The good, bad and the great: The year that was in 2018

31 December 2018

What a year. We had a bit of everything. There was joy, laughter, good, bad and the ugly. We rejoiced with some major achievements, there many scandals and on a sad note, we bid farewell to so many great Samoans, men and women who have served this country so well. Today, as we prepare to welcome a brand new year, we take a moment to pause, look back and remember some of the stories that made 2018 the year that was. There were far too many stories for all of them to be remembered in this edition. But over the next few pages, we share a brief from some of them. 


 

Compiled by Mata’afa Keni Lesa 


JANUARY 

 

Fire consumes Vaitele building 

Samoa started 2018 with a fire, which consumed a large part of the Fa’asootauloa Pati building at Vaitele on New Year’s morning.

According to an eye witness who spoke to the Samoa Observer on the condition of anonymity, the fire started on the top floor.

It occurred not long after the New Year’s church services had ended.

“It all happened at around one in the morning,” the eye witness said. “We were just finishing up our church service here in Vaitele when we saw fire trucks rushed towards the fire. We went and saw the top of the building on fire. “The fire trucks were very fast and they did a good job in putting out the fire. The road was blocked off for about half an hour for the safety of the public.” The building has been fixed and is re-opened.

 

Government’s new Chief Statistician

A new woman was appointed and endorsed by Cabinet to take charge of the Samoa Bureau of Statistics (S.B.S.). After serving 30 years in the statistical services, Ali’imuamua Malaefono Ta’aloga, is the government’s new Chief Statistician.

She succeeded one of Samoa’s longest serving C.E.O., Muagututi’a Sefuiva Reupena. Ali’imuamua was the A.C.E.O. of Census, Surveys and Demography Statistics Division.

Ali’imuamua lost both her parents, the late Tauā Faafeū Fuataga Penita of Lalomanu, Saanapu and Ruta Ioapo Natoealofa of Moataa and Safotu. 

 

Lawyer calls on govt. to legalise marijuana

Senior Lawyer, Unasa Iuni Sapolu, called on the government to consider legalizing marijuana. 

In her view, it will help Samoa’s economy through the export of medicinal marijuana, especially coconut oil and marijuana fuse. 

She also believes this will help reduce the number of inmates housed at Tafa’igata Prison. 

“Furthermore it will save costs to Samoa when all those imprisoned for possession of marijuana etc. are no longer fed in jail, no longer accommodated in jail and there are no more criminal offenses relating to marijuana,” she said. 

“For health reasons, those with cystic fibrosis, epilepsy, cancer, depression and other health problems can be treated with marijuana.”

She told the Samoa Observer the government is wasting money and the Court’s time. 

“Stop listening to white agendas, colonized minds, it’s just a plant, legalize and reduce government indebtedness.”

 

President Thomas S. Monson passes away 

The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints mourned the passing of President and Prophet Thomas S. Monson. President Thomas S. Monson died in his home in Salt Lake City. He died at age 90 from causes incident to age. 

President Monson, who has served as president of the Church since February 2008, leaves behind a legacy of service and good works. 

To the more than 16 million members of the Church around the world, President Monson was an example of one who followed Jesus Christ.

“He loved the cultures of the world, and deeply respected them. And particularly the faith of the people,” said President Henry B. Eyring, who served as first counselor in the First Presidency.

While he served in important Church leadership positions throughout his life, he also ministered quietly to thousands of individuals in homes, hospitals and care centers. 

The new President of the Church is Russell M. Nelson.

 

Govt. eyes China-Samoa flight 

Prime Minister Tuilaepa Sa’ilele Malielegaoi confirmed his government’s wish for a possible direct flight from China to Samoa, as part of the government’s plans to develop the tourism industry. 

“The government has been longing for a Chinese Airline to invest in Samoa,” Tuilaepa said. “So when the time does permit for a Chinese airline to enter Samoa, we will get a share of a huge tourism market.”

Tuilaepa said nothing has been finalised.

“Now, that it is our hope for a Chinese Airline to invest in Samoa,” he said. 

Tuilaepa said the government is looking at the recent investment by a Chinese group who have purchased the Sheraton Samoa Aggie Grey’s Hotel on Beach Road.

He said the transaction presents a huge opportunity for Samoa. Besides, the talks about flights from China have been in the works for a very long time, he said. 

“We must also remember that these people are great business people in a sense that they will only invest in this avenue once they know that it’s profitable,” he said of the Chinese. 

 

Samoa farewells Taulapapa Faamanatu Nielsen 

A woman known as the “Florence Nightingale” of nursing in Samoa passed away.

She was the President of the Samoa Nurses Association, Taulapapa Fesolai Talailelotu Fa’amanatu Faletoese Nielsen.

Born on 3 September 1933 to her parents the, late Rev. Kenape Tu’u’u Faletoese and Fa’api’omalo Asi Vatau, Taulapapa passed away peacefully at the Nurses Home, Moto’otua, on the 22nd of December 2017. She was 84.

Taulapapa married Fainu’ulelei Etuale Osasa Nielsen, in 1960 and is survived by him, her seven children, her 23 grand children and her four great grandchildren.

In the P.M.’s eulogy, he described her as someone who has earned much respect by all during her time as a registered nurse. He added the respect she has earned is one of the reasons she was presented the Head of State’s Order of Service award.

“Taulapapa is a reliable and an honest person,” Tuilaepa said. “She was always helping everywhere during her time as a registered nurse in the country. She was at Tuasivi (hospital), Salailua, Sa’anapu and other Pacific Islands countries just to serve and help those who are in need.”

 

P.M. blasts heads of Government

Prime Minister Tuilaepa slammed the heads of government bodies that did not attend the services for the National Week of Prayers and Fasting. Tuilaepa made his displeasure known in a letter to all the Heads of Government Ministries, Corporations and Authorities, dated 5 January 2018. 

All Cabinet Ministers are copied. 

A copy of the letter obtained by the Samoa Observer shows the Prime Minister’s disappointment about the turn out, especially by the Chief Executive Officers.

“In my observation and count, there were not ten Chief Executive Officers present,” a translation of Tuilaepa’s letter reads. “This is not new, we see the same C.E.O.s every year.”

 

Fire demolishes Siumu school

Palalaua College at Siumu was hit by fire. A large part of the school building was completely demolished.

The fire ripped through the old wooden school buildings leaving behind remnants of the tin roofing on top of a pile of ash where the buildings once stood.

Some parts of the school building remains standing with some showing signs of minor scorch marks inside.

Palalaua College’s Principal, Leoloa Tuuu Mautofiga, was devastated.

“This is a very bad start to our 2018,” she said. “I am trying to remain positive. At least we still have our new buildings and our hall still standing. The fire only took our old buildings. There’s not much we can do about this incident.”

The students learning continued uninterrupted in 2018.

 

Samoa Observer premiers The Post 

The Samoa Observer and the International Press Institute (I.P.I.) rolled out the red carpet for a special premier of Steven Spielberg’s movie, The Post, at Apollo Cinemas, kicking off the newspaper’s 40th anniversary celebrations. The movie, starring Tom Hanks and Meryl Streep, details Katharine Graham’s struggles as the Editor of The Washington Post during the Watergate scandal. 

It highlights the importance of press freedom and the critical role played by the free media in democracy.

Deputy Prime Minister, Fiame Naomi Mata’afa was among a host of Cabinet Ministers and Members of Parliament at the event. They were joined by the Chief Justice, his Honour Patu Tiava’asue Falefatu Sapolu, members of the diplomatic corps, government leaders and representatives of the business community.

The evening was part of the Samoa Observer’s 40th Anniversary events, with the official celebration scheduled for later this year.

The Editor of the Samoa Observer, Mata’afa Keni Lesa, spoke about the significance of the movie and the connection to the Samoa Observer.

“While all that was happening during the Nixon era, just down the road from The Washington Post Office, was a small bookshop called, The Globe Books, where a young man from Samoa, Sano Malifa, was working,” Mata’afa said. “Mr. Malifa was so inspired by the events from that time; he returned to Samoa eight years later and started the Samoa Observer. Through hard work and by the grace of God, the Samoa Observer is celebrating its 40th Anniversary this year. 

“Now they talk about life and events coming around full circle. After his own tears, blood and struggles with issues of Press Freedom in Samoa, in year 2000, Savea Sano Malifa returned to Boston, U.S.A. Accompanied by the Publisher, Muliaga Jean Ash, Savea was honoured as one of fifty I.P.I. World Press Freedom Heroes. He shared the same honour and the same stage with, Katharine Graham.” 

In a video message from Vienna, Austria, the Executive Director of I.P.I, Barbara Trionfi, paid tribute to both Katharine Graham and Gatoaitele Savea Sano Malifa.

“In honouring I.P.I. World Press Freedom Heroes in the year 2000, Katherine Graham, also an IPI Hero and whose commitment to journalistic integrity and courage is shown in the film “The Post.” 

“The Heroes of the I.P.I. demonstrate that in spite of every obstacle and every constraint the truth ultimately prevails and is made known. Today, as the information landscape is increasingly fragmented, the value of quality, independent, public interest journalism is greater than ever. 

“People need accurate, fair and diverse journalistic sources in order to be able to develop informed opinions, participate in the public debate and so contribute to democratic governance. That is why, today more than ever.”

 

Alleged drug killing

The head of a 15-year-old boy was savagely bashed in a murder allegedly connected to drug dealing at Satapuala.

The death has become the subject of a Police investigation which saw armed Police officers in the area.

Nearby, the community is coming to term with the gruesome discovery.

The Police have identified the boy as Uili Uili of Satapuala.

According to the Police Superintendent and Media Spokesperson, Auapa’au Logoitino Filipo, the boy’s family reported the matter to the Police on Wednesday because he did not return home the previous day. This set off an investigation by the Police, which led them to a marijuana farm. The boy was found nearby.

The Police have since seized the marijuana farm, estimated to have a street value of more than $100,000.

 

P.M. defends China in diplomatic dispute 

Prime Minister Tuilaepa Dr. Sailele Malielegaoi strongly defended China’s role in the Pacific amidst a deepening diplomatic row involving Australia’s International Development Minister Concetta Fierravanti-Wells.

Ms. Fierravanti-Wells had launched an unprovoked scathing attack on China’s aid to the Pacific countries – including Samoa. 

She accused the Chinese of building “roads to nowhere” and constructing “useless buildings” which will only leave Pacific countries with debts they cannot pay.

But Tuilaepa disagreed. He launched a broadside at Ms. Fierravanti-Wells in an interview with the government-owned Savali Newspaper, later released to the media. 

“I am certainly surprised with the comments made by Australia’s Development Minister,” Tuilaepa said. “They are quite insulting to the leaders of the Pacific Island nations. To me as Chairman of the Pacific Leaders Forum, the comments question the integrity, wisdom and intelligence of the leaders of the Pacific Islands to judge what is good for our own people.  

“These types of comments can damage the excellent relationships that exist between Australia and the Pacific Island countries, particularly Samoa.”

Tuilaepa said he can only speak for Samoa and as the Prime Minister, he welcomes assistance from China.  

“In fact, China comes to our assistance on the basis of our requests, on what we know is suitable for Samoa. The Australian Development Minister has made reference to ‘useless buildings’ and ‘roads to nowhere.’  

“The buildings funded by China e.g. the courts; T.A.T.T.E., hospital and central Government building have provided modern facilities which considerably raise the excellent working environment for our officials, raising the quality of work and productivity.  

“It improves the work ethic of our people and raises the beauty of our own city, which now becomes something of a modern city.  

“Reference has also been made by the Minister to the fact that these are very, very expensive in terms of the loans made to build them.  In fact, the assistance given by China comes in both grants and concessionary loans.”  

 

Prisons under scrutiny over murderer’s release

The Minister of Prisons, Tialavea Tionisio Hunt, defended the decision to release a convicted murderer to attend his matai title bestowal ceremony during the Festive Season.

The Samoa Prisons and Corrections Services (S.P.C.S.) approved the release of well-known criminal, Tagaloasa Filipaina, the Samoa Observer was told.

The release came at a time when members of the public were outraged over a prison break involving four other prisoners, which resulted in a woman and her children attacked at Ululoloa. 

When concerns from members of the public about the Tagaloasa decision were put to the Minister, he downplayed them, saying the prisoner had shown enough proof that he has changed his ways.

“Filipaina is a low risk prisoner,” he said. “We believe he has very minimal chances of reoffending.” 

Sex Offenders Registry signed into law 

The Sex Offenders Registration Act 2017 was signed into law by Samoa’s Head of State, His Highness Tuimaleali’ifano, Va’aletoa Sualauvi II. 

This was confirmed by Assistant M.P.M.C. Chief Executive Officer, Siaopo Pese.

“It’s already signed into law,” he said.

The Sex Offenders Registration Act 2017, was initiated by Supreme Court Justice Vui Clarence Nelson, about five years ago when he appealed to the government to establish a Sex Offenders Registry. 

Speaking to the Samoa Observer from Geneva, Justice Vui says this Act is about keeping the women and children of Samoa safe.

 “This is an essential piece of legislation necessary for the protection of women and the children of our country,” he said. “Also in relation to the dangers posed by convicted sex offenders being deported back to Samoa from overseas.” 

Justice Vui commended the Government’s Law Reform Commission who held extensive public consultations. 

 

‘Nepotism’ claims rejected 

The government rejected claims of nepotism and favouritism with regards to the selection and awarding of scholarships.

The Prime Minister and the Chairman of the Staff Training and Scholarship Committee (S.T.S.C.), Tuilaepa Dr. Sa’ilele Malielegaoi, said the claims against himself, the Committee and the Secretary of the Scholarship Committee, Tagaloa Sharon Potoi, making rounds on blogs and social media are unfounded.

He vehemently rejected them, even challenging the “faceless bloggers” making them to provide evidence.

“I present a challenge to the people who have accused the Secretary or anyone on the Committee,” he said. “I dare you publish any wrong doing by the Committee in the Samoa Observer, and pinpoint what year there was any wrongful action done during my tenure.

“If it was done 10 years ago, please be precise. Tell us if any of the students, if the student is a son or daughter of a Committee member, or a child of mine that has been sent to another country from this scholarship that did not meet the criteria.

“I am the Chairman and others in the Committee include the Minister of Education, Sports and Culture and twelve other C.E.O’s,” Tuilaepa said. 

“So if there was any wrongdoing going on in the Scholarship Committee, one of the 15 would have said anything a long time ago.

 “If the allegations were accurate, they would’ve written to the newspaper and revealed their identity, but that hasn’t happened.”

 

P.M. in Facebook hoax 

Prime Minister Tuilaepa Sa’ilele Malielegaoi does not have a Facebook page.

This was confirmed by his Office in a statement released to the media, in a bid to clear the Prime Minister’s name after someone created a Facebook page using his name and posting about alleged government reforms. 

It includes a promise by the government to increase the senior pension’s fund from $135 to $200 a month. 

“Using the Prime Minister’s name (Tuilaepa Lupesoliai Sailele Malielegaoi), the Facebook page was sneakily created over the festive holidays without Tuilaepa’s knowledge or approval,” the statement from Tuilaepa’s office said. 

“The page has since been removed but not without denting the Prime Minister’s image and his administration’s reputation.

“The bogus paged was cunningly used by the ghost creator to post reforms and developments designed by government to benefit the country.

 

China calms loan fears 

China’s Ambassador to Samoa, Wang Xuefeng, moved to assuage fears over Samoa’s debt to China, assuring a number of projects under their aid programme are funded by grants. In fact, according to the Ambassador, the Chinese aid to Samoa for the past two and a half years has been in the form of grants.

This includes China’s contribution to the cost of the $140million Faleolo International Airport.

Asked about the conditions of the loans the Chinese Government give to Samoa, Mr. Xuefeng said: “The Prime Minister of Samoa has already answered the same question to a journalist.”

Pressed on how much China has given to Samoa in terms of grants and loans, Mr. Xuefeng said:  “I don’t have any specific statistics at hand to give a very good comment.

“The Prime Minister answered that he believes Samoa has the capability to repay the loans and has ample capacity to pay on an annual basis. 

“Now, as far as I know, all Chinese projects offered at this time are in the form of grants. In the past two and a half years that I have served here, it has all been grants.” 

 

Nation mourns Dr. Ueta Solomona 

Samoa lost a great music composer, also known as a Music Master, Dr. Ueta Matautia Peni Solomona. Dr. Ueta passed away when he was 82.

Dr. Ueta is credited as one of Samoa’s most respected music composers, conductors, keyboardists, arrangers and choir masters.

He was a lecturer and tutor at The University of the South Pacific in Fiji and Samoa. Prime Minister Tuilaepa said Dr. Ueta’s work will be remembered forever.

 “It’s been years since the government has been using Ueta in conducting and composing hymns in so many of the government occasions,” Tuilaepa said.

“He joined and contributed to the best of his abilities in whatever way he could.”

Tuilaepa added that Dr. Ueta is one of Samoa’s greatest musicians.

“Today (yesterday), we salute his service in all these years, and may you rest in peace Ueta.”

His wife, Susau Solomona described Ueta as a loving and ambitious father, grandfather, uncle, brother like any other father and family man in the world.

She said Ueta loved and adored not only his children, but his family as well.

Seutatia Solomona, Ueta’s niece, gave the eulogy on behalf of his family.

 

Proposed electoral law change alarms 

A senior Member of Parliament for Gagaemauga No. 2, Fa’aso’otauloa Pati Taulapapa, has cautioned the government against changes that have been proposed as part of the Electoral Act review.

The Member of Parliament, who is also the Associate Minister of Agriculture and Fisheries, is particularly concerned about part of the review, which will affect his constituency.

Gagaemauga No. 2 is among electoral constituencies where voters are spread between Upolu and Savai’i. Fa’aso’otauloa’s constituency for example includes Saleaula in Savai’i and Salamumu in Upolu, similar to the situation with Leauva’a and Gagaemauga No. 1.

According to sources, part of the Electoral Act Review includes looking at redefining the electoral boundaries. This will see new seats in Faleata and Vaimauga. The Review recommends that Leauva’a will be a stand alone constituency while voters from Salamumu will join the Safata roll.

This is where Fa’aso’otauloa is not happy.

“The move is inappropriate,” he told the Samoa Observer when his views were sought. “I believe Samoa has already been chosen. Samoa wasn’t chosen by numbers when our forefathers designed the boundaries, it was done through mutual respect and the fact that everyone has their own destiny.”

 The Associate Minister said he is not against the Government’s plans but he wants to express his concerns on behalf of the people whom he is in Parliament to represent.

 

Govt. urged to deal with ‘threat’ from within 

The Associate Minister of Communications and Information Technology, Lealailepule Rimoni Aiafi, called on the Government to deal with what he has described as an “internal threat” in terms of online users abusing the forum to hurt people.

Speaking in Parliament, the Faleata West M.P. directed a challenge to the Minister of Communications and Information Technology, Afamasaga Rico Tupai,

to launch a nationwide hunt for online users who abuse internet to attack the Government, spread untruthful information which creates ill feelings among people towards their leaders.

“Your honour, the Minister of Communications, they should have been looked up and found a long time ago,” he said. “If you’ve found them, bring them so we can sue them. Take them to Court, let’s do it because what they are doing is not good, it is inappropriate. Because we are a nation founded on God, we are a Christian nation.”

Leala, who has been a victim of some of the online posts in the past, described such people as an “internal threat”.

“We must stop this rude and inappropriate behaviour,” Leala said.  “We must put an end to this practice where these people misuse and abuse tools that should be used for development. The internet is a useful tool that can help people move forward.”

 

Minister defends $20m Prison investment

Minister of Finance, Sili Epa Tuioti, defended the Government’s decision to invest $20million to the Tanumalala Prison project. 

Speaking to the Samoa Observer, Sili said it is a worthwhile investment, one that needs to be constructed now before the cost balloons in the near future.

 “People don’t really think of an investment with a prison facility as something that will contribute to the economic development and in my view it is,” he said.

“There is no way we can continue with the facilities at Tafaigata. It’s deteriorating, and we wouldn’t want any of our people there, it’s inhumane and overcrowded.

“At the moment we’re not providing rehabilitation programmes for them. So I think shifting the prison facilities to Tanugamalala and where it’s highly secured and a clean environment for them will help. 

“It’s best that we do it and complete the project and do it well rather than sort of try and cut down the cost and we end up with the facility that in five of 10 years, we look back and say that it could have been better.”

Contrary to criticisms of the investment, Sili said Samoa needs to spend money to ensure prisoners stop escaping and hurting innocent people. 

 

Tragic accident at Puipa’a

A tragic accident at Puipa’a where a speeding bus flipped several times landing on its roof, claimed three lives.  

 “A total of 46 passengers were on the bus including the three people who died,” said Auapa’au.

 “The bus driver and two elderly women unfortunately died as a result of the tragic incident. 

 “Preliminary reports from the National Health Services accounted 46 passengers from men, women and children who were at the hospital for medical treatment.

At the hospital, there was a heavy presence of police, families and friends of the passengers. 

One of the survivors, Tausaga Solifono, spoke to the Sunday Samoan on what had occurred.

 “The bus was packed and I was sitting on a woman at the back of the bus,” Tausaga said.   “My grandmother was sitting with another old lady right behind the bus driver, when we got on the bus she insisted to sit behind the driver,” said the emotional Tausaga. 

Tausaga’s grandmother was one of the deceased. 

 

Land and Titles Court President investigated

The President of the Land and Titles Court, Fepulea’i Attila Ropati, was investigated by the Ministry of Police in connection to an alleged assault incident. 

This was confirmed by Police Superintendent and Media Spokesperson, Auapa’au Logoitino Filipo, in response to questions from the Samoa Observer. 

“I can only confirm that there is an investigation,” he said, “and that is all I can say.” 

According to sources within the Police, the alleged incident occurred at the compound of the Judiciary during a “party” for the Judges over the festive season last year. 

“It’s alleged that the accused struck the security officer (who works at the judiciary compound) on the head twice with a glass bottle,” the source said. 

 “The matter was not reported to the Police immediately and it wasn’t until a few days later when the security officer felt pain on his head and was taken to the hospital. 

 “At the hospital, the doctor found bits and pieces of broken glass on his head and that’s when the matter was reported to the Police.”

The matter had reached Court and is still continuing.

 

 

FEBRUARY 

Alleged passports sale 

Four Samoan passports were allegedly sold between December 2016 and May 2017 by a former Immigration Officer.

He allegedly received $684.24, $980.71, $382.80 and $2,092 on four different occasions in relation to the transactions.

This is according to the charge sheet obtained by the Samoa Observer in ongoing hearing of former Immigration Officer, David Nomereta Uaine, of Tuana’i.

Uaine, 26, has pleaded not guilty to 32 criminal charges against him. His plea was entered by his lawyer, Unasa Iuni Sapolu. 

The Court appearance comes after he was arrested last year following a lengthy Police investigation, over claims about Samoan passports being sold online, to places such as South Africa.

According to the information sheet, Uaine is charged with four counts of a plan to “sell or give a document namely Samoan passport” T440536; T440525; T434481 and T434407. There are four charges relating to inserting “the application for Samoan Passport” of one “Dave Afele Allen; Mark Filo Hamden; Franco Fitu Rudolf and Miriama Kaba Hugo “in a passport database namely the Boarder Management System.” 

Uaine also faces four charges of “false certification” on 2 and 8 December 2016 and 9 and 11 May 2017. 

