Samoa First Party Secretary, Feagaimaalii Toomalata Bruce, has clarified the meaning of their party name after Prime Minister Tuilaepa Sa’ilele Malielegaoi suggested ‘Samoa Halfback’ would be a better alternative.
Speaking to the Samoa Observer, Feagaimaalii said he would like to take the Prime Minister’s rugby analogy a little further.
“If he wants to play rugby, okay that’s fine you play rugby,” said Feagaimaalii. “If he says that we are the half back, then ok, the halfback always gets the ball and they are the key player in the game.”
Feagaimaalii said they did not feel offended by the Prime Minister because he is entitled to his opinion, but that perhaps he took their name out of context.
“Last night (Thursday) I heard him say number seven, but because of some typing mistake, he said Samoa’s first party,” he said. “We are not the first party in Samoa set up. That’s our name, Samoa First. What it means in our translation is that we give the Samoa people first priority. They got New Zealand first, they got Fiji First and now you got Samoa First.”
“If he’s talking about rugby and he says the H.R.P.P. party is first, then they are the forwards and the Prime Minister is the hooker or the prop. The half backs got the ball, we release and he has to get it from us.”
According to Feagaimaalii, Samoa First party was borne from the peoples call to form an opposition party to represent their voice in decisions concerning customary land law.
“We are trying our help our people out and we are responding to their requests,” he said.
“They always ask us would you be able to form a political party? That’s why we formed this party. That’s the belief that we are trying to accommodate because of our peoples’ rights to be heard and although this time, H.R.P.P. is the Government and they don’t have any opposition party whatsoever.”
Although the party has not finalized their manifesto, Feagaimalii said their main goal is to protect customary land rights and champion peoples’ civil liberties.
“Samoa First is for everyone, we don’t hide anything,” he said. “We also don’t like parties where you have to have a million dollars to set it up, no that’s not the point. The point is to expose people to our rights and encourage them to speak up. Basically just to maintain our country and to have equal rights for everyone. No dictatorship.”