By Lagi Keresoma
“HRPP has gone grey in the hair, but stronger and bolder ” Prime Minister Tuilaepa Lupesoliai Sailele Malielegaoi
For 32 years, the Human Rights Protection Party (HRPP) have continuously governed Samoa and it was only proper for members to come together to celebrate the Party’s coming of age 30 November, the Party’s founding.
Yesterdays celebration was led by Prime Minister Tuilaepa Lupesoliai Sailele Malielegaoi, Cabinet, MPs and supporters at the Parys headquaters at Mulinu’u. Tuilaepa said that the Party has succeded in all political challenges they promised the country and have also endured the never ending attacks from their political foes.
Tuilaepa also acknowledged the service rendered by “members faithful” to the Party and urged them to continue serving the people of Samoa in the best of their ability. He also credited former HRPP “sons” (deserted) who now lead the attack from the parliamentary Opposition.
“HRPP is old and stronger,” said Tuilaepa.
Despite all the obstacles and critisicm, HRPP had endured and steadfastly withstood them all. Proof of this stronghold was evident when the people voted them again to lead the people of Samoa eight months ago. The only major change to the Party after their election victory was the election of Fa’aitamai Pierre Lauofo Meredith as Deputy leader for HRPP when former deputy Misa Telefoni Retzlaff resigned.
Tuilaepa highlighted the success of the Party in the development of Samoa which includes Samoa’s stand on climate change issues. Samoa is one of the countrys in the forefront of seeing changes done to reduce the destruction of the environment.
Samoa is also spearheading many new changes within the Pacific basin which recently saw Tokelau island following Samoa’s change of the international dateline to be on the same date with major trading partners such as New Zealand, Australia and major Asian countries.
“There are 28 more days before we share the same time and day with New Zealand.” said Tuilaepa.
He urged HRPP members especially Members of Parliament to “work honestly” for the people. He reminded the MPs that they were not elected to use the constituency’s seat to swing on and relax but to work.
“Work for the development and betterment of the people who voted you in,” said Tuilaepa.
“The people voted you in but God annointed you,” he emphasized.
HRPP had come a long way since 1982 when Samoa had three Prime Ministers in one year. Prior to the election of 1982, the late Prime Minister and member of the Council of Deputies Vaai Kolone, Tofilau Eti Alesana, Laulu Fetauimalemau and others formed the Human Rights political party which is now 32 years old.
HRPP was victorious in the general elections of 1982 and Va’ai Kolone was sworn in as Prime Minister. However, he lost his constituency’s seat when the Court found election malpratices against him.
The Head of State then appointed Tupuola Efi as Prime Minister and not Tofilau Eti, the deputy leader of HRPP. Tupuola and his government was later ousted when his budget was defeated in the House and the late Tofilau Eti Alesana formed the new HRPP Government which has been in power since except for a brief period 1997/98 when it lost lost a motion of no confidence when half the partyu MP crossed the floor when they were not appointed as Cabinet Ministers.
As the celebration progressed, Tuilaepa put the question to its members whether the two chairpersons of the HRPP’s committee should continue or to elect new leaders. The majority were in favour of the two current leaders, one from Savai’i and one from Upolu.
Tuilaepa, only the third person to lead HRPP in its 32 year history had the privilege of cutting the birthday cake before everyone partook in the feasting and entertainment.