Other criminal charges against the accused include four counts of “without lawful authority or reasonable issues a Samoa Travel Document namely Miriama Kaba Hugo on 8 December, 2016; Franco Fitu Rudolf on 16 May, 2017; Mark Filo Hamden on 16 May, 2017 and Dave Afele Allen on 6 December, 2016.” 

The hearing continues.

 

P.M. Tuilaepa, Maua Faleauto and Dennis Smith 

A war of words between Prime Minister Tuilaepa Dr. Sa’ilele Malielegaoi and two of his biggest online critics broke out in cyber space.

The heated exchange follows Tuilaepa’s decision to attack Lawyer and Government critic, Maua Faleauto, and self-proclaimed “private investigative blogger”, Dennis A. Smith, during an interview with the government-owned Savali Newspaper, he later released to the media.

Both Maua and Mr. Smith are not backing down, firing back at Prime Minister Tuilaepa with their own accusations. They say he is not someone to be trusted with the administration of the country.

The Prime Minister was asked about people who constantly criticise every decision the government makes when Maua Faleauto’s name popped up. Tuilaepa said Maua is a member of his extended Fatialofa family.

“I knew his grandparents well and also his father Leifi Faleauto,” Tuilaepa is quoted as saying. “When I was at St. Paul’s College in 1964, his grandparents invited me to a Sunday toona’i at their home not far from my school then. 

“Now that I hold the title Fatialofa, I am therefore the Matai of the Faleauto Clan. Several years ago I presided over the family ceremony conferring the Faleauto Matai title to his brother who was then C.E.O. of the National Bank of Samoa.”

Tuilaepa said he discussed Maua’s behaviour with his brother.

 “I did but after I heard something about Maua being a loose cannon, I understood immediately,” Tuilaepa said.

Which is a pity, he said, given that “he is a qualified lawyer.” 

“Some fifteen years ago, he came to Samoa,” Tuilaepa explained. “He worked briefly with the Police as prosecutor for the police, during Papali’i Lolenese’s term as Commissioner, then opened his private practice for a short time, then closed when his father died suddenly. 

“I helped with the arrangements for the transfer of his father’s body to New Zealand, and I saw Maua off at the airport with the coffin. That’s the last time I saw him!”

As for Dennis A. Smith, Tuilaepa said the Minister of Samoa Land Corporation during the previous Parliamentary sitting evicted him from government property before he was deported.

“He came to my office over five years ago to request my help over a rent dispute with his landlord at Satapuala. I summoned the landlord to my office and settled the dispute the Samoan way,” Tuilaepa said. The matter was settled through “forgiveness.” 

 

Samoan woman defrauds employers, flies family and friends to Samoa for wedding 

A Samoan woman flew 31 of her friends and relatives for an extravagant wedding in Samoa, paid for by monies she siphoned from two of her former employees.

Christine Tupu, 26, pleaded guilty to stealing A$341,000 (T$647,000) from her employers Electrolux and Toll, by telling people the bank account details for payment had changed and giving them her and her husband’s personal account details.

Tupu, who has been jailed for five years, married a Tongan, Hekeai Piutau, in Samoa. With roots in Saipipi and Si’uniu Falealili, the wedding in November 2016 was held at St. Therese, Leauva’a. 

According to 9 News, the money she stole was splashed on a luxurious and extravagant lifestyle including flights to her Samoan wedding for her family.

The cash is now long gone - spent on hotels, cruises, furniture and international flights, 9 News further reports.

She also created fake invoices and helped herself to a microwave, vacuum cleaners, fridges and air conditioners which she had delivered to her in-laws’ residence but never paid for. Her lawyer claimed she had an “addiction to gambling” but the judge slammed her actions as “pure greed”.

 

Farewell So’oalo Roger Stanley

The life and times of the unique and well-loved President of the Samoa Faafafine Association, So’oalo To’oto’oalii Roger Stanley, was celebrated.

Family, friends and members of the Fa’afafine community gathered at the E.F.K.S hall in Sogi where they shared tears and laughter as they recollected memories of their beloved So’oalo. He was fondly known in the Fa’afafine community as “Mama” because of his tendency to be a refuge for those seeking help and guidance from the community.

Eulogies were given by his mother Aniuteattetta Afamasaga Leuluaialii Abel Stanley, Prime Minister Tuilaepa Sailele Malielegaoi, his eldest sister Tofilau Sonya Leilani Stanley –Levy, Vice president of the S.F.A, Alex Su’a, and Reverend Kerisiano Soti. As the Patron of the Samoa Faafafine Association, P.M. Tuilaepa spoke fondly about So’oalo and retold the story of when So’oalo approached him about starting a collective for Faafafine and then again to ask him to be a Patron of the S.F.A. He praised So’oalo’s courage and leadership in leading the S.F.A and their work in raising funds for charity.

The Prime Minister spoke highly of his “children” in the S.F.A and said that people should never look down on fa’afafine because God made them. 

In Samoa, he said we have four genders of male, female, fa’atama and fa’afafine.

People like and those like him are special because they have many talents being able to do the work of both male and female in our society.

 

Real Tonga flies to Samoa

A new era in the history of aviation between Samoa and Tonga started when Real Tonga’s operations out of Faleolo Airport took off.

Real Tonga Airlines Owner and Chief Executive Officer, Tevita Palu, told the Samoa Observer that this is an exciting time for them.

“I started the airline as a sole and private owner of Real Tonga in 2013 to service Tonga’s domestic air service,” he said.

 “Moving to start international and regional air service is quite an achievement for Real Tonga.”

 

Girl triplets bring joy 

Nurses at the Tupua Tamasese Meaole Hospital, Moto’otua, successfully delivered girl triplets.

The occasion is considered a rarity at the hospital in Samoa, according to a Nurse who spoke to the Samoa Observer on the condition of anonymity. 

She confirmed however that the mother of the triplets, Jacinta Siaosi from Matautu Lefaga and Sataua gave birth naturally without any complications.

“The eldest was born at 2:32am, the second was at 2:36am while the youngest was born at 2:40am,” she said. “The eldest is 1.9kilo, the second is 2.3kilo and the youngest is 2.5kilo. It seems like the youngest is eating all the food.

“The triplets are healthy, but we are just keeping them here just for precaution.”

Asked how many triplets have been born in Samoa, the nurse said she could not remember. “I can’t really remember, but all I can say is that usually in cases like this, the mother will be referred overseas,” she said.

“However, we manage to care for the mother and her children and she gave birth naturally, she is strong and so are the triplets.”

Mother of the triplets, Jacinta Siaosi, shed tears of joy when she spoke to the Samoa Observer.

 

P.M. addresses allegations 

Prime Minister Tuilaepa Dr. Sa’ilele Malielegaoi responded to a letter implicating him and two former Cabinet Ministers, Leafa Vitale and the late, Toi Aukuso.

The letter had been making rounds on social media and blogs before the Press Secretariat posted the Prime Minister’s response on the Government’s Facebook page. The following is a statement issued by the Prime Minister Tuilaepa Lupesoliai Dr. Sailele Malielegaoi today in response to media inquiries into a letter posted on the social media implicating him and two former Cabinet Ministers Leafa Vitale and Toi Aukuso sentenced to jail for life imprisonment for the assassination of the late Minister of Works, Levaula Kamu.

Toi Aukuso passed away in prison in April 2009 while Leafa was released on parole for health reasons in 2010.

The letter is believed to have been penned by Tuilaepa in 2007 while the two men were serving their life terms. P.M. Tuilaepa’s statement;

“I have been told that the 20 year old letter was penned by a prisoner and it was proven at the time to be a fake. 

“My officials are now revisiting the matter to reconfirm if this is the case. But this is the first time I have seen the letter and it’s a forgery.

“First, it’s addressed to Auelua T and as far as I can tell I am the only Auelua T. or Auelua Tuilaepa, so I can’t be writing a letter to myself.

“Secondly, the fake letter is also dated November 25th 2007 but I was not bestowed the Auelua title until 2015. And everyone who has read by writing, these are not my words because the letter’s contents are ambiguous and do not make sense to any sane human being. Even I am confused to what the letter is trying to potray.

“And even my signature is in question and a forgery.

“This is not the first time that some people have forged my signature and they were duly charged convicted and served time in prison.

“In the meantime, I am not fazed and remain firm that the truth will prevail and whoever is behind this sinister plan to incite and create chaos will face his day in court.

“My officials have been tasked to bring an end to this nonsense on social media. It is a threat to public security because when one’s reputation is slandered and defamed without just cause or proof, it will also impact the pride and integrity of families and relatives which may provoke anything to happen.”

 

Govt. requires newspapers to register at Court 

The Government moved to implement a policy they had passed into law some 24 years ago in relation to newspapers.

The Ministry of Justice and Courts Administration (M.J.C.A.) has announced the plan to implement the $100 registration fee for all newspapers under the Newspapers and Printers Act 1993. 

This was confirmed by M.J.C.A. Chief Executive Officer, Papali’i John Taimalelagi, who said the law has been in place since 1993. Asked why this was not implemented 24 years ago, Papali’i said they only recently uncovered the lapse during a review of the Acts mandated under the Ministry. 

“My role as C.E.O. is to review acts mandated under M.J.C.A,” he said. “I came cross the required registration for all newspapers as indicated under the Newspapers and Printers Act 1993 and yet it has never been implemented in the past.

“This is part of M.J.C.A.’s Legislative Compliance and we are required to review and uphold the Acts mandated under our Ministry.”

In a letter by Papali’i to all newspapers circulating in Samoa dated 7 February 2018, Papali’i said he hopes the “process will not be too onerous” for everyone involved. 

“Pursuant to sections 3 and 4 of the Newspapers and Printers Act 1993 (“the Act”), notice is hereby given to all newspapers in circulation in Samoa as of 7 February, 2018, that no person shall print or publish a newspaper unless it is registered with the Registrar of the Supreme Court,” Papali’i’s letter reads. 

“A newspaper means a paper containing public news or observations which is printed for sale or distribution and is published in Samoa periodically at intervals not exceeding three months.” 

 

Tui Samoa Cable goes live 

A tropical cyclone hunkering down on Samoa last night did not spoil the mood at the T.A.T.T.E. building where the much-anticipated multi-milion-tala Tui Samoa Cable project went live.

 Prime Minister Tuilaepa Dr. Sa’ilele Malielegaoi led the ribbon cutting and the switching on of the Cable, promising faster and cheaper Internet for Samoa.

The launch ceremony was conducted by Reverend Siaosi Salesulu of the C.C.C.S. at Vailele. 

Reverend Salesulu said the internet as a whole can be seen as technology that has greatly enhanced our lives. 

“What started as vision and a dream is now an essential means for development and communication,” he said. 

“The introduction of the internet has led to many benefits and unfortunately for the world and for Samoa, it has also come with its own sets of problems.

“Most significantly these problems can mostly impact our security and our privacy, it seems that most technological advances have been placed in the hands of fools and the irresponsible and they will use it for their insidious means.  

“However, let us rejoice for today we take another giant Samoan step in the right direction for providing all Samoans with access to the internet. 

“Let us ask God for his vision in pursue in believe that we can do all things we need to do through Chris.

Prime Minister Tuilaepa said the Government’s vision is to improve the lives of the people and the Tui Samoa submarine cable is one enabler that will assist in achieving the goal. 

“The strategic reasons for developing the Tui Samoa Cable are to bridge the digital divide for our people and our neighboring island nations.

“Promoting economic and social development and providing Samoa with access to fast reliable and affordable wholesale fast broadband internet.”

 

Tropical Cyclone Gita hits 

Samoa was warned to expect winds with speed of between 39-54mph as Tropical Cyclone Gita headed towards the Samoa group.

In Savai’i, days of heavy downpour took a toll on some parts of the big island.

A video posted on Facebook shows water ripping through a family’s home, sweeping properties along the way including a family vehicle.

Elsewhere on the big island, transportation has been severely restricted, as a number of fords have been flooded and cannot be crossed. The notorious Maliolio river had burst and members of the public warned to take extra care.

Flights to and from Samoa were cancelled.

Two days later, a massive clean up effort started after Tropical Cyclone Gita slammed the country on Friday night and Saturday morning. The Category 2 cyclone moved away from Samoa but the carnage left behind in her fury was highly visible.

 

Police foil mass Prison break 

While Cyclone Gita was speeding towards Samoa, Prisoners at Tafaigata had another agenda in mind.

Some 90 Police officers were called to Tafa’igata Prison to calm the situation.

“When a natural disaster is about to strike the country, often criminals find that this is the right time to strike too,” P.M. Tuilaepa said.

“However the Police have always acted in accordance with keeping the peace and the situation has been sorted.”

Police Superintendent and Media Spokesperson, Auapa’au Logoitino Filipo, in response to questions from the Sunday Samoan, said the Police responded after receiving reports about the threat.

“We responded to information by Prisons Authority relating to a planned mass prison break involving coordinated efforts by prisoner’s hierarchy.

“This matter has now been averted and the police are working to support the Prisons authority in their efforts to secure the prisons.”

The Police also used the opportunity to raid the prison. 

 “We conducted a raid inside the Prison and discovered more than 30 marijuana joints and stash of cash.” 

 

Liquor Board sued 

The Government’s Liquor Board has been sued for an undisclosed amount by an unhappy member of the business community.

Member of Parliament, Olo Fiti Vaai, is behind the lawsuit in relation to the Board’s decision to shut his bar, the Blacknose Bar, in August 2017.  

He confirmed this to the Samoa Observer. 

“I can confirm we have filed a motion asking the Supreme Court to review the decision by the Liquor Control Board last year which led to Black Nose Bar & Restaurant closing down indefinitely,” he said. 

“There were a number of issues with the decision, including that it appears to have been made without the proper legal process being followed.” 

 

Landslide at Lalomanu 

The landscape at Tuialamu, Lalomanu was changed after a huge landslide.

The Land Transport Authority Chief Executive Officer, Ta’atialeoitiiti Agnes Tutuvanu-Schwalger, confirmed the occurrence.

 “It is a huge landslide,” she told the Samoa Observer. “It covers the road and it stretches right into the ocean. As we speak, it is still ongoing.”

Luckily, there was no motorist on the road at the time.

The L.T.A. Chief Executive Officer said there is little they could do immediately since the mountain where the boulders, dirt and debris come from is unstable.

 “So we cannot do anything about it now but we have already contacted our contractors who have already canvassed the area,” she said. 

Today, the landslide is still visible in the area.

 

 

Mailo Ben Vai passes away 

The man dubbed the king of reggae in Samoa, Mailo Ben Vai, passed away in New Zealand.

His death was announced by the “We are Samoa Facebook page.”

“It is with a heavy heart that we announce the passing of beloved Samoan musician, Ben Vai,” the announcement reads. “Our sincere and deepest condolences to his family, such a humble soul taken so early. Sing with the angels, Mr. Vai!”

Hundreds of Mailo’s fans, relatives and colleagues have taken to social media to pay their respects, reposting their favourite songs from the artist.

Mailo was also a film star, playing a leading role in the Silamanino Series.

Mailo is the son of Rev. Peniamina Vilitai and Rosarina Jioji Konusi Vai. He has roots in Vaiala and Vini-fou.

Mailo’s cousin, who lives at Vaiala, told the Samoa Observer that Mailo passed away in New Zealand, after battling cancer.

“At the moment we are still in shocked,” she said. “He was a very humble person full of love for his family and he loves his music.”

 

Auckland Marist kings of Marist Sevens 

The defending champions of the Vailima Pure International Marist Sevens, Auckland Marist, defeated Apia, 12-0, to secure their third title in as many years at Lotopa. 

Captain and M.V.P. Vuga Tagicakibau and teammate Uliano Cokanauto celebrated the victory with their team.

 

Sinalei celebrates 22nd anniversary 

Sinalei Reef Resort celebrated their 22nd birthday with a bang! 

The Beach Bash attracted more than 150 guests to enjoy the sandy beach, icy cold drinks, lots of food with the famous Ardijah Band providing top notch music and entertainment.

It was a proud moment for the hard-working Annandale family, Tuatagaloa Joe, Sose and Nelson Annandale, who have toiled extremely hard to develop the property over the years.

Nelson Annandale told the Samoa Observer the Beach party was the most appropriate way to celebrate the Resort’s birthday given that Samoa is known for her beaches.

 “In my opinion there is really not much happening on our beaches and we have a lovely beach here,” he said. “We actually had a similar event last year, however it was thrown together last minute and so this year, we wanted to increase the level of excitement and entertainment for our birthday and we brought down Ardijah.”

Mr. Annadale, who returned two years ago to help his mother, Sose Annandale, with the family business, said the future is bright for the Resort.

“We are rebranding the company and so we’re trying align all the ducks in a row so that we would be able to move onto the next level and what Sinalei has always been destined for,” he said.  We’re trying to move from a four star hotel to a five start hotel and that of course does take a lot of work, but it can be done. We are actually rebranding, marketing materials, running unique events, that kind of showcases the uniqueness of our property.”

 

Govt. moves in cop couples 

Former Police Constable, Seiloga Mauigoa, has broken his silence over Prime Minister Tuilaepa Dr. Sa’ilele Malielegaoi’s directive for couples working together at the Police to resign.

He said it’s “unfair treatment” and “discriminatory.” Mauigoa had been part of the Police force for seven years. He is married to a Police Officer and they have three children. 

The Mauigoas were one of the 23 couple’s affected by the Prime Minister’s announcement in November 2017. He has kept his silence until now.

 “We pleaded with the Police Commissioner for some sort of financial incentive; however we were informed that the Government gave us a whole year to look for other job opportunities,” he said. 

“And the Government is right. We were given 12 months to seek other means of work.” 

The father of three said the current regulation only targets married couple and it is clearly discriminatory. 

“What about the couples in defacto relationships, it is unfair. 

 

Samoa’s smiling Centenarian 

Not many people in Samoa reach the ripe old age of a hundred years.

At Saina in Upolu, centenarian Anaseini ‘Tupou’ Mafo’e, celebrated her 100th birthday. 

Tupou was born on 21 February 1918. She is the mother of 13 children, three of whom have passed away. Nine are present in Samoa for her big day.  

Tupou was married to the late Mafo’e Tupu of Saina. Her eldest daughter is 82 and lives in New Zealand. The youngest of her 13 children is 60-year-old prominent Pastor, Apostle Viliamu Mafo’e, of the Worship Centre Church. 

Born in Tonga, she was brought to Samoa at the age of five after her father, Hagafili Tupou, passed away. 

“I cannot thank God enough for blessing me with 100 years to live on this earth,” she tells the Samoa Observer. “I am happy that me the ‘masta’ is still alive.”

 

World mourns Reverend Billy Graham 

Reverend Billy Graham, the magnetic, movie-star-handsome preacher who became a singular force in postwar American religious life, a confidant of presidents and the most widely heard Christian evangelist in history, died.

He was 99. “America’s Pastor,” as he was dubbed, had suffered from cancer, pneumonia and other ailments and died at his home in North Carolina.

More than anyone else, Graham built evangelicalism into a force that rivaled liberal Protestantism and Roman Catholicism in the U.S. His leadership summits and crusades in more than 185 countries and territories forged powerful global links among conservative Christians and threw a lifeline to believers in the communist bloc.

 

 

Geoffrey Marfleet passes away  

An English businessman who has made a huge difference in Samoa, Robert Geoffrey Marfleet, passed away.

Mr. Marfleet passed away peacefully at the North Shore Hospital, in Auckland New Zealand. He was 84. 

His wife Malia Tammi Marfleet, their ten children and 17 grandchildren, relatives and friends paid tribute to a loving husband, father and a hard workingman who will be sorely missed. 

Mrs. Marfleet remembered a man who lived an exemplary life. 

“He was diagnosed with cancer and the doctor said he has only weeks to live,” she said.  “So as soon we were told, we talked and cried, talked and cried some more. His last words to me before he slipped into a coma were “where is my little girl - which is Luisa. Then he turned, looked at me and said I’m sorry I have tried. Obviously he was trying to stay alive for us.”

Mrs. Marfleet said it was a difficult time for her and her family. 

 

Sogi family fights Govt. eviction in Court 

The fight by the Tokuma family to stop the Government from evicting them from land they claim as their inheritance headed to Court. 

The matter was called for hearing before Supreme Court Justice Leiataualesa Daryl Clarke.

Representing the descendants of Turaroe Tokuma is lawyer, Pa’u Tafaogalupe Mulitalo. Tafailagi Peniamina of the Attorney General’s Office represented the Samoa Land Corporation (S.L.C.) and the Ministry of Public Enterprises.  

Nanai Liutofagaomataafa Tokuma, the son of the late Turaroe Tokuma, from the Solomon Islands and the late Ulalemamae Leiataua, took the stand.

“I’m not sure why my father came to Samoa in the first place but all I know is that he was the driver for Patrick Percival, the head of the Germans at that time,” said Nanai, 77.

“My father was the driver for this man in the 1920s.”

Pa’u asked Nanai if he remembered what happened to his father in the 1920s.

“My father was accused of killing a Chinese businessman at his shop, but at the end it wasn’t him,” said Nanai. “My father told me this because I wasn’t born during that time.

“He was arrested and detained and then some men came and told the Court at the time that it was them who killed this Chinese businessman.”

In the end, the family lost the Court battle.

 

Falefata becomes Pacific Games 2019 Chief 

Cabinet appointed Falefata Hele Ei Matatia as the Chief Executive Officer of the 2019 Pacific Games.

The appointment was confirmed by the Minister of Education, Sports and Culture, Loau Keneti Sio.

“The Cabinet and the Samoa Government has faith in Mr Falefata and his ability to take on the vast responsibilities that comes with being the C.E.O,” he said. 

“He was highly recommended by the panelists and given his vast knowledge in Sports; we opted for some new blood in the Pacific Games arena. 

“Falefata is young, smart, and energetic and given that we have just less than 16 months before the Pacific Games, we know he is the man for the job.”

 

MARCH 

A life saving operation 

A Kiwi tourist got in trouble while enjoying the Papaseea Sliding Rocks was rescued by the Fire and Emergency Services Authority (F.E.S.A.).

The Search and Rescue team of F.E.S.A. was called after the woman became seriously injured at the bottom, unable to get back up the steep climb.

“Yesterday, 27th Feb 2018, on Duty Shift from Faleata Station attended a call out regarding a New Zealand Tourist stranded on the river bank, after an incident she was involved in whilst sliding from the slippery rocks at Papaseea,” the statement from FESA reads.

“The Kiwi tourist suffered from a twisted left ankle, and a broken left arm wrist as a result of the incident. The responding Crew offered treatment and secured her to the spinal long board and safely carried her on shoulder to the top, where the Ambulance stationed.”

The woman recovered and has returned home.

 

Fuimapoao resigns from Ministry of Women 

The Chief Executive Officer of the Ministry of Women, Community and Social Development, Fuimapoao Beth Onesemo-Tuilaepa, tendered her resignation.

But she denied that her decision to resign, and therefore not reapply for her position, was related to a Public Service Commission (P.S.C.) investigation into the handling of “human resources matters” at the Ministry.

 “I have tendered my resignation and I have three more months to serve,” she told the Samoa Observer then. “My strength is strategic thinking, to start things moving but sometimes, in order to sustain, complete and see the changes through I think there is a need for a whole new set of skills. I think this time, it is time for someone new to come in, sustain and continue the changes. 

“It has nothing to do with the inquiry.”

 

Toddler suffocates in car 

A three-year-old toddler suffocated in a car.

Jacob Toa’i Key is alleged to have suffocated in a family car where he was found dead in Vaitoloa. 

Jacob is the eldest of two siblings. He is the son of Telesia and Simeti Key from the villages of Alamagoto and Vaitoloa.

