F.A.S.T. removes billboard to "keep the peace"

The Fa’atuatua i le Atua Samoa ua Tasi (F.A.S.T.) political party removed a billboard that was installed in front of a church minister’s home in Paia Savai’i to avoid any conflict. 

The leader of F.A.S.T., La’auli Leuatea Schmidt says the party decided to remove the billboard that was in front of a church minister’s home “to keep the peace”. 

He denied reports that several villages in Upolu and Paia Savai’i did not welcome the party’s outreach programme through a community roadshow. 

According to La’auli, the party did not have any plans to take the roadshow to Paia Savai’i but had only encountered an issue with the installation of their billboard in the village. 

He added that the only village that had some issues with the outreach programme is Satapuala. 

“Satapuala is the village where Toeolesulusulu [F.A.S.T. candidate] comes from and I received a letter from the Minister about it,” he said. 

“I gave the letter to Toeolesulusulu to confirm the content of the letter because I was a bit concerned about the Minister giving me the letter." 

It was not possible to get a comment from F.A.S.T. candidate Toeolesulusulu Cedric Schuster, who is a former Member of Parliament contesting the Aana Alofi No4 seat (which includes Fasitoo-Tai, Vailuutai, Faleatiu, Satapuala and Sagafili) currently occupied by H.R.P.P.'s Minister for Communications and Information Technology, Afamasaga Toeolesulusulu Rico Tupai. 

“It should have been delivered by a villager but we see that politics has come into play and I had second doubts about the letter,” said La'auli. 

La’auli said there is more than one village in a constituency, and the village that hosts is an arrangement made by the candidate from F.A.S.T. and the villagers. 

He added that the former M.P. will be meeting with the village council of Satapuala regarding the roadshow issue. Furthermore, the F.A.S.T. leader cautioned that members of Parliament should “stay clean” and not intervene with village council decisions on such matters. 

On Sunday, Samoa Observer spoke to the Matai Elder (Tuua) of Satapuala, Vaili Mimita, who confirmed that the letter was delivered by the Minister on instruction from the village, and explained that "the letter was signed by Vaili and Faleaana, who represents the four sub-villages of Satapuala." 

“[To] top it off, it was also signed by paramount chief Toalepaialii Toivao.  

“As it is in the letter, Satapuala village supports [the Human Rights Protection Party] Government and they do not welcome F.A.S.T. or any other political party into Satapuala; to avoid internal frictions among Satapuala villagers, and ensure that peace prevails. 

“The people shall decide with their votes. Satapuala supports the incumbent, but other candidates are given the opportunity to run, as the alii and faipule respects their individual rights,” said Vaili. 

“The F.A.S.T. [party] have received our letter and [on Saturday] the Village Council met, due to the nature of this matter,” said Vaili. 

“Our village council usually meets at the end of the month, but because of the [F.A.S.T.] request, we held our meeting earlier, and as a result the council has resolved to deny the F.A.S.T. [roadshow].”

Asked whether the council would allow the local candidate for F.A.S.T., Toeolesulusulu Cedric Schuster, to campaign, Vaili said chiefs would not stop villagers from supporting their chosen candidate. 

“We know there are F.A.S.T. candidate and supporters in the village and we will not infringe on their rights, but the main reason why we opted not to allow another political party is to ensure there is no friction between the villages,” explained Vaili. He added that Satapuala will continue to support the Government and their incumbent representative. 

La'auli said their party’s only intention is to meet the villagers to raise awareness of their political aspirations and seek their opinions on priorities and other crucial issues. 

“If the villages do not accept our views then we respect their opinion and decisions,” he said. 

“But we expected this right after the Prime Minister made those comments urging their supporters to come out and ask questions and challenge it [roadshow]. 

“It doesn’t sound right to hear that coming from the leader of the country but we want to keep the peace.” 

So far, La’auli said the party has already met with 15 constituencies in Upolu during their campaign. 

He said the method has been successful with very constructive feedback from the public. 

“This is where we know where the priority is for each constituency and understand their needs,” he said. 

“We now also know that some of the laws being passed do not reflect what people at the end of the rope want and need. 

“The feedback we gather is also used to put together our final manifesto that will be launched two weeks before election.” 

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