State of the Nation

By Mika Kelekolio 11 May 2024, 5:00PM

Despite being critical of Prime Minister Fiamē Naomi performance as a leader, I cannot help but empathise with her because of the way she is being undermined by some of her ministers who make unilateral decisions that impact on government policy without her or her Cabinet’s knowledge. They include but not limited to allowing the Kite Runner to enter Samoa waters without proper documentation; granting a Chinese tour company exclusive right for direct flights from China last year; and the alleged leasing of 400-cares of Government land at Togitogina to the Government of American Samoa to raise cattle for the Territory.

From our first Prime Minister, Fiamē Mata’afa Faumuinā Mulinu’ū II to Tuila’epa Sa’ilele Malielegaoi, none had been treated with such disdain by any of their ministers or senior politicians as our present Prime Minister. Is it because she is a woman? Or is the Leader of Fa’atuatua i le Atua Samoa ua Tasi (FAST) of the belief that it was him and his FAST Party who made Fiamē Prime Minister; that they can therefore do whatever they want whenever they want it without advising the Prime Minister facing any consequence? That is how you run a mafia or a mongrel mob gang, but certainly not a democratically elected government.

It is time for Prime Minister Fiamē Naomi to show us and the world that she is truly our political leader.

How will she do that? Right now, may not be a convenient time to act because of the pending Commonwealth Heads of Governments Meeting (CHOGM) in October. Any action that will result in a crisis must be avoided at all costs. The government is already facing too many problems and we don’t want to exacerbate that by adding more. But immediately after CHOGM, she should compel all her Ministers to submit for the consideration of Cabinet all matters on which they have taken decisions, but which have not been considered by Cabinet, for example, the lease of Togitogina land to American Samoa as well as investigating all allegations of corruption made against certain members of her Cabinet and speeding up other investigation already underway like the Kite Runner entering Samoa illegally.

No doubt there be will resistance to such a directive and some of her Ministers may even lobby to have her removed as Prime Minister. Should she be worried? She should not if what she’s reported to have said as her reason for leaving the Human Rights Protection Party (HRPP) to become and Independent in 2020 is true. “[HRPP] was a classic case of power and corruption…We were slipping away from the rule of law, and I didn’t like that. But most of the party were happy to go along with it,” she told Grant Watson in June 2023. (Devpolicy Blog, Development Policy Centre at the Crawford School of Public Policy, The Australian National University.)

Seeing what is happening under the FAST Government, the various allegations of corruption directed at certain Ministers, or how some Ministers’ actions show they have little respect for the rule of law, will the Prime Minister just “be happy to go along with it”, remain Prime Minister and take no action? I would rather believe that she is a person of integrity who dislike the abuse of power or corrupt behaviour by those in position of authority; that she will take action to protect her own integrity even if it means resigning as Prime Minister by advising the Head of State.

Should that happen, the loser will be the FAST Party because the Head of State, once he receives the resignation letter, will dissolve Parliament, appoint a caretaker government, and call for new elections. That will not bode well for the FAST Government who do not want an election in the next 6 months given the general dissatisfaction amongst the voting public with its performance, the continuing rise in the cost of living and all those unfulfilled promises made to voters before the last elections.

For Prime Minister Fiamē, there is empathy out there for the difficult job she’s faced with. Unfortunately, one cannot say the same about the Leader of FAST or some of her other Ministers.

I am sure that the Head of State has been keeping an active interest in what has been going on in the Government, taking advice from both the Prime Minister and the Leader of the Opposition as well as other people he trusted.

Who knows. He may even do a Sir John Kerr, the former Governor-General of Australia who sacked Labour Prime Minister Gough Whitlam in November 1975, and appointed Opposition Leader Malcolm Fraser to form a care-taker government. Elections that followed Parliament’s dissolution saw the opposition sweeping in with an overwhelming majority.

By Mika Kelekolio 11 May 2024, 5:00PM
Samoa Observer

Upgrade to Premium

Subscribe to
Samoa Observer Online

Enjoy unlimited access to all our articles on any device + free trial to e-Edition. You can cancel anytime.