During an interview with the Samoa Observer, Sivao Tasi, the grandmother, said she continues to have nightmares about his death. She said her grandson’s passing is something that would stay with her forever.

 “The car he died in was a small Getz, his parents’ car,” she said. “My other daughter found my grandson in the car not breathing. All the windows of the car were up.”

 

Samoa welcomes Prime Minister Ardern 

New Zealand Prime Minister, Jacinda Ardern, touched down in Samoa marking a historical first visit for the Labour Party leader.

The youngest woman to have held the Prime Ministership portfolio arrived on a Royal New Zealand Air Force Hercules with her partner, Clarke Gayford.

Ms. Ardern and her delegation including New Zealand’s Minister of Foreign Affairs, Vaovasamanaia Winston Peters, was greeted on the tarmac at the Faleolo International Airport by Deputy Prime Minister, Fiame Naomi Mata’afa.

Samoa was the first stop of Ms. Ardern’s Pacific tour, which also included a visit to Tonga, Niue and the Cook Islands.

Among the New Zealand delegation were other Cabinet Ministers and Members of Parliament, Carmel Sepuloni, Aupito William Sio, Fletcher Tabuteau, and National MPs Gerry Brownlee and Alfred Ngaro. 

The visit comes after Foreign Minister Vaovasa promised to boost aid and embark on a new strategy with New Zealand’s Pacific neighbours.

 

 

P.M. Ardern comes bearing $16 m gift

New Zealand offered NZ$9.5m (T$16.05 million) funding to help Samoa recover from Cyclone Gita and boost local businesses, as it looks to renew its foreign policy focus on the Pacific region.

The assistance was announced by the New Zealand Prime Minister, Jacinda Ardern, who kicked off her Pacific tour with a one and a half day stop in Samoa.

Prior to their arrival, the New Zealand government had been talking about re-sharpening their focus on the Pacific amidst concerns about China’s growing dominance. 

 “The Pacific overall has also become an increasingly contested strategic space, no longer neglected by Great Power ambition. So Pacific Island leaders have more options. This is creating a degree of strategic anxiety,” Minister Vaovasa had said. “We need to better pool our energies and resources to maintain our relative influence.”

On the sunny shores of Samoa where Ms. Ardern and delegation enjoyed a full on day, her government delivered with a financial injection that would be most welcomed by Prime Minister Tuilaepa Dr. Sa’ilele Malielegaoi’s administration.

 

Govt. threatens families at Satapuala 

The Government said it would not consider monetary demands by the four Satapuala families seeking relocation costs.

Prime Minister Tuilaepa Sa’ilele Malielegaoi said they would take the families to Court for trespassing on Government property. 

The families are living on Satapuala land where the Government intends to extend the Faleolo International Airport runway across. 

The Tauvala’au family of Satapuala said they were told to leave by 28 February 2018.  

The order was confirmed by Tua’ato Tauvalau Salausa, of Satapuala.

But the family is not moving. She said unless the Government pays them $1 million, they are not going anywhere.

However Tuilaepa said they have already paid relocation costs to the said families. All the families have since been moved.

 

Cabinet orders Tribunal over booting of Inga 

Cabinet ordered and appointed a Sports Disputes Tribunal to look into the removal of rugby legend, Fesola’i Va’aiga Tu’igamala, as President of the Samoa Amateur Boxing Association (S.A.B.A.).

The Cabinet decision follows a request that the “internal disputes within S.A.B.A.” – involving Fesola’i, Togatalima Faafouina Milford and others - are referred to the Samoa Sports Disputes Tribunal.

Fesola’i, a former All Black and Manu Samoa, returned to Samoa and had played a leading role in reviving professional boxing. At the beginning of 2017, he became the President of S.A.B.A., where boxing was eventually introduced into the schools as part of the development of the sport.

But things took an interesting twist last year when an “internal dispute” surfaced and things turned sour. He was eventually removed.

 

Aiono returns as P.S.C’s new Chairman 

Aiono Mose Su’a was appointed the Chairman of the Public Service Commission. 

He took over from former Chairman, Tuu’u Dr. Ieti Taulealo, whose contract ended after six years at the helm.

Prime Minister Tuilaepa Sa’ilele Malielegaoi said: “Aiono is a qualified candidate for the job and is one of the Government’s longest serving chief executive officers.”

 

Taxi driver stuffed in boot of car 

Four men were arrested and charged with aggravated robbery in connection with the taxi driver who was threatened and stuffed in the trunk of his taxi.

This was confirmed by Police Superintendent Auapa’au Logoitino Filipo.

“They were arrested and charged with aggravated robbery and that is all I can say.” 

Auapa’au said the taxi driver picked up four men from Malifa to take to Vaoala. 

“When they reached Vaoala, the four men assaulted the complainant and put him inside the boot of the taxi. They then roamed around the whole night in the complainant’s taxi.” 

 

Pacific Oil lands major U.S. deal 

Local business, Pacific Oil, secured a joint venture with large U.S. multinational company, Dr. Bronners. Under the name “SerendiCoco Samoa”, the venture will see a commitment to export three thousand tonnes of coconut oil from Samoa to supply the U.S. manufacturer as well as support the conversion of local producers into organic certified and fair trade farmers.

Prior to the merger, Pacific Oil primarily supplied Europe and was subject to unstable global prices for coconut oil.

According to Pacific Oil’s Director, Fanene Samau Sefo, it was more often than not at a low price, which was not beneficial to the company and the farmers. 

But things are about to change. Fanene said they expected their first shipment to go out at the end of this month. This comes after 18 months of preparing the groundwork to meet the requirements of their agreement.

“With the new joint venture, we are now paying a much higher price for copra than we ever used to because the price is now good,” he said.

“At the moment we have 1,050 farmers who sell to us, but that list is expanding because what we have done in the past 16 months is convert all our farmers who supply us into organic and Fairtrade farmers.

 

Hospital workers in Court

Three hospital workers, charged and accused of stealing pharmaceutical products from the Hospital Pharmacy, appeared in Court.

They are Pio Fesola’i, Amanono Mafualo and Fou Sekone. The trio was accused of being part of an alleged ring to manufacture methamphetamine or ice. 

Supreme Court Justice, Leiataualesa Daryl Clark, presided.

 

Doctors concerned over salaries 

The possibility that the salaries of doctors working at the hospital will be reduced as part of the health sector merge did not sit well with the Samoa Medical Association (S.M.A). 

This is according to S.M.A. President, Lauano Dr. Herbert Peters, who said they were meeting the Minister of Health, Tuitama Dr. Leao Tuitama, on the issue. 

Several doctors reached out to the Samoa Observer expressing concerns on the possibility that the merge of the Ministry of Health and National Health Services will reduce their salary. 

Another senior physician, Motuopua’a Dr. Aisoli Vaai, who is also the Chairman of the Medical Council, also expressed his concerns. 

“If it is true they are looking at reducing the salaries of doctors then that would be the wrong move. For every hospital, there is a salary structure in terms of qualifications, longevity of service. That is really sad if that will happen. 

“And that is why after graduating with postgraduate degree they move overseas. 

“All other countries, the salaries for doctors are significant, because they save lives. That is what we do and that is fact,” he told the Samoa Observer. 

 

A first for the Pacific region 

Samoa took the lead in the Pacific region in piloting the first recycling and waste management association. The Samoa Recycling and Waste Management Association (S.R.W.M.A.) was launched by the association’s Patron and Prime Minister, Tuilaepa Sa’ilele Malielegaoi.

S.R.W.M.A. aims to promote appropriate waste recycling and management practices by involving waste recyclers and management advocates in Samoa.  

 

 

N.H.S. Chief dares Minister   

The Chief Executive Officer (C.E.O.) of the National Health Services (N.H.S.), Palanitina Tupuimatagi Toelupe, dared the Minister of Health, Tuitama Dr. Leao Tuitama, to reveal who was spreading “false rumours” in relation to the health merge.

Mrs. Toelupe would not speak to the Weekend Observer. But when the Weekend Observer contacted her in relation to the Minister’s claim that the N.H.S. management is spreading false rumours as part of conspiracies to sabotage the health sector merge, Mrs. Toelupe delivered the message through her Secretary, Temukisa. 

 She said the N.H.S. Chief Executive Officer did not want to comment but she wanted to pass on the message to the Samoa Observer. 

“You should go back and ask the Minister to identify who at the management level have been spreading rumours,” Temukisa said. “But she does not want comment.”

 

“Dogs,” P.M. blasts Luatuanu’u attackers 

Prime Minister, Tuilaepa Dr. Sa’ilele Malielegaoi, compared the actions of the Luatunu’u men who blocked the road, endangered lives of the public and attacked the Police to that of “dogs.”

“There is only one outcome for such actions,” Tuilaepa, who is also the Minister of Police, said. “They should spend time in jail at Tafaigata Prison. The actions by these young men are not that of humans, rather they are the actions of dogs.”

The Prime Minister made the point after Police Commissioner, Fuiava Egon Keil, confirmed that several untitled men from Luatuanu’u had been arrested as a result of civil unrest there. The arrests were made when more than 60 Police Officers descended upon Luatuanu’u to try and calm a situation there where angry men from Luatuanu’u had taken to block the road.

Speaking to the Samoa Observer, Fuiava confirmed that some Police officers were injured when they attempted to clear the roadblock. The men had allegedly thrown rocks at them.

 

“Gentle giant” Dylan Mika passes 

The rugby community in Samoa and New Zealand mourned the death of former Manu Samoa and All Black forward, Tiumalumanaia Dylan Mika.

Described as a “warm, wonderful” and a “gentle giant” by families and friends, Tiumalu collapsed and died from a “suspected heart attack” at his home in Auckland, New Zealand. He was 45.

“It is with great sadness that the family of Dylan announce that he passed away suddenly and unexpectedly [on] Tuesday, March 20,” the statement reads.

“Dylan was a very much loved husband and father to Tracy and their daughter Marley, and dearly loved son, brother, uncle, cousin and friend.

“He was a hugely talented athlete, well-respected in the Samoan community and abroad but just as importantly, to his friends and family a warm, wonderful, and caring man. Gone far too soon at the age of just 45.”

 

Sad day as La’auli Alan Grey called home 

Samoa lost an icon with the passing away of La’auli Alan Grey. The businessman, hotelier, “Good Samaritan” to countless people, La’auli died peacefully at the Tupua Tamasese Meaole Hospital, Moto’otua. He was 82.

Affectionately referred to as the “father of Samoan rugby,” tributes about La’auli’s tremendous influence in Samoa and the Pacific region immediately followed from all over the world. Many took to social media to pay tribute to a hugely influential man with a loving heart. They remembered a man who was so generous he would help everyone and anyone – including animals.

While his business achievements as the Owner of the iconic Aggie Grey’s Hotel among other high profile ventures need no introduction, mourners paid tribute the simple acts that truly reflected La’auli’s heart of gold to help the less fortunate.

They remembered the owner of the red Ford pick up truck who would stop on the road to pick up anyone who needed a ride to and from Tiavi. They acknowledged his work to feed the stray and family dogs along the way to his home every day. 

A devout Catholic with his loving wife, Marina Grey, La’auli lived a life of giving.

He donated on a monthly basis to the Little Sisters of the Poor and many other charitable causes. In business, La’auli helped many local businesses that turned to him in their hour of need. Despite his influence and success though, he was very low key and extremely private. 

But it is rugby and how he helped to develop and raise the profile of the sport where his legacy will be cemented.

 

APRIL 

P.M. threatens to ban Facebook 

Prime Minister Tuilaepa Dr. Sa’ilele Maleilegaoi threatened to ban social media platforms from Samoa completely.

That will happen if “gutless anonymous bloggers” continue to use the freedom social media affords them to abuse Government officials and innocent members of the public.

“The Government will do what it takes to settle this matter once and for all, even if it means banning Facebook,” Tuilaepa said. 

“Most governments have banned Facebook, and we have been holding back because of the positive impact of social media.” 

He said the Government has had enough of faceless ghosts who use sites such as Facebook to post defamatory claims against unsuspecting victims.

Tuilaepa said these faceless writers have been posting countless allegations including extra marital affairs, corruption and sensitive details about public figures, their families and their children.

“Because its all based on lies, those affected are government leaders,” he said. 

“Those behind the social media posts are driven by the devil, their hearts are filled with hatred and I’m certain they don’t rest at night as they continue to make up fabrications.”

 

Lupesoliai Parker loses WBO title 

Lupesoliai La’auliolemalietoa Joseph Parker lost his World Boxing Organisation (W.B.O.) belt to Anthony Joshua in Cardiff but the brave young man from Samoa vowed to come back better and stronger.

Lupesoliai made the promise moments after a unanimous points decision went in favour of Anthony Joshua at the end of an intense fight at a sell-out Principality Stadium, Cardiff, Wales.

“I was beaten by the better man tonight,” Lupesoliai said, speaking in the ring after the fight. “It was a great experience and I want to say thank you for the opportunity. I’ll take it on the chin and I’ll be back again. I’ll work harder next time and land more punches, I’ll be giving it another go, certainly.”

Parker went on to lose another close fight to Dillain Whyte before ending the year with a knock victory against Flores.

 

 

Member of Council of Deputies Tuiloma passes away

Samoa mourned the passing away of Member of the Council of Deputies, Tuiloma Pule Alaimoana Unasa Lameko Gae’e. 

Tuiloma passed away at the Tupua Tamasese Meaole Hospital. He was 83.

 “Our family is deeply saddened by the passing of a man of great faith who always taught us the values of integrity, humility, respect, fairness, love and service for family, village, church and the people of Samoa,” the family said.

 “A lay preacher who loved the Lord, an orator and high chief who was rich with knowledge and pride for his Samoan heritage, a statesman, a politician, a Fellow chartered accountant, a farmer and a business man whose life was devoted to serve. Known to our family as ‘Meko’, he will be sorely missed.”

A national holiday was declared to honour his service to Samoa on the day he was buried.

 

N.U.S. honours Tapusatele Le Mamea 

The man who played a leading role in establishing the National University of Samoa was honoured by the university.

Member of the Council of Deputies and long serving former Member of Parliament, Tapusatele Le Mamea Tuiletufuga Lemalu Su’a Leatuavao Ropati Mualia, was awarded an Honorary Doctor of Political Science and Education during the graduation ceremony at the university.

Tapusatele is no stranger to the University, having being one of those behind the establishment of the institution. He was acknowledged for all the years that he has served Samoa and his contribution towards Samoa’s education system. 

For Tapusatele, he took a journey down memory lane yesterday. He said that the journey of establishing the University in February 1984 was not easy. 

With only 47 students in its early days, he still believed in his dream of giving back to his country. 

Fast forward three decades later, the 73-year-old stood on the podium in front of 428 graduates, parents and friends to deliver his speech, which he described could only be achieved with passion and having a dream.

 

Central Bank cracks down on “One Coin” scheme

The Governor of the Central Bank of Samoa, Maiava Atalina Ainu’u-Enari, confirmed an investigation into a scheme which uses middlemen to collect people’s money in the hope of gigantic returns.

She confirmed that they are investigating an ongoing scheme in Samoa known as “One Coin” or “One Life.” She declined to name any of the suspects. She also declined to confirm or deny reports that some prominent Church Ministers are involved. But Maiava said the Central Bank is taking the matter seriously.

 

Samoa’s golden performance at Commonwealth 

Sanele Mao lifted Samoa to golden heights when he won Samoa’s first gold medal at the Gold Coast Commonwealth Games. It was one of two gold medals won by the weightlifting team at the Games. 

The other was won by Feagaiga Stowers.

 

 

TV3 under new ownership 

The Apia Broadcasting Limited, which runs TV3, came under new ownership.

Maposua Corey Keil and Nicholas Caffarelli acquired the network, previously owned by former Cabinet Minister and businessman, Hans Joachim Keil.

TV3 confirmed the change of ownership.

“After 12 years, the first ever privately owned Television Broadcasting station in the country has changed ownership. Apia Broadcasting Ltd. (TV3), was officially taken over by Maposua Corey Keil and Nicholas Caffarelli last Friday 6th April.

TV3 was established 12 years ago by Hans Joachim Keil and members of his family as the first privately owned TV station in Samoa.

 “Our goal was to have a wide selection for our viewers especially family programs and movies that cater to families, especially children.”

 

Court dismisses Peseta’s appeal 

The Court of Appeal dismissed an appeal brought by Peseta Vaifou Tevaga against former business associates in long-standing dispute about a nonu company.

The dispute involves Associate Minister of Cabinet and Prime Minister, Peseta who is up again against former Cabinet Minister, La’aulilemalietoa Polataivao Schmidt and others. 

The decision was delivered by Justice Fisher, Justice Panckhurst and Justice Hansen of the Court of Appeal.

 

“Where is love?” Former Head of State asks

Former Head of State, His Highness Tui Atua Tupua Tamasese Efi, revealed that he was reassured by the Office of the Attorney General that the Land Titles Registration Bill (L.T.R.) 2008 would not alienate customary lands.

His Highness Tui Atua said he had asked for clarity on the matter when he was given the L.T.R. Bill 2008 to sign into law. 

 “In 2008 as Head of State, I was assured by the Attorney General that the provisions of the L.T.R. Bill would not impact in any way on the customary land rights of suli,” Tui Atua said in his address titled “O fea le alofa? Where is love?”.

“The Attorney General and his or her office is tasked with a sacred duty to provide the Head of State with the best legal advice possible.”

With this assurance, Tui Atua signed the bill. 

The former Head of State now shares a different view. During a media event at Tuaefu where he addressed the issues in relation to fears about the alienation of customary lands, Tui Atua said there is “ambiguity” in Article 102 of the Constitution that needs to be dealt with. 

“Today we have the responsibility of admitting that there is a problem with Article 102; that the ambiguity within is serious enough to warrant the attention of our best minds in order to make Article 102 unambiguous,” he said. 

“These minds, however, must be able to locate the principle of alofa in their custom law and statutory law assessments and have it sing in harmony alongside their assessments of pule, and of legal certainty and transparency.”

 

Chamber questions Govt. tax 

The Samoa Chamber of Commerce and Industry expressed disappointment over the lack of consultation on the Customs and Tariff Bill, which will increase the cost of imported food items like chicken.

Chamber’s Chief Executive Officer, Lemauga Hobart Va’ai, said the Government’s handling of the matter “lacks transparency.” 

“The Samoa Chamber of Commerce and Industry is disappointed that once again, despite a standing agreement with the Government to have a ‘no surprises’ approach to any proposed changes to the policies and laws that impact on the private sector and consumers, import duties on imported frozen chicken are being imposed with little or no timely consultation,” Lemauga said. 

“Such an approach lacks transparency and fosters uncertainty which could regrettably result in job losses as well as higher end-user food costs.

“Candid and timely dialogue would enable the Samoa Chamber of Commerce and Industry to provide fully informed impact assessments of any proposed changes as well as possible appropriate alternate solutions for addressing the issues underlying any proposed changes.”  

 

Rest in love, Manamea! 

A brave warrior, hero, a princess and more. These were just some of the words used by many mourners to describe a modern Samoan warrior, Manamea Apelu Schwalger, who during the past few years has become the face of Samoa’s Pinktober and the fight against cancer.

Affectionately known as “Mana,” she passed away peacefully at her home in Tanumapu’a after a battle with breast cancer and an incurable lung disease.

She was laid to rest at the Annandale Estate at Si’usega, after a service at Tanumapua Plantation House. 

Manamea is the daughter of Galoioalolealofa Tuiletufuga and Taufua Simimaiau Apelu. Married to Asa’asa Tagaloa Su’a Alan Schwalger, they have five children, Sade, Tyrone, Zulaika, Manamea and Tuifeamalo. 

Loved by many, the former Miss South Pacific and Miss Samoa, was known for her strong advocacy work for cancer. She made a historical change to the iconic Town Clock in the heart of Apia, with the color pink for the whole month of October last year.  

Mana used her speaking skills and public profile to go public with her breast cancer battle in Samoa. She wanted to raise awareness on the contributing risks to breast cancer in Samoa and found that many Samoan women shied away from discussing breast cancer. She hoped to shed light on the importance of early detection and recognising the symptoms of breast cancer. 

 

Minister of Justice denies claims 

The Minister of Justice and Courts Administration (M.J.C.A.), Fa’aolesa Katopau Ainu’u, denied claims that Land and Titles Court files were removed from the vicinity of the Court and taken to his Office. The files are in relation to the Ainu’u title of Sapapali’i and one other about the “boundaries of Atua.” 

The files were allegedly delivered by the Ministry of Justice and Courts Administration employee, Tu’ulima Io, to the Minister’s Office. He was accompanied by the Secretary of Chief Executive Officer, Papali’i John Taimalelagi.

“I took the boxes of files to the Minister’s Office; I was escorted by the C.E.O.’s Secretary,” Mr. Io told the Samoa Observer. “When I reported this matter to the Chief Justice; I told him that I was instructed by the C.E.O. to take these boxes of files. 

 “I followed orders even though I know deep down that this was wrong. I don’t care what the outcome of this is, but at least I came clean and reported the matter to the Chief Justice.”

He also gave the Samoa Observer a document that lists the names of 10 Land and Titles Court files that were allegedly removed from the Court and taken to the Minister’s Office in October 2016.

Asked for a comment, Minister Fa’aolesa said: “That is not true. I cannot respond to the questions if you will not tell me who said these things to you.”

But Mr. Io said he was the one who delivered the files in 2016, upon instructions from his superior.

At the time, he was the driver for the Chief Executive Officer of M.J.C.A., Papali’i John Taimalelagi.

 “I took the boxes of files to the Minister’s Office; I was escorted by the C.E.O.’s Secretary,” he said. “I have already reported this to the Chief Justice earlier this month.”

 

Fiame hits back at Tui Atua 

Deputy Prime Minister, Fiame Naomi Mata’afa, issued a very brief response to concerns expressed by the former Head of State, His Highness Tui Atua, about customary lands and Samoa’s land laws.

“He signed the law,” Fiame said. “I don’t know what more to say other than I have no comment.”

In a public address last week, His Highness Tui Atua warned that the wording of Article 102 of the Constitution is ambiguous. He fears that this could be negatively exploited and could lead to the alienation of customary lands.

The law Fiame is referring to is the Land Titles Registration Act 2008, which was signed into law by Tui Atua when he was the Head of State. 

 

Govt. debt $1.1 billion, Central Bank says

The Government’s total debt stands at $1.1 billion. This was according to the figures released by the Samoa Bureau of Statistics (S.B.S.) Financial Statistics for the December 2017 quarter. The statistics are issued by the Central Bank. 

The stats also reveal that Samoa’s debt to China is $416 million, making China Samoa’s biggest creditor.

The amount is higher than what Samoa owes the Asia Development Bank; World Bank and Japan. In January, Prime Minister, Tuilaepa Sa’ilele Malielegaoi rejected reports that Government debt to China had reached “billions”. 

“It’s wrong, it’s totally wrong,” he told the Samoa Observer back in Janaury.

“Look for a report issued by the Central Bank that is where the accurate information is found. It also indicates the amount (owed) to China.”

 

MAY 

Sir Bryan Williams dedicates knighthood to Samoa 

Former Manu Samoa Coach, Tuifa’asisina Bryan Williams, was honoured for his services to rugby in New Zealand and Samoa.

The Sir Bryan Williams knighthood was officially invested upon the humble Samoan during a ceremony in Auckland. He hopes the Samoan community would be equally proud of him as New Zealand. Sir Bryan was honoured during a ceremony presided over by New Zealand’s Governor General, Dame Pasty Reddy.

