Lolo introduces two new cabinet members
Pago Pago, AMERICAN SAMOA — At last Friday’s cabinet meeting, Gov. Lolo Matalasi Moliga introduced two new cabinet members - American Samoa Visitors Bureau executive director, Taimalelagi Minnie Tuia and Agriculture Department acting director, High Talking Chief (HTC) Sala Dr. Mata’ese Samuelu.
Lolo announced that Taimalelagi, who has served as the governor’s deputy chief of staff since the Administration took office in January 2013, has been appointed as the new head of the Visitors Bureau.
He said the decision to hire Taimalelagi was made in agreement between himself and Lt. Gov. Lemanu Palepoi Sialega Mauga, and the Visitors Bureau board of directors.
According to Lolo, many of the duties carried out at the Governor’s Office behind the scenes are handled by Taimalelagi, who was commended for her long outstanding service. Since mid-November last year, Taimalelagi has been assigned by Lolo to the Visitors Bureau office to work with deputy director Vaito’a Hans Langkilde in transitioning the agency, with the departure of former boss David Vaeafe, who stepped down after the board didn’t renew his contract.
In a Jan. 2, 2019 memo, the governor appointed Sala - who served one term as one of the two faipule for Ituau during the 35th Legislature - as acting director for DoA, “effective immediately” following the resignation of director Filifa’atali Michael Fuiava.
“While this change is unfortunate at this late stage of our administration, circumstances beyond our control necessitates such untimely decisions, and our pledge to serve the people to the best of our abilities takes precedence and must be fulfilled,” he wrote.
At the cabinet meeting, Sala - who has been working at the Governor’s Office, dealing with the “Tusi Fa’alupega” book project - was introduced by Lolo, who said the acting director is a well known traditional leader who holds a doctorate degree in education, and is an educator by profession.
(It was unclear over the weekend whether the governor will submit Sala’s name to the Fono for confirmation, especially with only 11 months left in the current Administration.)
Lolo said everyone is aware that Filifa’atali resigned due to an incident relating to the department, and he is thankful that Filifa’atali clearly understands the issue at hand and offered to step down. He said Filifa’atali is greatly affected by the incident, which occurred on the last day of 2019. Lolo didn’t elaborate, but said this is a reminder to all cabinet members to keep in mind the importance of all government policies and regulations - that they be followed - and not allow employees to do as they wish.
He said Filifa’atali resigned of his own will, but his service to the government is very important to himself and Lt. Gov. Lemanu Palepoi Sialega Mauga. The issue that surfaced due to the conduct of an employee is something “we can’t control,” Lolo said, adding that policies regarding the use of ASG vehicles and other assets have been in place since the Administration took office in 2013 and have not changed.
(As previously reported by Samoa News, Filifa’atali resigned following the Dec. 31st death of a DoA employee due to a car accident at Failolo village. The ASG vehicle involved was assigned to DoA. (See Samoa News Jan. 3, 2020 edition for details).