La'auli hits back over P.M's "children" insult
The Leader of the Fa'atuatua i le Atua Samoa ua Tasi (F.A.S.T.) political party did not mince words after Prime Minister Tuilaepa Dr. Sa'ilele Malielegaoi referred to him as his "hard-headed son."
"With all due respect, Tuilaepa has this mentality that all respective members of Parliament are his children and he wants to control everyone like his children," the leader of the newly formed opposition party said.
"But we are not his children."
Tuilaepa made the comments during his weekly programme with TV3 on Wednesday, where he was asked about the tension between him and La'auli, in Parliament that boiled over to a near altercation between La'auli and another senior Member of Parliament.
“Remember they are my children who were in Cabinet," Tuilaepa said, referring to La'auli and former Deputy Prime Minister, Fiame Naomi Mata'afa.
"When I see them in Parliament, I see them as my children but they are now talking back to their father, who taught them to be respectful. I forgive them."
But La'auli scoffed at the comments.
"To me, this shows why we clash so many times because he (Tuilaepa) tries to control everyone as his children," he said.
"My father is the late Honorable Polataivao Fosi.
"He was one of the founding members of the ruling Human Rights Protection Party, who chose Tuilaepa to be Prime Minister.
"That's my father."
La'auli suggests that Tuilaepa was being disrespectful by calling "official representatives" as his children and that he should take back what he said.
"When we talk about fa'aaloalo (respect), and our culture, we (M.P.s) are official representatives of our constituencies," La'auli said.
"So to me, now that my biological father has passed away, the only people I refer to as my fathers and mothers, are from my constituency.
"The elders of the constituency are my fathers, I call them my fathers.
"And not Tuilaepa."
La'auli said he was getting used to Tuilaepa's way of communicating, especially when it comes to him.
He went as far as accusing the Prime Minister of abusing his power because "he has been in office for too long."
"This is not new because this is something he (Tuilaepa) has done so many times before," he said.
"He is abusing the power our people and country gave him.
"And because he's been in power for far too long, he is taking advantage of that power and using it to bully members of parliaments and try to control everything and everyone.
"He is the leader of the Samoan government, but is now trying to take over the role and title of "leader of the parliament."
"That was why we had a heated argument in Parliament this week because he tried to overrule the power and authority in Parliament.
"It's what he's doing now, he is abusing his power as Prime Minister to overrule everything."
La'auli said it was clear to him why Tuilaepa referred to him as one of his children.
"It's so typical of him to make such comments because technically what he really meant is, he is the father, and we are his children," he said.
"Therefore, we should obey his command and listen to whatever he says."
La'auli then said he is saddened by the P.M's behavior and lack of respect not only towards him but to other parliamentarians.
"I feel sorry for him because I was there for him from the beginning. If it weren't for my vote, he wouldn't have become Prime Minister and that's the truth," he said.
"If it weren't for my father's help, he wouldn't have been placed where he is now.
"That is why he should be careful of the things he says.
"This is what happens when someone thinks he has absolute power to control everything. I feel sorry for our nation and our younger generation.
"But like I said before, he knows and God knows that I was there for him all this time. If anything, he owes me a lot. I did a lot for him and supported him back then.
"If this is how he repays me, then God is the judge.
"Time will tell and in God's timing, we will know how it will end."
La'auli then accused the P.M. of being inconsiderate and wielding his power irresponsibly:
"He is a bully and he likes to bully other people because he thinks he holds the power.
"It has got to a point where he doesn't care about the people, their feelings, their needs, and wants, and their rights.
"He is inconsiderate. He thinks he can call anybody, anything.
"You all heard the different names he has called me.
"Stupid, liar, a thief, someone who doesn't know anything, and so forth.
"Those are really strong words. But not once did I label him in such a manner.
"Because I respect him, as he was chosen by our people and we placed our trust in his hands to lead our country.
"And now he is abusing that trust and respect that we gave him."
As for the shouting match he had with Tuilaepa in Parliament on Tuesday, La'auli said he just wanted to give Tuilaepa a taste of his own medicine.
"This has been going on for some time, and we cannot just sit around and do nothing about it.
"Somebody has to stand up and put him into his place. He has to taste what he's been giving out. Respect is earned not given."
However, La'auli said he will continue to pray for Tuilaepa.
"At the end of the day, I pray to God to forgive him for the things he said and done," he said.
"I also pray that there will be no other Parliamentarian like him in the future. I also hope that no politician in the future will ever have to go through what I had to endure because of the maltreatment from this man.
"I will let our country be the judge of everything that is happening and his behaviors as the leader.
"But I believe God's timing is coming!"