Tuilaepa told me to ask about La'auli allegation: reporter

By Tina Mata'afa-Tufele 12 July 2021, 12:00AM

A reporter with a local television station has revealed the caretaker Prime Minister asked her to ask him a question about the Fa’atuatua i le Atua Samoa ua Tasi (F.A.S.T.) party Deputy leader La’auli Leuatea Schmidt and his alleged sexist comments prior to the start of the interview.

TV3 and Radio Polynesia Reporter Rula Su’a Vaai, in a special broadcast on the commercial television station’s Facebook page on Monday morning, revealed that Tuilaepa Dr. Sa'ilele Malielegaoi instructed her to ask him about La’auli and the reported sexist allegations prior to the start of the televised interview session.

“The truth is I did not listen properly to the comments (made by Laauli) that are at the center of all this commotion,” Ms. Vaai said.

“The people should know I had no intention of harming anyone, especially not La’auli who made the comments that have stirred up all this commotion.

“I remember that day on the program with the caretaker Prime Minister.

“We went inside and as usual he asked what questions I planned to ask during the interview. 

According to Ms. Vaai, the caretaker Prime Minister discussed with her the topics that she intended to raise with him during the televised interview, and then he specifically asked for the question in relation to La’auli.

"I clearly remember that day. I walked inside and sat down. We spoke and he said give me your issues [or topics] so I gave him the issues we would cover in the program. 

“Then the caretaker Prime Minister said 'I want to know the truth about what Laauli said regarding women.' 

"There were also representatives of the Savali in there [the room] who answered and said yes, there is a programme called Le Ao Samoa on La’auli’s Facebook account where he is talking and suggested that the women be taken to an open field (malae) shine lights in them and to call upon the aumaga (untitled men). 

“Then the caretaker Prime Minister told me to ask him a question about it. That is why I asked him the question."

Ms. Vaai spoke during the interview with her TV3 and Radio Polynesia colleague Leiua Ame Sene.

Tuilaepa used the interview with Ms. Vaai last week to attack the F.A.S.T. party Chairman and accuse him of promoting sexual violence against Samoan women, and slammed the "conspiracy of silence" from organisations such as the United Nations and the Samoa Victim Support Group as well as the Samoa Observer.

In the interview on Monday morning, Ms. Vaai also revealed she wasn't prepared for the interview with the caretaker Prime Minister and accepted that the commotion that her interview has created is partly her fault as a reporter.

"Ninety percent of this commotion, the blame is should be placed on me, I didn’t prepare, I was not prepared, it should not have happened, not in the job of a reporter like mine," she said.

"I should have prepared for it so when he told me to ask the question, I would have been prepared."

"This falls on me," she said and indicated that she also saw some of the coverage of the alleged sexist comments on fake Facebook pages.

She also admitted that she did not watch the programme where La'auli initially made the comments that criticised the anonymous social media users who continued to defame the F.A.S.T. party leader and its members.

By Tina Mata'afa-Tufele 12 July 2021, 12:00AM
Samoa Observer

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