Sir Bryan, 67, was honoured for his long-serving involvement in rugby in New Zealand and Samoa since the 1960s.

 

China tells Samoa to “refrain” from Taiwan

China called on Samoa to reaffirm its support for the “One China policy,” and to refrain from any engagement with Taiwan. The call was made in Beijing, China, by China’s Vice Minister for International Liaison Department of the Central Committee of the Communist Party of China (I.D.C.P.C.), Guo Yezhou.

Mr. Guo met with a Parliament delegation from Samoa that was on a fact-finding mission in the People’s Republic of China. The delegation was led by Senior Member of Parliament, Gatoloaifaana Amataga Alesana-Gidlow.

 “China is the only country which has not been reunited yet,” Mr. Guo is quoted as saying in a statement issued by the Government’s Press Secretary. 

 “That is why the Taiwan issue and the One China policy are very important to China’s territorial integrity and sentiment to China’s 1.3 billion people so I believe that our Samoan friends can understand and support China’s position.”

He assured Samoa that China is “resolute in reuniting our country and one day Taiwan will come back to the motherland.”

 

P.M. blames ‘lack of education’

Prime Minister Tuilaepa Dr. Sa’ilele Malielegaoi blamed the Manu Samoa Sevens poor form on the H.S.B.C. World Sevens Series on the lack of education. 

The Chairman of the Samoa Rugby Union has rejected criticisms of Sir Gordon Tietjens, leveling the blame on the players and their ability to learn. 

 “It is not the coach,” Tuilaepa said. “This is solely the result of the players performance. Keep in mind some of the players were not educated properly. 

“Looking at players from Africa and Britain, if you ask about their educational backgrounds, you will find that they attend universities. 

“But what about our players? Well that is the struggle faced by the coach given that our players, some of whom did not reach standard four.”

Standard Four is the equivalent of Year 4 in Primary School today.

 

Fijian workers allowed to go home 

The two Fijian workers in the middle of a dispute that had been investigated by several Government authorities were allowed to go home.

 Assistant Chief Immigration Officer, Siaopo Pese, confirmed that the Stop Order issued against Tuipolotu Talatoka and Salaseini Serukeitoga, had been lifted.

The Fijian women were kept in Samoa after their employer, Lei’ataualesa Jerry Brunt, had filed a complaint with the Police, accusing them of removing items from his residence.

“The case had since been closed as the Police do not have sufficient evidence against the Fijian women,” Siaopo told the Weekend Observer.

Ms. Talatoka and Ms. Serukeitoga had been brought to Samoa by Lei’ataualesa for work. Ms. Talatoka was to work as a nanny while Ms. Serukeitoga as a housemaid.

This was until the Easter Week when the Fijian women left the residence of Lei’ataua. In a letter published by the Samoa Observer yesterday, Lei’ataualesa, who is a lawyer by profession, accused the Fijians of removing valuable items from their home. He claimed that his family is the victim in the matter.

 

Former Head of State “fooled” by “small lawyers”, P.M. says

Prime Minister Tuilaepa blamed “small lawyers” who “walk everywhere” and make a lot of “noises for fooling” the former Head of State, His Highness Tui Atua Tupua Tamasese Efi.

The Prime Minister refused to name the lawyers except to say these “small lawyers” don’t understand the Constitution. He added that they had based overseas all their lives and have only just come to Samoa “yesterday.” 

Tuilaepa was responding to Tui Atua’s claims that there is “ambiguity” in Article 102 of the Constitution in relation to customary land ownership.

 “The former Head of State has been fooled by these wannabe small lawyers,” Tuilaepa said. “Since the beginning and up until now, there is no part of Section 102 of the Constitution that should be amended or appear unclear. There is no ambiguity whatsoever. It is so clear. The Attorney General told me that it crystal clear. If I knew there was an ambiguity, I would’ve stood up long time ago to make it clear.”

 

Woman lands top Police role 

Samoa welcomed her first female Deputy Police Commissioner in Papali’i Monalisa Tiai-Keti. 

The appointment was confirmed by the Police Commissioner, Fuiava Egon Keil, in a media statement.

“The Commissioner of Police and the Samoa Police Service (S.P.S.) warmly congratulate Acting Assistant Commissioner Papalii MonalisaTiai-Keti on her new appointment as Deputy Commissioner of Police,” the statement reads.

Deputy Commissioner Papali’i joined the Police Service in 2004 as a Constable.

She is a former Samoa College student, and holds a Bachelor of Social Science from Waikato University.

 

P.M. Tuilaepa attacks Pohiva 

An interesting exchange broke out between Prime Minister Tuilaepa Sa’ilele Malielelgaoi and his Tongan counterpart, Akilisi Pohiva.

It led to Prime Minister Tuilaepa accusing Mr. Pohiva of being jealous of Samoa.

Tuilaepa made the comment in response to Mr. Pohiva questioning Samoa’s ranking on the World Press Freedom Index. Samoa is ranked 22nd while Tonga is ranked 51st.

Speaking at the opening of the 5th Pacific Media Summit being held in Nukualofa, Tonga, Mr. Pohiva suggested that something was odd with the rankings.

 

Grand opening of Faleolo International Airport

Samoa moved a step further to becoming the aviation hub of the South Pacific when the new and improved Faleolo International Airport was officially opened.

Prime Minister Tuilaepa Sa’ilele Malielegaoi said Samoa can be proud of its modern international airport, giving his thanks and appreciation to the Government of People’s Republic of China for funding the airport upgrade project.

He said the upgrade befitted that of a modern international airport and it would mean more business space for tourism-related services which would improve visitor experience. 

The Prime minister said the quality and scale of the project undertaken was in line with the government’s vision to create something that would serve Samoa well into 50 years.

“As envisioned by Government, these new terminal buildings will assist tourism growth in our country, in addition to boosting economic development through air transport facilitation and trade. For those who will be using these new airport buildings, its longevity can only be assured through appropriate usage, care and maintenance. It is your Government’s hope that this upgrade project will meet our country’s airport needs for the next 50 years.”

 

Former A.G. chairs Health merger Inquiry 

Cabinet appointed a Commission of Inquiry to consider the proposed organizational structure of the merger between the Ministry of Health and the National Health Services.

Prominent lawyer and former Attorney General, Taulapapa Brenda Heather-Latu, had been appointed as Chair. Commission Members include Professor Fui Asofou So’o and Fa’amausili Dr Matagialofi Lu’aiufi. The lawyers assisting the Commission are Sefo Junior Ainu’u, the Assistant Attorney General and Chief Public Solicitor, and Shalon Time, a State Solicitor.

 

Fepulea’i discharged without conviction 

District Court Judge, Alalatoa Rosella Papali’i discharged without conviction the President of the Land and Titles Court, Fepulea’i Atilla Ropati.

The decision has since been appealed by the Attorney General Lemalu Herman Retzlaff.

The matter was prosecuted by Assistant Attorney General, Rexona Titi, while Aumua Ming Leung Wai represented the defendant. 

Lemalu pointed out that Fepulea’i assaulted a member of the community using two bottles causing injuries to the victim’s head that required medical treatment. 

“The gravity of this offending was in our respectful view, far too serious for the defendant to be granted this result by the District Court. The sentence imposed needs to be revisited. 

“And I have instructed my Assistant Attorney General Ms. Rexona Titi to file the appeal and I commend her for the job she undertook to prosecute this matter with the objectivity and integrity it required.”

 

Maposua Rudolf Keil passes away 

Prominent businessman and a pioneer in the radio industry, Maposua Rudolf Keil, passed away.

The Owner of Radio Polynesia was 83 years old. 

Maposua started Radio Polynesia Limited in 1989 at Afiamalu and over the years had grown the business to now include several stations including Talofa FM, Magic FM, K Lite FM, Malo FM and Star FM. 

News of Maposua’s passing immediately spread on social media where it drew condolences from mourners in Samoa and all over the world.

Many of them describe Maposua as a “pioneer”, a man of “great faith” and a “great man.”

A prominent businessman, Maposua was also recognized for his distinguished service in the community. A staunch member of the Church of Jesus Christ of the Latter Day Saints in Samoa, Maposua is sadly missed.

 

Woman threatened to sue Govt. over alleged “abuse of power” 

A woman who claimed to have been unlawfully detained by the Ministry of Police in April last year threatened to sue the Government for an undisclosed amount.

The law firm acting on behalf of Katerinauatalia Lesatele, Lui and Chang, officially informed the Attorney General, Lemalu Hermann Retzlaff, about the lawsuit. It has done this in a letter titled “Notice of Proposed Proceeding,” dated 2 May 2018 addressed to the Attorney General. 

The lawsuit is in connection to the Government led hunt for an online blogger known as “Ole Palemia”. The Police had arrested the woman as part of the hunt.

But she has returned to sue the Government.

“Take Notice that the Prospective Plaintiff intends to file in the Supreme Court Justice a lawsuit against the Prospective defendant, the Commissioner of Police, Fuiavaili’ili Egon Keil, Ministry of Police, along with Police officer Susirita Tufuga, Police officer Hanaia Lene and Police Officer Perry Isopo,” the letter reads.

The Government is being accused of being “negligence, false imprisonment and/or unlawful detention, breach of constitutional rights, abuse of power/abuse of process/ misfeasance in public officer, breach of statute and malicious prosecution.” 

 

Farewell Ilia Likou!

A hero in the eyes of many, the humble and hardworking, Ilia “Iri” Luafau Likou, passed away. The Samoa Observer Senior Journalist died at the Moto’otua Hospital, aged 36. 

Daughter of Ielu and Felolini Luafau, Ilia is the eldest of her siblings that include Julie, Siave, Olivera and Nomeneta. Ilia of Vaitele Uta and Ti’avea, was raised by her aunt, Numera Likou, whom she calls “mum”. 

According to her mum, Ilia was unique in so many ways. She said Ilia’s love in caring for her cannot be described.  

“She is one bold woman,” said Numera. Ilia attended Vaigaga Primary School and later Leifiifi College. She went on to work at the National Bank of Samoa and the Samoa Land Corporation before the Samoa Observer.

 

The Markle sparkle at the Royal Wedding 

The son of British royalty and the daughter of middle-class Americans wedded in a service that reflected Prince Harry’s royal heritage, Meghan Markle’s biracial roots and the pair’s shared commitment to putting a more diverse, modern face on the monarchy.

British reserve crisscrossed with American verve in a service that broke molds and created new ones. Choirboys and a gospel choir; the archbishop of Canterbury and the African-American leader of the Episcopal church; a horse-drawn carriage and flowers hand-picked by the groom.

The wedding was a global event, thanks to Harry’s status as a senior British royal and Markle’s celebrity after starring on the U.S. television series “Suits” for seven years. Yet it seemed somehow so personal — and they both beamed like a couple who couldn’t take their eyes off each other.

 

Associate Minister rejects reports

The Associate Minister of Justice and Courts Administration, So’oalo Mene, rejected reports that a Government vehicle assigned to him was damaged during an incident outside a local bar involving his wife.

 “I invite you to look at the vehicle and you can see nothing was damaged,” he said. “I had a disagreement with my wife, and yes publicly.”

In speaking to the Samoa Observer, the Minister wanted to clear the air after social media reports that the Government vehicle was damaged by his wife. 

The Associate Minister admitted that there was a disagreement between him and his wife.

“Look this was an exchange between my wife and I, and I am cautious, this was a disagreement with my wife. It is no one else’s business. I’m cautious about the impact this will have on my family, let alone my young children.

“However, I want make it clear, that (reports that the Government vehicle was smashed) did not happen. I have nothing to hide and the car was not in any way damaged.” 

So’oalo admitted his wife threw bottles but not to the car. He said he was the target.

 

Church rejects Govt.’s tax law

The Congregational Christian Church of Samoa (C.C.C.S.) stood its ground in the dispute with the Government over the law requiring the Head of State and Church Ministers to pay taxes on their alofa.

“The decision from the Fonotele remains the same as in 2017 and that is to reject the law requiring Church Ministers to pay taxes,” said the C.C.C.S. General Secretary, Reverend Vavatau Taufao.

 “Keep in mind that in the C.C.C.S., there is no such thing as one’s discretion. That is why I have pride in my church because we practice the true meaning of democracy. We are a democratic church, the decision was not decided by one person, rather the entire church.” 

Rev. Vavatau said about 90 per cent of the church leaders reject the law.

Earlier, Prime Minister Tuilaepa Dr. Sa’ilele Malielegaoi made it clear that any Church Minister, including the C.C.C.S., who refuses to pay their taxes will face the full force of the law.

 

Chaos in Savai’i 

Two men were in critical condition at the Tuasivi Hospital after a horror weekend at Salelavalu and Salelologa on the big island of Savai’i.

What started as a regular game of billiards at Salelologa turned violent when a fight broke out, kicking off a sequence of events. 

The two men from Salelologa, who are fighting for their lives at the hospital, were allegedly beaten by men from Salelavalu. The Samoa Observer was told that the fight escalated to the burning of the house at Salelologa where the billiard game was held.

Gunshots were fired and homes in Salelologa were stoned.

On Sunday night, the men from Salelologa reacted by blocking the road, seeking out Salelavalu villagers. 

The roadblock affected innocent members of the public who were on their way to catch the ferry to Upolu in the morning.

Still unsatisfied, some men from Salelologa turned their attention to ransacking the Salelologa market, targeting Salelavalu villagers. Video footage captured the men harassing and smashing properties, helping themselves to whatever they could get their hands on.

 

Manu Sevens Captain sent home

The Manu Samoa Sevens captain, Alatasi Tupou, was sent back to Samoa from London to face the consequences of his drunken actions before the team left.

The veteran Sevens player was dumbed from the team as the Samoa Rugby Union tightened the screw on bad behavior by adopting “zero tolerance of any misconduct.”

The Union’s Chief Executive Officer, Faleomavaega Vincent Fepulea’i, said he was disappointed about Tupou’s behaviour.

Tupou has been charged for drunk driving. He has also been accused of acting in a disorderly manner in public during a drunken incident.

Tupou is a contracted player and Faleomavaega said there are details in his contract, which prohibit such actions. 

 

JUNE 

Samoa celebrates 56th Independence Day 

Samoa’s 56th Independence celebration kicked off with a thanksgiving service which paid tribute to Samoa’s forebears and their wisdom beyond their years.

Leading the tribute was the Chairman of the National Council of Churches, Leaupepe Kasiano Leaupepe.

It was the first official activity of the celebrations this year and it was well attended. The Head of State, His Highness Tuimaleali’ifano Vaaletoa Sualauvi II and the Masiofo, Her Highness Fa’amausili Leinafo were there.

They joined the Prime Minister Tuilaepa Sa’ilele Malielegaoi, his wife Gilian; Chief Justice, his Honour Patu Tiava’asu’e Falefatu Sapolu, Cabinet Ministers, Members of Parliament, Members of the diplomatic corps and guests. 

The thanksgiving service was followed by a one day celebration in front of the Government building.

 

Two young Samoans live their dreams  

Two young Samoans headed to Russia for rub shoulders with football royalty for the trip of a lifetime. Peniata Soul Maiava and Semisi Fatutoa Semisi’s dream to watch the F.I.F.A. World Cup turned into a reality thanks to the Gazprom International Children’s social programme, Football for Friendship (F.4.F.) 2018.

The Samoan duo leave tomorrow morning for Moscow ahead of the 2018 F.I.F.A. World Cup. 

Peniata represented Samoa as a young player while Semisi attended as a young journalist.

 

C.E.O. denies “corrupt and illegal practices” allegations 

The Chief Executive Officer of the Ministry of Works, Transport and Infrastructure (M.W.T.I.), Afamasaga Su’a Pou Onesemo, rejected allegations of corruption leveled against him by a former Member of Parliament of the Government of India, Sh.P.K. Bansal.

Mr. Bansal had written to the Chairman of the Public Service Commission on 28 May 2018, alleging “corrupt and illegal practices” by the Chief Executive Officer.

When the Samoa Observer contacted Afamasaga for a comment, he not only denied the allegations in the letter, he counter-accused Mr. Bansal and Ascent Navals of being corrupt themselves.

“These allegations is due to their frustration from numerous visits to Samoa and offers to myself and the Ministry that I continued to deny,” Afamasaga said. 

“He even offered a proposal to Samoa Shipping Corporation, which was also denied. These people are so demanding and the approach of bribing officials that I never accepted. Had there been any offers accepted, I would have been hesitant to remove them from the selection process.”

The Chief Executive Officer said his decision to remove Ascent Navals from the recruitment process has led to them making false allegations against him.

Afamasaga’s services as C.E.O were eventually terminated by the Government after a P.S.C. investigation.

 

A historical handshake 

President Donald Trump and North Korea’s Kim Jong Un kicked off a momentous summit that could determine historic peace or raise the specter of a growing nuclear threat, with Trump declaring they would have a “great discussion” and Kim saying they had overcome obstacles to get to this point.

Standing on a red carpet in front of a row of alternating U.S. and North Korean flags, the leaders shook hands warmly at a Singapore island resort, creating an indelible image of the two unorthodox leaders. They then moved into a one-on-one meeting, joined only by their interpreters.

“We are going to have a great discussion and I think tremendous success. We will be tremendously successful,” Trump said.

Speaking through an interpreter, Kim said: “It wasn’t easy for us to come here. There was a past that grabbed our ankles and wrong prejudices and practices that at times covered our eyes and ears. We overcame all that and we are here now.”

 

U.S.P celebrates 50 years 

Fifty years on, the University of the South Pacific (U.S.P.) still embodies the aspirations of the Pacific Island countries. 

A bulk of alumnae’s, staff and current students of the U.S.P. Alafua Campus marched through the streets of Apia to mark the opening of the university’s Golden Jubilee celebration. Led by the Samoa Police Band, it was a proud moment for all those who were educated under the regional institution that has grown in size and specification to address the needs of all its nationalities. 

Prime Minister Tuilaepa Sa’ilele Malielegaoi noted the university was established to fill the leadership gap left by the retreating colonial leaders and fulfill the education needs of the Pacific Islanders. 

“Since its inception, U.S.P. has shaped the Pacific region for the better and making itself a source of immense pride for the region, this has transformed its position from just an autonomous university in the region to its status as an excellent cultural education provider, research institution and development organization. 

“In the national accreditation of U.S.Ps programme, it is evident that the university has increased in its involvement as the vigor of its academic using international linkages research projects, assessments and outcomes.” 

University’s Pro-vice Chancellor, Winston Thompson commended Tuilaepa and the Samoan Government for their efforts in helping the development of the university. 

 

P.M. threatened over OLP claim 

One of two people Prime Minister Tuilaepa Dr. Sa’ilele Malielegaoi reportedly named as writers of the Ole Palemia (O.L.P.) blog, Namualuulu Albert Ainu’u, considered taking legal action against the Prime Minister.

Based in the United States of America, Namulauulu confirmed this: “The recent announcement from Talamua Media published Tuesday 12 June 2018, titled “O Le Palemia Ghost Writers Identities Revealed” by Lagi Keresoma has exposed some desperate smear campaign with unfounded evidence from the Prime Minister Tuilaepa Malielegaoi.

“The allegations are untrue and unfounded, in addition, the public announcement by the Prime Minister is in serious breach of his own Criminal Libel Act passed this year, for defaming others without substantial evidence.

“These allegations could find himself in Tafaigata prison for defamation.”

Namulauulu was among two people Tuilaepa reportedly named during his weekly programme. The second person resides in Australia. 

 

Krissy wins Exporter of the Year 

Krissy Company Ltd scooped the Overall Exporter of the Year Award at the 2018 Samoa Exports Award. 

General Manager of Krissy Company, Asiata Alex Brunt told the Sunday Samoan he is proud of the work that his team has done over the years.

“Being recognized as the Export of the Year is I guess a proof that we are doing something right and we are heading in the right direction,” he said. 

“I am proud of the work that our team have done over the past seven years to develop the Coconut Cream.

“We are very happy to be able to provide another cash drop on avenue, to develop another cash drop for our farmers, with the Popo in Savaii and we are also very happy that the product has been accepted in export market with the plenty of potential growth.”

 

Church asks Govt to reconsider 

The Elders of the Congregational Christian Church of Samoa (C.C.C.S.) urged Prime Minister Tuilaepa Dr. Sa’ilele Malielegaoi and his administration to reconsider the law to tax the alofa received by Church Ministers.

This was the gist of a letter from the Church to Prime Minister Tuilaepa, dated 15 June 2018. The 11-page letter, written in Samoan, highlights the church’s position on the issue. It was submitted to Tuilaepa prior to their much-anticipated meeting at the Prime Minister’s office.

The Church delegation was led by the Chairman, Reverend Elder Tautiaga Senara. He was accompanied by Reverend Elders and Deacons from Upolu and Savai’i.

In the letter to Prime Minister Tuilaepa, the Church argued that:

• The tax law is not in line with Biblical principles 

• The tax law contradicts the E.F.K.S’s core beliefs

• The tax law will impact the work of the church 

• The tax law does not take into account the church’s contribution to the development of the Government and Samoa

• The need for separation between the church and state

 

 

P.M. Tuilaepa called a “sifi” 

Prime Minister Tuilaepa Dr. Sa’ilele Malielegaoi objected to being called a “sifi” when Parliament convened to discuss the 2018/19 Budget.

The word sifi in Samoan is often used to describe the leader of a bad gang who is the last to be killed in an action movie. 

“I’m not a sifi,” Tuilaepa retorted, “I’m a servant of the (H.R.P.P.) party and the country. Remember God’s word, if you want to be great, be a servant of the kingdom. The problem today is that there are too many sifi.”

The reference to Tuilaepa being a sifi was made by Member of Parliament, Faumuina Wayne Fong, who raised concerns about the apparent lack of consultation with his constituents over the Government’s plan to build a wharf at Vaiusu. Faumuina reminded the Government that they need to consult with the people who will be most affected by their plans.

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“Think about the villages affected,” he said. “Think about Vaigaga, Vaiusu, Vailoa and everyone who lives there. I believe when people understand the intentions behind the developments then there will be no trouble.”

From what has transpired so far, Faumuina said it appears the Government has proceeded without seeking the opinions of the landowners.

“We are still waiting.”

 

Olo queries status of Aggie’s loan with D.B.S.

The Member of Parliament for Salega, Olo Fiti Vaai, questioned the status of a $50million loan approved by the Development Bank of Samoa (D.B.S.) to fund the reconstruction of the Aggie Grey’s Hotel and Bungalows after Cyclone Evan demolished it in 2012.

Olo raised the question during the 2018/2019 Budget debate in Parliament where he asked the Minister of Finance, Sili Epa Tuioti, to follow up in terms of loan repayments. 

He claimed that some of his constituents, who had loans at D.B.S., were being pursued by the Bank, for failing to pay much lesser amounts. He said the Government should ensure loans such as one granted back then to Aggie’s Hotel, which has since become Sheraton Samoa under a new ownership, are also vigorously pursued for fairness.

In response, Prime Minister Tuilaepa Dr. Sa’ilele Malielegaoi defended the approval of the loan, saying it is part of the Government’s efforts to encourage tourism developments. 

When it comes to lending, Tuilaepa said the Bank considers the assets used as collaterals before a loan is approved. 

 “So when these things are brought to me, I ask if they have got enough assets (to cover the loan)? They tell me yes there is a lot. So we need to give them another chance because they have got a lot of assets that can be sold by our Development Bank to cover everything.”

 

Plastic ban announced 

A new era started as Samoa works towards phasing out a range of single-use plastics, joining global efforts to save our environment from the impact of plastics.

