Church apology to fa'afafine "misplaced": association president

Samoa Fa’afafine Association President Alex Su’a has brushed aside an apology by the Congregational Christian Church of Samoa over a televised debate on fa’afafine in politics, saying the apology by the church hierarchy was “misplaced”.

Mr Su’a told the Samoa Observer in a telephone interview that the S.F.A. was not offended by debate and the topic that its church organisers chose for the youth participants, though it appeared to be odd. 

“The thing is what I’m gathering from Social media from the fa’afafine community, there’s a division of views as some are saying that it’s creating a lot of discrimination against our Fa’afafine Association while some are saying it’s just a debate,” he said.

“But I can only say that the Samoa Fa'afafine Association, we’re not really bothered with the whole debate thing as we have our own jobs to do.

“With the reference to the Fa'afafine Association, then I have to say that the apology is misplaced because the Samoa Fa’afafine Association itself never complained.”

A debate on Tuesday hosted by the E.F.K.S. TV2 station, on whether Samoa’s fa'afafine can run for public office, backfired when it was televised on Wednesday and triggered a lot of criticism from members of the public as well as fa’afafine. 

The public outcry led to the C.C.C.S General Secretary, Reverend Vavatau Taufao appearing on TV2 as well as in a Facebook livestream on Thursday evening to apologise to the fa'afafine community who were offended by the debate.

He said the organisers of the debate had good intentions and that was to develop the debate knowledge and skill of the youth involved.

“Last night, we (televised) a debate on one of the topics which has insulted the feelings of some of our country members,” he said.

“Our dear fa'afafine association and every fa'afafine, we will not hide the truth and we do not have the ability to bring back what has been said. 

“We predominantly ask that you forgive us for we were wrong with our service.”

But Mr Su’a said although the topic was incongruous, the debate topic had some benefits for the association and its members.

“We’ve also gone through the bright side of the issue and it’s an educational topic and it allows our people and also for our association, this is like a feedback for us as well,” he said. 

“It’s like, this is where we hear both views because this is not the fa'afafine community and the association’s views.” 

Mr. Su’a said he has not seen the televised apology but knows it has been circulating on social media.

Asked what he thought of the debate topic, Mr Su’a said the topic is already discriminatory as it asks questions about the competency of the fa’afafine and whether they are eligible to run for the parliament. 

He added that he is aware that the majority of people who complained were also S.F.A. members but each one of them had their own thoughts on the issue. 

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