BY Lagi Keresoma
APIA: THURSDAY 06 MARCH 2014: There was no press conference as such. Prime Minister Tuilaepa Sailele Malielegaoi took only 5 minutes to tell a Radio live audience that things are OK in the ruling HRPP caucus after Tuesday night’s 6 hour-long closed meeting. Reporters waiting outside were later told they would be informed of when the promised press conference will be held. Cabinet was also having its weekly meeting.
In the 5 minute radio interview, Tuilaepa referred to former Cabinet Minister Tu’u’u Anasi’i Leota as someone gifted with wit and humor.
“Like comedian Sumeo,” he said.
He was dispelling Tu’u’u’s much publicized dissatisfaction against the Minister of Finance and his media outburst that drew much unwanted attention to possible fractures within HRPP and Tu’u’u’s reported new political party which is now labeled a ‘joke’.
But Talamua sources said the meeting was intense and some strong words were spoken.
The Prime Minister moved a motion to sack his former Cabinet Minister Tu’u’u Anasi’i Leota.
Let’s deal with the Minister first
But Talamua has been informed that when the motion was put forward, a very senior MP intervened and pointed out to the Prime Minister that the longstanding case involving the Minister of Finance Minister must be dealt with first. “Yet priority is given to a case that only happened yesterday.” The MP also said that that was the whole basis of many MPs dissatisfaction including Tu’u’u’s media outburst where he was reported to have challenged the PM “to a fist fight.”
It was decided the matter would be decided by a vote.
Both Tu’u’u and Faumuinā were sent away to a separate room as caucus deliberated.
Speaking of confidence, a senior Cabinet Minister told the PM that the thought of Faumuinā ever handling any more of the Government’s project finances sends shivers down the spine.
The Deputy Prime Minister who was excused from court after standing in the dock to answer the police charges against him told caucus, “I’ve just left the dock meant for criminals and murderers for a charge that Government did not lose $2.00 and why hasn’t anything been done to the lost money under the Minister’s charge?”
Before the MPs expressed their views, the Prime Minister told caucus of Faumuinā’s achievements as a Minister.
The fate of the Finance Minister now lies with what Parliament does with the Parliamentary Committee’s Report that detailed mismanagement and corrupt practices within the Samoa Land Corporation when Faumuinā was the Minister in charge and its recommendation for legal action against those involved.
The Report is to be debated when Parliament resumes 18 March. The debate should give MPs their chance to question and provide further detailed information on the issues pinpointed in the Report. It will also give the Government and the Minister the opportunity to answer and defend himself.
Sources told Talamua that all MPs present in the meeting were given the chance to speak freely on the issues and the majority was against the Finance Minister remaining.
According to sources, after the night’s 6 hour-long meeting, Tu’u’u has been forgiven.
The Finance Minister Faumuinā Tiatia Liuga’s fate however, will come after the Parliament debate later this month.