For a long time now, Prime Minister Tuilaepa Dr. Sa’ilele Malielegaoi has enjoyed the freedom of saying anything to anyone and everyone in this country.
What from colourful words like “idiots”, “fools”, “kids”, “stupid” and “stinking pigs” used to describe critics of the Government to veiled verbal threats, we’ve heard it all before.
In most cases, it’s almost like the people of this country have become so used to it that they no longer care. Many people simply brush it off as another Prime Minister Tuilaepa “classic”.
Others just laugh it off as if it’s normal when in the eyes and ears of people from other parts of the world, the comments are downright crazy.
But Samoa being Samoa, it’s been allowed to continue until now.
Today, it appears that he finally might have gone too far and if what we’ve been told is anything to judge by, the days of Prime Minister Tuilaepa shooting from the hip could be numbered.
Keep in mind that you can only insult people for so long to a certain degree before they are fed up. Which is precisely what appears to be unfolding in front of us today.
Two days ago, a story titled “Village threatens to sue P.M. over “dogs label” appeared on the front page of this newspaper.
According to the story, the Luatuanu’u Village Council has threatened to sue Prime Minister Tuilaepa for defamation over his use of the word “dogs” in reference to the village. Village Spokesperson, Tofete Lafaua Tofete, said they do not accept it.
“Not only did he call us dogs, he stripped our village of the opportunities in the seasonal work scheme overseas and has also banned our rugby team from taking part in the competition,” he said.
“We believe the decision is unfair. It is over the top and we don’t accept it.”
Tofete said the village is hurting from the humiliation caused by Tuilaepa’s comments.
“These are not the words of a leader,” he said. “Luatuanu’u will never be the same after the public comments uttered by the Prime Minister.
“We have been ridiculed by every Samoan all over the world after what the Prime Minister has said about our village.”
For the uninitiated, Tuilaepa’s comments were made in the wake of a dispute at Luatuanu’u, which led to men blocking the road. When the Police turned up, they were attacked with stones.
Told about this, Tuilaepa, who is also the Minister of Police, said the young people of Luatuanu’u had no right to endanger the lives of the Police and the travelling public.
“These types of actions do not exist at this time and age,” said the Prime Minister. “The actions by these young men are not that of humans, rather they are the actions of dogs.”
Two weeks after the incident, Tofete and Luatuanu’u are serious about pursuing the matter, saying Tuilaepa’s comments are unacceptable.
“We want to take him to Court,” he said. “We believe that our village is a victim in this ordeal because of the public comments by the Prime Minister. We want him to be held accountable in accordance with the law.”
But the village appears to have hit a snag already. Their request to file an official complaint against the Prime Minister with the Samoa Police Service has been rejected.
“The Police officials flatly denied our request,” he said. “We were informed that only the Minister of Police can determine whether we can file a complaint or not. But then the Minister of Police is Tuilaepa, so where is the fairness in all of this?
“The Police are where we seek assistance from. I am really saddened that we were denied access to filing an official complaint.”
Well Luatuanu’u has got a point. You see if people cannot seek refuge in the Police, where can they go?
Now, according to Tofete, the Village Council will approach the Office of the Ombudsman next. That’s fine, but they might be better off finding a lawyer and taking the matter straight to Court.
Tuilaepa knows this. And since Luatuanu’u has made the threat, it is up to them now to back up their words and see to it that Tuilaepa is held accountable.
Some interesting times ahead, Stay tuned. In the meantime, have a great Friday, God bless!