocked the country.
But he hailed her courage and said that he "will follow wherever and whichever party" Fiame might join for next April's election.
"I thought she made a marvellous decision when she resigned," Faumuina said with a smile.
"If you look at how many years she has been inside the ruling H.R.P.P. party and the perks and benefits she gets (from being a Cabinet Minister and an H.R.P.P. member) then you will know why I say that what she did wowed us all."
Fiame's ability to leave behind those privileges and perks won Faumuina’s admiration.
"What you can get and what is offered at the H.R.P.P. and being a Minister is something that can not be easily turned down.” he said.
"[But] her decision to move tells us something wrong is happening [in] there. It shows that something is wrong with the leadership and the (H.R.P.P.) party.
"It means [that] things are not the same anymore and she did what she knew was the most honorable thing to do.
"She has been a part of that party for more than three decades which means her decision to leave was not an easy one to make.
"For me, I knew and saw after the first two years I became an M.P. and member of the H.R.P.P. party that something was not right, so I thought of leaving since then.
"But for Fiame to leave after more than 30 years of being with the H.R.P.P. takes a lot of courage, and I am proud of her."
The M.P. for Urban West said Fiame had set an example for other party members to follow.
Faumuina himself was sacked from the party in July.
"It's a challenge for all the other Members who are sitting there to leave if they know that they are not being treated fairly. Why should they continue to stay there when they see all the errors and mistakes happening?",” he said.
Faumuina said he is optimistic about the future in the wake of Fiame’s departure.
"When I left H.R.P.P. people asked me which party I was going to join; I said I was interested in joining a party led by a woman," he said.
"Now God has shown me a ‘female leader’ so wherever and whichever party she joins, that is where I will go as well."
Faumuina maintains that he did not have anyone in mind when he said he wanted to join a party led by a woman.
But he said he believes that his prayers have been answered.
He then went on to say that he has cultural connections to the former Deputy Prime Minister.
"This is awesome news, as we are not talking about any other ordinary woman,” he said.
"We are talking about the ‘Sa'o-fa'apito’ the daughter of Faumuina, and the daughter of Mata'afa from our family at Faleata and Lepea.
"I am an M.P. for Vailoa Faleata, where the Faigā family and the Leatinu'u family is.
"Therefore, I cannot depart from [that connection to her]; I should follow where she goes and supports her.
"We have cultural and genealogical connections.
“It will not bother me if I am the only M.P. from Faleata who supports her.
Asked if he believes Samoa is ready for its first female Prime Minister Faumuina said: "God will decide, and only He knows the answer to that question.
"I just know this country is ready for a new Prime Minister. It doesn't matter if it's a male or a female.
"As long as we have a new person at the helm. Our current Prime Minister has been in office far too long, so we don't really care whether it's a female or a male.
"We just need a new person to lead this country. I am tired of our current Prime Minister.
"If we look at all the countries of the world and their leaders, you can tell the difference between females and male leaders.
"For instance, let's look at countries across the world and how they handled the global pandemic. The countries that were affected the most by the coronavirus are the U.S.A., Brazil, Russia, Spain, United Kingdom, Italy and France. They have one thing in common, and that is having a male leader.
"However, the countries that are recognised as having managed the crisis best are Germany, Taiwan, New Zealand, Iceland, Finland, Norway, and Denmark, and they all have female leaders.
Faumuina further emphasised that Fiame’s readiness to leave behind the perks of high office was further proof of her true motivations for public service.
"She did what she had to do so she can save the country.
“I have no doubt that it will not be hard for a certain party not to choose her as their leader.
"She already is a great leader and an inspiration for the women and ladies in Samoa."
Faumuina, who was sacked after the Prime Minister, Tuilaepa Dr. Sa'ilele Malielegaoi, said he could no longer be assured of the M.P.’s loyalty said the H.R.P.P. had strayed from its philosophical roots.
"The question is, whose rights are they (the Human Rights Protection Party) protecting? They are not protecting the rights of the people, only the party," he said.
"Look at how they make laws. They are made only to protect the M.Ps who are members of the party."
Faumuina became the second M.P. to leave the Government within this term of Government. His ouster followed that of La'auli Leuatea Polataivao Schmidt, who left after more than a decade within the party during which time he served as a Cabinet Minister and Speaker.
"In my case, I only have been with the H.R.P.P. for four years but it's better to get out and be able to express your views and serve the people freely.
"Fiame is now the second person who decided to leave H.R.P.P. after serving for so many years, which means it is possible for any other [party] member to leave if they feel like their rights are not recognised and protected.
Fiame resigned two days after she objected to the three bills proposing to reshape the judiciary.
Following her objection Tuilaepa rebuked Fiame, saying he took her dissent as a signal of her exit from the party.
Fiame is the daughter of the first Prime Minister of Samoa, Fiame Mata'afa Faumuina Mulinuu II.