Political debate turns to circus
Fa'atuatua i le Atua Samoa ua Tasi (F.A.S.T.) party leader, La'auli Leuatea Schmidt, has denied the Prime Minister's claims he "forcefully" ejected Tupa'i Bruno Loyale and the Magic Circus of Samoa from land at Salelologa.
Tuilaepa Dr. Sailele Malielegaoi's last week claimed that La'auli "exercised his power" by chasing away the team behind Samoa's circus, forcing them to abandon plans to put on a show.
The Magic Circus of Samoa returned to the big island after a successful around the island of Upolu and their first stop was the site of the old market.
Initially, the Magic Circus of Samoa were supposed to be stationed at Salelologa for the first two weeks of their show. But they moved to Sapapali'i, after their stay at Salelologa was cut short by one week.
The Salelologa land is being leased to La'auli.
In an interview with the Savali Newspaper last week, Tuilaepa accused La'auli of exercising his power as a party leader to chase out Tupa'i and his team from Salelologa.
La'auli by contrast provided the Samoa Observer with a competing version of events, alleging that the circus had occupied his land without permission (the circus and Tupa'i reject those claims).
Tuilaepa said that given the significance of these shows and the contribution Tupa'i has made in carrying Samoa's name around the globe made La'auli's actions particularly damaging.
"These shows are bringing entertainment to our people during these difficult times. Since we cannot travel overseas due to travel restrictions, we should be happy that we can still have these types of shows to entertain our children," Tuilaepa said.
"The shows also offer employment opportunities for the young people in the country, and since this matai (Tupa'i) cannot travel to other countries with his team, they are now going out to the community and entertain them.
"These shows are for everyone and parents take their children out to watch and enjoy these shows.
"But Tupa'i and his team were shocked when La'auli and his gang asked them to leave the premises so they had to move to Sapapali'i.
"I don't understand why he got so furious about the show and had to chase Tupa'i out of Salelologa, when it is a show for the children."
Tuilaepa said the behaviour of the party's leader betrayed the name of his political party (faith in the one true God).
"They are using the name of God, yet their actions and behaviors are very unChristian," he alleged.
“But our children love and enjoy these types of shows. They have never seen such acts in real life before. Therefore, we should appreciate the contribution and the talents of this son of Samoa."
However, La'auli denied the claims from Tuilaepa that he was "exercising his power."
He said he simply asked the ringmaster to leave the compound after it had set up without his permission.
"I came two weeks ago to prepare for our roadshow in Savai'i," La'auli told the Samoa Observer.
"To my surprise, I saw that there were tents belonging to the Magic Circus of Samoa inside the compound we own at Salelologa.
"So I was shocked because no one asked me for permission, to use our property for their shows. So I asked those who are looking after the property, and they said that no one came to officially ask for permission to set up the tents at Salelologa.
"That's why I told them that if they did not ask for permission, they should pack and leave. This is because they did not go through the proper channel and did not seek our approval.
"I also deny the claims that I threatened Tupa'i Bruno.
"To tell you the truth, I never [saw] Tupa'i nor talk to him about the matter. I only people I talked to were the people who are looking after our property, they were the ones who went and asked Bruno to pack their things and leave our property."
La'auli then expressed his animosity feelings towards Tupa'i's magic and the acts in his shows.
He went as far as calling the show "inappropriate, demonic, and evil."
"Samoa, I've seen some of his shows and some of the magic and witchcraft he does are inappropriate," he said.
"It promotes violence and some of the acts are not good for the children. In the other act I have seen on youtube, Tupa'i puts a handkerchief on a woman's chest and then pulled out the woman's bra. That was very unfitting and disrespectful.
"That is why I believe this show should not continue because the children are in the audience with their parents.
"Another inappropriate act is the knife-throwing act and when they stab a person's neck with a small knife and get through to the other side.
"Those are not the type of acts they should be doing in front of the children.
"Those are what you call demonic and evil."
"If it was a show that is educational for the children, I would've supported the show. But I have seen how it is done, Samoa, it's very inappropriate and should be stopped."
But he did not stop there.
La'auli also criticised the Tuilaepa and the ruling Human Rights Protection Party (H.R.P.P.), accusing them of using Tupa'i Bruno as a campaigning tool.
"This is all part of their (H.R.P.P.'s) political campaign. They are the ones behind Bruno, sending him to entertain the community and lure them to support the Government," he said.
"See, he (Tupa'i) went and cried to the Prime Minister and say that I chased them away from Salelologa, that is why Tuilaepa has said those things about me.
"But I am sure the Prime Minister has not seen any of these acts. They should look at the show carefully and be mindful of the children."
When contacted for a comment, Ringmaster Tupa'i Bruno Royale flatly rejected the claims by La'auli.
"That is absolutely false," Tupa'i said in response to the claims made by La'auli that he did not seek permission from the owners of the property before setting up at Salelologa.
"We did ask for permission and we paid for the rent. Why would we set up somewhere without asking for permission?
"The plan was to be at Salelologa for the first two weeks, three show days on the first week and four show days for the second week.
"However, after our show on Saturday of the first week, we were informed to leave the compound because they (La'auli and his party) were going to set up on the same property.
"We were asked to pack our stuff and should be out of the compound by Monday.
"We had to approach the village of Sapapali'i and asked if we could have the show there one week ahead of our schedule, and they kindly accepted our request. We had to change our schedule because of that."
Tupa'i told the Samoa Observer that the rent was $200 tala per show day and they paid $600 for the three shows they had in Salelologa.
When asked to comment on the claims by La'auli that his shows are "demonic, evil and inappropriate," Tupa'i said: "This is the first time someone has called our show such bad names.
"I mean it's sad that he thinks like that. I've traveled around the world carrying the name of Samoa while touring the world and people have enjoyed the shows by the Magic Circus of Samoa.
"It's not just our people, but also people from all around the world. So it's sad that La'auli thinks of my show like that.
"But I wish him all the best, I mean I don't know what century he is living in, but I wish him all the best with everything."