“You Are a Dangerous Man,” PM told former Speaker

Taking a break, Ae'au standing and the PM sitting down with his driver, outside Parliament

The PM warned the former Speaker not to create hatred in the minds of ‘weak minded people’

APIA: 16 June 2010: “You are a dangerous man,” so Prime Minister Tuilaepa Sailele Malielegaoi told the former Speaker and Member of Parliament for Falealupo, Ae’au Peniamina.

It was the closing stages of the Budget debate and before the House was postponed Wednesday 15 June, when Ae’au raised the issue of the ‘Chinese’ business people operating businesses in Samoa.

Ae’au implied the Chinese businesses have taken away what should have been the lot of Samoan owned businesses.
The Prime Minister then warned the former Speaker about creating hatred in the minds of “weak minded people”.

“The result would be what happened in Tonga,” said the PM referring to the burning of Chinese owned businesses in the main business centre of Nukualofa, Tonga.

“It is these businesses that has brought the cost of goods down,” the Prime Minister told Parliament.

The PM then told the public via the parliament live broadcast on radio “not to vote back these types of MPs who stir up the stability of the country.”

The issue had been raised a few months ago by the former Faleata West MP, Lealailepule Rimoni Aiafi who lost a subsequent by election. He questioned the Immigration policies that has seen the growth of Chinese owned businesses in his constituency.

The Prime Minister warned not to let politics muddle the issue. He said these business people are Chinese-Samoan descendants “who are hardworking and have a major contribution to the country’s economy. Some are married to Samoans, have children and families.”
The Samoan-Chinese connection goes back to the early 1900’s when Chinese workers were recruited by the German colonial administrators to work their plantations in Samoa. They were mainly from Guangzhou and many inter-married and started families in Samoa that have produced some of Samoa’s major businesses and influential leaders in commerce and politics.

Tuilaepa told Parliament that the original Chinese may have been mocked at by the Samoans as they walked miles to sell goods such as umbrellas and eggs and started what have now become multi-million dollar businesses.

“But behind every such Chinese businessman, there is a Samoan woman with their children who are no different from any other Samoans after several generations,” the PM said.

Several MPs in the current Parliament are descendents of those original Chinese workers.

One is the current Minister of Finance, Niko Lee Hang who has been bestowed the chiefly matai title Papali’i through his Samoan mothers’ family lineage and geneology.  As of the 2011 Parliament, if he is voted back, he will use his chiefly title, putting him on just as an equal footing as the other title MPs.