Former M.P. Tea eyes one more Parliament stint

A former opposition Member of Parliament, Tea Peato, is making a come back in the next Parliamentary term, hoping to secure his constituency's seat. 

The 80-year-old businessman from Sa'asa'ai had served three terms in Parliament previously. 

He first entered Parliament in 1982 under the Samoa National Democratic Party (S.N.D.P.).

"That was when we had elections after every three years," Tea told the Samoa Observer. 

Tea was then re-elected after his first term. 

"However, the third time I tried, I was defeated."

After losing in 1988, Tea then stayed and helped out with his family business. 

"I then took a break from Parliament and focused on growing our family business."

However, in the year 1996, the village of Sa'asa'ai approached Tea and asked him to contest again. 

"So I competed in the election and was elected back in Parliament and served for five years as an opposition member," he said.

When queried about why he chose to be an opposition member back then, Tea laughed and said, "it's just the way I am, I can't explain why I joined the opposition side."

Tea lost in the 2001 General Election. He then worked at the S.M.I. Hardware and was in charge of the company's Savai'i branch. 

In 2016, he was asked by the elders from the village of Sa'asa'ai to contest again. 

Tea accepted the request but was defeated by Tofa Li'o Foleni, who is now the Associate Minister of Health and Member of Parliament for Fa'asaleleaga No.4. 

This time around, Tea is flying the banner of the Fa'atuatua i le Atua Samoa ua Tasi (F.A.S.T.) political party in the upcoming election. 

This makes him the third candidate vying for Fa'asaleleaga No.4.'s seat who has endorsed F.A.S.T. 

Tea is up against four candidates from the constituency, Unasa Viane and To'oala Fetauai from F.A.S.T.,, and two from the ruling Human Rights Protection Party, the incumbent M.P. and Associate Minister, Tofa Li'o Foleni and Unasa Tauheia. 

"I did not want to contest again," said Tea. 

"But towards the end of 2019, our village (Sa'asa'ai) had a meeting and they asked me to contest again. I didn't give them an answer back then, but I told them to reconsider and look for another suitable candidate from our village."

However, it wasn't until June this year, that the former M.P. decided to throw his name in the hat, one last time. 

"We had a meeting and no one from Sa'asa'ai was interested. Therefore, I accepted their request, even though I know my children were against it.  I feel sorry for my children, I am not getting any younger. But I have accepted the wishes of the village."

Asked if he ever considered joining the ruling H.R.P.P., Tea said "No."

"As I told you before, it's really hard to explain why I chose the opposition side. Back in the days, people used to come to me and say that if I had joined the H.R.P.P. I would have been chosen to be a Minister, got a car like the other Member of Parliaments. 

"But that never convinced me. During my time in Parliament, I still walked and catch a taxi to go to Parliament meetings and back to Savai'i. It's just the way I am."

When asked if he was confident in his preparations, Tea said: "I can't answer your question. 

"I've competed in general elections before, so I know how it feels. But this time around, I am neither confident or nervous. It is up to God to decide."

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