F.A.S.T. billboard put back in Samatau

One of two billboards belonging to the Faatuatua i le Atua Samoa ua Tasi (F.A.S.T.) party has been re-built after it was removed from its roadside location in Samatau last week. 

Samatau High Chief Manoo Lavea confirmed that all is well with the location of the billboard and there are no problems with the billboard belonging to Samoa’s newest political party being displayed in the village.

“I don’t know who took it down,” Manoo told the Samoa Observer. “It’s okay.”

There are two F.A.S.T. billboards located in Samatau, which is one of nine villages that make up the constituency of Falelatai and Samatau. 

One billboard was erected on the main thoroughfare sitting on a parcel of land next to the Seventh Day Adventist Church in Samatau.

The land is owned by the extended family of F.A.S.T. candidate Pa’u Dr. Roy Ausage, on his maternal side. And the second billboard is located next to a neighborhood store on the shore, on land belonging to the Pa’u clan where the candidate holds his matai title.

All F.A.S.T. candidates for Upolu are pictured on one side of the billboard while the Falelatai and Samatau candidate, Pa'u Dr. Roy, is featured on the other side. 

The electoral constituency comprises Falevai, Levi, Matanofo, Matautu, Nefunefu, Pata, Siufaga, Samai and Samatau. 

Three candidates are running for the seat to represent Falelatai and Samatau: former Chief Executive Officer of the Electric Power Corporation, Lupematasila Tologata Tile; incumbent M.P. Taefu Lemi Taefu and Pa’u Dr. Roy who is currently in American Samoa.

Pati Te’o, who is a member of Pa’u’s extended family, said the billboards were put up last week on either Wednesday or Thursday. However, they were later taken down and then put up again.

He alleged that a group of young men in the village were instructed by a matai of the village to remove the second billboard from its original location.

Mr Te’o then said a pastor in the village questioned the young men and asked why they removed the billboard, who then scolded them and said the billboard should not have been tampered with.

“But the sign wasn’t damaged when it was removed, it was just taken down and stored away so they were told to put the sign back up,” he added. “Everything is fine now. No problems.”

Expressing support for Pa’u, who has been unable to travel to Upolu from American Samoa due to the border closure, Mr Te’o said there needs to be a change in the Government.

“For us we support Pa’u, we need a change of government, of course people might change their minds leading up to the election, you just never know. But we support Pa’u Dr. Roy Ausage, he is the only candidate running from Samatau.”

Nevertheless he said whoever wins is appointed by God and everyone should throw their support behind the victorious candidate. 

“To be elected is an appointment from God, it would be nice to see a change in government,” he added. “A lot has been said and many words have been exchanged but [the Prime Minister] Tuilaepa has done a lot. 

“He has served for such a long time. I think the election will be decided by who plays the best politics.

“The sign is fine, the kids who took it down did not damage it, they took it down and put it away. It has been put on display again.”

It is expected that the handling of the billboard will be discussed in an upcoming village council meeting, added Mr Te’o.

F.A.S.T. party leader, La’aulialemalietoa Leuatea Schmidt, told the Samoa Observer that he drove out to Samatau on Sunday to check on the billboards and dispelled social media reports that a F.A.S.T. billboard was tampered with in Samatau.

“I saw someone noted that on Facebook. That’s not true. The sign is still up in Samatau, a sign of our F.A.S.T. candidate and the F.A.S.T. candidates for Upolu. 

“That is why I went and checked on it – that statement was wrong.” 

In relation to the challenges currently faced by F.A.S.T. over its campaign strategy, he said it’s to be expected.

“We still expect that…there are people on the other side trying to do that but we don’t want to do something else [to retaliate],” Laauli said. “We just want to rebuild, renew it and put it up again. These things happen. It’s not new. We want to keep the peace.”

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