Starting in January 2019, the Government aims to ban single use plastic bags and straws. It is also intended that styrofoam food containers and cups will be banned once environmentally friendly options have been identified and are in use.  

It is proposed that alternatives to single-use plastic bags include reusable paper bags and reusable cloth bags.

“Samoa is proud to make this announcement as we enhance our Blue Pacific and join the global fight to restore our ocean and address damage caused by plastic,” said Ulu Bismarck Crawley, Chief Executive Officer, Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment (M.N.R.E.).

“This issue is too large for us to sit by without taking any action.  By making these changes as a nation, our positive impact will be felt not only by us in Samoa, but also by our global community.”

 

Works A.C.E.O. faces P.S.C. Charges  

The Assistant Chief Executive Officer for the Maritime Division of the Ministry of Works, Transport and Infrastructure (M.W.T.I.), Fepulea’i Mark Alesana, was charged by the Public Service Commission (P.S.C.).

Fepulea’i faced six P.S.C. charges over his alleged connection to an Indian company, which had raised allegations of corruption against the Ministry’s Chief Executive Officer, Afamasaga Su’a Pou Onesemo. 

When the Sunday Samoan contacted Fepulea’i for a comment, he denied that he had been suspended.

“I’m on sick leave,” he said. “I had a heart attack at home and I was admitted to the hospital. If you want to see my medical report I can give it to you. But I am on sick leave for three months.”

Fepulea’i’s services has since been terminated. 

 

Baby dies in vicious dog attack

A two-month-old baby died from head injuries sustained during a vicious dog attack. The incident occurred at Fasitoo-uta.

A family member of the victim, who did not want to be identified, said the infant was bitten after his mother dropped him when she was attacked.

“The mother of the infant is my uncle’s wife – she went to charge her mobile phone – when the dogs attacked her,” said the family member.

“She went with her son to charge her phone. The dogs attacked while she was holding her son and then he fell and that’s when the dogs bit the baby’s head.

“We are all shocked by what had happened. We didn’t (hear) her scream and it wasn’t until she came with her son, that’s how we found out about the incident.”

 

 

JULY 

Samoa beats Germany 

In front of their home crowd at Apia Park, the men in blue showcased passion and next level ball skills to beat a strong German side 66-15.

An emotional Head Coach, Titimaea Tafua spoke to the Sunday Samoan that his team had to win this game, not only for a spot in next year’s World Cup in Japan, but for the people of Samoa. 

While previous match results of the team put the Manu Samoa on an unfavourable part of the spectrum, the boys, according to Titimaea, played their hearts out to turn the tables around. And there was no secret at all, he said. 

“I think the boys today (yesterday) they really want win, especially in front of our people since it is only one game to be played here in Samoa and the boys played from their heart,” Titimaea said. 

Titimaea acknowledged all the supporters and attributed the team’s success to the home crowd and families. 

Manu Samoa went on to win the second game in Germany which secured Samoa a World Cup spot.

 

Teen killed in Saleufi crash 

A 17-year-old boy was killed in a car crash on Sunday night.

The crash occurred at Saleufi in front of the Mai Company premises.

The victim was identified as Orlando Manulelia with his older brother Poutoa confirming that he was killed in a car crash.

“We were at the sea wall on the night of the incident then he left to use the lavatory. We kept waiting for him until a man came in the taxi and told us that there’s a crash at Saleufi. We came to see and that’s when we saw my brother’s vehicle,” he said.

“We tried to pull him out but he was stuck inside and then the Fire Emergency Service as well as the police came and they managed to pull him out.”

The family is puzzled over how he died as Poutoa said the crash occurred ‘on the other side of the road’.

 

Fuiavailili decries rise in gun smuggling

Police Commissioner Fuiavailili Egon Keil lamented the inability of local law enforcement agencies to stop gun smuggling. 

Speaking at a ceremony to destroy 285 illegal firearms, the country’s top cop said the cache of weapons included AK-47 submachine guns and hand guns, which points to the various agencies not doing their jobs. 

“A lot of these guns here are not made in Samoa. We don’t make bullets as well or ammunitions, but these guns somehow find their way into our island and it’s not just Samoa, it’s other islands as well,” he said.

“You see and AK-47 here, got shot-rifles and hand-guns and then you think how it got into Samoa, well it got in here somehow and there are lots of ways you can bring them into Samoa and obviously we are not doing our job as good as it should be.”

 

E.F.K.S. Church ready to face “consequences”

The E.F.K.S. Church and the Government headed for a collision course with General Secretary Reverend Vavatau Taufao declaring they are ready to face the “fury” of the Government. 

The General Secretary said the E.F.K.S., with a membership of 56,818 people, made its decision at the end of the Fono Tele and they stood by that decision despite the potential ramifications - which include the seizure of their ministers’ personal assets. 

 “Let the Government implement their law. As for the E.F.K.S. church, we stand by the decision reached at the end of the Fono Tele. We will wait until the Fono Tele next year to review that decision. If there are consequences in the meantime, we have to remember that Jesus said I’m sending you as sheep among wolves.  The pastors are prepared to carry the cross,” he said.

“But remember what Jesus told Peter. He said I would establish my church upon this rock and give you the keys; even the gates of hell wouldn’t prevail against it.”

The Church’s position was announced by Rev. Vavatau during a special programme aired on church-run television station E.F.K.S. TV. He was responding to the decision by Prime Minister Tuilaepa Dr. Sa’ilele Malielegaoi’s administration to reject a plea by the church to reconsider the church tax law.

 

Dogs poisoned, homes burgled

Residents were warned to be on the lookout for thieves who poison dogs in a neighborhood and burgle the homes of the dog-owners a week or two after their dogs die.

Ulalei Keil Van Heeswyk, a resident of Vaoala, said one of her dogs had to be put down after it was poisoned. She later found out that four other families in her neighborhood also had their dogs poisoned and their homes robbed a week or two later.

“Some of the families in our area who had their dogs poisoned were later robbed a week or two later. Right now in our neighborhood, it’s really eerie because it’s so silent. It’s unusual to have uninterrupted sleep because there are always dogs barking and playing up the street,” she said. 

Three weeks prior to their dogs being poisoned, the Keil Van Heeswyk family residence was burgled as the family had a large gathering in their backyard.  Wallets and passports were stolen and two weeks ago, Ulalei noticed that her one-year-old dogs were not their usual selves.

 

Children accessing porn in Samoa 

Internet service providers in Samoa are profiting from children accessing pornography. Justice Vui Clarence Nelson, a member of the U.N. Committee of the Rights of the Child, sounded the warning and decried the failure by the companies to invest in advocacy and awareness programs targeting children to warn them of the dangers of accessing porn.

“Children accessing pornography online is a global issue, just like Samoa and the internet providers are making millions from the data purchased using their network. But they should be held accountable and they too should invest money in combating these problems,” he said and called for them to be held accountable. “Do we hear the network companies talking about funding anti-pornography programs? They are not only internet providers but its commercial company and they are making a lot of money out of it. They are not doing this for any other reasons other than to make money. It is profit driven.” 

 

Two babies die after vaccination 

The Ministry of Health stopped the vaccination of infants against measles, mumps and rubella (M.M.R.) while they investigated the deaths of two toddlers in Savaii.

Prime Minister Tuilaepa Sa’ilele Malielegaoi expressed sympathy and sent his condolences to the parents and families of the two young babies.

“I have not been fully briefed concerning the circumstances leading up to the death of the two innocent young children who passed away reportedly after the young boy and girl were administered vaccination injections at a District Hospital in Savai’i last Friday. But it will not detain me from reiterating a message of sympathy and condolences to the parents and families,” he said.

Chief Executive Officer of the Ministry of Health, Leausa Dr. Take Naseri, says the notice to stop M.M.R. vaccinations is applicable to all health facilities in Upolu and Savaii. The families of the dead toddlers have filed criminal complaints against the clinics in Savaii with the C.E.O. saying he is aware of police investigations. 

 

Methodist Church elects new President 

The Methodist Church elected a new President in Reverend Faulalo Leti Paaga.

He was elected during their annual conference at Faleula.

Reverend Faulalo took over from the former President, Reverend Apineru Lafai.

The 59-year-old is from the villages of Sale’imoa, Nu’uuli and Manu’a, American Samoa. 

He comes to the role with 37 years of service to the church under his belt.

“I am overwhelmed and humbled by this calling,” he told the Samoa Observer. 

“For me, I am just a mere servant and I feel inadequate but at the same time I am extremely grateful for the faith placed in me by the church.

“I believe this is my calling, this is the reason I have given up my entire life for it.”

 

Samoa Airways asks for $12 million loan 

Samoa Airways asked the Unit Trust of Samoa (U.T.O.S.) for a $12 million loan.

The Government has in recent months denied that the national airline has been operating at a loss with the Minister of Public Enterprise, Lautafi Selafi Purcell, again dismissing reports that the loan is a financial assistance package to rescue the airline.

“Every starting company must have a backup plan and that calls for additional funding in case of an emergency and the company does not scramble to look for money hence the loan with U.T.O.S.,” said Lautafi. 

“With any starting company, especially an airline which is very costly, during its first 24 months will operate on a loss. However, for the Samoa Airways that has changed and our flights have been full since last month.”

While the Minister denied the airline was in a financial conundrum, he admitted that the Government is paying the wages for its pilots and cabin crew until a local crew is hired. 

“That’s what a fa’afafine would say” 

The claim by the General Secretary of the E.F.K.S. Church, Reverend Vavatau Taufao, about the Government bringing back the colonialism mentality sounds like something a fa’afafine would say.

That’s what Prime Minister Tuilaepa Dr. Sa’ilele Malielegaoi said, hitting back at the General Secretary over the tax dispute between the Government and the E.F.K.S. Church.

Tuilaepa rubbished claims by Rev. Vavatau that the Government’s law to tax the alofa received by Church Ministers is part of a colonial mindset the H.R.P.P. Government is finding hard to shake. The Prime Minister laughed and said the word “kolone” (colonial) in Samoan means you are being dominated by another person. 

 “That is what a fa’afafine would always say,” Tuilaepa said. “That man is my kolone and who knows maybe the General Secretary has a fa’afafine side.

“If he does have a fa’afafine side, he should come and join my association (Samoa Fa’afafine Association) where I am the Patron. I am a fatherly figure to the fa’afafine of Samoa.”

 

La’auli files $10million lawsuit against Peseta 

Member of Parliament La’aulialemalietoa Polataivao Schmidt filed a $10 million lawsuit against his former business colleague and another veteran Human Rights Protection Party (H.R.P.P.) politician Peseta Vaifou Tevaga.

La’auli is suing the Associate Minister of Cabinet and Prime Minister for loss of profits and tarnishing of the reputation of nonu-producing company, Local Partners and Associates Limited (L.P.A.) in a legal wrangle dating back to 2015.

Last year, Supreme Court Justice Tafaoimalo Leilani Tuala-Warren dismissed a civil claim brought by Peseta against the former Cabinet minister. An appeal which he also filed was also dismissed. A separate criminal proceeding between the same parties is also pending in the Supreme Court. 

 

Chief Justice’s appointment extended

The Government extended the appointment of the Chief Justice, His Honour Patu Tiava’asu’e Falefatu Sapolu. This was confirmed by Prime Minister Tuilaepa Dr. Sa’ilele Malielegaoi who said the decision was based on ‘common sense.’

The Prime Minister said a number of factors were taken into consideration before the decision was reached. 

“I am the one to answer the question please because the decision was based on my recommendation,” he said. 

“Common sense is applied to this matter. The Chief Justice has work that needs to be completed. His rulings should be done by him, not other Judges.”

Tuilaepa said the decision had also been endorsed by the Head of State, His Highness Tuimalealiifano Vaaletoa Sualauvi II.

 

Samoa Planet closes 

A Samoan-focused online news service announced that it was closing after two years of operation. Samoa Planet, a news and information website run by Lani Wendt Young and Tuiloma Sina Retzlaff, announced that they have to go their separate ways.

“Nearly two years ago, we started Samoa Planet with a vision of building a platform that centred the voices of our people worldwide. Since then we have worked to provide balanced and objective news, insightful essays and opinion pieces, and feature stories that celebrate the rich diversity of talent and excellence of Pasifika.”

 

Manu Sevens player Langkilde investigated 

Manu Samoa Sevens player, Gordon Langkilde, was suspended and investigated by the World Rugby and the San Francisco Police Department.

The decision followed an incident at the tunnel area of AT&T Park after Samoa lost to Wales at the Sevens Rugby World Cup in San Francisco.

“World Rugby can confirm that a Samoa player has been provisionally suspended from Rugby World Cup Sevens 2018 following an initial investigation into an alleged incident in the tunnel area after a match between Samoa and Wales at AT&T Park on Saturday,” the statement reads.

“The alleged behaviour is not aligned with the sport’s values and the excellent spirit in which this competition has been played by the 40 participating teams.

“World Rugby has instigated an investigation and it would be inappropriate to make any further comment until the conclusion of that process. 

“The Samoa player will remain provisionally suspended until the final conclusion of that process.”

 

 

New political party registered 

A new political party was registered for the 2021 General Election.

The registration of the party called “Samoa’s First Political Party” was confirmed by the Electoral Commissioner, Faimalo Matthew Lemisio.

The Electoral Commissioner confirmed that the Party’s Secretary is Feagaima’alii Bruce To’omalatai. 

Prominent lawyer, Unasa Iuni Sapolu, is the leader of the Party.

 

Work begins to redevelop Apia waterfront 

Work started to redevelop the Apia waterfront to enable it to host government-sanctioned events.

The redevelopment work started in front of the Government building towards the Clock Tower Boulevard

Speaking at the groundbreaking ceremony in front of the government building yes, New Zealand High Commissioner David Nicholson acknowledged the major milestone achieved in the partnership between New Zealand and Samoa.  

“New Zealand has been involved in supporting the development of the Apia waterfront since 2015. New Zealand is pleased that through this investment, we are a part of the waterfront initiative co-financed by the Green Climate fund with whom I would like to commend for its ongoing commitment and contribution in ensuring that climate resilience infrastructure in Samoa proceeds,” he said.

“We began with the establishment of the programme unit, the development of the Apia Waterfront Plan, the implementation of the plan through immediate and early development activities, and today (yesterday) we mark the start of this event space.”

New Zealand High Commissioner resigns 

New Zealand’s High Commissioner to Samoa, David Nicholson, resigned.

The resignation was confirmed by the New Zealand’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade.

“David Nicholson has resigned from his position as New Zealand High Commissioner to Samoa, effective from 6 August 2018. The Ministry thanks David for his service and wishes him well in his future endeavors,” the statement read. 

Former High Commissioner, Nick Hurley, has returned to take over in the interim period until a permanent appointment is made. 

 

Call them “Samoa halfback”

Prime Minister Tuilaepa Dr. Sa’ilele Malielegaoi welcomed the registration of Samoa First Political Party.

But the leader of the Human Rights Protection Party (H.R.P.P.) objected to the use of the words “Samoa First” in the name of the party. He has instead advised them to change their name to “Samoa Ninth” or “Samoa halfback.”

“When we talk about the first in Samoa, that’s the H.R.P.P. You see when it comes to protecting Samoa’s traditions, culture as well as our customary lands, the H.R.P.P. is number one,” Tuilaepa said.

“So they need to reconsider their name. Maybe they didn’t think about it but who knows next week they might. What do you call the number nine in rugby? Halfback? Maybe they should call it Samoa halfback?”

He said the establishment of the new party could only strengthen democracy in Samoa. Asked if he was concerned that the new party could be a threat given they have close to a hundred members already and growing, Tuilaepa said no. 

“This is what we wanted, to have some other parties to make the game a bit more interesting. It’s a bit dull when there is only one so it’s good to have an array of parties, it makes it a bit more colourful.”

 

P.M. downplays salary cut 

Prime Minister Tuilaepa Dr. Sailele Malielegaoi downplayed Cabinet’s decision to slash his salary from $187,500 to $182,070 per annum.

He has also rejected concerns raised by Member of Parliament, Olo Fiti Vaai, about the decision saying Olo is just using the issue as a political tool.

“It’s up to him if he’s not happy,” Tuilaepa said in response to Olo’s criticisms of the decision where he called it “insulting”. “I know he’s not genuine. You know in this life as a Parliamentarian, if you see somewhere firing an arrow towards the west, then you have to look east. That’s politics. 

“If somebody tells you that what they’re talking about is white, then you know it’s not white but it’s actually black. Don’t be fooled by it.”

A Cabinet paper published by the Samoa Observer revealed that while Cabinet approved a salary increase for Judges of the Court, the Prime Minister’s salary was cut by $5,000 per annum. Asked for a comment, the Prime Minister said the reduction of his salary is not new.

“If we don’t make a lot of money, then that’s how it is,” Tuilaepa said. “That’s why we always emphasize the need for taxpayers to pay their taxes. Don’t get tired of paying your taxes because the government has got developments to implement.” 

 

AUGUST 

Tuilaepa slams boy racers 

Drivers commonly known as “boy racers” were put on notice by the Minister of Police, Tuilaepa Dr. Sa’ilele Malielegaoi. He also warned that the parents of these young people could be charged.

“This is reckless, it’s some kind of new thinking,” Tuilaepa said.

The warning follows recent car crashes where speed and an element of boy racing are suspected. 

 “They are show offs,” Tuilaepa said. “You see when you do a burn out, there is a likelihood you will not be able to control the car when it spins out of control so that you end up flipping.

“So what happens in the end when they crash and die? The parents end up in tears and they suffer.”

 

Men jailed over Luatuanu’u incident 

Nine of eleven men from Luatuanu’u accused over blocking the road, in an incident the Police were attacked earlier this year, were jailed by the District Court. 

The sentencing was handed down by District Court Judge Fepulea’i Ameperosa Roma. The accused were Lilo Asiasi Fa’aitiiti, Perenise leauta, Joe Junior Peseta, Sonny Motu Elia, Jason Kioa, Sefo Vaoifi, Leueni Iakopo Tua, Ameperosa Manaia Lama, Lafaele Vito Sakaria, Fomai Perenise and Vito Sakaria.

While eight were jailed for six months; one was jailed for six weeks i while the other two were convicted, discharged and ordered to pay Police cost.

The men faced charges of disorderly conduct, obstruction of public road, being armed with dangerous weapon, throwing stones, threatening words and rioting.

Lawyer Vaisala Afoa of the Attorney General’s Office was the prosecutor.

 According to the Police summary of facts, the matter occurred on March 19 this year at Luatuanuu.

The men blocked the government road after the Anoamaa District Rugby Tournament on March 17, 2018, which resulted in a dispute between the young members of Luatuanuu and Falefa.

 

Tui Vaai Jnr. skips the country 

The Ministry of Justice and Courts and Administration (M.J.C.A.) could not explain how a businessman left the country when they have both his passports.

M.J.C.A. Chief Executive Officer, Papali’i John Afele Taimalelagi, said that as part of a Court matter involving Tui Vaai Jr., he was told to surrender his travel documents. And he did.

 “To date, we still have the two passports that were surrendered to the Court as part of his bail conditions,” said Papali’i. “How he left it has nothing to do with us because we still have the passports in the Court’s possession.

 “The passports were of New Zealand Government and Samoa Government,” said Papali’i “and it is within the Court’s possession I can assure you that.”

The District Court had issued an arrest warrant for Tui Vaai Jr when he failed to appear for sentencing. According to the arrest warrant, Tui Vaai of Si’usega and Fasito’otai was implicated on a deception charge. 

The warrant states the accused sold Lot 35 in Plan 11388 to Laufau Saleimoa Amosa, which was already sold to a Victori Lui, thereby obtained $10,000 and causing losses to Saleimoa, a female of Vaitele and Auala Savaii. 

 

Seafarers raise concerns with P.M.

The Samoan Seafarers Union (S.S.U.) took up the concerns on its members’ contracts and working conditions with the Prime Tuilaepa Sailele Malielegaoi.

The Prime Minister confirmed this in an interview with the Samoa Observer, saying there are issues that need to be addressed. 

“Yes the matter reached my office. However, the issued is being handled by board and I had to refer this matter back to them. The seafarers came directly to me, yet there are issues on the ground level that needs to be addressed in order to assist them,” said the Prime Minister. 

Sailors who had raised their concerns with the union as well as S.S.U. president Fred Amoa declined to comment when contacted by this newspaper. 

Some sailors feared that speaking with the media would only jeopardize their efforts to get the authorities to address their grievances.

 

Health Inquiry releases damning report 

The leaders of the health sector in Samoa exist in a “state of warfare.” 

And unless “reconciliation” takes place immediately between leaders of the “warring occupational groups”, especially doctors and nurses, members of the public whose lives depend on the sector, will continue to be victims. 

But it’s not just that. Health workers who are merely trying to perform their duties will continue to be trapped in this vicious cycle while “the war” rages above them.

This was the gist of a report by a Commission of Inquiry appointed by Cabinet to review the proposed merger between the Ministry of Health (M.O.H.) and the National Health Services (N.H.S.). 

The report titled “A Pressing need for Grace”, which casts doubt on whether the merge can proceed under current circumstances, has been submitted to Cabinet for their deliberation.

 “A fundamental change in attitude of all Health sector workers is the Commission’s own prescription for the terminal condition which the sector is currently manifesting, an attitude of selfishness and mala fides (bad faith) which lies at the heart of the conflicts and disagreements which has paralyzed the service for many years,” the report reads. 

“The Commission strongly recommends the conduct of a formal process of reconciliation between the leaders of the warring occupational groups. 

“(There is also) a need for a nationwide resetting of health sector goals where the best interests of patients and the needs of the public, dictate the form of health administration we have, (and not groups of privileged self- centered office bound jet setting combatants), whilst the vast majority of ill- treated underpaid staff continue to work hard and do the best with what they have, whilst ‘the war’ rages above and around them.”

Chaired by former Attorney General, Taulapapa Brenda Heather-Latu, the Commission members included the Vice Chancellor of the National University of Samoa, Fui Dr. Asofou So’o and former Chief Executive Officer of the Public Service Commission, Fa’amausili Dr. Matagialofi Lua’iufi.

“There is a fundamental lack of effective leadership over and within the health sector, which is now in a critical state of dysfunction and has been torn asunder by sector wide hostility, suspicion and conflict,” the report says.

“This woeful state of affairs has been allowed to continue, and indeed flourish through a lack of attention and an unwillingness at the highest level to stamp out the destructive behavior and arrogant behavior of certain sector health leaders and their followers.” 

 

Parking meters installed in Apia 

Parking meters were installed in parts of the Apia Township. 

Land Transport Authority C.E.O., Galuemalemana Ta’atialeoitiiti Tutuvanu-Schwalger said this was part of easing traffic congestion in town.

The meters are now being used and they cost from $2 upwards depending on how long you park.

The meters have received mixed feedback from members of the public.

 

Chinese man goes missing at To Sua 

The Police and the Fire and Emergency Services Authority (F.E.S.A.) began a search for a Chinese man in his 20s who went missing at the To Sua Ocean trench.

The man was identified by the Police as Feng Nen Ming. 

F.E.S.A. Assistant Commissioner of Operation, Tanuvasa Petone Mauga, said they did everything possible to find the Chinese man.

The man’s body has never been found. He became the second person to have gone missing at To Sua in as many years.

 

Coach Tupu Lefao passes away 

A much loved and revered local youth American football coach was laid to rest after an outpouring of love from the many young people he had mentored and coached through the sport.

