Welcome home Prime Minister Tuilaepa! Congratulations Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern!

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Gatoaitele Savea Sano Malifa

The manner in which the New Zealand government had made sure the country’s general elections would not be disrupted in any adverse way, as it was moving along relatively slowly over recent weeks for reasons that could not possibly be avoided, is the sort of performance the Samoan government should both learn from, and indeed emulate. 

Held on 23 September 2017, the New Zealand elections struck certain hiccups that took 27 days to sort out, and then on 19 October 2017, Jacinda Ardern, the Labour candidate, who had been declared the overall winner, was duly sworn in by the Governor-General, Dame Patsy Reddy, as the new Prime Minister of New Zealand. 

Shortly afterwards, congratulatory messages started to arrive from world leaders, such as the Australian Prime Minister, Malcolm Turnbull, Canada’s Justin Trudeau, the British Prime Minister, Theresa May, and naturally, the United States President, Donald Trump.

And of course, there was the former New Zealand Labour Prime Minister, Helen Clark, “who paid tribute to Ardern’s achievement” where she told her, “not to forget the Green Party and its leader, Winston Peters.”

During an interview with the New Zealand Herald, Clark said: “I found Peters to be an exemplary partner from 2005 to 2008.”

“If Winston gave his word he kept his word. We were never let down, never surprised,” Clark explained.

“And I think that he very much wants to be treated for the very senior New Zealand politician that he is, and he doesn’t want to be taken for granted, ever.”

Added Clark: “Having good faith and good processes to him, were absolutely everything.”

“If your partner feels surprised, if they feel something was done in their name that they never agreed to, (now) that’s bad. But Jacinda has a very consultative style so I’m not anticipating there’ll be issues there.”

Promised Jacinda Ardern: “It will be a powerful Government. It will be one that brings real experience.”

Now the question is: What about us here in Samoa? What kind of government is the party that’s calling itself the Protector of Everyone’s Human Rights, planning to do for the people of this country, up ahead?

All we know is that soon after this country’s Prime Minister, Tuilaepa Sailele Malielegaoi, had been taken ill and he was on his way to New Zealand seeking medical treatment, reports emerged that a certain group within the government was in the process of deciding who should take over should Tuilaepa be prevented for whatever reason, from returning to the “throne”.

The question is: Why would Tuilaepa not return?

Incidentally, it all began when the Member of Parliament, Faumuina Wayne Fong, was quoted in the Samoa Observer on 15 October as having said, “there is underground jostling for the position of Prime Minister among certain members” but then, he did not explain what he was talking about.

What he said though was that these were “dirty politics” adding that the “members” he was referring to “have been campaigning for votes” should something happen to the Prime Minister, he did not say who those members were.

Said Faumuina: “Now I find that absolutely disgusting,” 

He also said he was invited to join the group but then “I rejected the offer” adding that “I declined it based on so many factors.”

“The most critical one for me is the fact that these people are power hungry and they are self-centred. They will do anything to get to the helm.”

“I call it the small party made up of small-minded people,” he explained. “Here they are, rallying up other people to select a leader when our leader is overseas, getting his medical check up.”

He went on to say: “These people are driven by the hunger for power, they will stop at nothing to get what they want.”

And then two days later, on 17 October, a new story discussing the same fracas, showed up. 

Published on that day in the Samoa Observer, under the titled “H.R.P.P. rift over claims”, the story revealed that the Member of Parliament from Faleata, Lealailepule Rimoni Aiafi,  had decided to have his own say in the matter.

He challenged Faumuina “to cough up the names of the so-called members of the H.R.P.P. who are conspiring to take over the Prime Ministership role, should something happen to Tuilaepa Sa’ilele Malielegaoi.” 

And then he added: “This is not right. As a member of the H.R.P.P. party, there’s nothing going on that says there is any underground jostling for the Prime Ministership position, as Faumuina has claimed.”

Indeed, “if Faumuina’s views are genuine,” Lealailepule continued, “then he should name the people he is talking about.”

In other words: “Who are those members, how many are they, and how are they involved in the campaign for votes?”

 Leala went on to say: “If Faumuina is right, then he should have the courage to come forward, and reveal those members.”

“But he’s not, and that’s what I call dirty politics! That’s what you call in Samoa – e togi le moa ae u’u le afa”. 

Leala also said: “If Faumuina Wayne thinks he is helping the Prime Minister by doing what he’s done, he is not.”

 “He is, instead, adding more pressure on the shoulders of our leader. So for the Prime Minister, he should be reassured that nothing is happening, unless Faumuina Wayne reveals whom he is talking about.”

Said Leala: “Faumuina Wayne is a good Member of Parliament. He always speaks his mind.”

“But this time he has gone overboard so that someone should response since our Whip is not here.” 

Leala went on to reassure that “nothing is happening in the party and that everyone is praying for Tuilaepa’s speedy recovery.”

Contacted for a comment, Faumuina said he was not obligated to respond to Lealailepule. 

“Why did he ask that question if I didn’t mention his name?” Faumuina said. “And if he didn’t ask me, then it’s not his problem.”

Faumuina said he declined to divulge “who is behind the push” and who the members of the group were.

However, he said: “I rejected the offer. I declined it based on so many factors, the most critical of which ‘is the fact that these people are power hungry, and they will do anything to get to the helm’.”

He called it “the small party made up of small-minded people”.

He also said: “Here they are rallying up other people to select a leader, when our leader is overseas getting his medical checkup.”Z

“We should be up in arms praying for our leader and not do this while he’s on his sick bed.”

Incidentally, Prime Minister Tuilaepa, has apparently undergone his medical checkup, he is well, and according to his Acting Prime Minister, Papali’i Niko Lee Hang, he is expected to arrive back from New Zealand today. 

So what is he going to say when he’s told that some members of his party have allegedly been engaged in “underground jostling for the position of Prime Minister” during the time while he was away?  

What would he say if he was made aware that members of his party have allegedly been playing “dirty politics” and “campaigning for votes” should something happen to him, so that he would be forced to step down from the  “throne?” 

We don’t know.

That way all we can do now is wait. 

In the meantime, may we wish everyone a peaceful and meaning Sunday, God bless!

© Samoa Observer 2016

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