P.M. GUARDS HIS SECRET
Prime Minister Tuilaepa Sa’ilele Malielegaoi was not giving away anything last night about who might be his Deputy Prime Minister.
“The spirit still hasn’t whispered anything to me yet,” Tuilaepa told the Samoa Observer.
“It will probably be tomorrow morning (early today) because everything I do is dependent on God and his Spirit.”
The Prime Minister refused to confirm or deny reports that he is to name the Deputy leader of the Human Rights Protection Party (H.R.P.P), Fiame Naomi Mata’afa, his Deputy.
Nor would he discuss the possibility of Faumuina Tiatia Liuga being appointed or Fonotoe Pierre Lauofo continuing in the role.
“I don’t know,” he insisted.
The Prime Minister said all would be revealed at Tuanaimato this morning – including his Cabinet Ministers – during Parliament’s first session.
One of Parliament’s first tasks is to swear in the new Speaker of Parliament, Leaupepe Toleafoa Fa’afisi and his Deputy, Nafo’itoa Talaimanu Keti. All Members of Parliament are also to be sworn in this morning.
The Head of State, His Highness Tui Atua Tupua Tamasese Efi, will deliver Parliament’s opening address.
According to Tuilaepa, the 13 Cabinet Ministers will be announced first before their Associates.
Speaking of Associate Ministers, the Prime Minister said the H.R.P.P caucus has resolved that there will only be one Associate Minister per Minister, as opposed to the old practice where all members of the party was an Associate Minister of some sort.
Tuilaepa said the practice was appropriate in the past where the H.R.P.P did not have such a high number of members.
But with 47 members, he said it’s impossible to keep them all as Associate Ministers.
“We have agreed that each Minister should have one Associate to help out but the rest, which is 19 plus two Opposition and one Independent (22) they can oppose the government.”
“That is foresight,” he said. “It is to maintain the independence of our Parliament.”
He added that Cabinet Ministers and their Associates should be a mix of experience members and new blood with new ideas.
“The idea is to have meaningful discussions every time a topic is debated…that is why I keep saying not to worry because we did not select ourselves, it was the country’s decision for our party M.Ps to have the majority (of seats).”
With five Ministers having lost their seats after the general election, Tuilaepa had seven returned Ministers including the Caretaker Speaker, La’aulialemalietoa Leuatea Polataivao and himself.
However, there are still 12 experienced M.Ps that survived from the election and newcomers who have a mixture of long time serving public servants and business people.