Agatupu Lefao, or Coach Tupu, founded the Samoa Gridiron programme to open up a pathway for athletes in Samoa to attend college and play in the U.S.A.

Mr. Lefao passed away suddenly on 28 July at Motootua Hospital from a suspected blood clot. 

Speaking to the Samoa Observer, his wife, Selina Lefao, said she is still in shock considering that her husband was in perfect health.

“He was perfectly healthy; he’s had full physicals in America and here in Samoa. He went to hospital on Friday night because he wasn’t feeling right. They did an E.K.G. and they said he was fine but his blood pressure was a little elevated,” she said. “He had a pinched nerve in his C6, which is unusual because it was in his neck area. To me that was unusual. We think it was a blood clot and we found out that blood clots are misdiagnosed everywhere in the world as pinched nerves and if it’s in the neck area, you’re not even supposed to move.”

 

Salelologa market trio jailed

The three men charged over the ransacking of the Salelologa market and damage of properties in May this year were jailed for nine months and ordered to pay a fine.

Junior Pauli Mark, 31, Tony Fiu Tafea, 22, and Viliamu Touli Fagaese, 22, from Saletagaloa, Salelologa appeared before District Court Judge Fepuleai Ameperosa Roma for their sentencing.

Junior and Viliamu were both sentenced to nine-months imprisonment on the charges of intentional damage while Tony escaped a custodial sentence, but was ordered by the Court to pay a court fine of $200.

The police summary of facts presented in Court alleged that the actions of the trio resulted in damage to the properties of a 38-year-old female from the village of Salelavalu, a 28-year-old female, and a 41-year-old male who owns a barber shop and pool tables at the market.

The incident on May 28, 2018 at the Salelologa market was the result of a dispute between young men from Salelologa and Salelavalu. The defendants allegedly went to the market on that day and started provoking and destroyed the belongings of the victims. 

 

Nurse face charges of being negligent, perverting justice

Police Commissioner, Fuiavailili Egon Keil, confirmed charges against a nurse implicated in the deaths of two toddlers at Safotu hospital last month. 

Her identity was not revealed by the Police at the time. Speaking to the Samoa Observer, Fuiava said the Police have charged the nurse with alleged negligence resulting in death and perverting the course of justice.

“I believe there’s two charges count on that one is negligence causing death and the other one is perverting the course of justice,” he said.

“It’s very unfortunate that it has resulted to this or what had happened to the two toddlers. However, because it is now on the hands of the law enforcement we have done our own investigation and all the element of the crime has been satisfied and those charges were the ones that stood out.”

The Nurses Association of Samoa President, Solialofi Papalii, questioned the decision.

 “There are the two flat sides and the wheel in the middle. These are the charges from the police and their investigation and we are so confused on how they were able to have charges, when results of the postmortem that was conducted by an Australian specialist is not here yet.

“Another thing is that they have charged the senior Nurse and yet there was a manager who oversee everything as well as other nurses that were there and yet she is the only one that been charged and held in custody.

“There is one other nurse who administered the other vaccination and yet she is not charged so we are puzzled that this information is not clear to us. We were told that the nurse that is now in custody was the one who mixed the vaccination but we are not sure whether she was the one who mixed both vaccinations for both toddlers.”

 

Julie Bishop visits 

Prime Minister Tuilaepa Dr. Sa’ilele Malielegaoi and Australia’s Foreign Affairs Minister, Julie Bishop, unveiled a time capsule, which they plan to bury at the new Parliament House (Maota Fono) being constructed at Mulinu’u.

The event was one of several local engagements for Ms. Bishop who was in Samoa for two days. She was accompanied by Australia’s Minister for International Development and the Pacific, Concetta Fierravanti-Wells, who led Australia’s delegation to the Pacific Island Forum’s Foreign Ministers Meeting at Taumeasina Island Resort.

 

Minister explains banana decision 

The Minister of Agriculture and Fisheries, Lopao’o Natanielu Mua, defended the decision to prioritise commercial farmers in the distribution of the Israel banana variety, geared for exports.

The Minister was asked for a comment following concerns by small-scale farmers, who say they are finding it hard to obtain some of the banana suckers because the priority is given to “the rich and bigger commercial farmers.” 

Among them are prominent businessmen, Taimalie Charlie Westerlund and Ututa’aloga Charlie Ulia. 

 “We’ve given 2,000 to Ah Liki, 2,000 to Ulia and 2,000 to the village of Magiagi because they were the main suppliers of bananas to the market and they were affected by Cyclone Gita,” Lopao’o said. “We gave 1,800 to the Ministry for our tissue culture lab so that we can produce more bananas.”

The Minister said he accepts that some farmers will “think that I am being unfair.” 

“The reality is that I cannot please everyone. Like that saying, you can please some people some of the time but you can’t please everybody all the time. 

“I want everybody to succeed but I must also make sure that the objectives of the export drive are met and I trust my views and the only way to achieve it is to do what we are doing right now.”

 

Unasa Sapolu heads Samoa First 

Prominent lawyer Unasa Iuni Sapolu emerged as the leader of the Samoa First Political Party (S.F.P.P.). She was previously the legal counsel for the Samoa Solidarity International Group Global Initiative and visited villages to raise awareness on issues affecting ordinary citizens. 

But it was in the villages, says Unasa, where people came forward to sign a petition requesting she and her colleagues establish a political party.

“And due to popular demand people personally requested and signed a petition allowing the registration of the Samoa First Political Party, with the Election Commission Officer. 

“Who are we to deny the demand voted by the majority of members of the public we encountered during our educational programs in the villages.”

 

Clerk of the Legislative Assembly investigated 

The Audit Office launched an investigation into the Clerk of the Legislative Assembly, Sefuiva Charlene Malele. 

This was confirmed by the Speaker of Parliament, Leaupepe Tole’afoa Fa’afisi, who said “minor issues” led to the investigation by the Audit Office. 

He refused to give more details.

“I am the Speaker, a Chief and a father and so when it comes to sensitive issues involving the staff; I am not one to want to comment. So we just have to wait,” he said in an interview with Samoa Observer. 

When it was put to the Speaker, that in his position, he is the only one who can comment on Parliament matters, he said: “I understand what you’re saying, but still I will not comment on the matter any further.”

The investigation has been completed but the report has yet to be made public.

 

Inquiry launched into alleged removal of Court files 

The Public Service Commission (P.S.C.) has launched an inquiry into allegations that Land and Titles Court files had been removed from the vicinity of the Court.

The P.S.C. Chairman, Aiono Mose Su’a, confirmed the setting up of the inquiry.

The investigation was the result of a formal complaint made by M.J.C.A. employee Tulima Pio, allegedly in relation to files that he delivered to the Minister’s office. The Minister for Justice and Courts Administration (M.J.C.A.), Fa’aolesa Katopau Ainu’u, denied the allegations.

Asked for more details on the inquiry, Aiono said a Commission of Inquiry would be conducted at the M.J.C.A. and added that no further details will be disclosed. 

 

Second nurse charged 

A second nurse was charged in relation to the deaths of two babies in Savai’i who died after they were allegedly vaccinated. 

 “The Samoa Police Service confirms that in relation to the M.M.R. (measles, mumps and rubella) vaccination investigation, whereby two babies died at Safotu hospital, a 52 year old female nurse is the second person to be charged,” the Police said in a statement.

The woman faces a manslaughter charge in “relation to the death of the second baby who received the MMR vaccination.” 

 

Malietoa title bestowed upon Faamausili Moli

Papali’itele Fa’amausili Molī became the new holder of the Malietoa title.

The son of the late Malietoa Tanumafili II was bestowed the honour during a colourful and an elaborate ceremony at the Malae o Vaopipi, Malie.

The Malietoa title had been vacant for ten years since the passing of the former Head of State, His Highness Malietoa Tanumafili II. At Malie, Malietoa Molī received the blessings from his family as he embarked on his journey as the holder of one of Samoa’s highest-ranking titles.

 “I am very happy to see my families are here today to celebrate this special day with me,” he said. “All the glory goes back to God as we fulfill His will and plans this morning (yesterday).”

The bestowal ceremony follows years of Court battles between different parts of the families and heirs of the Malietoa title. These Court battles continue today.

 

Lawsuit filed against Govt. over land law

The Government was challenged in Court over the “legality” and the “constitutionality” of the Land Titles Registration Act (L.T.R.A) 2008.

The legal challenge was brought by the Samoa Solidarity International Group Global (S.I.G.G.), which filed a lawsuit against the Government.

The Group appointed Josefina Fuimaono-Sapolu as their lead Lawyer. 

Ms. Fuimaono-Sapolu filed the Statement of Claim and Motion for a Declaratory Order yesterday, 17 August 2018.

 “The Samoa Solidarity International Group Global has through its local branch of S.S.I.G Global Samoa, Inc. hired the Sapolu Law Firm to file its lawsuit challenging the constitutionality of sections of the L.T.R.A. 2008 law which allows the registration of customary land leases and which when passed required the registration of all customary lands of Samoa in violation of Articles 102 and 109 of the Samoa Constitution, among others,” the statement reads.

 

I.P.I. Deputy Director visits 

The Deputy Director of the International Press Institute (I.P.I.), Scott Griffen, arrived in Samoa as a special guest of the Samoa Observer News Group, which celebrated its 40th Anniversary at Sheraton Samoa Aggie Grey’s Hotel on Beach Road.

Mr. Griffen said the long journey from Austria was worth it as it is important for I.P.I. to show its support for its members around the world.

“Savea Sano Malifa is one of our World Press Freedom Heroes named in 2000. He is someone you’d recognise as having played a very important role in press freedom here in the South Pacific,” Mr. Griffen said.

“At this time, press freedom could never be more important. It is always important and always will be important. There are a lot of challenges right now in every part of the world with press freedom. 

“There’s backlash, if you want, in many countries including the ones where we take press freedom for granted, like the United States, for example.”

 

Samoa needs the Samoa Observer, P.M. says 

Prime Minister Tuilaepa Dr. Sa’ilele Malielegaoi paid tribute to the Editor-in-Chief of the Samoa Observer News Group, Gatoaitele Savea Sano, Publisher, Muliaga Jean Malifa, and their staff for their commitment to press freedom in Samoa and the world.

“In any Government, the need for a newspaper such as the Samoa Observer is critical, a newspaper that is not timid,” Tuilaepa said. “They report what they see and interpret it the way they see it. So I want to congratulate Sano and his wife for their dedication. We know it hasn’t been easy.”

Tuilaepa offered his well when the Samoa Observer News Group celebrated its 40th Anniversary.

The Prime Minister was among three speakers for the evening. The other two are the Deputy Director of the International Press Institute (I.P.I.), Scott Griffen, who flew in from Austria for the occasion, and the Samoa Observer’s Editor-in-Chief Gatoaitele.

Prime Minister Tuilaepa commended the Samoa Observer pointing out that 40 years is a long time where the newspaper would have already “grown some grey hairs.”

 

At Samoa Observer’s 40th Anniversary, Govt. urged to reconsider Criminal Libel 

Prime Minister Tuilaepa Dr. Sa’ilele Malielegaoi’s administration was urged to reconsider the Criminal Libel Act. The call came from the Deputy Director of the International Press Institute (I.P.I.), Scott Griffen at the celebration of the Samoa Observer News Group’s 40th Anniversary.

Mr. Griffen, who travelled from Austria for the occasion, paid tribute to the work of the Samoa Observer’s Founder and Editor-in-Chief, Gatoaitele Savea Sano Malifa, whom in 2000 was named one of the World Press Freedom Heroes.

He highlighted the importance of press freedom and the role it plays in people’s lives everyday.

Speaking about recent media developments in Samoa, Mr. Griffen said the Criminal Libel law, which the Government had recently returned to the law books despite abolishing it in 2013, is an obstacle for press freedom. 

If the Government is concerned about abuse of media freedom, Mr. Griffen suggested that there are “better alternatives” than bringing back the Criminal Libel law.

The celebration of the Samoa Observer’s 40th birthday was well attended.

Among guests in attendance was the Head of State, His Highness Tuimaleali’ifano Va’aletoa Sualauvi II, Member of the Council of Deputies, Tapusatele Le Mamea Ropati Mualia, Prime Minister Tuilaepa Dr. Sa’ilele Malielegaoi, Deputy Prime Minister, Fiame Naomi Mataafa, a host of Cabinet Ministers, Members of Parliament, members of the diplomatic corps and the business community.

Speaking on behalf of the Government, Prime Minister Tuilaepa congratulated Gatoaitele Savea and Muliaga Jean Malifa for their perseverance.

The Prime Minister said the Samoa Observer has had to overcome many challenges during the past 40 years with the newspaper continuing to grow.

He went on to thank the Samoa Observer for playing a major role in growing the H.R.P.P’s popularity among the voters, noting that since1982, they have won eight General Elections with an increased majority each time.

 

Australia’s new Prime Minister 

Australia welcomed another new Prime Minister when Scott Morrison replaced Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull.

Mr. Morrison became the sixth Australian Prime Minister in 11 years, and the fifth in five years.

Mr. Morrison is widely regarded as a conservative who respects moderates and is well placed to heal the civil war within the party that brought him to power.

Mr. Morrison is treasurer, the most coveted government office after prime minister, and was regarded as the best economic manager among the candidates.

 

Bainimarama rolls out red carpet for Tuilaepa 

Fiji’s Prime Minister Voreqe Bainimarama welcomed his Samoan counterpart, Tuilaepa Dr. Sa’ilele Malielegaoi, to Fiji for an official visit.

Tuilaepa commended P.M. Bainimarama and the Fijian government for the ceremonies of welcome accorded to him and his delegation.

“I wish to express my sincere appreciation for the invitation from the government of Fiji to turn this visit into an official one. Prime Minister I thank you sincerely for your hospitality,” PM Malielegaoi said. “In more ways than one we as a Pacific family share many commonalities and what we all hold sacred is our customs and traditions. Let us hold onto our heritage for our future generations.”

Prime Minister Tuilaepa also invited P.M. Bainimarama to visit Samoa.

 

Rugby Union dumps coach Fuimaono 

“It hurts. The decision is hard to bear and at the moment I am unclear if I will re-apply or not.” 

These were the words uttered by former Manu Samoa Head Coach, Fuimaono Titimaea Tafua, breaking his silence over the Samoa Rugby Union’s decision to re-advertise his position.

Fuimaono took over from Namulauulu Alama in November 2017 with the difficult task of ensuring Manu Samoa qualified for the 2019 Rugby World Cup (R.W.C.) with matches against Germany in July this year. 

And now that the team has qualified, Fuimaono told the Samoa Observer in an exclusive interview that he is unsure what he would do.

“What happened has an impact on my family and those who are supportive of the team. This also has an impact on the World Cup 2019 campaign, with the players that have already been undergoing training. 

“The players have been preparing for the World Cup 2019 campaign; they have reached out to me confused when they learned of what has happened. 

“They are puzzled with the decision, given that we already secured our slot in the World Cup and so the decision sends a confusing message not only to the players but the supporters.”

 

SEPTEMBER 

They’re “utterly stupid”- P.M.

Prime Minister Tuilaepa Dr. Sa’ilele Malielegaoi made international headlines when he described world leaders who questioned the existence of climate change as stupid.

“We all know the problem, we all know the solutions, and all that is left would be some political courage, some political guts, to tell people of your country there is a certainty of disaster,” Tuilaepa said. “So any leader of any country who believes that there is no climate change, I think he ought to be taken to mental confinement. He is utterly stupid. And I say the same thing to any leader here.”

Tuilaepa made the point during an address at the Lowy Institute in Sydney

on his way to the Pacific Forum meeting in Nauru. 

But he made no secret about his feelings on climate change sceptics.

Tuilaepa told the Lowy Institute in Sydney that climate change posed an “existential challenge” to low lying islands in the Pacific, and developed countries needed to reduce pollution in order to curb rising temperatures and sea levels.

 

Chinese found dead on seawall 

A Chinese national was found dead on the seawall at the back of the Government Building in Apia. The man had injuries to his head and face and has been identified as Charles Chao, who is a volunteer at the Anglican School at Leifiifi. 

His wife Shine Meli said: “He went to Island Restaurant at around 9pm because he was having dinner with some of his friends there. After that he rang me that he was going for a walk on the seawall so I told him that I will meet him there.”

 

Teuila opens with majestic singing 

The majestic voices of different choir groups reverberated through out the E.K.F.S. Hall in Sogi to mark the official opening of the 28th Teuila Festival.

Acting Prime Minister Fiame Naomi Mata’afa officially opened the festival, calling on Samoans to celebrate with thanksgiving through song, dance and art.

“It is a time that our country celebrates with thanksgiving in expressive art of song, dance and arts and our Christian faith, our cultural and natural heritage and the mana of our people; which transforms our minds and strengthens our will and resilience to implement the responsibilities that are required of us in our own calling to perform with specific standards and efforts. 

“It is also during this period that we pause to reflect discuss and refocus our priorities on strategic actions that yield improved results from sustainable tourism.”

 

Samoa Airways announces Brisbane service 

Samoa Airways added the Australian city of Brisbane to its list of destinations.

Making the announcement just a few months’ shy of its one-year anniversary, Samoa’s national airline said the direct service between Apia and Brisbane will be twice weekly on Tuesday and Sunday using its 737-800 aircraft. 

The inaugural flight was on 13 November, marking one year since Samoa Airways took to the skies.

 

Judge Leota takes oath 

Leota Matautia Raymond Schuster became Samoa’s newest District Court Judge.

The 51-year-old father of Vaoala, Malifa and Alafua took his oath before Chief Justice, His Honour Patu Tiava’asu’e Falefatu Sapolu in the Supreme Court. 

Judge Leota said he was humbled by the appointment. He also revealed that he had been asked to take up the role last year but he was not ready.

“I didn’t think I was the right person for the role, hence why I didn’t accept it at that time,” Judge Leota said. “But then I thought about it hard and long and so I decided that this is probably my calling from God and if it is from Him then I shouldn’t be stubborn, but to simply accept it.”

 

Hans Joachim Keil passes away 

Samoa lost another beloved soul with the passing of Hans Joachim ‘Joe’ Keil.

His life was celebrated and honoured in a state funeral where mourners paid tribute to the former statesman, who was also a well-known philanthropist and prominent business man.

Described by his wife, Celine Keil, as a complicated man who was both loving and loyal to his friends and family, Mr. Keil manifested many of those complexities into a very diverse and ambitious career.

He was a military man, a pilot, a politician and a commercial broadcaster. However, the most revered position he held in the eyes of the community and loved ones was his high aptitude in the role of family man.

 

Miss Samoa goes to Savai’i, Sonia Piva wins 

Miss Susana o Samoa, Sonia Piva, was crowned the new Miss Samoa 2018-2019. 

She was one of nine contestants who vied for the title during the pageant finale at Don Bosco Hall at Salelologa. Ms. Piva took over from outgoing Miss Samoa, Papali’i Alexandra Iakopo. 

Sonia is the daughter of Maria and Terry Piva of Australia, Fagali’i and Salelesi.  

The incoming pageant queen also won the National Tourism Award, Best Puletasi and Best Interview categories. 

The other contestants included Dolores Cassandra Satiu Cufi (Miss Salimu Fagaloa), Lanuola Giselle Tuiletufuga Price (Miss Samoa Melbourne), Norah Lio Setu Aloianai (Miss Samoa Victoria), Levalasi Vivian Su’a (Miss Le Naumati Creations), Georgina Mulipola (Miss CCK), Erin Noelani Taefu (Miss Samoa Australia), Christie Retalila Temareti (Miss Samoa South Wales) and Cecilia Tufuga – Fatu (Miss Samoa New Zealand).

 

Commission of Inquiry into deaths begins 

A Commission of Inquiry looking into the death of two toddlers in July this year following their vaccination started. The inquiry was chaired by Judge Tuiloma Neroni Slade and assisted by commission members Leo’o Dr. John Adams and Lealaiauloto Liai Iosefa-Siitia. Counsels assisting are Tafailagi Peniamina and Violina Leilua from the Office of the Attorney General.

 

Triple deaths at Tafua Savai’i

Tragedy struck in Savai’i and businessman Kalapu Matiu was at a loss to explain how a landslide claimed the lives of three people including that of his brother-in-law at Tafua.

His company, Tausala Matiu Company, has interests in retail, taxis and brickmaking. It was their brickmaking venture that led to five men working at Tafua to mine soil when a landslide claimed the lives of three, injuring another two.

The Samoa Observer visited the residences of the men who passed away in Tafua and Satupa’itea but their families declined to comment. 

 

Family violence report launched 

Prime Minister Tuilaepa Dr. Sa’ilele Malielegaoi lamented the “sad state” of family violence in Samoa, calling on the nation to acknowledge the suffering it has caused “many generations past.”

Tuilaepa issued the rallying call at the T.A.T.T.E. Building where he launched the Report of the National Public Inquiry into Family Violence. The findings in the report are alarming. For instance, it shows that family violence affects “almost all families in Samoa,” with extremely high numbers of people experiencing extreme violence in their lifetime. The report found that 9 in 10 women consulted during the Inquiry said they had experienced physical or emotional violence in the hands of family members. Six out of 10 women experienced “intimate partner violence” in their lifetime. 

But that’s not all. The rates of family violence in Samoa are higher than the global average, according to the report. The inquiry survey of 1,500 found 86% of respondents have experienced physical violence in a family setting, and nearly one in ten Samoan women have been raped by a family member in their lifetime.

A study by the Ministry of Women in 2017 found that only 11% of victims report their experiences of family violence. 

 

Marist Brothers Education marks 130 years in Samoa 

Marist Brothers’ Education in Samoa celebrated its 130th anniversary in Samoa with a church service at Mulivai Cathedral.

Archbishop Alapati Lui Mataeliga led the service with students from Marist Brothers Primary School and Saint Joseph’s College making up the choir in the presence of former scholars. 

Tuatagaloa Aumua Ming Leung Wai said the Marist Old Pupils Association is a very strong Christian association. 

“It is imperative that we give thanks and praise to God and for every Marist activity we always start with a mass, but also to not only give back the glory to God but it is for us try to commit the activities for our anniversary.

“We finalised preparations in September last year and were going to celebrate the 130th on September this year. 

“Everything is ready and everyone has worked so hard together, which is one of the strengths of the Marist organisation team, it is the bond that unites all and so no matter how high their chief titles are or their positions in the Government, everyone is equal when the Marist fraternity gets together.”

 

$3.57 million contract awarded for new airport

A $3.57 million tala contract to build a new airport at Tia’vea was awarded to a company owned by the son of Associate Minister Peseta Vaifou Tevaga.

A paper from Cabinet, F.K. (18) 28, issued on 15 August 2018 advised that the airport contract had been awarded to Aldan Civil Engineering Company Ltd.

The company is owned by Peseta’s son, Leiataua Danny Tevaga. 

Peseta is the Associate Minister of the Ministry of the Prime Minister and Cabinet. He is also the Associate Minister for the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Office of the Attorney General and Public Service Commission. 

The F.K. stated that the contract was discussed by the Cabinet, which then endorsed the decision by the Tenders Board to award the contract to Aldan Civil Engineering Company Limited in the amount of $3,574,890 inclusive of taxes. 

Asked by the Sunday Samoan on his involvement in the company, Peseta said the company is overseen and operated by his son. “I am not involved in the project of this company,” he said.

 

Malietoa Moli charged with contempt of Court

Malietoa Fa’amausili Moli was charged with contempt of Court and summoned to appear before the District Court.

