First cabinet meeting: Governor calls to put people first, not themselves
Gov. Lolo Matalasi Moliga has called on his cabinet members to put people first and not themselves, as the Administration begins its second four-year term at the helm of government, saying that anything else will be a failure for the government to serve the people of American Samoa.
Lolo’s comments came at last Friday morning’s cabinet meeting, the first one for the start of their new term in office. At the start of the meeting held at the Agriculture Department’s Conference Room, a moment of silence was observed for the sudden passing of Western District Governor Lualemaga E. Faoa and the three men, who died following an industrial electrocution accident two weeks ago at the Manu’a’s Store site in the Tafuna Industrial Park.
The governor introduced all of his cabinet members, starting with the new ones, including Fuega Saite Moliga, as acting director of Administrative Service Department. Fuega takes over the directorship post from former director Malemo Tausaga, who is now serving as Deputy Secretary of Samoan Affairs. (Samoa News had reported on all of the cabinet appointees except for Fuega, who is the governor’s brother.)
In introducing the new members of his cabinet, Lolo also made special remarks regarding some of the new appointees. For example, he said the appointment of Mrs. Evelyn Lili’o Satele to head the Territorial Administration on Aging “has been a very interesting appointment” for him and Lt. Gov. Lemanu Palepoi Sialega Mauga.
Lolo said the appointee brings “a new prospective to our community” and he has known Mrs. Satele for more than four decades. “She is a true Samoan by heart,” he said, adding that when “we asked her to take over the post, she had no problem, and answered yes.”
Lolo said he and Lemanu appreciate that Mrs. Satele has “accepted our invitation” to head the TAOA.
For the Department of Agriculture, Lolo said, “We took a different course”, adding that although Filifaatali Mike Fuiava, has been with Public Safety in the past years, “his initial training and education started” with DoA.
Lolo said Filifa’atali, who is also a church minister, is a graduate of the agriculture college in Samoa and is also a well-known local farmer in Manu’a. “We believe that he possesses the capacity and capability to become a good director for Agriculture,” he said.
Replacing Dr. Ruth Matagi-Tofiga at the Department of Marine and Wildlife Resources is Va’amua Henry Sesepasara. Lolo said he feels very confident with Va’amua heading this department as the appointee “has a wealth of knowledge as equal to what Dr. Matagi-Tofiga has and we hope that it will continue.”
Matagi-Tofiga is the acting director of the Education Department.
Other new cabinet appointees are Tuimavave Tauapai Laupola for the Office of Public Information; Samana Semo Ve’ave’a for the Department of Homeland Security; and Eseneiaso J. Liu for the Department of Human Resources.
Two other new directors, who are not subject to Fono confirmation, were also introduced; they are Lesei’au Vaitoelau T. Laumoli and Paogofie Fiaigoa for the Arts Council.
The governor then introduced, “veteran cabinet members” or former directors from the last four years and most of them have been reappointed to the same department or office. Thereafter Lolo introduced the staff of the Governor’s Office as well as heads of offices, which are under the purview of the Governor’s Office such as the Historic Preservation Office and Medicaid Office.
Lolo also said that the first cabinet appointment he and Lemanu made was the re-appointment of Paramount Chief, Mauga Tasi Ausega as Secretary of Samoa Affairs. He noted the importance of a traditional leader in government as it helps the government connect with the community.
The governor also acknowledged leaders of ASG’s semi autonomous agencies, saying that they have been the “cornerstone of this administration in making sure that we deliver what we promise the people.” He thanked all of the authorities for the service they have provided in the last four years.
To his cabinet directors, Lolo said, “We feel as we selected you to be a part of this administration, you’ll be able to assist us, in carrying out our mission in the next four years. So we’re hoping that the selection that we made, with the help of God, that we will be able to deliver what we promised to deliver.”
“We always believe that your job and my job exists to serve the people. Anytime we do different, we are not focusing on our mission of serving our people,” he said.
According to the governor, the Administration is “known for two things — team work and collaboration. That’s why we’ve seen many successes that we’re seeing today because you have worked as a team, you have come together as a group and solved most of the problems.”
“Making mistakes is always part of what we do, but take those mistakes and use them to advance service to our people,” he said, adding that he and Lemanu will “step in when we feel that you’re out of line and the only way that we fail, is when you put yourself before the people.”
“Every time we put ourselves before the people then we fail. Otherwise we will continue to be successful and with the help of God we will deliver what we promise our people that we will deliver,” Lolo said.
LOLO AND MEDIA
At the beginning of the three-hour cabinet meeting, the governor addressed the news media, saying that the Lolo and Lemanu administration always have had an open policy with the media.
“As far as we’re concern we never had any issues with the media in the last four years. So we would like to continue our policy the way it is,” the governor said and noted that he hopes cabinet members “would work together with the media to ensure that our community is well informed of what’s going on in government.”
“We would like to make sure that you have the opportunity to work with the media to make sure that our people are well aware of what’s going on,” he told cabinet members.
He also announced that former Office of Public Information Director Fagafaga Daniel Langkilde has been appointed press officer. Lolo stressed the importance of the government working together with the media “to make sure that our community, our constituents are well informed of what’s going on in the government.”
He thanked the news media for working with the administration over the last four years.