To mark the 40th Anniversary of the Samoa Observer, a series of selected articles printed over the last 40 years will be re-published in the next two weeks, to show our readers the issues covered by this newspaper over the years and the personalities that made the headlines.
First Published: 17 February 2001
The resignation of the Honourable Minister of Labour and Chairman of the Accident Compensation Board, Polotaivao Fosi, yesterday marked a sad day for loyal supporters and family.
The 67 year old minister sent his resignation from New Zealand with his son, Leuatea Schmidt, who relayed it in a speech to the media at the office of the Minister of Labour at Government Building in Apia.
Leuatea said that due to health problems his father is battling, Polataivao would not be able to fulfil his ministerial duties to his constituency and country any further.
At the press conference yesterday Leuatea said, “My father’s ill health has prevented him from making the journey personally and has instructed me to convey his deepest regrets that he will not be running in this year’s election and will stand down from his ministerial post.
I speak on behalf of my father when I say that this was not an easy decision to make, but for the good of his loyal constituents and the people of Samoa, stepping down is best for all concerned.”
He added, ‘My father has loyally served the people of Samoa for 34 years. Yet I know that his resignation will be a great blow to many.
His heart and soul are of course with his people, but unfortunately the latest development in my father’s health will keep him in New Zealand for the next 2-3 months.”
Leuatea confirmed that his father was involved in a car accident late last year in Savaii.
Which resulted in being sent by local doctors to New Zealand for medical purposes. A long-time sufferer of diabetes, Polataivao was on basic dialysis treatment CAPD (Continuous Ambulatory Peritoneal).
While in New Zealand late last year, doctors found he needed more serious treatment Haemo (blood) Dialysis, which involves a blood cleaning machine.
Haemo dialysis machines are not available in Samoa and until one is available, Polataivao cannot return to Samoa.
Lastly, Leuatea said his father’s health was improving daily with the assistance of the dialysis machine and hopefully we should see his father’s return around May. Polataivao Fosi, also known as Fossie Schmidt (Snr) is a former professional heavyweight champion for Samoa, originally hailing from Savaii.
A little history behind the man shows he has been a Member of parliament since 1964, and to date the most senior member of the present parliament having served 10 terms in parliament-a total of 34 years.
Accomplishments and appointments throughout the past 34 years are many including a member of the Bills Committee for 15 years and then chairman of the Bills Committee for nine years. He was a chairman of the committee appointed by the Parliament to investigate the activities of the National Provident Fund, the Powers and Privileges Committee.
In January of 1971 he took the role of Acting Prime Minister. By 1979 he was appointed President of the Human Rights Protection Party under the then leadership of the late Honourable Tofilau Eti Alesana.
In 1985 Polataivao was re-appointed Chairman of the Bills Committee for 18 months followed by an appointment in 1992 as Minister of Women Affairs, Internal Affairs Rural Development , Pulenuu and Sui o le Malo.
From 1996 to 2001 he dutifully stood as Minister of Labour and Chairman of the Accident Compensation Board until his resignation yesterday.