Sunday, September 16, 2012

Samoa Observer's Savea on Tuilaepa, Tavita and rubbish in the wind

"Man of the Decade" Samoan Prime Minister Tuilaepa Sailele Malielegaoi
.... mocking the
Samoa Observer.
SAVEA SANO MALIFA'S reply to a dreary moan against the Samoa Observer by Samoan PM Tuilaepa: Priceless.

Talofa i Lau Afioga i le Ali’i Palemia,
Lau Afioga Tuilaepa Sailele Malielegaoi

Thank you very much for your kind advice. It is always a pleasure receiving a letter from you knowing that you have so much work on your plate these days.

And now that you’ve added the Legislative Assembly to your list of portfolios, well, I’m wondering how on earth you can possibly make the time to write all these letters.

I personally would like to congratulate you for your patience, and especially for your ability to just shrug off all those silly criticisms leveled at you, as insignificant ravings of madmen, fools and idiots.

You are absolutely right. Because that, precisely, is the mark of a man with an honorable vision for his country which he is determined to fulfill, despite what anyone else says.

I truly admire you for that.

Watchdog ... Savea Sano Malifa.
Photo: IPI
As for the “mistakes” and the “inaccuracies” in this newspaper’s stories that you’re seeing all the time, well, I want to say thank you for pointing these things out to us.

It’s a shame really, but then I just don’t know what the answer is. I only wish we were all perfect and flawless like you and Terry Tavita but the truth is that we are not.

Still, I want to say I apologize unequivocally for all the idiotic mistakes you see in the paper day after day. Honestly I have no excuses to offer.

I am sorry also that this paper’s “the English publications (have) noticeably fallen in standards in recent times” due to poor editing, but I want to remind you that it is the very high VAGST, import duties and taxes combined, that are directly responsible.

So if you want to see that what you say during an interview is “read (accurately) across the globe” on this newspaper’s website, you should do two things:

1. Lower the VAGST on newsprint, film, plates, computers, cameras and voice recorders from 15% to 5%, as it is the case in other Pacific Island countries, where all newspapers are considered an educational necessity.

2. If you want your interview to be published on the website, make sure you speak in English. This way, since your interview is now captured in the voice recorder, no translation is needed and every sentence you utter therefore will make “darn (good) sense.”

"Lapdog" ... Tupuola Terry Tavita.
Photo: Savali
As for your offer of Tupuola Terry Tavita to work with us we have to say no thanks. Please don’t get me wrong. I only wish you did not bring this name up. For someone who is known around the world as your “lapdog,” how can you possibly say you’re extending “his Good Samaritan … standards,” when we know the man has no principles whatsoever.

Let me tell you a story. Several years ago Tavita came asking for a job. He said he had been a teacher at Samoa College, and he wanted to work as a reporter. Why did he leave Samoa College, I asked. He did not give a credible explanation.

Anyway, I gave him a job. He became a reporter. Sometime later, he approached me again and said he had been given a scholarship to do his Masters at the University of the South Pacific in Suva, and he wanted time off from work.

I gave him time off. Later still when he returned from Suva, he came back to work. Asked if he had finished his Masters, he said yes, but he had to finish his thesis.

Well, what do you want to do, work or finish your thesis? He wanted to work, so I gave him work. Again.

At the time, we had a policy – we still have it – that no reporter conducting an interview at any function – public or otherwise - helped himself to food and drinks if such were served.

The rule is that when the interview is done and the photos are taken, the reporter leaves. In those days, all of our reporters respected this rule except Terry Tavita.

Since he would not leave until he was fed and soused, we gave him money for his drinks somewhere else, on the understanding that he left the function immediately after his interview.

Later still, he had an argument with the paper’s editor at the time, Peter Lomas, and Terry Tavita stormed out the door. He did not have the decency to come and tell me what his quarrel with Lomas was about.

I felt let down and sad.

Later still I was told that he went straight to Prime Minister Tuilaepa’s office, and he was hired to work for the Savali. You know the rest.

And then he started attacking me in the Savali, which is a government paper funded with my taxes. I never said a word.

Since then he has been developing a defiant standard of reporting in defense of his “boss” – Tuilaepa – so that he inevitably earned the unflattering moniker “lapdog” among his media colleagues.

And you want him to come and work as a “good Samaritan “ in this paper? No, thank you very much. Keep him there. You need someone like him to defend you and protect you.

As for your worries about the clothes you’re wearing when your picture is taken, well, honestly you should not. Personally, I don’t care about what clothes I’m wearing anyway. If it hadn’t been for common decency and the fear of disturbing the peace, I would go around with what I was born with.

I reckon you should think the same way too. Besides, clothes are just skin-deep. It is what’s inside you that count. I know you’ve got a good heart and that is all that matters. Trust me. The rest is all rubbish thrashed about in the wind.

And lastly Tuilaepa, you are a handsome man. We all know that. You are handsome both outside and inside. So that wherever in the world your photo is taken, it is published and your fame is assured. And always remember that it is not the photo that counts but the man behind the photo.

So don’t be paranoid. You are still our “Man of the Decade” whether you believe me or not. And that’s the naked truth.

But thank you for your kind words about my “growing old gracefully and, well, comfortably.” I know. I’m finding it rather hard not being able to grow old fast enough. Which is why I must thank you once again for those mind-wrecking court cases that sort of really hastened the aging process along.

God bless you too, Tuilaepa.

Sincerely yours,
Savea Sano Malifa

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