Samoa PM calls attackers “rascals, pipsqueaks”

Samoa PM Tuilaepa Sailele Malielegaoi. Picture: RNZ

APIA (SAMOA OBSERVER) – Prime Minister Tuilaepa Dr. Sa’ilele Malielegaoi says the attack on him by two men in Brisbane, Australia, last week was a “storm in a teacup” with a “political element.”

He made the comment in an interview released by the Press Secretariat, where he also called the attackers “rascals” and “pipsqueaks.”

“If the two rascals think that they have accomplished their mission, than I am sorry to say that is far from the truth,” Tuilaepa is quoted as saying.

“I pity the two pipsqueaks because the truth of the matter is, they are now on the wanted list of every patriotic Samoa—not just because of their insults towards me as a Samoan, but also they committed the cardinal sin in the eyes of Samoa, by disrespecting the Prime Minister and leader of the Government and people publicly.”

The attack at the Maximillian Kolbe Catholic Parish during the official launch of Samoa Airways’ Apia-Brisbane service, is being investigated by the Queensland Police.

One of the two men threw an “uncooked pig’s head” at the Prime Minister. They also allegedly attempted to throw rocks and eggs at him.

The Prime Minister called for calm.

“I urge Samoans to remain calm and maintain our revered reputation as a country founded on God,” he said.

“But it goes without saying that there are serious implications behind the incident in Logan, because it suggests that a political element is involved with the 2021 General Elections as the ultimate target.”

When the incident happened, Tuilaepa said he “paid no mind to their floor show because paramount to me is the historical significance of what Samoa Airways stands for and the gains that our people with reap from the Government’s fruits of hard labour.”

The Prime Minister added that the attack is nothing new to him.

“It’s a personal insult to say the least but it’s nothing new as I have endured many a scathing, malicious and unsubstantiated accusations as Prime Minister over the years. My only regret is that it’s a slap in the face for patriotic Samoans all over,” he said.

“In fact, thanks to them, they have done more damage than good to their cause and the political agenda of their leaders in their vile attempts to try and undermine the Government’s genuine effort to provide affordable and competitive airfares for Samoans in Australia and New Zealand. The Government’s impeccable history of achievements which our people are reaping the benefits speaks volumes.”

The Prime Minister’s statement did not say which “leaders” he was referring and what their political agenda was.

But he used the opportunity to talk up the growth of Samoa Airways and the importance of the occasion in Brisbane, where he led a strong delegation from Samoa.

“Samoa Airways represents the return of our poor country with limited resources to the competitive commercial international airline circuit,” he said.

“From day one, Samoa Airways has been butchered, dissected and ridiculed virally mostly by our own people.  But look at where the national carrier is today, marking her first anniversary with Brisbane Australia as her new destination, complementing the daily flights to Auckland New Zealand, the weekly to Sydney and the six daily inter-island flights between the two Samoas.

“And Samoa Airways will continue to grow with plans in the pipeline to lease a Boeing 737-900 before the end of the year.”

He also reiterated calls for all Samoans to support the airline.

“Our people, mostly Samoans overseas, have been complaining when it comes to airfares to and from New Zealand and Australia for years.

“Government has responded with Samoa Airways influencing the fares to reflect a drop in ticket prices,” said the Prime Minister.

“And for affordable air travel to continue we need universal support from all Samoans and again I implore our people to do by supporting Samoa Airways.”

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