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Samoa News Editorial: Thank you Senator Tulifua Tini Lam Yuen

The recent brouhaha about Sen. Tulifua Tini Lam Yuen voicing on the Senate floor what ‘everyone’ has alleged goes on in the Fono, as well as the government — the behind door deals, the pointed investigations into pet peeves, votes on behalf of friends and family, etc. is an interesting turn of events in this local campaign 2012 season.

In fact, I would like to thank Senator Tulifua for his remarks, because it has allowed a very public glimpse of what is going on behind the scenes with the 2012 gubernatorial campaign.

Not that it’s anything new — it’s just great to see the machinations out front, where they belong, so we can all vote for the team that will bring us…

BTW: Has anyone heard or read what the platform is for any of the declared teams?

It is after all, all about dialogue, and what a great ‘faafaletui’ Sen. Tulifua has brought to the kava bowl!

In review, the senators didn’t admonish Tulifua for his remarks, they attacked him for ‘voicing’ their dirty linen in public, and seemingly denigrating one of their ‘own’, in this case, Senator Galeai M. Tu’ufuli, by mentioning his name in connection with such going ons — that is political campaigning in the Fono. In other words, Tulifua’s lack of respect for our hallowed matais and halls of leadership got him a demerit.

The Senate President Gaoteote Tofau Palaie told Tulifua at the time of his statements that he was talking about campaigning and named a candidate inside the chamber, which is not appropriate.

Sen. Velega Savali Jr. said he was saddened with the chairman of the Senate Rules Committee (which is Tulifua) for always bringing up issues that have no connection to matters being discussed by the Senate.

And, Galeai, when he addressed the issue during Monday’s Senate session, said he believes the Senate was shocked to hear this ‘new’ language used in the chamber regarding campaigning.

With the formal apology to Sen. Galeai done, the incident seems to have died down, and business as usual proceeds.

Sad, because Tulifua, no matter what his history, is a sitting member of the Senate, and has the right to launch the questions he did, and make the comments he made, even if his actions were not without bias, too.

He pointed out that there is campaigning going on during Fono business hours, and pointed to Muagututia Leapei Fa’aola and Sen. Galeai Tu’ufuli  as the the people doing this — campaigning for Lolo L. Moliga. It was noted, in the Samoa News report that Tulifua looked up to the Senate galley, saw Muagututia sitting there — and then proceeded with his remarks on the Senate floor.

Interestingly, an apology was not made to Muagututia but to Sen. Galeai. Does that verify that Muagututia and the Senator are campaigning on behalf of Lolo, during working hours? Or does that merely mean, in the faaSamoa, Muagututia, who is not a senator, but a Fono employee, is not a part of the apology needed to smooth things over?

It’s made more interesting, when you remember that Sen. Lemanu Peleti Mauga was present in the Senate chamber when Tulifua made his statements. He is Lolo’s declared running mate. Lemanu is also a current Development Bank of American Samoa board member, while Lolo is the CEO of the bank.

This DBAS CEO position, is what makes Tulifua’s next set of remarks, which called for a Senate investigation into the DBAS housing program, something that can’t be avoided, because Lolo has chosen not to resign from his post at DBAS, although he has declared himself a 2012 gubernatorial candidate; and neither has Lemanu, who is a sitting senator.

They are not required to resign by law — I’m sure someone from the other two teams would have brought that point of law up, if that was the case — or maybe not? Too impolite? But it does open the door to questions of impropriety about Lolo and DBAS, and about Lemanu as a sitting senator and his influence in the Senate to ‘rock the vote’.

And then there’s the thought: Why did Sen. Tulifua bring up something that is ‘nothing new’? And he was persistent in his remarks, continuing to make them, despite the Senate President interjecting and interrupting him.

Is the Lolo & Lemanu team taking support from the traditional political enclave that elected Gov. Tauese Pita Fiti Sunia, and then Gov. Togiola Tulafono, and is now mentioned as backing the Faoa & Taufete’e team? Is there a division in the ranks? Will this allow a third team to slip in for a run-off?

What does this all mean?

I don’t know. It’s just some thoughts for us, the voters, who believe one person- one vote, in the voting booth, on Tuesday, November 6, 2012.