Poor Prime Minister Tuilaepa Sailele Malielegaoi. What exactly happens when someone he’s close to – such as a Cabinet Minister for instance – is alleged to have broken the law and now he, Tuilaepa, is waiting for a “divine whisper from the heavens” to tell him what he should do?
Will he wait patiently still knowing well that the heavens are millions of miles away, so that it is quite clear they cannot possibly hear what on earth he’s trying to say?
In any case, that little yarn is inspired by the story that the Minister of Agriculture and Fisheries had resigned, following allegations that he has obtained money by deception.
Which was why poor Tuilaepa has been waiting for a “divine whisper from the heavens” to tell him who should take over, so he said.
The story said that on 21 August 2017, the senior Cabinet minister was arrested and charged with allegedly obtaining $136,400 by deception.
Charged together with his wife and his business partner, the cabinet minister’s name was withheld; however, they were allowed to remain at liberty.
And then revealed the Acting Assistant Police Commissioner, Sala’a Moananu Salala’a, at the time: “They are scheduled to appear in the Supreme Court on 18 September 2017.”
He said: “As for the identity of the accused, that I cannot disclose.”
“The cabinet minister is charged with obtaining by deception.”
“This is the same charge that his wife is facing, while the business partner is charged with obtaining a forged document.”
“The cabinet minister is accused of allegedly obtaining $136,400 by deception, while his wife is alleged to have obtained $140,000 by deception.”
The Acting Assistant Police Commissioner also told the Samoa Observer the charge against the business partner did not involve any cash.
Confirming this information about a month later, Attorney General Lemalu Hermann Retzlaff, said: “The file already had recommended charges against individuals therein, with a request for a review and for advice regarding those proposed charges.”
He also said: “Further Police investigations have continued, after the file was delivered, so that full consideration of the evidence is ongoing.”
And then in mid-August, the Minister in question, revealed his identity himself.
He said he was the Minister of Agriculture and Fisheries, La’aulialemalietoa Leuatea Polataivao Fosi, and he then also announced that he had resigned.
In the story published in the Samoa Observer on 24 August 2017, titled “I am innocent”, La’aulialemalietoa said he had resigned from his ministerial portfolios, and that he is adamant that he is innocent.
“I declare that only God knows the truth,” he said. “I claim my innocence and I can categorically state that I am clean of all the things, that I have been accused of.”
And yes, La’auli, his wife and the business partner, are charged with allegedly obtaining money by deception.
The charges are in connection with an on-going court case over a nonu company involving another senior member of the ruling Human Rights Protection Party, who is also the Associate Minister of Cabinet and Prime Minister, Peseta Vaifou Tevaga.
Said the Police: “Each of the charges carries a maximum penalty if convicted, and if they are convicted, one will serve up to seven years in jail.”
La’auli said at the time: “I am resigning with a heavy heart out of respect for the government.”
In a statement he also said: “It is with a heavy heart that I announce my resignation as a Minister of Cabinet.”
“For the integrity of Cabinet, Government and with the highest of respect to the Prime Minister, I willingly surrender my Cabinet portfolios but will retain my status as a Member of Parliament, to await the outcome of the court proceedings.”
Still, whether or not Prime Minister Tuilaepa was listening, no one could tell. All that everyone knew was that he was still waiting for the illusive Divine Whisper to tell him what had to be done.
It was later though that Tuilaepa revealed he’d received the “divine whisper” when he was on the podium, addressing the gathering of Cabinet ministers and the Head of State, His Highness Tuimaleali’ifano Va’aletoa Sualauvi II.
Said he: “It just came to me while I was giving my speech. I was prompted that it was him, Lopao’o.”
In any case, Lopao’o Natanielu Mua, is the Member of Parliament for Vaisigano No. 1.; he is serving his first term in Parliament, and now today, he is the Minister of Agriculture and Fisheries.
Asked for a comment, he said: “I am delighted with the appointment, and I will try my best to fulfill my roles.”
He then thanked his constituency, his village, church, family, and all of his supporters, saying: “Many members of my family told me to pray but I said it is up to the Prime Minister.”
“I want to thank my mother, my wife, my children, and my village.”
“I have been in Savai’i for three weeks; I came not knowing anything about being appointed to a ministerial position, not even an inkling.”
“Nonetheless, 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 looking in from the outside.”
“Now that I am in this position, I will do my best to help our people.”
He also said: “It has been worth the wait. For fifteen years I have waited.”
Lopao’o said his village approached him “many years ago to run for Parliament, but he didn’t want to.”
“I waited for the right time. I thank God for choosing me. We all prayed and I asked God for this. We also prayed for other candidates who did not win the race.”
Lopao’o went on to say: “Our village has been serving Parliament under the Opposition for many years.”
“We felt that it was time to change, so that we can have a lot more say in the developments that are happening.”
In response, Prime Minister Tuilaepa, told the new minister: “You will refrain from running private businesses.”
“You will no longer be involved in a business. If you have a business, leave it to your family. You should not become involved with it anymore.”
Tuilaepa also advised: “You will start your work as a minister and you must conduct your duties with honesty.”
“What does this mean?” Tuilaepa asked. “It means your entire time will be dedicated to your ministerial portfolios, and that includes catering for the needs of our people.”
And lastly, Tuilaepa made it clear to Lopao’o, saying: “Dishonest work conducted in the darkness will not be hidden from God.”
He’s right, naturally.
So well said Mr Prime Minister, well said indeed!
As for the so-called “Divine Whisper from the Heavens” you’ve been telling us all about, how about your government working on providing some simple solutions and remedies, right here on Earth that are capable of fighting the scourges called rampant corruption and bureaucratic fraud, that are continuing to cause atrocious poverty and an unceasing spate of family violence we are seeing everwhere, around us today?
Just a silly thought Mr Prime Minister!
Have a peaceful Sunday Samoa, God bless!