Malietoa Moli was among 16 high chiefs from Malie charged. The others include Maualaivao Pepe; Maualaivao Pat Ah Him; Auimatagi Sa’oloto; Auimatagi Fa’afetati; Auimatagi Afi Fa’amausili; Fa’amausili Siona; Fa’amausili Chris; Muagututi’a Peter; Muagututi’a Fa’alafi; Tulasunu’i Umutaua; Tulasunu’i Ulaese; Tulasunu’i Sanele; Tuatafu Iafetaa; Seiuli Ueligatone; and Salepo Fonoti. 

Court documents allege that the defendants defied an order by the Court not to proceed with the bestowal of the Malietoa title, held at Malie, recently.

According to the Police Affidavit, ton 17 August 2018, the defendants of Malie “by an unlawful act, namely conducting the ceremony for the title bestowal of Malietoa Fa’amausili Moli, defying the Court order directed to the Village Council of Malie not to proceed with the ceremony.”

 

Tuilaepa meets President Xi in China 

Prime Minister Tuilaepa Dr. Sa’ilele Malielegaoi met with Chinese President Xi Jinping in Beijing, where President Xi pledged further support.

During the meeting at the Great Hall of the People, Xi voiced his appreciation for Tuilaepa’s contribution to the development of China-Samoa ties. Tuilaepa was in China to attend the forthcoming Summer Davos Forum in the coastal city of Tianjin.

“Samoa was one of the first Pacific island countries that established diplomatic relations with China,” President Xi said, noting that the Chinese side cherishes the traditional friendship with Samoa and appreciates the country’s firm and long-lasting adherence to the one-China principle. “China will continue supporting Samoa’s efforts to develop the economy and improve people’s livelihoods, as well as those to safeguard the legitimate interests of Samoa and other South Pacific island countries in international and regional affairs.”

 

Steve Jackson appointed coach of the Manu Samoa

One of the worst kept secrets by the Samoa Rugby Union (S.R.U.) in recent times was finally confirmed when Steve Jackson was named the new Manu Samoa Coach.

 “With Rugby World Cup less than 11 months away, S.R.U. unyieldingly revisited its recent past decisions to ensure we got the right Leader and the coaching prowess to take our Manu Samoa to the pinnacle of Rugby Events that happens every four years,” Faleomavaega said.

“Steve has emerged from a highly competitive process, as the preferred choice for Samoa Rugby. Steve is undeniably well aware of the high expectations of a country that desperately want results, and as a Coach, he understands the challenges as he will quickly need to rebuild support for the team.”

Jackson is currently the Assistant Coach of the Auckland Blues.

“I am honoured and privilege to be chosen as Head Coach of Manu Samoa,” Jackson said. “I know full well it comes with great responsibility. We will work hard and determined to gain the respect of the rugby world at R.W.C. and confident we have the talent, the skills and the passion in the players to deliver this for us at R.W.C.19.”

 

Samoa’s regional innovation hub move in U.S.

A Government delegation was in the United States of America meeting with technology companies and public officials as a first step towards making Samoa a regional innovation hub.

 The Minister of Communications and Information, Afamasaga Rico Tupai, led the delegation of I.C.T. professionals and policy makers as part of the International Visitor Leadership Program (I.V.L.P.) project titled “Innovation Economy for a Digital Samoa”. Attorney General Lemalu Hermann Retzlaff was also part of the delegation.

 

New President of the Samoa Rugby Union 

Namulauulu Sami Leota became the new President of the Samoa Rugby Union (S.R.U.). 

Other S.R.U. Board members include, Afamasaga Rico Tupa’i; Tuala Siaki Tuala, Tuiloma Sina Retzlaff, Fa’alogo Kapeli Fa’alogo, Fata Pito Malifa, Seumanu Douglas Ngau Chun and Fuimapoao Beth Onesome-Tuilaepa.

This was confirmed by the Chief Executive Officer of S.R.U., Faleomavaega Vincent Fepulea’i.

 “Part of the changes sees the reduction of Board members from 15 to eight. This followed the work of a consultant from Australia who was hired by World Rugby,” Faleomavaega said.

 

Ti’avea demands $5.8million for airport 

The Ti’avea village Council wants the Government to pay $5.58 million for 23 acres of land to build the country’s newest airport. 

The decision was confirmed by the Ti’avea’s Village Mayor, Sola Si’uele Seiuli.

The village mayor said the highest offer made by the Government is $30 per square meter but the village wants double that. 

“We have already relayed to the Government how much we want and that’s $60 per square meter. And we are still negotiating the price, as there are nine families involved, while the Village Council is negotiating the deal,” he said. 

Asked whether the land will be leased, Sola said most of the families do not want to lease their land, and would rather the Government made an outright purchase. 

“We have yet to finalise the decision. There are nine families and the village who plays a vital role in negotiating the deal and we are the 10th party to the matter. The families have agreed to allow the Government to start the project.”

The Government rejected the demand.

 

Govt. moves on Head of State benefits  

The Government sought legislative amendments, which would get the entitlements and salaries of the Head of State and Council of Deputy Members in line with the public service salary scale.

The amendments to the Head of State Act 1965 – if passed by the Parliament – will also see the Head of State Act administered by the Ministry of the Prime Minister and Cabinet.

According to the Approve Estimates of Receipts and Payments of the Government for the Financial Year Ending 30 June 2018, the Head of State, His Highness Tui A’ana Tuimaleali’ifano Va’aleto’a Sualauvi II, remains the highest paid official in the land with a base salary of $203,855 inclusive of benefits. 

A total of $315,180 is allocated to cater for the salaries of the three Members of the Council of Deputies. The only position currently occupied is held by Le Mamea Ropati. According to the document the Deputy Council Member’s salary is $105,060 per annum. 

 

OCTOBER 

Cable Ship Reliance arrives 

Samoa welcomed Cable Ship ‘Reliance’ (C.S. Reliance) signaling a step closer to the grand opening of the Samoa Marine Depot.

The Ship Master, Captain David Ledoux and his crew of 50, were welcomed with a cultural performance by the Vaimoso Boys Brigade and the dance group from Samoa Traditional Resort at Matautu.

The welcoming party included the Minister of Communications and Information Technology, Afamasaga Rico Tupa’i, U.S. Embassy Charge d’affairs Tony Greubel and members of the Samoa Submarine Cable Company.

The company, T.E. Connectivity from America, secured a five-year contract to do cable maintenance and construction work in the Asia Pacific region, including Samoa. 

It is a specifically designed and constructed vessel for cable maintenance and construction, making her one of the most versatile cable ships in the industry.

 

 

Tofilau Fiti Leung Wai scoops awards 

The Founder and Managing Director of Samoa Stationery and Books, Tofilau Fiti Leung Wai, won three awards at the annual International Samoa Business Network 2018 Awards in Auckland, New Zealand.

Seven of Samoa’s local businesses were nominated with Tofilau scooping three categories.  The awards include the People’s Choice Award; Samoa based Business of the Year Award and the Businesswoman of the Year Award.

Held at the Novotel Airport Hotel, S.B.N. Co-founder, Laura Keil-Hall acknowledged the network’s fifth year anniversary as well as their milestone achievement in hosting the first international Samoa Business Network Awards, featuring Samoan-owned businesses in New Zealand, Samoa, Australia and the United States.

“I am delighted to present an evening dedicated solely to the recognition and the hard work, resilience of Samoan-owned businesses and business owners,” said Ms. Keil-Hall. “Samoa may be a small developing island state in the Pacific, however its influence is transnational, global and ever growing. Nowhere is this seen more than the world of business. The S.B.N. is a very small and very strong vibrant network that spans Samoa, Australia, New Zealand and recently growing interest in the U.S.A.”

 

Samoa’s alleged abductor chaser 

A man who claimed to have rescued two girls from their abductors asked parents to be vigilant and watch out for their children, especially young girls.

Liua Vaasili Savaiinaea, 27, of Salailua Savaii told Samoa Observer in an interview that he was returning home from a volleyball match at Falelauniu and came across a white van when he took a shortcut. 

“On my way home, I took a short cut around that area and I came through one of the roads that is opposite from a tyre repair at Safune road at Vaitele.

“I was aware about a van that is going around looking for young girls but I didn’t think something was going to happen there. So I came through that road and while coming down a small hill, I saw from a far a white van parked next to a bush there, and I know there are no families in that particular area.”

It turns out the story was a hoax. Following a Police investigation, Savai’inaea was charged. 

 

Electric vehicle sample heading to Samoa

The future is here with Samoa’s first full Electric Vehicle (E.V) sample expected to arrive as early as next year. Ford Hyundai Country Manager, Simon Fruean, confirmed the plan, saying it is the part of the company’s vision to create a smart future with more innovative technology. E.Vs, he added, is something that have always been on the agenda for their Samoa based brand.

 Now it’s going to be a reality as they move in the general direction of the international automotive industry who are getting serious about their corporate environmental responsibility in helping to decrease carbon emissions.

“It’s coming, there’s no doubt about it,” said Mr. Fruean. “Right now every automotives are moving towards making E.Vs which they are making already. That’s what we looking at because they have zero petro consumption and zero emissions.”

 

Firm gets license for digital switchover

The Office of the Regulator issued a license to Samoa Digital Communication Limited to oversee Samoa’s switchover from analog to digital broadcasting systems. The engagement of the company, which is owned by Fa’amausili Andrew Ah Liki, has been endorsed by the Cabinet.

The Regulator, Lefaoali’i Unutoa Auelua-Fonoti, officially handed over the license to Fa’amausili. 

 

Stay away from businesses

Prime Minister Tuilaepa Dr. Sa’ilele Malielegaoi says Ministers and Associate Ministers should not be involved in their family business once they are elected into public office. 

Tuilaepa was responding to questions relating to his Associate Minister Peseta Vaifou Tevaga, whose company Aldan Civil Engineering Company Ltd, has been awarded a multimillion tala contract to build the runway of a new airport at Ti’avea.  

“They have been elected by their respective districts as their representative, and so the businesses should be handed over to the children and families, while they serve their constituencies,” he said. 

 

Brawl leaves one dead, hospitalised

A brawl in town during left one dead and another hospitalised with stab wounds on his neck. Falefou Lemana, of Togafu’afu’a and Nu’u, was stabbed to death following a fight between a group of men in Apia. The deceased is in his late 20s.

An uncle of the deceased, Peleti Schwalger, said: “We are still in shock that Falefou has passed away as a result of a brawl between men at Tauese.

“He and another nephew of ours were in a drinking session then they were (on their way to get food) and that’s where the fight broke out and as a result he was stabbed on the abdominal. 

 

Ministry targets clergies’ personal accounts

Church Ministers had forced the hand of the government to seize funds from their personal accounts. That is the view of Minister for Revenue, Tialavea Tionisio Hunt who said the law applies to everyone including Church Ministers. 

“The salary assessment conducted by the Revenue Officers of church minister’s alofas resulted in the $5,000 taxes due for the last six months—January to March.

“The seizure of funds is for each and every church minister, who has not filed their monthly taxes, yet some church ministers I understand are making less than the $15,000 threshold. 

“Unless you file your taxes, we cannot determine which one makes less than the threshold. However, once the Church Ministers has filed their taxes and its less, we will refund them,” he said.

Tialavea said the law was passed in January, 2018 and all the church denominations complied, except the Congregational Christian Church of Samoa (C.C.C.S.).

 “Well the law applies to everyone. The law does not wait until it is accepted or not. We have given church ministers six months…”

 

Samoa secures seat on World Rugby 

Samoa secured a seat on the World Rugby Council, the governing body of the game based in Dublin, Ireland. And the Samoa Rugby Union (S.R.U.) Chief Executive Officer, Faleomavaega Vincent Fepulea’i, has credited hard work over the years for the historic achievement. 

“The good news was relayed last week and the World Rugby Council will ratify this decision next month,” he told the Samoa Observer. “We have successfully met all the criteria’s set by World Rugby, which including four straight years of unqualified accounts, reforms, revamping of the constitution and gender balance. 

“This has been a dream come true and the result came with a lot of sacrifices and burning of bridges.”

 

Minister denies role in banners contract

The Minister of Communications and Information Technology, Afamasaga Rico Tupa’i, denied involvement in the decision which led to a company with connections to him, Starsignz Production, getting the contract to print and install sticker banners for the $5 million Samoa Cable Depot at Matatutu.

The Depot constructed in partnership by the Samoa Submarine Cable Company (S.S.C.C) and T.E. SubCom was opened by Prime Minister Tuilaepa Dr. Sa’ilele Malielegaoi.

Responding to questions from the Weekend Observer, Afamasaga, who is also the Minister of S.S.C.C. said: “I have no understanding of work implementation. And I don’t oversee these things. 

“We only are involved in the beginning as government then we go open projects after they are done.  Perhaps get in touch with Starsignz of how they ended up doing the job.”

 

Sa’u Justina Sa’u found dead 

Samoa lost a senior bureaucrat with the passing away of Sa’u Fiapaipai Justina Sa’u Lam, the Unit Trust of Samoa Chief Executive Officer. 

Sa’u had been the Chief Executive Officer of Unit Trust of Samoa since 2011 and was only reappointed last year to another three-year term. The organisation was established three years ago and she was its founding C.E.O.

She has also worked in the Samoa Ministry of Finance and was also a lecturer and tutor at the National University of Samoa and the University of Auckland in the past years. 

Sa’u is from the villages of Apolima, Faala Palauli and Ululoloa and was a member of the Catholic Church at Malotau Manono. 

Sa’u was found dead and her husband, Kolani Junior Lam, has since been charged in relation to it.

 

Myna’s Supa-Mart sued 

Komisi and Sala Lupe Chan Mow filed a civil lawsuit against Myna’s Super-Mart and Bakery which is owned by the family of the Minister of Works Transport and Infrastructure, Papali’i Niko Lee Hang.

The lawsuit also includes the Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment (M.N.R.E).

Komisi and Sala Lupe Chan Mow, who live next to the new supermarket, are alleging that Myna’s and M.N.R.E. violated provisions of the Planning and Urban Management Agency (P.U.M.A.) law. 

The lawsuit is in relation to the location of the new Myna’s Supa-mart in Vailima, which opened for business two weeks ago.

The Office of the Attorney General is representing the Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment with lawyers Mauga Precious Chang appearing on behalf of Myna’s and Sala Josephine Stowers for the Chan Mow family. 

The matter was called for mention yesterday in the Supreme Court before Chief Justice, His Honour, Patu Tiava’asu’e Falefatu Sapolu. 

 

Andrew’s amazing survival story 

An Australian paddler who lost the back end of his surf ski to a curious shark says he doesn’t want anyone to stop enjoying the ocean because of it.

Andrew Wheatley was out paddling about 1.5 kilometres off of the south coast of Upolu when he was lifted into the air by a sudden impact on the back of his vessel.

“I was going pretty fast, when I was lifted from behind, flung up and to the right,” he said. He said he got back into the boat and began paddling back to shore as fast as he could, without too much thought to what might have happened, before he realised the boat was beginning to sink.

“I got on and started going and realised the ski was filling with water, so I just decided to paddle,” said Mr Wheatley. “As I was paddling, I turned around and had a look and realised my whole tail was gone, right up until the running and worked out that whatever it was, it was quite big.”

Surf Skis are nimble vessels, designed to be damaged, he said, so there is a mechanism in place to drain water from the body of the boat as one paddles. 

With that on his side, he was able to make it back to shore. With his tail gone, the journey back was slow going.

“All I was thinking was that I need to make it inside the reef.”

He did. And he is alive and well.

 

Calls for Samoa A vs Manu Samoa

Samoa A head coach Muliagatele Brian Limā said he is open to the idea of his team taking on the Manu Samoa in order to select the best squad for the 2019 World Cup.

Speaking to the Samoa Observer after his team was recently crowned the 2018 Americas Pacific Challenge champion, the former Manu Samoa player said a match in Apia between Manu Samoa and Samoa A would be good for the game and ensures Samoa puts together a strong squad for the Rugby World Cup.

When asked if he would support such a match, he said: “Why not! That would be a great idea as well and it will a great match. The reason being is because that would be a really good chance for the people of the country as well as the top people to see and select the right person for the team. I really think it’s a good idea and if it is decided then as a coach of the Samoa A, I am all for it and will be a good chance to showcase our players’ talents.”

 

Sacked Coach threatens Union, demands apology

Former Manu Samoa Coach, Fuimaono Titimaea Tafua, whose services as coach were unexpectedly terminated in August, threatened to sue the Samoa Rugby Union (S.R.U.) for an unconfirmed sum.

Fuimaono’s intentions were revealed in a letter he wrote to the Chief Executive Officer of the S.R.U., Faleomavaega Vincent Fepulea’i, dated 28 September 2018, where he is also demanding a public apology from the Union. 

Prime Minister Tuilaepa Dr. Sa’ilele Malielegaoi, who is the Chairman of S.R.U, is copied as well as the Union’s Board Members. Fuimaono claims the termination of his contract was unfair and without valid grounds. 

“The termination is substantively unjustified and procedurally unfair,” Fuimaono writes.

Tuilaepa rejected Fuimaono’s call.

 

Bills owing to the Water Authority 

The $2.60 million water bill the Samoa Water Authority (S.W.A.) had requested to be written off includes debts incurred by Government Ministries, senior Government officials, schools, churches and businesses. 

Including in the write off list are bills allegedly incurred by the S.W.A. Board Chairman Matatauali’itia Afa Lesa and others. 

Their outstanding bills were highlighted in records provided by the Samoa Water Authority C.E.O, Seugamaali’i Jammie Saena, which was part of correspondence dated May 22, 2018 to the Parliamentary Infrastructure Sector Committee.

 Matatauali’itia has a bill of $2,210. The Samoa Observer contacted Matatauali’itia at his Accounting office in Apia three times for comment. 

But an office staff, who refused to give his name, referred the newspaper to the Samoa Water Authority. “The old man said to call the Samoa Water Authority about the bills,” he said. 

 

U.N. celebrations in Samoa 

The United Nations in Samoa marked 73 years of their establishment as a global body by holding a tree planting ceremony at their Tuanaimato headquarters. 

The occasion also marked the one year anniversary of the relocation of their office from Matautu to Tuanaimato. 

UN Resident Coordinator Simona Marinescu led the tree planting efforts. 

 

Adoptions by relatives worry Government 

Prime Minister Tuilaepa Dr. Sa’ilele Malielegaoi instructed the Office of the Attorney General to introduce stringent measures to ensure children adopted by their Samoan relatives are not exploited. 

The call came from the Prime Minister following reports that Samoan children overseas are being used as “slave labourers”, by their relatives and all of this is allegedly done under the smokescreen of a better life through adoption. 

During his weekly press conference at his office, Tuilaepa says reports have been brought to the attention of Government that a number of Samoan children, who have been adopted by Samoans residing overseas, are being exploited. 

In a statement, Tuilaepa said some are allegedly being used to seek funds from the overseas government, and some treated as “kavigi’s” or “slave labourers” in their adopted homes. 

 

P.M’s village gives Sir Kostas title 

Papua New Guinea businessman, Sir Kostas G. Constantinou was bestowed the chiefly title, Tulaniu-o-Atua Kostas, taken from the salutation of paramount title Auelua and Fatialofa of Lepa.

Tulaniu-o-Atua Kostas is the Board Chairman of Bank of South Pacific (B.S.P.) and Owner of the Lamana Group. The Group owns Taumeasina Island Resort. 

The intricate ceremony, which was held in the village of Lepa yesterday, was led by Prime Minister Tuilaepa Dr. Sa’ilele Malielegaoi. 

Sir Kostas was accompanied by his family and was presented to the village by Paramount Chief of Lepa, Auelua Samuelu Enari. 

 

 

NOVEMBER 

Electricity knocked out 

A four-hour power outage was triggered by a systems failure, when Electrical Power Corporation’s solar and hydro systems could not meet the demand when a diesel generator went off.

The E.P.C. Chief Executive Officer, Tologata Tile Tuimalealiifano, told the Samoa Observer the country is moving towards renewable energy, which has seen the installation of solar and hydro systems to compliment and support a diesel generation system.

But he said the adjustments experienced problems, which resulted in the power outage, as the grid controller was not able to ensure automatic coordination between the solar, hydro and diesel systems.

“So what happened is because solar and hydro is new, these are the things we implemented towards our target to 100 per cent renewable. We are learning the new adjustments to the systems but the main objective to maximize renewable energy.”

 

Cabinet endorses termination 

Cabinet endorsed the termination of top bureaucrat Afamasaga Su’a Pou Onesemo for breach of contract. He was the Chief Executive Officer for the Ministry of Works, Transport and Infrastructure.

Prime Minister Tuilaepa Dr Sailele Malielegaoi used the opportunity to remind the bureaucrats not to mix up personal matters with work.   

“We have validated the recommendation submitted by the Public Service Commission (P.S.C.) yesterday (Wednesday) after their lengthy and thorough investigation into allegations leveled against the C.E.O.  

“We decided to terminate his employment contract following the recommendation,” he said.  

 

Chief Auditor gets prestigious award

The Controller and Auditor General, Fuimaono Mata’afa Papali’i Camillo Afele Taimalelagi, became the recipient of a prestigious international anti-fraud award. The Association of Certified Fraud Examiners (A.C.F.E.), an American-based anti-fraud organisation and one of the world’s largest provider of anti-fraud training, named Fuimaono the recipient of its Outstanding Achievement in Community Outreach Service Award. The award was presented in July this year but he could not accept it at that time due to work commitments.

A.C.F.E. vice president and general counsel, John Warren J.D., announced the award and gave details of how the 2018 recipient of the award is an active contributor in his community through various initiatives to help improve the quality of life in Samoa. 

 

Lest we forget: victims of 1918 epidemic 

Head of State His Highness Tuimalealiifano Vaaletoa Sualauvii II and Prime Minister Tuilaepa Dr Sailele Malielegaoi led a moving memorial service at Vaimoso to mark 100 years since the deadly influenza epidemic swept across Samoa. With His Honour Chief Justice, Patu Tiava’esu’e Falefatu Sapolu and his peers, as well as cabinet ministers, and diplomats including Acting New Zealand High Commissioner Nick Hurley looking on, Tuilaepa said in his opening address that the fateful events of 100 years ago killed close to a quarter of Samoa’s population.

“Possibly more, as many families in the rural, more had buried their dead that were so many, daily without worrying about the need to inform the authorities and communications then were extremely poor even in my village,” he said. Samoa back then was not able to diagnose or detect flu virus or put in place prevention and treatment strategies, due to the lack of vaccines and antibiotics on an island which was free of contagious diseases, added Tuilaepa.

 

A.G. gets overseas lawyers 

The Office of the Attorney General has engaged Crown Prosecutors of South Auckland to prosecute a criminal case against a former Cabinet Minister and four other defendants.

La’aulialemalietoa Leuatea Schmidt, Heather Tupea Schmidt, Apulu Lance Polu, Martin Schwalger and Tuitui Aipulupo face a total of 233 criminal charges in relation to an on-going dispute over a nonu company, involving another senior member of the ruling Human Rights Protection Party (H.R.P.P) and Associate Minister of the Ministry of the Prime Minister and Cabinet, Peseta Vaifou Tevaga.

In response to questions from the Samoa Observer, Attorney General Lemalu Herman Reztlaff said the engagement of overseas lawyers are steps taken to ensure justice is served and any conflicts of interest are eliminated. 

“It is the appropriate step to take in this particular case, to ensure that justice is seen to be done, from the point of view of prosecuting this matter fairly and objectively,” he said.

 

Ah Leong fined $1,000, gets suspended sentence

The 29-year-old daughter of a Cabinet Minister, Rose Hope Ah Leong, who pleaded guilty to negligent driving causing death, was been given a 12 months probation sentence and a $1,000 fine.

