Tuilaepa’s honorary doctorate due to HRPP success

Tuilaepa addressing the United Nations General Assembly

APIA: 15 August 2012: The Prime Minister of Samoa, Tuilaepa Sailele Malielegaoi, says the success of his Human Rights Protection Party in putting right the country’s economy was a key reason he has been awarded an honorary doctorate of laws.

Victoria University of Wellington conferred the degree yesterday, saying Tuilaepa’s contribution to Samoa has been immense.

But the Prime Minister says the emergence of Samoa’s first political party 30 years ago was pivotal in turning around the country’s then bankrupt economy.

He says as a party, the HRPP found it easier to get through reforms than previous governments made up of independent MPs.

“And this was the manifestation of the great value of having a political system, party system in government. It helps bind the members together to achieve common goals. Previous to that it was all personality.”

Tuilaepa first entered politics in a 1982 by-election when MP Fatialofa Momoe died in office. He immediately was made Associate Minister of Finance and under the wing of Tofilau Eti Alesana who became his mentor and the country’s Prime Minister and pushed major reforms in finance and public service sector to expedite and deliver the Party’s economic and social plans.

Tuilaepa was Minister of Finance for HRPPs years in office and was primed as Tofilau’s successor. In 1998, and in the smoothest transition of power, the ailing Toiflau, made a final trip to Parliament to resign as Prime Minister. He read one sentence of his resignation then sat down and Tuilaepa completed the speech. From then on, he took over the reigns and leadership of the Party and Government.

While there have been talk of him planning his exit after the last general elections, the emergence of a young leader in Fonotoe Pierre Lauofo who surpassed the senior MPs to win the Party vote as Deputy Prime Minister, will determine Tuilaepa’s time as leader as commentators believe that his preferred choice as Prime Minister is the current Minister of Finance, Famuina Tiatia Liuga.