Interesting times in Samoa’s political sphere
The Human Rights Protection Party’s (H.R.P.P.) reaction to Fiame Naomi Mata’afa’s resignation, if party Whip Alai’asa Moefa’auo Moananu’s sentiments are to be believed, is not unexpected.
The H.R.P.P. machinery has grown ever so powerful during the past 37 years it has become extremely difficult for anyone, especially someone as senior like Fiame, to walk away from all that power, prestige and money.
Not many people would have predicted what we are seeing unfold in this country today. Although the writing had been on the wall for some time, it’s fair to say even some of the Government’s biggest critics would not have expected the second most powerful official in the Government and the ruling party to resign, and walk away under such circumstances as Fiame had done.
This is why what happened on Friday was extraordinary, an incredible turn in the political musings of this nation that surely got the eyes of the world firmly fixed on small Samoa. We are certainly in for some very interesting times ahead.
The truth is that the H.R.P.P. machinery is a tight unit. Since its establishment in 1977, it has only grown from strength to strength and under the leadership of Prime Minister, Tuilaepa Dr. Sailele Malielegaoi, the party had reached new levels, which has helped them cement its place in Samoa’s political folklore with several landslide election victories.
But that now appears to be under threat and Fiame’s exit has only strengthened suspicions that not all is well in paradise. Which brings us to the claims by the H.R.P.P Whip on the front page of the Sunday Samoan. Alai’asa said a number of party members felt betrayed by the former Deputy Prime Minister. He did not give any names.
"There are [members] that are saddened that [Fiame] should have [taken into consideration] the highest respect accorded to her by the party that appointed her [as] Deputy P.M. by way of party vote,” Alai’asa said. "But she went ahead and made her decision and [they] felt like [Fiame] betrayed our trust.”
Well that’s a very strong allegation to make. Besides it is factually incorrect.
All Fiame did was speak out against the L.T.C. bills. Prime Minister Tuilaepa did not approve of what she said and the next thing you know is that Tuilaepa said Fiame’s opposition meant she was no longer a part of the H.R.P.P. party.
Where does the H.R.P.P. Whip then get the idea that Fiame betrayed the party?
If anything, the only betrayal we see from where we stand involves Members of Parliament who do not stand up for what their constituents want but they would rather toe the party line on issues.
Fiame exercised her right as a Member of Parliament to present her constituency’s concerns, knowing the risks. It is her job and it is why she is in there. She has an oath to protect the interests of the people she represents, just like all Members of Parliament. The difference is some Members of Parliament do not have the spine to do what they are required under such circumstances.
According to the Whip, what’s happening will not affect the H.R.P.P.
“I think it makes the party stronger," Alai’asa said.
Well that’s another debatable claim from the Whip but to each their own. While there is something to be said about courage under fire and how adversity and trials can only build patience and strength, we cannot see the same down at the halls of power at Petesa.
Keep in mind that Fiame is not the only one to have left the party in recent times. La’aulialemalietoa Leautea Schmidt was booted not too long ago for doing exactly what Fiame did last week when he spoke up against a law he believed would be detrimental for the people of this country.
This was followed by the sacking of Faumuina Wayne Fong, who ironically, was also accused of betraying the party. Poor Faumuina was always up against it ever since he questioned the Government’s handling of the Vaiusu Wharf project, especially in relation to the impact on the people of his constituency.
Now let’s think about the word betrayal for a second. Who is betraying whom here? If the definition of betrayal in the H.R.P.P’s language means members of the party who do not toe the party’s line, that’s a pretty worrying definition, especially for a party that is supposed to champion freedoms and human rights.
But then again, it explains a lot of things and it makes sense given what we are seeing today. Too much power in the hands of too few is dangerous.
The multi-million-tala question is, how many more members of the H.R.P.P. will follow La’auli, Faumuina and Fiame?
In the meantime, we find it interesting that Fiame has said no to reports of her joining another political party. That includes turning down an offer to be the leader of the newly established party, Fa'atuatua i le Atua Samoa ua Tasi [F.A.S.T.].
“Well not now because the implication of that is that I lose my seat before the end of the term,” she said. “I don’t want to do that, I want to see myself finish this term. I want to stand next time [in the 2021 General Election]. So I think for me, I would like to use this time which is a downtime just to see where things are going.”
Well that’s a wise decision to make and we’d expect nothing less from a seasoned politician and a highly intelligent Member of Parliament like Fiame.
As for what happens next and who Prime Minister Tuilaepa will pick as his new Deputy, only time will tell so we’ll just have to wait and see. Stay tuned folks!