Of secret whispers and Lopao’o’s new role

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Mata'afa Keni Lesa

Well there you have it, Samoa. Prime Minister Tuilaepa Sailele Malielegaoi was finally prompted by a “secret whisper” yesterday so that the new Minister of Agriculture and Fisheries is now no longer a secret.

Thank goodness for that. 

The suspense was intense. If members of the public were edgy and anxious, imagine how members of the H.R.P.P. were feeling prior to the announcement. It would have been nice to be a fly on the wall during those conversations, especially by party members who perhaps, quietly, thought they had a chance.

The idea that the Prime Minister did not tell a soul, including the man who has been handed the portfolio, Lopao’o Natanielu Mua, is certainly a first. 

It’s fascinating stuff, isn’t it?

Folks, a political guessing game is one thing. 

But being appointed a Cabinet Minister is another. It’s a massive moment, not just for the person, but for his wife, children, family, village and all his supporters.

It would have been the decent thing to do for the Prime Minister to at least give a secret whisper in Lopao’o’s ear -- even two hours before -- so he could have his family there for the special moment. 

In any case, maybe the secret whisper Tuilaepa was waiting for really did not come until he stood up on the podium? Who knows? Still one can’t help but feel that these once sacred things have become so childish in the way they have been done. 

But then that’s the level of our politics today. We have people who feel they can do whatever they like. And this was just another classic example.

That said, we want to congratulate Minister Lopao’o for his appointment. 

As we’ve alluded to before, being appointed a Cabinet Minister is not a small decision. It’s a massive vote of confidence from Tuilaepa, the H.R.P.P. party and the people of Samoa in Lopao’o’s ability to perform the role. 

How we’ve arrived to the situation we’ve found ourselves  in today, with regards to the Minister of Agriculture and Fisheries portfolio, is well known. And you could certainly feel the sting in some of Prime Minister Tuilaepa’s comments yesterday.

 “You will start your work as a minister and you must conduct your duties with honesty,” Tuilaepa said in addressing the new minister. “What does this mean? Your entire time will be dedicated to your ministerial portfolios and this includes catering for the needs of our people.”

But he didn’t stop there.

“You will no longer be involved in a business,” he said. “If you have a business, leave it to your family. You should not become involved with it anymore.”

But his most telling comment was when he made reference to the point that nothing is hidden under the sun. 

“Dishonest work conducted in the darkness will not be hidden from God,” he said. 

Now, what is he talking about here? And to whom, exactly, is he referring? Has he been prompted by a “secret whisper” about some things we don’t know? What does he know that he is not telling us?

Let’s wait and see because only time will tell.

In any case, today is about celebrating with new Minister Lopao’o. 

Serving in his first term as a Member of Parliament, this is a big step. 

But by the sound of it, he is more than ready for the role.

“I’m delighted with the appointment and I will try my best to fulfill my roles,” he said. “I am thankful for the appointment and I will give it my all to serve my people as I know what it’s like because I am a farmer.

“Now that I am in this position, I will do my best to help our people.”

Well that’s a fantastic promise. 

Easier said than done, of course, and given the challenges facing our agriculture and fisheries today, Lopao’o has his work cut out for him. 

But let’s not think too much about that, today. 

Let’s rejoice with Lopao’o and his family. We wish him well and God’s blessings.

In the meantime, have fabulous Friday, Samoa! 

© Samoa Observer 2016

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