The decision was delivered by District Court Judge Alalatoa Rosella Viane Papali’i.

Ah Leong, was involved in a road incident where seven-year-old Loimata Vaialofa, was killed at Faleula. She pleaded guilty to one charge of negligent driving causing death. Judge Alalatoa told the Court room that Ah Leong’s remorse and guilt comes through loud and clear.

“It is clear this has been weighing heavily on your mind, you are vulnerable. I know you are suffering, Rosie,” she said. “You broke the law, and you are here to answer for it.”

The Court heard that Rose Ah Leong, the daughter of the Minister of Tourism, Fata Pinati Ah Leong, failed to see the child cross the road on her way to church. Judge Alalatoa described it as a period of “momentary inattention.”

“Had you kept your eye on the road, there is a good chance you would have seen the child… and I am sure you know that.”

 

P.M. coy on airline’s financial performance

Prime Minister, Tuilaepa Dr. Sa’ilele Malielegaoi, says reporters “don’t understand” financial records and therefore there is no need for Samoa Airways to reveal the state of its financial performance a year after it was launched.

This is what Tuilaepa told the Samoa Observer at the Faleolo International Airport as he was about to board Samoa Airways inaugural flight to Brisbane, celebrating the Airline’s first birthday.

 “It’s not a public company,” Tuilaepa said when he was asked about the accounts. “If it’s a public company, it is available to the public – that is my answer.”

Pressed to elaborate, Prime Minister said there is “no need” for reporters to read financial reports and audits.

“There is no need to look at the record, because you don’t understand even if you look at the record,” Tuilaepa said.

Tuilaepa said the full financial records would not be ready for scrutiny for several months.

“The process is that after the financial year has ended, the next thing to do is to prepare the accounts and of course this may take one to two months,” he said.

“After that the audit will be conducted, and after that it will come to the Board. 

“Only then, the actual results will become known and only then we will be able to express an opinion.”

 

Samoan finalist for international award

Samoan girl Leilua Lino named one of three finalists for the International Children’s Peace Prize 2018.

Archbishop Desmond Tutu of South Africa announced the finalists of the International Children’s Peace Prize 2018 yesterday on behalf of the Amsterdam-based KidsRights Foundation. A total of 121 child-nominees were received from around the world for this year’s award, with an expert committee working through the list to select three finalists: Moni Begum (Bangladesh), The March for Our Lives, a children-led anti-gun violence group in the U.S., and Leilua Lino from Samoa.

Leilua was nominated for the international award by the Samoa Victim Support Group (S.V.S.G.). When contacted by Samoa Observer, S.V.S.G. president Siliniu Lina Chang, said her shortlisting meant so much for the organisation.  

“It means so much that she was picked out of so many countries. We hope she will continue on as an ambassador, not only for S.V.S.G. (but) victims that have no voices but also Samoa as a country.”

 

P.M. Tuilaepa attacked in Australia 

The Queensland Police launched an investigation into an attempt to attack Prime Minister, Tuilaepa Dr. Sa’ilele Malielegaoi, in Brisbane, Australia.

The attack took place during the official launching of Samoa Airway’s Faleolo to Brisbane flights at the Maximillian Kolbe Catholic Parish, Logan City, marking the airline’s first birthday.

A member of the media, Taule’ale’a Sioeli Alofaifo of TV1, who was among the audience in Brisbane told the Samoa Observer there were two men who turned up with their faces covered in “ninja like style.” 

One of the men threw an “uncooked pig’s head” at the Prime Minister, which fell well short of the target. They also allegedly attempted to throw rocks and eggs at the Prime Minister.

Government’s Press Secretariat issued a statement assuring that Prime Minister Tuilaepa was unharmed.

“This media statement is to assure the public that Prime Minister Tuilaepa Sailele Malielegaoi was unharmed following an incident that occurred yesterday evening in Brisbane, Australia at a community event to commemorate direct Samoa Airways flights between Brisbane and Apia,” the statement reads.

“The public is advised that the Prime Minister and his delegation are safe.”

 

P.M. calls attackers “rascals, pipsqueaks”

Prime Minister Tuilaepa Dr. Sa’ilele Malielegaoi says the attack on him by two men in Brisbane, Australia was a “storm in a teacup” with a “political element.”

He also called the attackers “rascals” and “pipsqueaks.”

 “If the two rascals think that they have accomplished their mission, than I am sorry to say that is far from the truth,” Tuilaepa said. “I pity the two pipsqueaks because the truth of the matter is, they are now on the wanted list of every patriotic Samoa—not just because of their insults towards me as a Samoan, but also they committed the cardinal sin in the eyes of Samoa, by disrespecting the Prime Minister and leader of the Government and people publicly.”

The Prime Minister also called for calm.

“I urge Samoans to remain calm and maintain our revered reputation as a country founded on God,” he said. “But it goes without saying that there are serious implications behind the incident in Logan, because it suggests that a political element is involved with the 2021 General Elections as the ultimate target.”

When the incident happened, Tuilaepa said he “paid no mind to their floor show because paramount to me is the historical significance of what Samoa Airways stands for and the gains that our people with reap from the Government’s fruits of hard labour.”

 

Pacific Games Director quits

The Director of the 2019 Pacific Games Committee, Aveau Niko Palamo, resigned.

The resignation came nine months before the opening ceremony of the Games scheduled for 7 July 2019.

Aveau’s resignation was confirmed by the Chairman of the Pacific Games Committee and Minister of Education, Sports and Culture, Loau Keneti Sio.

“There is nothing the Committee can do when the two men cannot work together,” Loau said.

The Minister did not identify the “men” he was referring to. Contacted for a comment, Aveau told the Samoa Observer he was unable to work with the Committee. “I walked out a month ago as I cannot work with those guys,” he said. 

 

Churches still in denial, says theologian

Following a roundtable discussion on religion’s role in ending family violence, Dr Mercy Ah Siu Maliko believes some church leaders are still in denial.

The office of the Ombudsman alongside UN Women facilitated a panel-led public discussion on the matter, where following presentations by the panellists the public were invited to have their say.

Ombusdman Maiava Iulai Toma opened by reflecting on the conclusions their National Inquiry into Family Violence had regarding the church.

“Sadly, based on the views of submissions and those who gave evidence to the inquiry, the church is not seen to be doing enough,” he said.

 

Tuilaepa’s leadership hailed 

Tributes flowed in as Prime Minister Tuilaepa Dr. Sa’ilele Malielegaoi marked his 20th years as Prime Minister. His vision in the development of Samoa has been hailed by Cabinet Ministers.

Minister of Finance, Sili Epa Tuioti, congratulated Tuilaepa on the milestone.

“He is a fearless leader,” Sili said. “I want to congratulate him for his 20 years and wish for another 20 years with the Prime Minister.”

The sentiments are echoed in congratulatory messages from other Cabinet Ministers. Minister of Works, Transport and Infrastructure, Papali’i Niko Lee Hang, congratulated the Prime Minister, thanking him for his vision and leadership steering Samoa’s ship for the last 20 years. 

Minister for Revenue, Tialavea Tionisio Hunt, offered profound congratulatory remarks.

“Thank you for your valuable contributions and extraordinary leadership.” 

Minister of Justice and Courts Administration, Fa’aolesa Katopau Ainu’u, agrees.

“Twenty years is a milestone and we congratulate you.” 

Minister of Health, Tuitama Dr Leao Tuitama also congratulated the Prime Minister. 

“Thank you for everything that you have done for Samoa.” 

For Sili, who had worked with Prime Minister Tuilaepa for many years prior to becoming a politician, he said Samoa today would not be where it is without Tuilaepa’s vision and drive.

 

 

Papali’i wins 2018 Samoa Observer Tusitala Short Story Competition

Papali’i Momoe Malietoa von Reiche became the overall winner of the 2018 Samoa Observer Tusitala Short Story Competition. 

The Artist, Poet, and now Author, won two main prizes, the Samoa Category and the Overall category, claiming US$2,000 in prize money.

The announcement was made during the prize giving hosted by the Samoa Observer News Group Limited at the Sheraton Aggie Grey’s & Bungalows.

The occasion also marked the launch of two publications from the competition.

The first was the translation of the 2016 Samoa Observer Tusitala Short story competition book, “Only the Word Survives” in Chinese mandarin by China’s Ambassador to Samoa Wang Xuefeng and his wife, Madam Tong Xin.

The book of stories from the 2017 Competition called the “Pacific is Rising” was also launched. Papali’i’s story is titled “Avea-Taken” and talks of traditional Samoan beliefs about the spirit world and the dream like child experience, involved in being taken by evil spirits, which form the intriguing thread of the fascinating story. 

 

Govt. charges Pastors

Eight church Ministers of the Congregational Christian Church of Samoa (C.C.C.S.) were charged for not filing their tax returns. Confirmed by the Minister of Revenue, Tialavea Tionisio Hunt, more Church Ministers could be charged in the coming weeks.

“As of Wednesday this week, we have charged eight Church Ministers from the C.C.C.S,” Minister Tialavea said. “We intend to charge another eight next week.” 

Tialavea said the Government is not taking a backward step in implementing the law requiring Church Ministers to pay taxes on their alofa (love offerings they receive). 

“Due to the Court’s busy schedule we cannot charge a whole lot so we have to limit it down to eight Church Ministers per week.”

Asked what the charges are, he said: “They are charged with not filing their tax returns.” 

 

Man at center of kidnapping reports pleads guilty

The man at the center of reports of a bus kidnapping girls around Vaitele entered a guilty plea to the charge of giving false information.

Liua Vaasili Savai’inaea faced two charges of making a false statement to the police and giving false information.

The police had announced they were investigating reports that a white Toyota 15-seater van with blue stripes, tinted windows and broken rear windshield window was used to abduct victims. However, a week later the police advised that they have charged a man over the unsubstantiated reports and issued a statement cautioning the public against false and misleading information being shared and circulated on social media.

They also warned members of the public to refrain from taking matters into their own hands and that damages to properties as a result of individuals taking matters into their own hands is a criminal offence.

 

DECEMBER 

Report shocks diplomat, P.M. slams Australian journalist 

An Australian newspaper article that reported plans by the Chinese government to fund the building of a wharf in Savai’i has shocked the Chinese Ambassador, and attracted a strong rebuttal from Prime Minister Tuilaepa Dr. Sa’ilele Malielegaoi.

The Australian newspaper reported that China is negotiating with the Samoa Government to fund the redevelopment of Asau wharf on Savai’i, a project which the newspaper claims will have major economic and strategic implications for Australia and the United States in the Pacific Islands.

China’s Ambassador to Samoa, Wang Xuefeng, was shocked when approached by the Samoa Observer to comment, and said he was not aware of any negotiations between the two Governments.

“I have to check this news and I will answer you,” he said, before pulling the printed copy of the article out of the hands of the reporter, and putting it in his pocket. 

“I don’t know and I am not aware. I haven’t heard of this and I am not aware of the whole thing. I will read the news first.” 

 

New High Commission to cost $25 million

Cabinet has given approval for the Government’s investment arm Unit Trust of Samoa (UTOS) to fund the building of a new High Commission chancery for Samoa in Wellington, New Zealand.

The building project will start next year and will cost UTOS approximately $25 million. The Cabinet’s decision was announced by the Minister for Finance, Sili Epa Tuioti, when he gave the keynote address at the annual general meeting of the State-owned investment arm.

Sili also spoke on Government’s plans to provide opportunities to ensure that UTOS continues to grow for the benefit of Samoans. Some of these opportunities included the investment in shares of the Samoa Submarine Cable Company Ltd and the financing of the Malo Samoa Centre in Auckland, New Zealand. 

 

 

Light the World draws stars to Ululoloa

With the Christmas season, a family in Tuaefu took the initiative to share the spirit of Christmas by lighting, decorating and opening their compound to the public. 

An initiative that only began last year, this year saw the first Gala benefit concert to raise funds for Team Samoa that will participate in the Special Olympics in Abu Dhabi next year.

The event was headlined by star by international music superstars, Stan Walker and Vince Harder.

Speaking on behalf of the family, Sylvia Craig-Kapu said their initiative is based on the theme Light the World, which is being spearheaded by the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints.

“It just means for people to light the world in their own community, within their own families and so we literally took that into heart and we decided to light our compound and open it to the public and allow families, especially with young children to come in and enjoy the light,” Sylvia said.

“We hope that it will be a place where they will feel loved, they feel warmth and the spirit of Christmas. So that’s why we did this.”

The lights remain open.

 

Jeremiah Malaki Tauiliili’s death 

The Police investigated the death of Jeremiah Malaki Tauili’ili, a young Civil Engineer working at the Ministry of Works, Transport and Infrastructure, who passed away at the Tupua Tamasese Meaole.

“Samoa Police Service (‘SPS’) confirms that we are currently carrying out an investigation into an incident during the early hours of Saturday 1/12/2018 which claimed the life of Mr. Jeremiah Malaki Tauili’ili,” the Police said.

The Police statement also addressed the growing number of threats made on social media in relation to the incident.

“There have been a lot of speculations and threats made on social media,” the Police statement said. “S.P.S. urges the public not to take the law into their own hands but allow the law to take its course. 

Two men face manslaughter charges in relation to the death. They are Herman Westerlund and Suapaina Savaiinaea. 

 

Fiame a Doctor of Letters 

Education is important not only to Samoa, but to the Pacific region. It is the cornerstone of our development. 

These were the words of Acting Prime Minister, Fiame Dr. Naomi Mata’afa when she was conferred the Honourary Degree of Doctor of Letters (D.Litt).

Fiame, who is also the Minister of Natural Resources and Environment, was accorded the recognition during the University of the South Pacific (U.S.P.) Alafua Campus graduation at the E.F.K.S. hall in Sogi.

“I would like to acknowledge my family, those who have passed on, and those who are currently with me still on this journey, who have nurtured and sustained me through their council and fellowship,” she said.

“I would like to especially acknowledge my parents who have both passed away in giving me the values as a guide as to how one is to conduct one’s life. 

“This journey has been an extraordinary one and I am indeed blessed with the grace of God, His guidance, His counsel and His comfort.”

From her experience as Samoa’s Minister of Education for 15 years from 1991-2006, Fiame highlighted the crucial role the university plays in harnessing greater collaboration. 

 

60 years of service 

Sister Emanuela Betham celebrated 60 years serving as a Sister of the Missionary Sisters of the Society of Mary (S.M.S.M.) Marist Missionary life.

A church service was held at Our Lady of Mount Carmel Parish Church at Mt Vaea to commemorate her achievement, which was attended by members of the SMSM sisters, families and friends.

Sister Emanuela thanked God for giving her the strength to continue on with doing his work.

“Sixty years have passed and yet it feels like it came across so quickly, which is why I acknowledge God for the gift of life and to be able to serve him still.

“I am also grateful to my SMSM family and also to the love and support from my own family and how they have been supportive of my work ever since I chose this life.

“I think that I am still around because I am surrounded by so much love and care from everyone,” she said.

 

Minister warns about debt 

The forecast that the Minister of Finance, Sili Epa Tuioti, had made about two months ago in connection with the changeover of ownership of Aggie Grey’s Hotel on Beach Road, is somewhat disturbing.  

He said that if repayments on the hotel were not up do date by January 2019, the Samoan Government would start seizing assets to repay the $50 million loan the family had borrowed.

It is understood, that the reconstruction of Aggie Grey’s Hotel and its bungalows was necessary, since it’d been demolished by Cyclone Evan in 2012. 

This information was made available to the Samoa Observer by the Minister of Finance, Sili Epa Tuioti, when he was asked for of comment.  

 

Church Ministers in Court

Nine Church Ministers from the Congregational Christian Church of Samoa made their first appearance in the District Court.

The hearing of the matter between the Ministry of Revenue and the Church Ministers was presided over by Judge Talasa Lumepa Atoa Sa’aga. 

The Courthouse was packed with Church Ministers, families and friends who turned up to offer the accused moral support. 

The nine Ministers became the first of many more Church Ministers to appear in Court.

 

Church laments recklessness 

The Congregational Christian Church of Samoa (C.C.C.S.) has so far spent $6 million on the renovation of the John Williams building in Apia. 

This was confirmed by the C.C.C.S. Finance Committee Chairman, Le Mamea Ropati Mualia, who went on to express disappointment with the “recklessness” which led to the project going over budget.

In March this year, the Komiti o Feau Eseese asked the church’s General Assembly for an additional $2 million to complete the project—this request was revealed in a copy of a report—which was tabled in the 2018 conference.  

According to a report released in March this year by the Komiti o Feau Eseese, the repairs are underway—with two different companies contracted—to work on the body, the plumbing and the ceiling of the multi-storey building. This work was to cost $3 million, which was already approved for renovation. 

 

Samoa Roy Lee buys Helicopter 

Local businessman, Samoa Roy Lee, became the new owner of a helicopter sold by the Ministry of Revenue in an attempt to recover unpaid taxes. 

The sale was confirmed by the Minister of Revenue, Tialavea Tionisio Hunt.

The Minister could not divulge how much the helicopter was sold for, citing a confidentiality agreement.

But he confirmed that the helicopter - Model AS350VA manufactured in 1981 – was auctioned with a starting price of $60,000.

“We did not recover what is owed to the Government on Value added goods and services tax (V.A.G.S.T.) but I’m glad we have received funding as a result of the owed taxes,” Tialavea said. “I’m also glad it is out of our hands now.”

The Minister confirmed that there were four bidders.

“We sold it to the highest bidder,” he said.

 “I’m sorry but I cannot disclose how much it was sold due to confidentiality clauses under the Revenue laws.

“The sale was officiated two weeks ago and Samoa Roy Lee has the helicopter at his residence.” 

 

Laeimau Oketevi passes away 

Laeimau Oketevi Tanuvasa-Savea passed away. Laeimau was the Chief Executive Officer of Computer Services Limited, an IT firm partly-owned by the Samoa Government.

Laeimau is widely seen as a pioneer of women in Samoa’s growing information communication technology sector (ICT). Samoa’s Regulator, Lefaoali’i Unutoa Auelua-Fonoti, expressed sadness at the unexpected loss of a colleague she described as an “inspiring leader” within the ICT sector. 

“Tevi’s vision of driving the I.C.T. sector was remarkable. She was the drive behind Computer Service Limited, an internet service provider company that is very dear to her.”

 

Samoan man accused of alleged slavery, human trafficking 

The Chief Executive Officer of the Ministry of Commerce, Industry and Labour, Pulotu Lyndon Chu Ling, expressed concerns about the events involving a Samoan man who is facing charges of human trafficking in New Zealand.

 Viliamu Samu, also known as Joe Matamata, was charged with human trafficking and slavery after he allegedly took Samoans from here to New Zealand to work illegally in the horticultural industry as far back as the early 1990s.

His arrest followed a two-year investigation by Immigration New Zealand (INZ) and the New Zealand Police.

Hawkes Bay Today reported that Samu, 64, appeared in the Hastings District Court and entered no pleas. He was remanded on bail and is due to re-appear in the Napier District Court on 28 January 2019. 

Speaking to the Samoa Observer, Pulotu said he was not privy to the details of the New Zealand investigation.

 “This is a concern for us because we try to ensure the interests of locals, who are contracted to work overseas, are safeguarded,” Pulotu told the Samoa Observer.

“Employers in New Zealand have the responsibility to look after the affairs of the workers coming to work for them. 

“When such actions occur and are against the contract and the seasonal workers programme, we ensure that the employers are penalised according to the law of that country.” 

 

Village Council reacts to Facebook abuse 

A village council has moved to address the increasing use of Facebook to incite violence, by penalising families whose family members recently posted derogatory and threatening comments.

The Lauli’i village council has penalised five families in their village and slapped each one of them with a $5,000 penalty fee for allegedly making derogatory and threatening posts targeting chiefs in the village. 

This was confirmed by Lauli’i’s paramount chief, Fuamatu Samoa Oloaga Asuelu, in an interview with the Samoa Observer.

Fuamatu Samoa said during the village council meeting last week, the issue — where derogatory remarks were made towards a certain paramount chief by Lauli’i villagers who currently live abroad — was raised. 

“Five families have been penalised, given their family members were swearing, made derogatory and threatening remarks against a certain chief,” said Fuamatu.

 

 

P.M’s son is new Chief of Finance 

Prime Minister Tuilaepa Dr. Sa’ilele Malielegaoi said the “burden of proof” is on his son Oscar Malielegaoi, to perform as the newly appointed Ministry of Finance Chief Executive Officer.

And should his son not perform, the Prime Minister said: “Should he fail to deliver or under any circumstance violate his contractual obligations to government, I will be the first to let him go.”

Responding to social media criticism of a recent decision by Cabinet to endorse Mr. Malielegaoi’s appointment as the C.E.O. of the Ministry through a statement issued by the Government’s Press Secretariat, the Prime Minister said it was unfortunate that his son was the only applicant for the job, and critics should note that the position was advertised publicly for anyone to apply.

“The truth of the matter is he was deemed qualified by the selection panel, after satisfying the two essential ingredients for CEO appointments which are your academic qualifications and experience.

“There was no sinister plot surrounding the appointment as the position was publicly advertised for any person to apply.

“It’s unfortunate that he was the only applicant but the same can be said for other CEO and senior government posts which only attracted one applicant.”

 

New Zealand’s new High Commissioner named

New Zealand Foreign Minister Vaovasamanaia Winston Peters announced the appointment of career diplomat Dr Trevor Matheson as the new High Commissioner to Samoa, with accreditation to American Samoa.

Vaovasamanaia said the new High Commission was more than qualified and has over three decades of experience in the diplomatic service.

“As a long-serving diplomat, Dr Matheson is more than suitably qualified for his new role. Dr Matheson has more than three decades experience and is currently New Zealand’s Ambassador to the Republic of Indonesia. 

“He has previously served as Ambassador to Italy and Saudi Arabia, and Permanent Representative of New Zealand to the United Nations in Rome.”

 

Unasa takes on Tuilaepa 

Senior lawyer and leader of the Samoa First Political Party, Unasa Iuni Sapolu, denied claims she has been disbarred from the New Zealand Law Society.

She also accused Prime Minister Tuilaepa Dr. Sa’ilele Malielegaoi of “mollycoddling the masses against” her with unfounded claims. 

“I have been a member of the New Zealand Law Society for more than 30 years and up to this day; I am still a member,” Unasa told the Sunday Samoan. 

“Allegations and reports about my disbarment are lies.”

Unasa, who also heads the Sapolu Law Firm, was responding to questions from the Samoa Observer in relation to claims from the Prime Minister that there are lawyers in Samoa who have been de-registered from overseas as a result of serious offenses and severe professional misconduct. 

While Tuilaepa did not name any lawyer in particular, Unasa told the Samoa Observer she knows the allegation was directed at her.

 

New chief at Ministry of Communications 

The Ministry of Communications and Information Technology (M.C.I.T.) has a new Chief Executive Officer. He is Talatalaga Fualau Matau.

He his poised to take over from outgoing long-serving C.EO., Tuaimalo Asamu Ah Sam, who has held the position since April 2003.

Prior to his new role, Talatalaga had served as the Assistant Chief Executive Officer (A.C.E.O.) for the Policy Division in M.C.I.T. He had also served as an A.C.E.O. with Public Service Commission prior to moving to M.C.I.T.  

It was not possible to get an official comment from the new C.E.O. yesterday. 

The outgoing C.E.O. Tuaimalo had served five consecutive terms.

31 December 2018

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